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Subbuteo in the 21st Century

NetCam/Paul Lamond Games 2012-20

This range of Subbuteo products was launched in March 2012, and slowly expanding over the period of its licence. A lack of time (especially online) means that I've sadly not been able to track the range as well as I would have liked, and so this page has always been a work in progress. However, with the range coming to an end in 2020, I've hopefully just about caught up.

To re-cap, this range was manufactured by Spanish company Netcam Iberia Valores, who were originally producing a Subbuteo clone called Total Soccer, (and also have a figure range called FT Champs). In the UK and Ireland, the game was distributed by Paul Lamond Games Ltd. However, other countries had their own distribution companies, and different products were released for each market.

The key innovation with this product was the flexible players made from a rubbery plastic (an experiment which began in Total Soccer). This makes them far less likely to break in play, which can only be a good thing. The team range was split between official teams and generic ones. The official teams used squad numbers and a few hair and skin colour variations to identify individual players - which is a nice touch.

The range steadily improved as it went along, with a good range of teams in attractive colours. The boxes were eye-catching, and sturdy, with the full team displayed to view. The original box interiors were a bit of a disaster, bending the players forward and making them difficult to release. Pleasingly, these were improved with the later releases.

March 2020: - In 2020 it was announced that Hasbro had a new "Global Partner" for their Subbuteo products, a Hong Kong company called Longshore Limited. On top of this, for UK customers, Paul Lamond Games were absorbed by University Games. Although Longshore originally seem to be selling many of the same items as Netcam/Eleven Force, this seemed a good place to start a new page. So for products released after June 2020, please refer to the Longshore Products page.

Official Team Editions.

A further new venture for 2015 were official club editions. Although it looked like a unified range, the sets for each country were in their respective languages, and so like many of the other products on this page, were only sold in their specific markets (chiefly in club shops). So the range is split into the separate sections for each country.

The main selling point for these sets was, of course, an licensed Subbuteo replica of the relevant team, complete with badges, logos and shirt advertising. In the original sets the ball also featured the club badge, although this seems to have been dropped. The second team in the set was simply a generic team in a contrasting colour. For example, the Arsenal set had a standard blue/white team, and the Liverpool opponent was in all yellow. Beyond that, you got the standard pitch, goals and corner flags. Nothing too thrilling....

The "Partwork" Editions.

These arrived later than the team editions, and tended to be in square boxes. Whilst the game contents (goals, balls etc) are the same as the Netcam sets, the teams are described as "classic". What this means is that they are not the flexible figures from this range, but instead the replica lightweights produced for the Italian Fabbri Editori partwork of 2009-10. These teams have been floating around the sales websites for a decade, and I'm assuming these sets were another way to use up unsold warehouse stock. As they are not using the teams from this range, these sets are covered on box sets in the 21st Century.


United Kingdom Products - Distributor Paul Lamond.

Paul Lamond were the distributors for the United Kingdom and Ireland, and were the first range to launch. However, they were not very successful in getting their product into toy shops, and the range was pretty low profile. Despite this, a good number of teams were produced, and the official kits were updated frequently until about 2015.

3005 Team Edition (2012).

The box set is of course the centre-piece of any Subbuteo range. Go to my focus on the 2012 Subbuteo Team Edition for a full review of this product. This was the original box set produced for Paul Lamond. This was later replaced by the International Playset shown below.

International Playset Edition (2015).

This set was launched in 2015 to replace the one shown above, and again it is a no-thrills full edition of the game. This time the teams are simply all red, and all white, and lack the shirt numbers of the earlier Paul Lamond edition. The set also lacks the plastic insert, with the teams being supplied loose in bags. The box is a thinner cardboard, and everything seems cheaper.

As with many of the items from 2015 onwards, the box features an extra Subbuteo logo in a "retro" capital letter format (last seen in the 1970s), with a tag ling of "since 1947".

Paul Lamond also distributed a near identical "Champions League Edition" dated to 2016. This featured the same two teams, and lacked the plastic insert of the Italian versions of this set (which are shown in the Italian section).

Special England Edition (2018).

 

A late Paul Lamond set, probably produced with an eye on the 2018 World Cup. The box set included England, and "one surprise national team". This mystery team, is frankly just that. Clearly designed to be Brazil, the lack of green trim makes it look very unconvincing. Is it Sweden with white socks? This box set had an insert to hold the teams and accessories. It is shown with the blue and red Champions League set, way, way down this page!

Paul Lamond Official teams.

The official teams were really the stand-out products of the new range. Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool were initially released for the 2011-12 season. The other British sides produced were slowly teased out over the course of 18 months, with rumours of Manchester City and Arsenal arriving long before the actual products. Clearly, the paperwork isn't the quickest... Luckily, Arsenal wore the same home kit for 2013-14, so that kit stayed current when it was late arriving. Paul Lamond were less lucky with the Manchester City, where the lovely Mohican-haired Balotelli figure (with his 45 shirt number) became available just as the player was moving to Milan....

With many teams changing kit every year, it seems that Paul Lamond (and this website)struggled to keep up. I've added a few of the variations from the Mad-About-Games website listed as 2015 or 2016. I'm not sure I'm right yet with the number of variants out there. Some of the Chelsea teams are very similar....

  

Although the numbers suggest otherwise, I think Celtic and Rangers arrived first. Neither were ever updated.

New for 2013-14 were Arsenal and Spurs, with the Tottenham kit already out of date.

English Official Editions 2015-16.

    

These are really the high point of the Paul Lamond range, and the UK range seemed to fade away after these releases. These box sets were produced for the 2015-16 season, and match the similar ones that arrived in France and Spain at the same time. In Spain, these were the first editions of a range which ran until the licence stopped in 2020. For France and the UK, this was the only year that these box sets were produced. The 2015-16 sets across Europe were marked out by the window showing two players, and a club ball, and the bigger sides had lids showing a selection of real players.

I am now assuming that the other official Paul Lamond sides  (Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Spurs), were never produced as sets. As Subbuteo was not on the High Street in 2015, I assume these sets were produced primarily for the official club shops, and perhaps only Arsenal and Liverpool took up the offer. It is worth noting that as far as I can make out, only Arsenal and Liverpool have their 2015-16 strip produced as an individual team. Everyone else was still in the previous year. See above list for details.

These two teams were the last official sides produced for Paul Lamond as far as I can ascertain.

Paul Lamond National Sides.

  

3095 (a) England - navy shorts.
3095 (b) England - white shorts.
3105 Scotland
3115 Ireland

The three national sides were really a halfway house between the licensed teams and the generic ones. They have extra details with badges and numbers on the fronts of the figures, and the country name is on the box. However, they are not official products, and just feature the flags of the countries involved, rather than the official association badges. For example, England have the cross of St George, rather than the Three Lions. Welsh Subbuteo players felt suitably left out (Northern Ireland too really, due to the badge). At least the generic red/white team from the box set will cover for Wales.

Paul Lamond Generic sides.

 

3125 Red white stripes, black shorts (Sunderland etc.)
3135 Black white Stripes, black shorts (Newcastle Utd etc.)
3145 All White (Swansea, Leeds Utd, Spurs etc.)
3155 Claret shirts, with blue sleeves, white shorts (Aston Villa, West Ham Utd etc.)
3165 Blue and white stripes, blue shorts (Wigan, Brighton and Hove Albion etc.)
3205 Yellow shirts, Green shorts (Norwich City etc.)

A sensible response to modern licensing issues, the remainder of the range produced are generic kits in classic football colours.

2018-20 Generic Sides.

The end of the lovely licensed teams in the UK is signalled by the release of this new set of generic teams featuring the colours of the major British sides. Not as pretty as the detailed sides they replaced, they do at least have the advantage of standing in for some lower league teams - i.e. Preston North End (Spurs), Fleetwood Town (Arsenal) or even Yeovil Town (Celtic). It is also worth noting that whilst the Italian and Spanish licensed ranges moved onto a  flatter "table soccer" base, the UK teams and sets retained the more traditional bases.

3405 Sky Blue shirt, white shorts, sky blue socks (Manchester City).
3415 Red shirt, white shorts. black socks (Manchester United, Morecambe....).
3425 Blue shirt, blue shorts, white socks (Chelsea, Colchester United....).
3435 All red (Liverpool, Accrington Stanley.... )
3445 Red shirt, white sleeves, white shorts and socks (Arsenal, Rotherham United....).
3455 White shirt, navy shorts, white socks (Tottenham Hotspur, Preston North End....)
3465 Green and white hoops, white shorts and socks (Celtic, Yeovil Town....)

Accessories.

So far, this is a very straightforward accessory range.

           

3075 Balls
This is a set of three extra balls in white, yellow and orange. "Night time, daytime and playing in the snow are no problem with our coloured football set" says the packaging. It'll take more than a yellow ball to be able to play under Subbuteo floodlighting, lets be honest. For the proper 1970s experience, talc up a pitch for snow.**
3085 Referees (yellow kit).
The referees set is borrowed from Netcam's Total Soccer range - it is a first time in Subbuteo for these castings. Like the players, the referees are made from a rubbery material. The set contains four officials, and a white ball. The fourth official is indicating that there are two minutes of added time -  two minutes (as the stadium announcer would say).
3175 Goals.
The not very good, (but at least pretty robust) goals from the standard set. You won't need to buy as many of these as you did in the 1970s, even if you do play on the floor.
3185 Pitch set.
The pitch set is a little unusual, as it is practically an old Club Edition without the teams, so you get the pitch, plus goals, balls and flags. The flags are a little surprising, as they do not appear in the full Team Edition of the game.
3195 Fence.
An expensive item, this is a solid white plastic structure, with a selection of advertising stickers.
3265 Penalty Shoot Out.
Less exciting than it sounds, this little set is just a goal, a ball, a goalkeeper and a single blue player. It might useful for introducing kids to the basics of the game without having to invest in a full 40 boxed set. However, with no pitch, and only the one player, it has less content than the photo-real penalty shoot out set, that was "given away" with an Easter Egg a few years back.
3285 Flicking Goalkeeper Set.
Two extra players in goalkeeper kits (one all blue, one all yellow - with painted gloves!), to take goal kicks properly. This almost feels like a proper Subbuteo accessory range now doesn't it? Throw-in figures next surely? The set also includes an orange ball.

The later Champions League Accessory range seems to have originated in Italy, so you can find it in that section.

** I wrote this throw-away comment about a snowy pitch a few years ago. Was someone at Netcam listening? Reported as being the final Netcam release, a snowy pitch (complete with three coloured balls) was released in 2020. It had to be imported to the UK, so I'm assuming it isn't an official Paul Lamond release.... but it had to be added to this accessory range. Just a stunningly brave release....


Spanish Products. - Distributors NIV and Eleven Force S.L.

Another big range was produced for Netcam's own Spanish market. This range originally consisted of unofficial national teams, with two box sets supporting this. They then branched out, first into generic teams designed to match the colours of the major Spanish sides, and then later to official club teams.

Spanish Editions (2012).

  

In Netcam's home territory, rather than the Paul Lamond team Edition, two alternate box sets were produced featuring the Spanish national team versus either Brazil or Germany. A range of national team colours were produced to support this.

Five-A-Side Edition (2015).

Another Spanish set arriving in 2015 is a five-a-side edition of Subbuteo. (or 5 vs 5 Indoor, as the box calls it). Always a useful addition to the range for those with limited space. The teams in the box are Spain and Brazil.

National Teams 2012-14?.

     

These teams were the first to be released in Spain, and were designed to compliment their box sets shown above. Like the UK unofficial country releases, these teams had badges that matched the flag of the respective country rather than their football associations.

A new wave of releases were issued later, so there are more than one version of several of the teams. I have yet to get them all fully catalogued.

 

Unlicensed Spanish Issue Teams (2015).

A second set of releases exclusive to Spain arrived in 2015, and for the first time these covered the colours of club sides.

I believe there are two more versions not illustrated here, but I still need confirmation. I think the plain all-white kit (as produced for the Paul Lamond range) was also sold in Spain. I have also seen the red and white striped team with black shorts sold as Athletic Bilbao. This could, again, be the version sold by Paul Lamond, but the illustrated box version suggested black socks. Evidence is awaited.

As with the Paul Lamond generic sides, the advantage of these teams is that they can be used to represent many other teams. Indeed, the UK importers were offering the white team with black trim as a Premiership Swansea City. The simple white and black team made a nice Fulham, although you might question the orange bases in this case....

Big Box Official Sides (2014-15 and 2015-16)

     

These teams were the first non-Paul Lamond official products. The small print mentioned NIV (Netcam) as the producer and a Spanish distributor called Eleven Force S.L.

As with the Paul Lamond official teams, these sides are rather special, with badges, numbers, chest advertisements, and individual hair and skin colours. In addition, the teams have an outfield player painted into a goalkeeper strip for goal kicks, and a ball in the club colours. Sadly, the lovely large boxes take a backward step, with cheap white plastic inserts bending the players in the box, and making removal difficult. Better for display than playing?

 

These team releases were only ever produced for Spain's big two - Barcelona and Real Madrid. Where they differed from the official box sets of the period was that away kits were produced for the first time. Sadly, it proved to be the only time. Whilst the big box home kits were updated for a second year of production, the away kits were never replaced. 

Standard Box Official sides - First releases 2015-16.

 

Whilst Barcelona and Real Madrid received deluxe team releases, a further three official teams arrived in standard boxes.

Spanish Official Club Editions 2014-15 - 2015-16.

   

As with the English Editions, I assume these were  mainly produced for club shops. All five teams who had received official reproductions at this stage saw a box set released. To recap, they were....

It should be noted that Atletico Madrid joined Barcelona and Real Madrid in having real players featured on the box, whereas Valencia and Bilbao sets had a simple silhouette style illustration of players, who were coloured to the correct kit.

Standard Box Official Team Releases. Second Year 2016-17. (New base type).

2016-17 saw the range of official teams increased, and also saw new versions of Barcelona and Real Madrid drop into the standard boxed range (with no sign of their away kits sadly). It is fair to say that some of the new teams produced were not giants of the Spanish game. Certainly Real Zaragoza and Osasuna are not even regulars in the top flight. What all these new teams had in common, was a new style of base. This base was clearly looking to appeal to the more serious table soccer players, and reflect how the style of these bases has changed over time (see my modern playing history for more details...). This base was a single colour piece of plastic (no weight), with a colourful sticker on the top surface, mentioning Subbuteo (of course), plus the team name and badge. This seems like a late design decision, as the bases have Subbuteo embossed under the sticker. Perhaps because of this, the stickers have an annoying habit of curling at the edges, and rising off the bases. In addition, the player pegs do not always seem to fit very well to the bases. The quality control therefore looks to be lacking. The "semi-professional" base shape involves a wide bottom, a low curved side, and a prominent bevelled top (for ease of chipping). However, the figures are not glued into the bases, and I suspect that most club players would put the players into their own base of choice rather than use these.

UK distributor Paul Lamond never switched production to these bases, and the poor build quality perhaps explains why. Nevertheless, if you want to play the modern sliding version of table soccer, these teams are a better bet than the earlier ones, and I suspect they would make the game easier for children and home players to master.

Official Box Sets 2016-17.

As with the previous year, all these teams were also sold as a full boxed edition with an appropriately coloured generic opponent. The boxes matched the previous year's generic efforts, but without the window panel, or the named ball. The third edition of Barcelona, (with two stripes) was in this selection of teams, but the box set I've seen has a lid to match the 17-18 releases.

It is worth noting that Athletic Bilbao received a new kit for a second edition of their box set, but this was not produced as a single team to my knowledge. This becomes a trend as we move towards the end of the Netcam/Eleven Force era, making the number of teams produced even more difficult to gauge. 

Standard Box Official Team Releases. Third Year 2017-18.

   

More licensed teams from "Eleven Force", issued in grey boxes as opposed to the usual green. As before, they are an eccentric selection of teams with an equally eccentric numbering system. Still, Malaga is very pretty, and it is nice to have a proper official Sevilla at last. There is a great use of different blue plastics on the bases, as otherwise pretty much the whole range was going to clash. What a lot of blue and white kits....

Seen in the green/white box of the previous year's releases, this was a fourth different Real Madrid team. The blue outer bases clash beautifully with most of the other releases for this year. Where is that Real Madrid away kit when you need it? Barcelona were in thinner stripes for 2017-18, and I can't work out if this was produced....

Official Sets 2017-18.

In these releases, Sevilla has the silhouette box from the previous year, whilst all the others use the template of the International Playset - with players kicking and heading the ball. As the boxes show, all the blue teams are playing against an all-red team. Sevilla have an all-yellow opponent. Great for Villareal.

Further Official Sets - 2017-20.

 

The constantly updating box sets are exhausting..... and would fill your house if you were collecting.

Somewhere in the final couple of years of Spanish production see the release of these further sets, with unique teams not sold separately. Shown above (left to right) are Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Barcelona (their checkerboard kit from 2019-20), and a completely new side - Sporting Gijon. The box sets have a plastic insert to hold the contents (see the blue Champions League box set further down the page).

How many Real Madrid box sets and teams have been released is a mystery to me. There is a Champions League special illustrated here, as well as their usual version. Their all-white kit does not make it easy to spot different versions!


Italian Products - Distributor Giochi Preziosi SPA.

Netcam went down the route of having different distributors for each of the main Subbuteo markets, and in turn produced a different range of teams for each country. So in Italy, there is a completely different mix of generic teams. These have been produced in the general colours of Serie A teams, with a few unlicensed top European teams added to the mix. Whilst this makes sense from a general sale point of view (British football fans being mostly unfamiliar with Catania or Palermo. Italian fans not needing a "West Ham"), it is frustrating for collectors.

The Italian distributor is Giochi Preziosi SPA, and the printed barcode references for these teams are GPZ0xxxx rather than the PLGxxxx references on the UK and Eire products. It's worth noting, that on the teams I own, the "Palermo" and the "Fiorentina" both use the same barcode, and reference number, although the boxes are printed with the correct coloured player/flag.

Italian Sides (Italian Club Editons).

  

In addition, I believe the black and white striped shirt with black shorts (also in the Paul Lamond range) was available, as an alternative Juventus/Udinese, but I await proof.

This was the first range produced for the Italian market. The teams actually have "Italian club edition" printed at the bottom of the box, although they are unofficial representations.

European Club Sides.

  

These teams were released at the same time as the "Italian club edition" sides, but with no additional writing on the boxes. With the exception of the "Barcelona" these teams look pretty much identical to those released as generic teams in the UK several years later.

UEFA Champions League Edition.

    

New in 2015, was a set licensed to the UEFA Champions League. I believe this is now the basic set produced for the Italian market - the clue being the Astrobase logo on the plastic insert. As with the International playset, the teams are in simple all white and all red colours. The differences in these sets being the aforementioned plastic insert, and the inclusion of four Champions League balls, a very generous number. Note that the inset is not an exact fit to the box, and the goals are not on their bases. Is this borrowed from another Astrobase set? Some of the original Italian team range have also been produced in Champions League boxes, with the sides picked from the unlicensed teams produced for the Italian market. See below for more details.

The Champions League set gets a more widespread distribution later. I have a Paul Lamond set dated to 2016. This is a rather cut-down affair. The Astrobase insert is missing (perhaps understandably), so the components are just loose in bags. There is now only one ball. The pitch has Champions League logos, but it is a rather thin affair. The rules are on a single double-sided sheet of (thin) A4 paper.

It has been pointed out that NetCam lucked-in with the choice of team colours for this set, with the 2018 Final being Real Madrid (in white) and Liverpool (in red), and again with 2019 being Tottenham (in all white), and Liverpool (again).

The UEFA Champions League Range.

   

Just to add to the fun, these are licensed boxes with unlicensed teams. The teams seem to be taken from the other Italian ranges as appropriate. So far, the following have been sighted.

        

In addition, there are Champions League accessory sets. Please note the different colour referees here, and the Champions League balls. There is also an official Champions League pitch, with advertising surround and two-tone grass!

Another addition to this range was the Champions League Fence Surround.

2017-18 Official Editions and Teams.

     

The official teams and box sets arrived later in Italy than other markets, beginning with Juventus in 2016, which was released as a boxed set, and also an individual team. This was followed by an official AC Milan team in 2017.

 

An Atalanta set turned up towards the end of 2020, rewarding them for their heroic Champions League campaigns.


French Products.

I had assumed that the official club editions were the first exclusive new Subbuteo products launched in France. However, I saw this image online (on a French news website) showing a France vs Brazil set to match the early Spanish releases shown further up the page. What is interesting about this is that the French national side did not appear in the Spanish team releases. Was this produced?

February 2021: Looking at the website of French distributors Megableu, there is an small video running featuring French legend Christian Karembeu (who is their Subbuteo Ambassador). The set being played with clearly has a French team with blue shirts, and red socks, paired with a Spain (red shirts, blue shorts). This set is (sadly) no longer available, but it is another variant to look out for.

      

A range of official products for the French league arrived in 2015, at the same time as the English and Spanish sets. Like the English sets, these do not seem to have been a great success, as they were not repeated. There were just three teams involved.....

Marseille and Paris Saint Germain received a full boxed set featuring their home kit, and an individual team set, interestingly featuring the away kits (white shirts, red shorts for PSG, and all black for Marseille). So the only way to get the home kit was to buy the full set, and these were the only "small box" away kits ever produced by Netcam.

St Etienne do not seem to have received a box set. Their home kit was released as a single team. I wonder why.


Portuguese Products. Distributor - David M Lopes LDA

     

The Portuguese additions to the Subbuteo range seem as brief as the French ones, but with an added twist. Here, the only official side produced (both as a full edition and as a boxed team) is Benfica. However, there are also unofficial teams to represent the other members of the big three - Porto and Sporting Lisbon. Note that the blue and white striped team here is different to the one produced for Paul Lamond.

Official Club Sides -

Unofficial Club Sides

 


Greek Products.

   

Another European market with a good Subbuteo following among players and collectors, here we have more specially tailored Subbuteo editions. Like Italy, Greece has gone down the unofficial team channel. Both styles of box set shown at the top of the page seem to have been released. However, here the teams have been replaced with more suitable colours. So we have the red and white stripes with red shorts of Olympiakos, playing either Panathinikos (originally green and white stripes, then all green), or AEK Athens (yellow shirts, black shorts).


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