Subbuteo Tribute Website.
Catalogues and Price Lists
Subbuteo's far outposts - Japan and New Zealand.
The Team Colours Project (Ongoing illustrated team lists).
Inventor Peter Adolph made an early attempt at an overseas expansion for Subbuteo, by producing box sets for the Belgian market in the late 1940s. Adolph visited Belgium to promote the game, and one of his more amusing stories relates to this experience. He apparently drank too much, flirted with a dignitary's wife, and ended up being challenged to a duel - or at least having to pay compensation for the experience. Perhaps this adventure discouraged Adolph from further overseas expansion, as Subbuteo remained a mostly British affair, at least until Waddingtons acquired the company in 1967.
Waddingtons could obviously see the potential market for Subbuteo wherever football was played, which was (and is) basically everywhere! Their strategy was to find partners in other territories, usually established toy/game companies, who could provide marketing and distribution for the game.
The following companies are known to have distributed Subbuteo.
Australia - Crown & Andrews. Early 1980s.
France - Delacoste. Responsible for constant French team changes in the 1970s. See the French Production pages.
Germany - Schnipp and Schuss in the 1970s. Jumbo in the 1980s. Jumbo produced their own box sets.
Holland - Clipper Games in the late 1970s/early 1980s. They also licenced Monopoly from Waddingons.
Italy - Edilio Parodi. From the early 1970s to the 1990s. The Italian Production page shows some of their unique products.
Spain - Juguetes Borras around the 1982 World Cup. Had their own boxes, and team production.
USA - Jokari in the NASL era of the early 1980s. The North American Range shows the catalogues produced by Jokari.
The companies mentioned above who don't have their own page (yet) feature on either on the International box sets page or the International Team Production page - or both.
However, Subbuteo's reach went even further than this. We can also add Japan and New Zealand to the list.
Japan - United Industrials Ltd.
Subbuteo reached Japanese shores in the mid 1970s, in the era of the Munich Edition. I wonder how many of those made it to Japan? The distributor was United Industrial Ltd.
The catalogue illustrated is A4 in size, and similar to those issued by Delacoste in the same period. Indeed, the page showing all the sets is identical to a Delacoste catalogue. However, the accessories picture comes, not from the French catalogue, but from the 1974/75 English poster. This means that C136, the Subbuteo Sound is illustrated. However, this is one of only two accessories on the accompanying price list that does not have a price in yen (C129 is the other). So sadly, perhaps the Wadhurst school band can't lay claim to being "big in Japan".
It is also worth noting that the Subbuteo rugby edition was also made available in this rugby playing nation. The red and white hoops of R13 would be perfect for Japan's national team, but although a common sight in early rugby sets, I think the sets were mainly red and blue teams by the mid 1970s.
Whilst the whole 1970s accessory range seems to have been made available to the Japanese, the team range was sadly truncated to a meagre fifteen top teams. Although the Japanese national league started in the mid-1960s, this was long before the high profile J-League. So Japanese punters had to make do with a few top club and international sides from around the world. It is interesting to note that the infamous green Santos made the cut.
This is the accompanying Japanese price list. The Munich set was a "reasonable" 25,500 yen. The Display edition was 3900 yen, and a team cost 1000 yen.
Many thanks to Ashley Hemmings who sent me the copy of this catalogue. I'd heard about it many years ago, but had never seen it.
New Zealand - Thos Holdsworth & Sons Ltd.
This catalogue was produced in New Zealand by Thos Holdsworth & Sons, and was simply the English catalogue from 1981 issued as a one piece fold-out item.
However, there are two additional pages added to explain which teams and accessories are actually available in New Zealand. Frustratingly for players of the period, the answer was "not many" - fifteen teams and ten accessories. Still you could at least buy a load of the all white reference 21, and then paint up some of the other 300 teams shown in the catalogue.
Pleasingly, a few New Zealand sides were added to the references that were sold. For instance, reference 47 was also Wellington Diamond Utd. They also provided the address of Waddingtons International if you wanted to import something not in the local range. This was in Wakefield, and was not the usual Leeds address.
Unlike the Japanese catalogue, Subbuteo rugby is not mentioned here. Judging from their relative strengths in the real sports, perhaps rugby and cricket would have been successful sellers for Subbuteo in this market, but these items were on their last legs by 1981.
I've borrowed these pictures from the International box sets page, to show the slightly amended Club Edition that was actually sold by Theo Holdsworth. This looked like a standard UK club edition on the outside, with just the Holdson logos showing that it is anything different.
However, the inside had a unique design, with a practical plastic insert, that covered about two-thirds of the box. The other third gave amble room for the standard Subbuteo pitch. The players were housed upright (Hasbro repeated this trick fifteen years later). Tournament goals were provided. These were supplied flat-packed, and there was no room in the box to store them assembled. An extra note was included regarding assembling and disassembling the goals. The most quirky thing about the New Zealand set were the flags, which were produced completely in orange plastic - including the round bases. This is perhaps worth comparing with the "reversed colour" flags of the Pelebol set.
The Team Colours Project (Ongoing illustrated team lists).