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Peter Upton's

Subbuteo Tribute Website.

Old Figures - New Games.

One of the most valuable possessions of any plastic kit manufacturer are the original moulds. As Airfix production over the last thirty years has shown, these moulds can have a long life if they are looked after properly. Of course this life span gives the moulds a high value, and there are many examples of them being sold between companies, allowing old forgotten kits to live again.

The same thing seems to have happened to Subbuteo's 1970s moulds, as the classic figures from this era have since reappeared in other games. 

Zugo Table Football.

   

Zugo is an Italian Subbuteo table football clone that was introduced in 1997. It was designed by Edilio Parodi, and is produced by the company that bears his name. Parodi was the Italian distributor of Subbuteo products, and when Hasbro stopped providing equipment for his Italian market, he produced this game to fill the gap. Parodi has a great reputation among the Italian table soccer fraternity, and his name is featured prominently on the boxes.

The standard box set has pitch, goals, two sizes of ball, and two teams in red and blue. So far, so Subbuteo! Later sets have different teams, with a final version using Aston Villa and Wolves who were also the final two sides in the team range. The pitch is a quality cloth one, unlike the recent Subbuteo nylon efforts, and the goals are a more robust version of the classic C130 World Cup goal. The player figures are based on the Subbuteo heavyweight figure of the 1970s but are clearly a second generation casting, being fatter and slightly less detailed than the Subbuteo equivalent. They are hand-painted in China, usually with a thick paint that looks bold and bright in play. The goalkeeper is on a blue rod, which is a couple of centimetres longer than the Subbuteo version.

The game is obviously Subbuteo table soccer under a different name, and you are left to wonder whether the Subbuteo patents have expired.

Unsurprisingly, Zugo has a range of teams to keep players and collectors happy. This is obviously dominated by Italian club sides, but also has a few other top European sides, and some famous national teams. The original range consisted of 52 teams, and this was later expanded to 56. The full range can be viewed on the Zugo Team Appendix page. The players are also available to buy unpainted, and the Woodentop shop in the UK did sell its own range of sides for a few years, covering most of the English and Scottish leagues, and other sides as requested.

The game does have an accessory range, but in general this is just spares for items in the box set; a pitch, goals, balls and goalkeepers. Subbuteo accessories have never been thin on the ground, and Parodi probably felt that teams would be the main attraction. However, there is one glorious exception to this rule. Zugo has one accessory that Subbuteo doesn't have, although you may need a bigger house to enjoy it. This accessory is the running track. As the picture shows, this is a full eight lane track that fits around the Subbuteo pitch for the authentic European stadium look. Seeing as the Subbuteo pitch is already too big for some dining room tables, you may have to push two tables together to get the running track to fit. Add a full stadium around the outside of your running track, and you have a Stadium fit for the Champions League.... Except that the only way to reach the pitch to actually play the game would be to float down from above in a Tom Cruise/Mission Impossible type way.

In 2002 Edilio Parodi snc were granted a licence to produce genuine Subbuteo products by Hasbro. Parodi's Chinese workforce turned to painting Subbuteo teams, and the Zugo range halted. The future for Zugo was uncertain. There were rumours of a new range to run alongside, and compliment the Subbuteo range, and also stories of the exact opposite - that Zugo production would be halted for good. As it now appears that Parodi do not have a licence to produce Subbuteo for 2004, the Zugo range may well be resurrected. Most fans of the heavyweight figure hope that this is the case.

Lunula Figures.

  

If you start to play in serious table soccer tournaments, you'll find that the players use a variety of expensive scientifically designed equipment. There are metal goals, and even metal goalkeepers, as well as a variety of high quality bases designed to enhance chips, accuracy or power. Lunula are one of these base manufacturers, but they also supplied whole teams (painted or unpainted) in either a heavyweight or lightweight figure, which is why I've mentioned them here.

Capri Knockout Cricket.

 

This is a 1970s cricket boardgame for two players. All the action takes place using two packs of cards and a die. The bowling player starts by setting up his fielders. He can then start bowling by using the pack of bowling cards. The batsman's shots in turn are represented by batting cards, and these give the direction that the ball is hit. Runs and wickets are decided by random methods using the information on the cards plus the die.

Of course, from a Subbuteo point of view, the key component are the playing pieces used to represent batsman and fielders, which are the same design as a certain game we know....

The other components aren't up to Subbuteo standards sadly. The sightscreens and the (admittedly huge) scoreboard are only made of card. thanks to Ian Moore for providing the photos and info on this game.

Wicketz.
"The most authentic cricket board game ever."

  

Produced by RDA Marketing, this is a cricket board game, rather than the action game that Subbuteo produced. The game is played on a standard square board showing a circular cricket pitch divided into sections, plus two spinners and a bowling indicator. The other components are a large pack of batting cards and the cricket figures, which like Capri Knockout cricket look a little familiar....

The game is great fun to play, and the basics are easy to pick up. The bowling side places his fielders into sections of the field, and then spins the bowling indicator to produce a delivery - some are good deliveries, and some are poor. The batsmen then uses this information to decide which type of shot to play. There are nine attacking shots in various directions, or four defensive shots. Once he has announced his shot, the batsman turns over the top batting card, and reads the results. Depending on the type of ball, the type of shot, and the field placings, there is a chance of runs, or a wicket. If the player is called out, then he still has a chance with the "out/not out" spinner. Batting is entertaining and a little nerve wracking, but bowling can be a bit tedious - just a case of spinning the indicator, and moving fielders now and again. At least the advantage of this is that it makes for great solo play.

The Subbuteo connection is with the figures of course. The set uses all the types of fielder, batsman and umpire. In the basic version these are supplied unpainted, but a deluxe version with painted figures also exists. The figures, like Zeugo, are not as fine castings as the originals, but are still very nice. The problem for anyone looking for extra Subbuteo cricketers is that the fielders are not on catching bases. In a touch I really love, the batsmen have an extra rotating ring around their bases, that is used to indicate which batsman they are from one to eleven.

 

My set is copyright 1994, and there is a flyer offering the chance to buy extra teams and accessories. You could buy the figures in different colour plastics, or hand painted in international and county sides. The picture above hopefully shows how nice the players look. RDA Marketing also sold the sight-screens, deck chairs, roller and the scoreboard, which is recast in black plastic with the Subbuteo logo covered with a Wicketz one.

There is a Wicketz website, where you are able to buy the game and get extra information. 

If anyone finds any other Subbuteo figures turning up in other games, then please let me know.


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