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The Boxed Editions

Page 4: British Editions 1990-2000

Here is the final ten years or so of original Subbuteo production by Waddingtons and then Hasbro. This page runs up to the proposed ceasing of the whole Subbuteo range in 1999, and also includes the Toys-R-Us exclusive sets that were produced in 2000-01, after the decision was reversed.

This era sees official World Cup box sets, but these did not always appear in the catalogues. The Italia '90 catalogue showed the standard version of 60240, and the 1993 poster showed the correct USA '94 contents, but the box was just a standard one with a USA 94 sticker on it.  

1990-1995 The final Waddingtons sets.

The 1990s started with three re-boxed editions from the earlier range - Club, World Cup, and Grandstand. However, the sets were now designed to be sold worldwide, and so no longer had no names on the front of the box. The modular construction of the box interiors of these sets allowed "exclusive editions" at certain retailers, with an added team, or a free set of referees etc.



Basically, this was the club edition with standard goals (61148) and small flags (61188). The goals usually had big red nets that don't fit too well.


A floodlighting Edition featuring the new Greek pillar style floodlights. This set did not feature in a catalogue until 1995, but the new floodlights were released in 1991, and the polystyrene interior suggests that sets were produced at that time. A couple of different box lids were produced. The set illustrated here featuring Gary Lineker seems to be the earliest version.


This had contents as for the World Cup 1986 set of the same number, but only had 11-a-side teams and no spare goalkeepers. It usually had two teams but sometimes had a third added, as there was room in the box. It did not have line flags, but had Tournament goals (61154), fence (61108), scoreboard (61158), and number transfers (61206). The original teams, as usual with World Cup editions are the hosts (Italy ref 415) and holders (Argentina ref 457). Although this was the World Cup set shown in the catalogues, there were actually a couple of alternative versions (see below).


A re-boxed grandstand edition. Contents from 60240 but with three teams, plus the line flags and refs (61240), corner kickers (61131), Throw-in figures (61132), the stadium services pack (61239), and the new style grandstand. (61216)



Super World Cup
On the previous page, we saw the World Cup 1986 set being issued with a 1990 sticker on the front, but this was the first proper World Cup set for Italia 1990, with a new catalogue number to match. As shown bottom left in the pictures above, the box looks very similar to the 1986 version, with the same photograph, but with a large Italia '90 banner along the bottom of the lid. The insert was still the '86 one too, so it had squads of sixteen players (including spare kicking goalkeepers). However,  the set also benefited from the inclusion of the proper Italia 90 balls (61220) and goals (61219). The set has been seen with Argentina (ref 457, holders), and Italy (ref 415, hosts), as the two teams, however, the set I picked up recently in the UK has Italy and England as the two teams, and indeed, these are the two teams shown in the smaller illustration on the front of the box.

This set featured in the Italian catalogues of 1990-92 alongside the standard 60240, with the sets called "World Cup" and "Super World Cup". The teams shown here were Argentina and Italy. (As mentioned, the standard 1986 World Cup set was still being produced in 1989 with an Italia '90 sticker on the box, but I'm not sure whether this had the Italia 90 accessories in it).


There is an Italia '90 poster, which I own. I think it came in the 60242 and 60243 sets, but not the standard 60240.



Mid way through the life of the Italia 90 range, SSG went through one of their customary box changes. All the Italia 90 accessories switched from the 1980s style of box to the 1990s versions.
In line with this, further Italia 90 box sets were produced in the new box style. This gave us the standard 60240 version (mentioned above), of course, with Italy vs Argentina on the lid, but you will not be surprised to learn that there was a variation on this set too.
60243 was the official "World Cup Edition" version of the Italy vs Argentina 60240. It was the same size set, but with a slightly different box (Italia '90 banner along the bottom of the lid, and "World Cup Edition" under the logo). Unlike the Super World Cup Edition, this set had standard eleven man teams in the same insert as 60240. However, like the Super set it did have the Italia 90 balls (61220) and goals (61219).
The teams may well vary. Italy vs. Argentina seems logical once again, but the version I own (sold in the UK) has England vs. Italy. How confusing is this era?

Woolworths FA Cup set:

This was a special version of the standard club edition, sold as an exclusive with high street retailer Woolworths in 1991-92. The box featured the teams from the FA Cup final of 1991, and these two sides were also the ones included in the set; Spurs (740) and Nottingham Forest (685). There were also two added bonuses for the purchaser. The first was a free set of referee and linesmen included in the box, and the second was a mail-away offer to purchase a set of the new floodlights for 10.99 instead of the RRP of 15.99

Waddingtons sets 1993-1995

This is where the really interesting special sets start. The first set to break away from the usual green boxes was the USA '94 set. In principle, it was the same set as 60240, which had been introduced for the 1990 World Cup, but stayed in the range as a useful mid-ranged set. However, the key difference isn't the box. The USA 94 set uses the new USA '94 accessories - so the goals have red, white and blue nets, and the balls have the USA 94 logo. It doesn't sound much, but it makes all the difference. Normally, once you'd bought a Subbuteo box set, you didn't need to buy another. But this was the first set designed to attract even those who were already playing.

The trick was repeated with the Euro 96 set. Subbuteo had only issued a set for the European Championships once before (in 1984) but the fact that this year's tournament was set in England was too good a chance to miss. Perhaps they had also been pleased with the way the USA 94 set and accessories had sold (even though England had not even qualified for that one. Boo.). The Euro '96 set was essentially the same set once again, but with the Euro 96 accessories (no really?). However, in addition, the scoreboard was a different colour for the first time (a shocking blue) and the name tags were exclusive to the tournament - with the names of teams and venues printed in several languages on colourful card.

As well as their Euro 96 marketing agreement, Waddingtons also negotiated a deal with the Premier League to produce official products. This lead to a range of teams, a box of accessories, and of course, a box set. This was basically just a combination of standard club edition plus the Premiership accessory pack, and it's perhaps disappointing that the teams features were just the standard red and blue. A nice touch were the Premiership logos on the pitch, and this item was never sold separately.

Away from the glamorous specials, the standard green sets kept on as ever. The "club" edition (60140) gained a new "Leeds vs. Sampdoria" box in 1993, and the old "World Cup" set (60240) gained a new "Brazil vs. Sweden" lid for 1992-1993 (before being replaced by the USA 94 set as already mentioned). The Floodlighting set (60150) made its only catalogue appearance in 1995, and only the "Grandstand" set (60250) kept the same box throughout its run (1990-95)



A Club Edition. Had a different box lid (see the Hasbro range below for an illustration), and a swap from polystyrene innards to dark green plastic, but no change to the contents. The plastic is much weaker than the polystyrene, and tends to make the sets difficult to get in and out the box.


The final floodlighting edition. Only appeared on the 1995 poster, but certainly existed for longer than that. Featured the 1990s floodlights (61222). This was still in a polystyrene inner, so only the box illustration changed.


A re-box for this "world cup" set. The teams on the lid are Brazil and Sweden, and there is some suggestion that this change was produced for the European Championships in Sweden in 1992. Indeed, the set has been seen with Sweden (ref 316) as one of the teams. The illustration above shows the set with a USA 94 sticker on it - providing a link to the next World Cup, but the set was usually sold without this, and indeed an official USA 94 boxed version of the set was sold (see below),


Grandstand Edition. The box and set remained the same as the 1990-1992 version.



USA 94:
A cool box for this one. Another final attempt to break the US market? Anyhow, this was similar to the Italia 90 set, except that here they use the USA 94 goals and balls. This set was actually sold with several different lids depending on which country it was sold in. See International box sets for details.
Euro 96 - 60260 Like the USA set, this was 60240 territory again, but tweaked to add extra appeal using the Euro 96 balls and goals. As an extra treat, the scoreboard was blue in this set and the name tags were brightly coloured. A distinctive set. Note that the Euro 96 flags are not in this version of the set. They only appear in the Hasbro version. The teams were England (ref 719 with central badge) and a standard red/white side (sometimes ref 138, with white printed collar).

Premiership Set - 60270:

The original Waddingtons Premiership Edition. Red and blue teams, tournament goals, pitch with Premiership logos, plus the contents of 61234, the Premier League accessory pack. So you got the flags, balls, referees (in green) and the Premier League Trophy. This was a short lived original version with lightweight teams. The box had the same picture as the 61234 accessory pack.



Hasbro Big Box Range 1996

The whole range makes the switch to Hasbro ownership in 1996, and the changes are immediately recognisable with the new Hasbro bases on the teams, and the self-assembly nature of the sets. The boxes no longer have lift up lids. This reduces the packaging costs, but makes the sets a pain to open, as the inner plastic is weak, and the players and accessories do not always fit too well. The initial Hasbro range is three sets - a Club Edition, a Euro 96 edition, and a Premiership Edition. All three set have new interiors, but only the Premiership set gets a new box illustration and a new size (it now features a scoreboard).



This set had the same illustration as the final Waddingtons set, but the lid no longer lifted up. The interior was an all-in-one moulded black plastic affair. The set featured the new style Hasbro goals (the same goals they used in sets of rival game Total Action Football). The teams were on Hasbro bases. Again, the moulded plastic inner is weak and horrible, and sliding it in and out the box is a nightmare.



Premier League Edition: 60247

Hasbro version of the 60270 set. This set had been enlarged by adding a scoreboard, and now had Hasbro based teams of course. Also the tournament goals were again replaced by the new goals as with the club edition. All wrapped in a large flat box, with another horrible thin black plastic interior.

Euro 96:

This was the second version of this set. I think the exterior was the same, but it had a completely different moulded interior in black. The teams were still the big badged England (ref 719) plus a standard red/white team, but now these were on Hasbro bases. Although it doesn't seem to be advertised the set also features the Euro 96 flags, which were not in the original Waddingtons set.

Hasbro Small Box Range 1997-1998

Subbuteo editions often had boxes much bigger than they needed to be. The Euro 96 and Premiership boxes were huge, but easily crushable. However from 1997, the boxes were redesigned to a more convenient size. These sets had small, deep boxes and lift off lids, making them much more sturdy. The deep boxes still had plastic insides, and these featured a large central area into which Hasbro could pack the bags of self-assembly items - players, goals, fence etc. Around the edge of this space were places to stand the teams (base down, so they took up less space). This worked quite well, and with the exception of the club edition, the boxes were deep enough to protect the goals once assembled (a problem that plagued all the self-assembly sets up to this point).



I think this was the final incarnation of the club edition, and it appeared in 1997. Fitted into the new compact box, the set had the final Hasbro goals (see the Man Utd illustration for details), but the line flags had been dropped from the set. The balls should be the standard green logo ones, but my set had blue Umbro Elite balls instead. More interesting in my version was the pitch, which was a cotton throw-back to the 1970s. It's thinner than a 1970s pitch and the edges are wonky, but it is a smoother surface than the usual Hasbro pitch, and an improvement. Sadly, these pitches rarely appear in any of the other sets of the era.



Premier League Edition: Small box version

The third re-box for the Premiership set, this one had a new style of referee and lineman, but otherwise it was the same set as the big box version. This box was introduced around 1998, and this new look also featured on the last two special Boots Chocolate versions. (See the miscellaneous page ). If you are lucky, you can get a cotton pitch with Premiership logos on it in this set. See the new referees on the accessory list.

Manchester United Edition

This took my breath away when I first saw it (and I'm a Liverpool supporter!). All the usual stuff, but with a Man Utd feel - red fence, Man Utd logo on the pitch and balls, and just about everywhere else. Exclusive Man United rule book. Three teams, Man Utd home and away, and some poor blue suckers for them to beat. Lovely. Now, where's the Liverpool* set? 
The Manchester United home kit was the new 1998-99 version, and exclusive to this edition. See it on the end of the Hasbro team list. The away kit was 63327 (as worn when Giggs' scored his great semi-final goal vs. Arsenal)


*(Substitute your team here as appropriate)

World Cup France 98:

Produced at a time when Subbuteo was disappearing from toy shops in England, I didn't even see this set advertised at the time. However, with a special set for every World Cup since 1974, I'm glad this was produced. The set had three teams, which differed depending on the European Country it was sold in. All the sets featured Italy and the holders Brazil. The third team (shown as Extra on the lid) was France in most of the continental versions, and England in the UK.
May 2023: A set featuring Spain as the third team has now been uncovered. As this does not seem to be a UK release, it is shown on the
International box sets page alongside a French set with a different box illustration.

Another nice bonus in this set were a new design of corner kicker and throw-in figure, as well as a pair of white Tango balls. The new kicker and thrower were exclusive to this set, and like the exclusive Hasbro referees mentioned above, these are shown on theaccessory list
The "France" version of this set is one of the few places where white Hasbro bases appear. As both France and Italy play in blue, a different base colour was needed.

The Hasbro Range 2000-2001
They may have all but missed Christmas 2000, but the new Hasbro range
did finally arrive in 2001. Available exclusively through Toys-R-Us, the hope was that these sets would get another generation of children recreating cup finals, and dreaming of one day owning a whole stadium. However, they didn't seem to be advertised and just faded away. Hopefully lots of Dads did seek them out.


Premier League Edition:

This was identical to the previous Premiership set, with the new style referee and linesmen. In fact, my local Toys-R-Us continued to sell the version with the older box lid with the new range, making me wonder if the 2000/01 box lid had ever been mass produced. This question was answered by the arrival of the 2000/01 boxed sets in Hove in mid 2003. That raised a chuckle :-)

Man Utd Edition 2000/2001

Again, this was an edition taken from the previous range, but it was at least updated with new Man Utd kits. I know you can't believe Man Utd would have changed kits. Mind you, the away kit in this set have strange green shirts with thin white hoops, and black shorts. Nice, but surely it should have been navy. That might make the thing collectable! The sets were originally 29.99 but were reduced to half price once it wasn't 2000/01 anymore.

Deluxe Edition:

The most exciting part of Hasbro's re-launch was the announcement of a new Grandstand Edition. And here it is. It contains three teams (blue/white, red/white and yellow/white), the old faithful fence and scoreboard as well as the  grandstand, of course. This was produced in new colours - red tiers, with white side panels and roof and also includes a cardboard sheet of supporters.

After the underwhelming sales of these sets, Hasbro changed tact, and started to licence out the game to other companies. Details of these sets can be found on the 21st Century box sets page, or you can look at the International Editions of the Waddingtons era.

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