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Peter Upton's

Subbuteo Tribute Website.

The Team Colours Project.

Classic Heavyweight 1967-1980.

Non-catalogued Heavyweights (Named box sides).

This page completes the heavyweight section of the team lists by looking at, and helping to identify any heavyweights not in the numbered range. There are an increasing number, and because of the ease of repainting h/w teams it is hard to tell the real from the fantasy.... Nevertheless, I hope to show some of the interesting teams within the collecting community. In truth, this is a bit of a minefield, as so many Subbuteo teams have been painted at home either by children at the time, or unscrupulous ebay sellers in the age of collecting. Nevertheless, there are some great looking teams in this selection, and it is up to the individual collector to decide whether they want to dip a toe into this area.

Why all these different named teams? Allow me to introduce the C100 Special Service!

The C100 Special Service.

As any heavyweight collector will tell you, the Subbuteo number range is not the whole story of production. Although the Subbuteo numbering system remained intact until 1996, SSG did release teams in named boxes from time to time. Most of these eventually made it into the standard numbering system, but a few did not.

The main source of these teams, was probably the C100 (and R100) Special Service provided to retailers. For a minimum order of just fifty teams, a retailer could request any club name and kit that he wanted. The delivery time was impressive -  "approx three weeks from date of order". The leaflet (shown above) explains that "Team colours are often modified or changed these days. It is impossible to keep re-printing our colour references for every change in "strip". To keep your selection up-to-date and meet local demands, we now offer this unique special service". Most collectors assume that it is the "typed named boxes" of the early 1970s that were produced under this service. Perhaps the stamped boxes were part of this as well.

Whilst potentially exciting for modern collectors, care must be taken. Firstly, updating teams with the latest trim, or colours was something that kids in the 1970s were happy to do themselves. I have seen many corrections and adaptations along these lines. Sometimes the changes are small, and it isn't easy to tell when it was added. Examples of trim additions might be white collars and cuffs on Uruguay, or yellow on Crystal Palace. Of course as Subbuteo was hand-painted using basic humbrol colours, the 1970s re-painters were often using the same paint. How to tell?

Even more problematic is the "modern" re-painting of kits - usually for profit by unscrupulous collectors and dealers. This has happened for as long as Subbuteo has been collected (i.e. at least since the early 1990s). The difference in price between a common team and a rare one has become so great, that so called "unique" teams must sadly be approached with some level of suspicion. And as these re-painted teams get older, and pass through the hands of more collectors, the problem is only going to get worse.

July 2020: Previously in assembling my list of "named" teams, I did not included every possible rarity that has been sighted. I had a folder on my PC for teams needing more details. I have decided to show many of these to perhaps start a debate or two, and not keep anything hidden. Collectors are not infallible though, and each side here must be considered on its own merits.

At this point I need to point visitors in the direction of the "Celtic Dream" heavyweight catalogue's rarities page. This has good pictures of a number of named box teams. Rather scarily, these teams have only a slight overlap with mine, and there are far more foreign sides. This suggests the tip of an iceberg! I mention some of these teams on my lists, but have not generally illustrated them. Both pages need to be considered if you are trying to put together a list.....

Labels and Dating.

Subbuteo have released named teams with several styles of label. These do overlap somewhat in date, suggesting different factories or maybe unsold stock. However, as I've checked the teams to the wonderful Historical kits website, I have found some distinct ages that match box types and differing labels. There are a few teams that seem to be released under different versions (Derby County are the prime example), although most long-term teams find their way to the proper number range.

The earliest label appears to be the printed plastic strips used for the 1966-70 World Cups, which saw very limited use for club sides. Then there were the simple "typewriter" style of labels, which look like a step backwards. These seem to be the teams related to the "shop request" Special Service mentioned above. Finally, there are stamped boxes, where the name is printed on the box using an ink stamp. It has been suggested that shops may have stamped boxes to aid identification and sales. It should be noted though, that the Italian stamped teams are often mis-spelt (their rugby teams are a good example). This suggests stamping in the UK rather than Italy, which of course suggests factory stamping. Again, these teams seem to be localised shop requests on the whole.

Finally, in the short-box era there are small printed labels, and some that look a bit like the typed ones of old. There is a possibility of stamped teams too. In exported Subbuteo, it has been noticed that German teams in the standard reference range often have typed sticky labels.

Plastic Strip/Printed Name boxes - 1968-71?

 

These name strips are identical to the 1970 World Cup team labels, and probably date to the same era. The two most common teams to have this style of label are "New Wolves" and West Bromwich Albion (see above). The New Wolves is identical to reference 77. Wolves swapped out of their all old gold kit (ref 49) for the 1969-70 season, and the kit does not arrive as ref 77 until the 1971-72 catalogue. This suggests that the New Wolves box may exist between these dates.

West Brom is also interesting. It is the standard late reference 3, with black hair and boots, white socks, and no sleeve trim. It should be noted that the short-sleeved ohw ref 3 had brown hair and boots, sleeve stripes, and a blue ring on the socks, and this covered both Huddersfield and West Brom (among others). This earlier outfit has been seen on 1960s classic h/w ref 3s, so probably carried across. However, Huddersfield Town swapped to an all-blue shirt in 1966, leaving ref 3 as essentially a West Brom kit. West Brom had gone to all-white sleeves circa 1964, and had all white socks from 1968-69. They also won the FA Cup in 1968, and it is possible that this box ties to this (although an away kit was worn in the final). It is dangerous to assume anything with Subbuteo, but it is possible that reference 3 was altered to match the named box side, when it was realised that no other big clubs were using it (as happened with the New Norwich City and reference 28 later in the 1970s). As with most Subbuteo puzzles, there are no records, so it is simply speculation.

Typed Name Boxes 1970-71 (and beyond)

   

   

Collectors generally see these teams as the result of the C100 Special Service, where individual sports shops could request a small run of unique sides.

The early 1970s is certainly a strange era for Subbuteo teams, as the normal team range begins to expand. It is odd that some minor sides make the team range, and others only appear here. Issuing short runs of teams in named boxes may have been a logical response to increased "unique kit" experiments, that often left teams in the numbered range "out-of-date" before they had even arrived. This might even have been triggered by the 1970 range additions. Among these, Montrose stopped wearing ref 63 that year, Clydebank (73) had actually stopped wearing red shirts in 1969, and Forfar's hoops (75) seem to date from 1968. That said, named boxes were not used as a long-term solution. 1971 saw a few away kits added to the number range, and 1972 saw Manchester United, Birmingham City and Crystal Palace arrive (refs 100-102).

Pleasingly, a reasonable number of quirky and interesting teams exist within this series. The name strips are cheap and nasty to be honest, simply typed up, hand-cut and glued on. Even what is written on them can vary (the words strip or new sometimes appear). For me, it's the most exciting bit of heavyweight collecting, because I don't think it has all been catalogued yet, and there is always a chance of new teams coming out of the woodwork. Derby County seem to be the most common of these teams, and the only one whose sale might have been more widespread. I have also seen stamped boxes for this team, although still in this early box (see below). That is the usual Subbuteo "spanner" when it comes to dating non-catalogued stuff!

July 2020: I have split the list into teams in the earlier boxes with "OO scale players" written on the end, and the mid-1970s boxes with "OO scale Team" on the end (some hw collectors call these Splash box due to the larger logo). Thanks to the research on real kits done by the Historical Kits website, we can date these outfits accurately. Both lists have very tight dating periods that match what we know of the box dates perfectly.

An interesting oddity with regard to these teams is shorts trim. As a rule, shorts trim does not appear on teams in the numbered range until the late 1970s (Middlesboro at 171 are probably the first). However, the early version of reference 53 Portsmouth with shorts trim is well documented, and the named box Derby, Mansfield and Northampton Town also have this trim.

Stamped Boxes in the Early 1970s period.

   

These boxes show that the stamped boxes, and the typed ones appear to run concurrently. Shown here are two Derby County boxes - one has the usual "special" version (albeit without the sock trim). The other contains what looks like a 1966 World Cup West Germany. The third box is borrowed from the Team odds and ends page, and if correct, is a Bologna from very early in the Italian range.

Later Typed Name teams 1972-74?

    

The list of typed name labels seen in the later "splash" style of box (with OO scale team on the end panels) as of July 2020 is as follows :-

Do you notice the pattern with these teams too? Many were worn in 1973, which was probably the first year of this new style of box. So the two lists are probably just one range carrying on into the new type of box.

Possible kits seen without a named box.....

Stockport? St Austell? St Mirren?

Not everything in Subbuteo is black and white. Stockport and St Austell are unproven kits, and shown in more details on the team odds and ends page. However, they do have nice stories attached to them. It could be wishful thinking, but these are the kind of teams you hope are real.... The St Mirren has been seen in a reference 182 box, but it might belong in this range.

How many obscure non-league teams were painted for local sports shops do you think?

Stamped Named Boxes 1975-76 and beyond....

This era already has some confusing issues. The English catalogues seem straightforward, with the range staying at 190 for three catalogues - 1974/75, 1975/76, and 1977, but new team production did not stop. The 1975/76 Italian catalogue added teams for references 191-195, but these were not the same as those eventually added to the 1978 English version. In addition, in 1976 the Italians produced teams in a 501-528 range. These sides are found on the Italian Production page, and most eventually found their way into the 1978 catalogue expansion. In the midst of all this numbering chaos, the box type changed once more as the mid-1970s long box gave way to a smaller model with a plastic insert.

The teams working their way through this number confusion are usually known as the "new" teams, on account of them being modern versions of sides that were already in the range, and due to the word "New" that often appears on the boxes. With the numbers not yet set in stone, many were sold named in stamped boxes. It is worth noting that the abortive 191-195 range also tended to have the numbers stamped on the boxes.

The "NEW" teams 1976-77

Outside of the World Cups, these are the most common named box sides you will find. The named teams are usually in the long box, but this is not always the case. Most of the teams go on to appear in the number range firstly as the aborted 191-195, and later between 205 and 211. However Norwich finds its way back to 28, Burnley replaces the existing team at 170, and Southampton doesn't make it to the standard list at all. Note that these are all in the later long boxes with "OO Scale Team" on the end, rather than "OO scale players".

International Sides.

An updated England kit with red and blue trim was introduced as C138 in 1977, and this seems to have prevented a named box team (at least, I've never seen one). In 1978 this kit was joined by the rest of the home nations in the C500 range, but the named boxes pre-dated this. Northern Ireland changed to green shorts whilst being a C500 team, so a named box version seems less likely.

July 2020:- In the course of the revamp of this page, I've checked out other h/w sources online, and found that the teams from this list do not include the word "new" as often as I'd assumed. In fact, they do not look any different to the rarer named box teams in the list below, many of whom don't make the team range. At the very least, it suggests that the New Southampton should be in the second list, although it seems a more widespread release. See Catalogo Subbuteoblog for more and bigger h/w box pictures from around the community.

These named teams also run into the smaller boxes that house the 1978 expansion. Although many of these are now in their numbered form, named boxes continue, but the naming method changes. In a throw-back, the teams in the small boxes return to typed (or printed) name stickers. The West Ham I own in this format is a zombie with a printed sticker (see above). However, typed versions exist.

Stamped box oddities.

 

As at July 2020 the list stands as follows:-

There is a possibility that the Manchester City 2nd on 324 was also a named box heavyweight. I've heard of it existing (although not seen convincing pictures), and the dates are similar to the Manchester United version (i.e. Manchester City seem to have stopped wearing it by the time it arrived on the lists in 1980).

Here's an interesting international named box team. Like many of the named long-box teams, Halmstad makes its way into the number range in the big 1978 update. Not sure from this photograph whether this team is the mid-blue of the ref 292 Halmstad, or whether it is just a reference 5! The price label is not a British one.

Short Box Teams 1976-78?

Personally, I had not seen unusual named teams in this era. There are the "new" teams shown above, and the German sides at reference 210-223 do seem to favour named boxes for the German market. However, Celtic Dream's heavyweight list has both a stamped box, and a typed one for this era. Both are British sides, and both are very much based on existing teams.

Melchester Rovers. 

 

Melchester Rovers are, of course, the team Roy Race plays for in legendary comic strip Roy of the Rovers. I can remember this team being advertised for sale in the comic around 1979-80, and I'm sure it had a heavyweight player on the advert. A long box version would likely come from the mid 1970s, and I suppose it could have had a shop request.  Of course, it could well be a repaint (painted onto a ref 41, it would be difficult to tell). It is a strange one, as various site visitors have been sure they saw or owned this team at the time, and yet they don't turn up in collecting circles. The lightweight versions are not that uncommon, so you'd think we'd see more of this team if it had been made available.

July 2020: The Celtic Dream h/w list has a black haired/booted h/w Melchester Rovers.


International Anomalies and named boxes.

This final section is for heavyweight teams that appear in catalogues from other countries. It is known that the French had there own factory, and produced a different range of teams.  There was a Spanish factory in the 1960s. The Italians produced their own figure in the late 1970s. These international releases have their own detailed pages, which are listed below, but I've added a few details and pictures here so that this page become more of a tick list.

France

The French did paint their own variations, to keep their catalogues accurate. However, most of these variations do feed back into the standard lists. Delacoste Teams gives the required catalogue details. It is worth looking at the Team odds and ends page for the above pair of teams. Often featured in Italian collections, the odds and ends page has a good argument for them being a pair of French away kits.

Holland

The Dutch teams arrived in the UK catalogues en-masse in 1972-73. The unique kits for that year's top flight became references 82-89, and the rest of the teams fitted into the standard range, along with a number of the bigger lower league sides. The aforementioned Celtic Dream site has two early 1970s boxes with typed Dutch team names on them. These are PSV, and Sparta, both of whom are on reference 9 in the UK catalogues. The Sparta Rotterdam with a blue shirt, and their usual red and white colours as a diagonal, looks like it might be an away kit.
There are also anomalies in the 1970s Dutch catalogues when compared to the standard 82-89 range, but I've yet to see pictures for any of these.

Italy.

The Italians certainly produced their own teams (and their own figure - the Hybrid), but most of their variations were featured in Parodi's catalogues (how else would you sell them?). The 501-509 range was often sold with typed name labels. However, there are a couple of stamped Italian boxes that need to be considered.

Spain

They seem to miss out on team production in the 1970s catalogues, but the un-catalogued 1960s production in ohw and rugby figures are worth a look - Spanish teams


That does seem to reach the end of the heavyweights. Move on to zombies, or lightweights.... or something else entirely.


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