Subbuteo Tribute Website.
Subbuteo in the 21st Century
Longshore/University Games 2020 onwards.....
The Subbuteo game licence switched owners in 2020. Netcam, a Spanish company had acquired a licence to produce a new version of the game in 2012, but they seem to have disappeared around 2016, and the licensed products from then until 2020 were produced by Hasbro's Spanish distributor Eleven Force. In the UK, the much smaller range that we were granted, was distributed by Paul Lamond Games.
In 2020 it was announced that Hasbro had a new "Global Partner" for their Subbuteo products, a Hong Kong company called Longshore Limited. As with the Netcam years, Longshore are to use an established list of distributors to bring the products to market. The original list was University Games in UK and Ireland, Megableu in France, Creative Toys in Portugal, Giochi Preziosi in Italy, and Greece, Eleven Force in Spain and (interestingly) Broadway Toys Limited in Asia Pacific. Once again, each individual market area is being supplied with a unique range of products - so there is a distinct lack of a united range, and collectors are left having to import products from the different markets to get any sense of the full range.
The official website has been relaunched, and does have a list of products which is worth keeping an eye on. It also has a list of the distributor websites, and visiting all of these will sometimes show other products.
UK and Ireland - University Games.
Netcam's UK and Ireland distributor was Paul Lamond Limited, and they have been merged into the bigger University Games company. Their website still shows a number of Paul Lamond teams and products, which are covered in detail on the Netcam page.
Official Game Playset.
The official website says the following about the new range - "After a year of research and development, Longshore Limited in conjunction with Hasbro, are set to launch the first product within the new range – the Official Game Playset.... Featuring a greater level of detail, high-quality pitch, re-engineered base, goals and accessories, fans will be delighted to see the product return to its premium standard, allowing players to pull off chip shots and swerve flicks."
This is worth highlighting, because the University Games range started with a standard set, that looks almost identical to the Paul Lamond set from 2012. There are a few differences - notably with regard to the design of the players. These are still the "flexible" rubbery players of the Netcam era, but they do have a slightly different look. Described as a more muscular modern player by Longshore, this is achieved at the expense of making the teams look more "cartoony". The quote on the England box says "This team features stronger, more detailed and better quality players than ever before....". If you compare the team to the 2017 generic releases from Paul Lamond, you would say that this quote has merit. The faces are better, and the shirt distinctive. It makes the detail on the earlier teams look very poor in comparison. However, if you count "ever before" as covering the heavyweights, or even lightweights of years past, I am afraid the new teams still fall short on detail.
If you look at the Netcam page, you will notice that these "new" players actually arrived in 2018 - the 2018 Unofficial "Special England Edition" had already bought these players to the UK market, and they are also in the official Spain Edition, and "club" editions for 2018 onwards for teams such as Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus and others.
Official England Game Playset.
For the same price as the standard playset, the official England version has a simple England kit as one of the teams. It is worth pointing out that this is an official side, and features the proper "three lions" England badge, which is something that previous licence holders Netcam/Eleven Force, never managed. See the individual teams below for a picture of this side.
Official Lionesses Game.
The third new UK set from Longshore is this alternative England set, featuring the England Women's Team, showing the encouraging rise in profile of the Women's Game.
March 2020: The picture at present is a promotional one, but the set is beginning to appear at online sellers. A look at the new female football figure can be seen down the page in the Portuguese section.
Whilst the University Games website has a number of older teams available, the only one to be officially released in the Longshore era is this official England side. Pleasingly for collectors, UG have continued with the old Paul Lamond numbering. The Unofficial "Celtic" was PLG3465, and this one is PLG 3485.
The official website states that the fence is only available in the UK, although the resulting box picture is clearly not an English Language one. The referees set is carried over from the Netcam range. I assume it will be superseded by the VAR version of this set (currently only available in Portugal). Confused?
Although the official site says that the VAR set is only available in Portugal, I bought one from UK online retailer Crafty Arts.
This is a proper UK release distributed by University Games. Reference 3085.
The VAR set has the ball replaced by a little VAR monitor.
In addition, the referees have proper Subbuteo bases in the new set, so you can flick them around.
France and Belgium - Megableu
Megableu have French World Cup winning legend Christian Karembeu as their Subbuteo Ambassador, and he features in their advertisement for the game. It has to be said that the advert shows the set produced by the previous Netcam licence. The Longshore set is described as France vs Belgium, but this is a bit of a stretch - it has the standard blue/white and red/white teams from the basic set. The website also shows a small range of teams, and the two standard accessory sets - referees and balls. I suspect these are from the previous Netcam range. In the illustration, the Brazil team looks like it is actually the Netcam Norwich City.... but I've no idea how accurate these illustrations are.
May 2021: Two more French sets have arrived on the official website. The first has an official French national team and brings the French range in line with the UK one, with both a generic and a more attractive national version. The French national set has a very striking box, featuring real-life players. This reflects back to the official Spain set that was released under the old "Netcam/Eleven Force" licence in 2018-19, and is something University Games in the UK have yet to do. Will the French distributors match this with a female version?
A new official Marseille version has also been released. This has the familiar kicking/heading footballer illustrations in front of the relevant stadium. Again, this is a reflection/continuation of the earlier box set ranges. It is certainly hard to argue that this is a new era for Subbuteo.....
Portugal - Creative Toys
Spot the difference here too, as the first Portuguese product is a very familiar looking set. The Portuguese market was the first to see an expanded referees set, which features a VAR screen.
What is unusual about the new Portuguese teams is that they are female teams. There are two currently available, and I assume they are Portugal's home and away kits.
Portugal is the first territory to receive this expanded referees set. In the 2000s we saw the fourth official and his board be introduced... and now we have a VAR screen to consult.
Italy - Giochi Preziosi
The Italian distributors have a decent range of Subbuteo products on their website, but at present they all seem to be from the existing "Netcam" era range. As of March 2021 this was the Champions League edition (blue team), the Juventus and AC Milan editions, the Italian Edition, and the Retro sets (Napoli, Roma, Lazio and Inter) featuring partwork sides, six generic Champions League teams, and official teams for Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus and AC Milan. See the Netcam Subbuteo page for details of this sets.
Greece - Giochi Preziosi (Greece)
The official version for the Greek market features the flags of Italy, Greece, Spain and Belgium. Not sure how significant this is, although Giochi Preziosi are also distributors from Italy, so their is potential for them to use the same set in both markets. The Greek market is the first one to receive a team range (outside of the official England side). These teams are not simply reissues of similar Netcam teams, as they have the new more detailed figures.
Spain - Eleven Force.
As previous licence holders Netcam were based in Spain, this was a region that had lots of products in the previous era, and distributor Eleven Force were also the manufacturer of Subbuteo once the Netcam name disappeared circa 2015-16. As with Italy, the distributor website is still crowded with boxed editions of the game, but all are currently from the previous incarnation. As of March 2021 this included the current versions of the Barcelona (4th Edition), Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid play sets, most of the Retro Sets (including the Argentina and Brazil versions), the Tenerife playset, the Atalanta play set, a couple of the giant figures, and some keyrings. These are not the most exciting product, but at least they are new.... so I've illustrated this section with one.
Asia Pacific - Broadway Toys Limited.
This distributor has the potential to be interesting - if unique teams are produced. However, the standard blue/white and red/white set would cover Japan vs South Korea, so I suspect that is what they will get..... Lots of the Asian national sides seem to play in an all-red kit, so that would be another easy release for this market. As yet, I've seen nothing.
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