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Subbuteo in the 21st Century.
La Leggenda - Fabbri Editori Partwork 2009-10
Licensed from Hasbro by Fabbri Editori, this was a weekly partwork with a price of 9.90/9.95 Euros each. This was initially planned to be forty issues, but as is normal with partworks, success led to a few extensions. Interest clearly remained high as eventually 150 issues were produced.
Each issue was based on a different team, and focused on a particular year of note for that side. The small eight page magazine explained the significance of this, and included the line-up and little titbits of information (in Italian of course). Then the team was supplied in Subbuteo for you to play with. Excellent. The teams were in standard lightweight format, with an 1980s style base. However, close examination revealed that this was a new mould. It is rumoured that the Waddingtons moulds are "missing in action", but perhaps they were just in the wrong country. These were hard plastic figures of course, but like Netcam's teams, they were on flesh coloured plastic. The base was also a new mould with Subbuteo 09©Hasbro around the top. If the players and bases look familiar to British owners, then this is because these moulds were also used for the Marks and Spencer special edition of 2009.
The boxes were a fitting tribute to the lovely 1980s display box, with the familiar new Subbuteo logo, and team details printed on - so each team had a unique box. However, the interiors were plastic rather than polystyrene. The team colours themselves show the advances that have occurred since Subbuteo was in full production in the 1990s. The players really do look fantastic with detailed badges and trim as appropriate. By picking a particular year for each team, the makers managed to avoid the problem of out-of-date kits. Okay, all the kits are deliberately out-of-date, but they also successfully give a snap-shot in time.
The teams selected for the partwork are an interesting mix. The series started with the big national sides, and then covered the Italian league, South American club sides, and European club competitions. Obviously for a series aimed at the Italian market, there was a bias towards the Italian teams. There were five different Italian national sides (all just about different enough to warrant it!), plus home, away and even vintage sides for the top teams from Serie A. South American club football always had a big following in Italy (much less so in the UK), so these teams also make sense. The European mix had a great selection of club sides from the old Eastern block countries - something that the original Subbuteo mostly neglected. A notable absence though is any teams from the other big European leagues of England, Spain, France or Germany. I assume this was a licensing issue, a problem that sadly seems common in modern day production.
All in all, the range fills some notable gaps in the old Subbuteo lightweight ranges. It is nice to see reproductions of many of the World Cup qualifiers since 1994 when Subbuteo stopped producing them. I am pleased that Sao Paulo and Palmeiras from Brazil can join the other Brazilian lightweight teams I own.
September 2012 - This page would not have been so impressively illustrated without the assistance of Rui at Mad About Games, who kindly supplied me with a CD of his own team pictures. Mad About Games has a great range of these teams available to players and collectors. Follow the link - show that my site has a few visitors!
At this point, the partwork changed tack (and also lost count), as it switched to the Italian League. Again, it focused on a particular year for each team, and again mixed up champions, with other notable sides. The big three of Italian football (Juventus, Milan, and Inter), all received a home kit, and away kit and a vintage kit. Oh, and this range starts on the same number as the other range finished.... 25...
Nice to see historic Italian champions Casale and Pro Vercelli in miniature.
A third change of direction sees the range go off for a visit to South America, featuring famous continental champions.....
The partwork then returns to Italy for a single team.....
....before returning to the World Cup and European Championship participants. This batch feature some glorious excesses in kit design from the 1990s. Kits like Croatia, South Africa, Nigeria and the USA are beautifully reproduced.
Eighty issues would have been a quite reasonable production run for a partwork, but the series was obviously still selling, and so it was increased once more. This time, it was expanded into European club football. Noticeably ignoring England (Licensing issues?), these teams were winners of (or at least, notable participants in) one of the three major European competitions.
After this point, teams were added to the World Cup, South American, and European ranges in small batches. So we start with the Americas (note the North American Cosmos)
Then it was back to Europe again....
Then the national sides make a reappearance.....
Then we're heading to the Americas again, including a first Mexican side....
Okay, now it's Europe again, interestingly with a couple of really vintage years selected....
And then it's..... South America once more. Did you guess?
The next three teams looked like a whole new range - club champions around the world.Was this designed to scare punters? This list could be unending.....
...but no, that seemed to have been a very short experiment, after which the list wound up with a final run of World Cup sides (and hurrah for that!)
That brings us to the end of the run. Perhaps you are wondering where Togo and Trinidad and Tobago got to? Or Haiti? No, better not go there....
Or do. Togo and Trinidad and Tobago appear in thela leggenda platinum edition partwork. Follow the link for details.
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