PROSTARS SELECT 500

2005 JAPAN RELEASE

Corinthian followed up the over whelming success of the Baggio Select 500 released in May 2004, by releasing a further 4 figures exclusively for the Japanese market, in June 2005.


Corinthian chose to use players from Italy’s Serie A, with the four players selected being the same 4 released in the UK at the convention, except in the opposite kit, Fabio Cannavaro Parma Home 2000/01, Juan Sebastian Veron Parma Away 1998/99, Alvaro Recoba Venezia Home 1998/99 and Zvonimir Boban AC Milan Away 1996/97.


Once again the figures were distributed in a variety of ways in Japan, as opposed to their UK counterparts which

were given away free for money spent on product. The distributors in Japan knew demand for these 4 new Select 500’s would be high, following the success of the Baggio, so felt this an opportune way to sell off some old stock in the process.


Let’s start with the easiest of the 4 to obtain, that being Juan Sebastian Veron in the Parma White away kit, he was available, from what I can gather, as a free product when collectors spent a certain amount, a sum I believe to be around the £50.00 mark. This meant the Veron was relatively easy to acquire for the Japanese collector and in turn sold fairly frequently on the secondary market and for a consistent price too.


The Zvonimir Boban in the AC Milan White away kit was released in a very similar manner to the Baggio, with collectors needing to acquire tokens, attach them to a gift card and hand them in at participating stores, in order to stand a chance at receiving a Boban. I am sorry to say I am unsure as to how many tokens were required; I can only assume it will have been 8, as with the Baggio. Due to this process the Boban’s did not surface as frequently as the Veron’s did, so the price they sold for when auctioned was considerably higher and that has not changed in all the years following it's release.


So with Veron and Boban explained, we are left with the matter of Recoba and Cannavaro, how would the Japanese distributors choose to release this product, the answer was the ‘Lucky Box’ never has an item been so inappropriately named, so much so the Japanese collectors renamed it the ‘Un Lucky Box!’ and for good reason too.


The Japanese distributors had used these ‘Lucky Boxes’ before and found them to be a very effective way of shifting old stock, while at the same time driving demand for the exclusive new product which could be found, if you were lucky enough of course.


Each Lucky Box contained the following:

1x ProStars blister pack

1x ProStars sachet

1x MicroStars/Miniatures (Miniatures was the name used by Japan for their MicroStars ranges.)


The premise was that buying one of these boxes meant you stood a chance of finding one of the 2 Select 500 blister packs, of either Recoba in Venezia Home kit or Cannavaro in Parma home kit. The Lucky Boxes cost about ¥525, which equated to around £5.00, so it was by no means an expensive product.


Due to the nature of the Lucky Boxes it took a while for the Select 500’s blisters to surface on the secondary market, however surely enough they did and a few Recoba’s trickled out for sale. While the Recoba was not exactly common place, you could obtain one from Japan with the right contacts, however the Cannavaro was nowhere to be seen! The seemingly non existence of the Cannavaro infuriated collectors all over the world, with many accusing the Japanese distributors of holding the figure back to keep the Lucky Box product selling, which is quite a plausible idea.


To give you a further insight into how the Lucky Box really worked, you need to know how they were actually distributed. The Lucky Box was sold in crates of 50 boxes, so as a stockist you ordered 1 crate, which meant you received 50 Lucky Boxes. Stockists were told by the distributor that buying 1 crate guaranteed you to receive 1 Select 500 blister pack randomly packed into 1 of the 50 Lucky Boxes.


A cynical person may then accuse the shop owners of opening all 50 boxes prior to placing them on sale and removing the Select 500 blister pack, replacing it with a standard series release blister, how would any collector know as you would perhaps buy a few Lucky Boxes and not think anything of not finding these rare Select 500’s, no collector was going to spend £250.00 buying the full crate were they, so a cynical person could say this was again a very plausible idea!


Of course all that fails to explain why the Cannavaro was failing to appear, as no collector in the world had one and no contact I had in Japan was able to confirm their existence, which led many collectors in the UK to believe the figure had not actually been released and did not actually exist.


From what I can gather the Japanese distributor of these figures was struggling financially and had started to reduce the price of the Lucky Boxes to shift the stock and create some cash flow. The problem with this is that no stockist was all that interested in buying the Lucky Boxes, simply as there was no demand for them as collectors had long given up hope of finding the Cannavaro.


I was told by a very reliable source in Japan that the distributors had reduced the price for a crate of Lucky Boxes down to £50 and were telling stockists that if they purchased 5 crates they were assured of receiving 1 Cannavaro Select 500 blister pack!!! Surely enough after I was told this information a Cannavaro appeared for sale on EBay for £250.00, imagine that. It soon sold too and a couple of others followed shortly after, all selling for £250.00. The Cannavaro’s soon stopped appearing for sale though and I gather more were sold direct to collectors in Japan, as opposed to selling them on the secondary market.


The Cannavaro is a very special figure for me personally, as it was the very last ProStars I needed to complete the entire collection, however I did not spend £250.00 on it, I was sent mine for FREE!


Simon Shaw at Corinthianplc sent me the Cannavaro blister pack the company produced as their production blister. Production blister packs are used for reference and promotional photographs etc. The figure is often hand painted by one of the UK model makers, making them of finer detail than the actual released figure, with the collector card being left UN stamped too.

I


had phoned Simon to discuss a couple of matters and mentioned I needed the Cannavaro to complete the entire collection and asked if he would keep an eye out for one on my behalf. A week after that conversation he called me again and told me he had a very interesting item sat on his desk, it was the Cannavaro I needed, and I was left speech lees!


I asked Simon if the figure was for sale and if so at what price, at that point I would have paid any sum of money for it, however Simon informed me that he would be sending me the blister pack free of charge, in light of the money I had previously spent on Master Models and for also creating the Corinthian Archive site. So for all those reasons the Cannavaro is a very special figure to me, it was the last one I needed to complete the collection, and the manner in which I acquired it endears it all the more to me.


For a long time I would have said that the Cannavaro PRO1191 is the rarest ProStar ever released, not to mention the most valuable, although i do not feel that to be the case now given the demand for others in this series, however it is still an incredibly rare figure.  I hope that has explained some of the myths surrounding this set of figures and how there were released, a truly collectable set of figures with a very high price tag, if you can find them all of course!


Figure List:


PRO1191 - Fabio Cannavaro - Parma - Home 2000/01


PRO1192 - Juan Sebastian Veron - Parma - Away 1998/99


PRO1193 - Alvaro Recoba - Venezia - Home 1998/99


PRO1194 - Zvonimir Boban - AC Milan - Away 1996/97