Subbuteo Tribute Website.
We've reached 1976-77 in our epic tour of the Wonderful World of Subbuteo, and the arrival of the crowning glory of the whole thing - the Subbuteo stadium. This is also the time that the remaining A-Z accessories were given "C" numbers - between C144 and C152. Not wanting to describe them again, they
really just merit a heading, and a comment on their
survival. Plus illustrations of any packaging with the new numbers. Clear? Good, and so without further ado:-
Box types:- There were two big changes in Subbuteo packaging design during this era. Firstly, the word Subbuteo moved from upper case to lower case. The grandstand seems to be the first accessory to see this change, and it also occurs on the box sets. Secondly, the 1970s kicking footballer, and related logos (sometimes a goalkeeper, sometimes just the ball) are replaced by the hobby-crest logo. This had been seen earlier in the 1970s (i.e. on the Subbuteo sound record sleeve), but it now took prominence. However, the kicking footballer existed as far as C154, and also had a final appearance on C165 in 1979. That might be an exception though.... However, "lower case lettering" is a less catchy title than "hobby-crest", so that is what I'm calling this era of boxes.
C140: Stadium Grandstand.
Specially designed for the big match atmosphere, this superb model is moulded in green and tan; supplied with five spectator figures.
Having scoreboards, TV towers, ball boys, and other pitch side sets, I imagine the urge to produce the stands as well must have been overwhelming for Subbuteo in the 1970's. It must have been a mammoth task, but I think they got it absolutely right as this is a beautifully designed grandstand. It arrived in 1976 at a cost of £2.95, making it the most expensive item then available. The spectators (C141) arrived at the same time, but the terrace, and corner terrace arrived slightly later in 1977. The stadium lived on into the "61" number years, but was finally replaced in 1988 by the more modern looking red, white and blue stadium (61216). The set was originally sold with just five painted spectators, but later re-boxed ones also included 25 unpainted spectators.
C141: Spectator Set.
Ten seated spectator figures to swell the attendance of the new stadium grandstand.
However, there were soon five newly designed figures in the usual packs, each painted in two standard variations using a minimum number of colours. They were:-
Later packs are painted differently, and often more sensibly (blue jeans and white shirts for instance). The second picture shows a few other examples that I have repeated. The ladies wearing a red and orange combo (rather than green) seem to be early in date. I have several with red shirt and orange trousers, but the only reversed one I own is still in a sealed bag. When the cheering gentleman with the tank top has a white shirt, he always seems to have brown hair, whereas with the yellow shirt his hair is black.
C142: Stadium Terracing.
A cheaper way to enclose your ground, this was basically just the two tan coloured tiers of seats from the grandstand, with small plastic uprights to hold up the back. It was a credit to the stadium design that this worked so effectively. With the original version of this set, no more spectators were provided so you had to fork out for a few more C141s. When it was re-boxed in 1984 twenty-five unpainted crowd figures were added. This set survived alongside the green/tan grandstand, but when the new stand was produced in 1988, it was changed to a grey version and gained a new number - 61217.
Alternate Early Version.
This is a strange thing. This early version of the terrace set has the terrace supported by two ball raising chutes (Set JJ). I would have put this down as a bit of enterprise by the previous owner, if the back of the box didn't illustrate how to apply them. I guess we now know why the ball raising chute does not make it into the "C" range in 1977. The remaining stock was put to a different use!
C143: Stadium Terracing Corner Unit.
...to enable you to complete your stadium.
C144: Three Panelled Balls.
Previously Set F.
C145: Three Small Balls.
Previously Set FF.
Arrived on this number in 1977 at 49p, but only for a single year. It was gone in 1978.
C147: Logbook Refill.
Previously Set LX.
This item managed to out last the cover by a couple of years, and it still featured in the 1980 catalogue... but it had gone by 1981. The final version is shown here.
It cost 35p in 1980.
Previously Set N.
C149: Smaller Goals.
Previously Set NN.
Again the box is reprinted, but there seemed little point to it, because this time the accessory had left the range by the time of the 1978 price list.
C150: Fixture Cards.
Previously Set U.
C151: Referee's Whistle.
Previously Set V.
Another pointless renumber really, but at least this item gets two years 1977 (at 25p) and 1978 (at 30p). Although it had gone in 1979, Subbuteo did release a new Referee's kit (C166) in that year, and the whistle in that set seems to be the same product.
C152: Automatic Timer.
Previously Set W.
The expensive timer sees some crazy price increases leading into this one appearance. £2.50 in 1975, £4.35 in 1976 and £5.22 here. That is dearer than a grandstand.
C153: Diving Goalkeepers with caps.
There was no catalogue description to go with these, but then they did not really need one. They were exactly as the name suggests. They are actually a favourite design of mine as they possess a wide, stable stance. They replaced the crouching goalkeepers in the range (and in the interchangeable goalkeepers set). As they appear to have a slightly wider coverage than some of the alternative goalkeepers, they were popular with players, and so must have been a nice steady, simple money-earner for Subbuteo. See my illustration with the usual diving version (in blue) for the difference. Obviously, they were much more use than a crouching keeper.
They arrived in 1978 and remained in the range until 1995. Like the standard goalkeeper, they received a peg base around 1985. Given that they seemed popular, it is perhaps surprising to find that they were actually dropped to the "requests only" part of the price list in 1982-84, returning to the shop range in 1985 as the pegged figure. The 1985 price list actually has them highlighted as a "new" item, although obviously they were not. I think they were the only set that returned to the main range from the "request" list.
The later goalkeepers do not pick up the more exotic colours of the diving/live-action keepers. They were generally sold as one yellow shirted keeper, and one in pale blue. The large picture above shows a couple of slight alternatives with the early keepers. These generally seem to wear a contrasting cap, that (as with hair colour) tends to match the boots. So I have a keeper with a black cap and boots, but also one with brown cap and boots (wearing black socks). Later on, the caps match the shirts. That's better really, because the black/brown caps just end up looking like hair.
C154: Tournament Goals.
With round posts and crossbar, and bases for extra stability.
The early goals were assembled by Subbuteo, but later when the self-assembly goals arrived, these two arrived flat-packed. The net colour of these goals is usually white. They were white for the first catalogue appearance in 1978, but are shown with a different colour net in the 1979 catalogue. I think it is probably the dark blue "World Cup" net that they are shown with.
Once again, this was a nice simple set, that lived on until the last big accessory range of 1995. They also appeared in some of the bigger sets of the early 1990s.
C155: Subbuteo World
The Subbuteo catalogues changed in 1978 from a fold out poster of team colours with accessory details on the back, to a full blown colour illustrated catalogue. This new catalogue was made available to buy in the shops. My 1981 version cost me (or probably my mum!) the princely sum of 20p. The catalogue was given the C155 number in 1978, and this number carried on through the four versions of this catalogue until 1981. After that, Subbuteo changed back to producing posters of the range for several years. I've now added a couple of pages of catalogues to the website, so you can check out what was produced for each year.
T.V. Film Unit.
C157: Subbuteo World Cup.
This short-lived set is a bit of a mystery. It first arrived in the catalogues in 1979. The Jules Rimet trophy had remained the Subbuteo World Cup to this point, although a new trophy had been designed for the 1974 competition after Brazil won the original outright in 1970. Although the new World Cup did feature a globe being held aloft, it looked nothing like this version, with a couple of players doing the lifting. It is possible that it was an attempt to produce a trophy similar to the new FIFA World Cup without paying for a licence. Previously, I wondered whether it was a replica of the cup the Subbuteo World Champion received, but no, that was still the awkward looking John Waddington trophy.
Charles Stadden had produced Subbuteo's version of the Jules Rimet, but I have been told that he did not like the design of the new trophy, and refused to copy it. Perhaps this was the result. Whatever the reasons, this trophy was replaced by an official copy of the new FIFA World Cup (C182) in 1981.
If anyone can clear this up then please mail me.
C158: Stadium Scoreboard.
Fully working with name cards of all leading English and Scottish League Clubs...
The box shown here is an early design, and note that the illustration was not completely accurate, with the board looking too long, and the legs shown as being on the right on the ends. Actually, the design of the legs ended up being a bit complicated. Because one of the legs had to slot in over the back of the dial cover, that leg would end up slightly behind the other. So each leg was designed differently to make allowance for this, and were then labelled A and B so you put them in the correct side of the board. The big legs also allowed you to place the board flush to the back of the terrace set while still reading the scores. Very clever.
The second picture above shows the pale blue version of the board, as produced for the Euro 96 box set. This was the only time the scoreboard wasn't produced in black.
The scoresheets for this board were produced on black card with little white dots making up the names, representing a digital display. These were initially in lower case, and came on a single fold-out card. This "lower-case" set was copied from the C115 cards, with only the English and Scottish leagues, World Cup sides, and home nations. These scoresheets were updated for the 1982 World Cup, but replaced sometime in the mid-1980s with an international version.
This second version was produced in capital letters, and consisted of 20 cards each containing 26 team names, covering most of the leagues that Subbuteo provided teams for (but not always the same teams....). So Vasco De Gama could now play Athlone Town on your bedroom floor. The twenty cards remained until the set was finally ceased at the end of the 1990s. However, they were updated on a frequent basis. The most common reason for this was the introduction of relegation from the English football league, starting with Scarborough replacing Lincoln City in 1987. These were just a straight swap on the list, so the alphabetical order became a bit erratic. Other big changes included dropping the NASL teams, and swapping World Cup qualifiers.
C159: Police Squad.
Introduced at the same time as C156, this was another attempt to update the "stand around the pitch" range for the 1980's. These flat capped modern policemen replaced the bobbies in C113. I think they were designed to give a more European feel. Without the distinctive British helmets, these figures could be sold anywhere... I'm not sure why the motorcyclist would be standing around the pitch (unless someone has ordered a pizza). The set is on this number until 1986/87 when it became part of 61214, and it finally finished up in 61239 in 1996. It also appeared in the Match Day series (187/4). Buy all these sets, and you have enough horses to produce the impressive slow march across the football field to separate any marauding plastic fans. But if you want a truck with a water cannon, you'll have to buy a Corgi one....
C160: Soccer Plotter.
The self-adhesive figures were simply the illustrations from the zombie catalogues of 1977-80. The 92 stickers were provided alphabetically by division, which dates the leagues to the 1978-79 season. The kits date to the 1978 catalogue (for instance, Hull City are ref 35). Some kits reappear several times (reference 51 was five different sides in the 1978 catalogue), but Subbuteo did a lot of quirky kits in this period, and it is nice to see the individual kits for teams like Rochdale, Orient, York and Cardiff. The same sticker sheet was used for the later Trophy Trail, but with the team names removed.
C161: Floodlight Mains Adaptor Unit.
Okay, how can I say anything exciting about this? It did what it said, allowing you to run the floodlights from the mains rather than gobble up batteries. In fact, it included wires to connect up four floodlights, so it was quite a good idea. It doesn't feature on any of the product range posters later than 1982, but then it's not exactly gripping poster material. It seems to drop to the reserve list on the 1983 price list (available to order, but not readily stocked at shops), and disappeared a year later.
C162: EPNS Cup Large.
C163: EPNS Cup Medium.
C164 EPNS Cup Small.
Peter Adolph first introduced the EPNS Cups (Electro-Plated Nickel Silver) circa 1960. There were originally four cups, but this dropped to three in 1977. These cups were designed as prizes for local leagues etc, so they were kept separate from the normal range until 1979, when the three remaining cups became C162-C164. They were illustrated in the 1979 catalogue, which was possibly the first time they'd been illustrated since the 1960/61 catalogue. This 1979 listing is their only appearance on the new numbers, and a price list dated 1st July 1979 already has "sold out" printed next to all three. It's pure speculation, but it's amusing to imagine that sales had trundled along at a low level for years, until this catalogue appearance whereupon enough extra sales were generated to exhaust the stock in a few months. Certainly as a newbie Subbuteo player in 1979, I thought the high "C" numbers indicated that these were new items.
The remaining A-Z referenced accessories reached the "C" range in 1977, and these cups were the final non "C" numbered items to cross over.
The 1978 price list actually still had prices for E300-302 Football Express items, plus the medals (bronze and silver) and the plaques. None of those moved across of course.
I have a 1st February 1979 price list which prices the three EPNS cups at £9.50, £3.50 and £2.50 respectively. As noted, all three had sold out on the July list.
Oddly, the 1978 price list had them unreferenced at £10.20, £2.85, and £2.43.
C165: Home International Team Pack.
C166: Referee's Kit.
As mentioned, this item only ran in the UK until 1983, and it should be available on the first two backing cards...
However, it is still advertised as available in the Italian catalogue of 1994 with a 61166 number. Old stock or new cards?
C167: Three Tournament Balls.
C168: Fifty unpainted Crowd Figures.
Introduced in 1980, this was a response to demand for a cheaper way to fill the stadium. Obviously it would be costly for the company to paint big packs of figures, so these were supplied in pink plastic. That at least, made them very easy to paint up, especially anyone with a few military modelling paints sitting around. Just paint them Africa Corps yellow... One website visitor did mention dunking these figures into a paint pot to give them a better colour on the terraces, but most people just seem to have used them "naked". The set out lasted the hand painted set (C141), and survived until 1995.
C169: Advertising Boards.
Add realism to your Subbuteo scene with these perimeter advertising boards.
Another simple, but effective addition in Subbuteo's big expansion phase of 1979-82. Each board was just a piece of thin white card, scored down the middle, onto which two adverts from the fence surround (C108) could be placed. You then folded along the middle line, stood them by the pitch, and hey presto - advertising boards. They were produced until 1983, and although one was shown on the 1984 poster which is when the numbers changed, they weren't given a new number, and this was just an old illustration being reused.
Well, we've reached the end of another page. Next up, the continuation of the large 1978-82 accessory expansion - all the way to C193.