A Hat Trick of Cybis Skaters

Despite the title of this post, Cybis never produced a hockey sculpture but they did take to the ice with a trio of figure skaters in consecutive years during the 1980s.

All were limited editions of 750 initially priced at $625; a Cybis price list from 1988 shows an increase to $675, and then to $795 in 1993.

figure skaters A STAR IS BORN and FIGURE 8 and ENCORE all by CybisThe first skater issued, at far left and dressed in blue, was A Star Is Born in 1984. She is 10” high. Next came Figure Eight in 1985; she is seen at the far right. She is 9.75” high. And to complete the hat trick there is Encore, seen at center in the pink costume, who is 11” high and was issued in 1986.

A Star is Born detail

This photo shows some of the fine detail on the costume worn by A Star is Born.
Joseph Chorlton presented one to Elaine Zayak who was a member of the 1984 Olympic skating team.
The photo caption said that the piece was “her own special version”, which is a bit puzzling because the standard retail version of the piece was already quite close to the color and pattern of Miss Zayak’s actual Olympics costume, shown here. The sculpture in the photograph certainly appears to be a very light color rather than a rich blue.
Another member of the same 1984 Olympic team, Silver medalist Rosalyn Sumners, also received A Star is Born from the Cybis studio. Supposedly, this example “was painted in colors to match her Olympic costume”.
That sculpture appears to be more of a ‘match’, although no detail can be seen in the newspaper photo.

This example of A Star is Born as a young Asian lady surfaced as part of the studio’s liquidation sale in 2019. I have a very strong suspicion that it was meant for, or to represent, Tiffany Chin who was also a member of the 1984 Olympic team. Whether she actually received one is unknown.
As you can see, her costume was indeed light blue and had a pink rose decoration along the front.

Blades of Uncertainty


Unfortunately, a significant problem exists regarding all three of these sculptures remaining attached to their porcelain bases. The seller of the trio shown in the first photo noted that “they have all been re-glued at the base.” More than a half dozen listings for other individual examples also mention such a reattachment, and queries to two collectibles forums asked for advice on the same subject and described the frustration of trying to effect a proper repair.

base-1In fact, the attachment issue seems to have reared its head even with the first sculpture. This was the original base for the first skater (A Star Is Born) and frankly I’m surprised that it was even considered, let alone selected. Talk about setting up for a problem! Not only are the skate blades thin and thus not affording much surface-to-surface contact for gluing, but the high glaze (no doubt meant to simulate ice) isn’t very glue-friendly and the curved surface certainly doesn’t help the situation either.

base-2The redesigned base was not only larger but it is now unglazed bisque. It’s an improvement but clearly did not solve the problem, especially with Encore (shown here) in which a single skate blade is expected to permanently support a figure that is not a simple narrow vertical. That was rather, shall we say,…optimistic.

base-3Even Figure Eight, which is better balanced, has had her problems; notice the dark replacement glue on this one as well.

Encore and A Star is Born figure skaters by CybisThis photo shows A Star Is Born on the original base design next to Figure Eight on the later one. It’s no surprise that the first base was abandoned during production (though it’s unclear exactly when) and replaced by a different type. Notice the very obvious reattachment of A Star Is Born; original Cybis glue usually does not turn as orange as this over time.

The revised base may well be the same one that was used for three ballet sculptures that Cybis also introduced at roughly the same time: Cynthia in 1983, and both Clara and Swanilda in 1985. Of those three, only Clara is depicted as “on pointe”; the other two have the entire sole of one foot in contact with the base, providing more stability, especially since their foot has more contact with the base than do the figure skaters’ blades.

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