Subbuteo Tribute Website.
Part 2: The Official Range 1970s-1990s
The World of Sport, and lots of Special Team Wraps.
Listed here are items that were produced in the Waddingtons era from the early 1970s, until the Hasbro re-launch of 2001. After that, we find Subbuteo becomes more of a lifestyle brand, and the game itself is licensed out to third-party producers.
Early 1970s: Subbuteo (Angling) Dicer.
Subbuteo were obviously so pleased with the UFO shaped dice alternative produced for Subbuteo Angling, that it was also sold separately. This enabled you to replace the simple dice in any board game with a large cumbersome alternative if the mood took you. I've also managed to get a picture of the box for this item (from e-bay).
Panno Verde Subbuteo. Io, Beverini...
"Green cloth. Subbuteo - I Beverini..." This oddly named book (perhaps it's lost something in translation) was written by Stefano Beverini, a talented Italian player of the 1970s, and was published in Italy in May 1980. It is divided into two sections. The first part describes Beverini's life as a Subbuteo tournament player, while the second part is his manual on how to play the game. I imagine the book is a great read for those of you who can tackle Italian. The pictures above show the front cover of the book, and one of the internal illustrations - here Beverini is getting a cup for being Italian Subbuteo Champion of 1975-76 (I think!).
This book used to reside in the unofficial items section of the website. However, it does actually appear in the Edilio Parodi Italian Subbuteo catalogues of the period. That grants it official status in my book (err website).
1975 Team Reference Chart.
This simple little Alphabetical Team Reference List appeared in the mid-1970s, and is probably self-explanatory. The team posters of the 1970s lacked an A-Z team name list, and this product filled the need nicely. It had a green and gold plastic cover, which matched the look of the logbook of the period. Whether it was produced for retailer or consumers (or both) I'm not too sure. The team lists were still not too out of hand at this period, and frankly, it was not any trouble to find teams on the chart. By the 1978 expansion of teams, the alphabetical list had been absorbed by the SubbuteoWorld catalogues, and a separate list was no longer necessary.
This is another item that features in the Italian catalogues, but not the UK ones. Odd really, as it is clear in English.
1977-1978: Special Team Wraps.
In the late 1970s, Subbuteo had the idea of selling their normal boxed teams in themed packs containing four teams, shrink wrapped inside a card wrap-around. The two sets illustrated here are not featured in catalogues, and may well have been trial promotions. The one on the left featured in Subbuteoworld's rarest items article (no longer on his website), and has the four special boxed C500 home international teams sold in a special silver wrap for the Queens Silver Jubilee. The set on the right is from the following year, and features the "semi finalists" of the 1978 World Cup Final. Only problem? The tournament was held in groups, with the two group winners contesting the final. So no semi's took place - opps. The final was between second phase group winners Argentina and Holland, while the 3rd place play off was between group runners up who were Brazil and Italy. So I guess those are the four teams.
Although not in the catalogues, the packs do make their way into the price lists of the period. The Jubilee Pack ("comprising the 4 home international teams) is a new edition on the 1977 list priced at £4.25, just under the individual C500 sides at £1.10 (I think this is their only price list appearance, although they are not described as new).
I have seen a 1978 accessory price list where both these packs have been squeezed in, one on the bottom of each column of accessories (so the home internationals pack is listed between C133 and C134, but doesn't have a number itself). The price of the two packs at this time was £4.40 each, which was a slight saving on four C100 teams at £1.15 each. However, I also own a 1978 price list dated Feb 1978 where they do not appear. I have seen the Argentina '78 set on an Italian Parodi price list.
1979-1980 More Special Team Wraps
Subbuteo had a second go at producing packs of four teams in 1979-1980. These new packs featured the new team boxes with one player visible in a window, and the new Subbuteo logos etc. The packs above were featured in the 1980 Italian catalogue, and represent all the teams in that year's European Championship. So we have Holland (ref 13), West Germany (156), Greece (18) and Czechoslovakia (231) in one box, and Italy (166), England (note that we have the wrong flag) (ref 317), Belgium (21) and Spain (48) in the other box.
Sept 2020: Thanks to Domenico Guarascio, the teams in the packs are now illustrated. All are machine printed teams of the era. Although a machine print of the Belgian national side at ref 151 was produced, here they are in the all-white reference 21.
Two more of these packs were given numbers in the standard accessory range. C165 was the standard home internationals pack featuring the same sides as the Silver Jubilee (but in the late 1970s boxes) produced in 1979. C174 featured the four previous World Cup Winners (again in the late 1970s boxes), and this set appeared in 1980. As they have proper "C" numbers, they are discussed in the normal range. Somewhat surprisingly, there were also four team wraps issued for both the 1986 and 1990 World Cups. See below for details.
1980-82: S250 The World of Sport Compendium.
This site often mentions the 1981-82 range as being the best Subbuteo ever produced. And this set was the icing on the cake. Let me explain....
At this time, all the Subbuteo box sets had been packed into stackable polystyrene trays. The basic tray was the football club edition. Add a pair of floodlights to the end - and you have a floodlighting edition. Add a tray with scoreboard, extra team, Jules Rimet etc, and it was an International Edition. Add a fourth deep tray with a grandstand and more accessories, and that is the three story football Stadium Edition in all its glory. The biggest set Subbuteo had ever done up to 1980.
But to this, they added a further two layers. On one was the Cricket Test Match Edition. This consisted of a Cricket Club edition tray, and a side tray with the scoreboard, the sightscreens and the deck chairs etc. On the final layer was a Rugby International Edition - and another side tray featuring two more floodlights (so you had one for each corner) plus a mains adaptor. The cost of the Football Stadium Edition in February 1981 was £34.25. The World of Sport was more than double this at £79.50.
Interestingly, if you bought a Stadium Edition, a Test Match Edition, an International Rugby edition, plus a spare pair of floodlights and a mains adaptor in 1981 it would only cost you £73.19. So it wasn't even as if you were getting a bargain!!
Now Britain wasn't exactly in the middle of an economic boom in 1981, and I don't think many copies could have been sold. Subbuteo obviously didn't sell as many as they'd hoped, because the story goes that staff being made redundant from Waddingtons in Leeds were given a set as a farewell gift. Oddly, this may well have appreciated in value more than any redundancy payout they received.
1987: Club Colours Painting Set.
This set doesn't seem to have a normal Subbuteo reference, so it found it's way here. If anyone has a painted copy, I'll consider it for the art pages!! It is really an unrelated use of the Subbuteo logo, in much the same way as the later collectable card game.
Club colours was advertised in the 1987 catalogue on a two page spread. To quote the blurb - "In each pack you get four official club pictures, specially embossed in felt for easy professional colouring, plus six fibre-tip pens". There were nine teams in the range - Arsenal, Aston Villa, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester Utd and Spurs from the English league, plus Celtic, Hearts and Rangers from Scotland. Each picture was a head and shoulders shot of a player in the team. For instance, Hearts featured John Robertson, Henry Smith, Craig Levein and Gary McKay. Rangers seemed the odd one out, having Ibrox Stadium as the fourth picture.
August 2023: I'd never been sent pictures of a Club Colours set, until now. So a big thank you to Nick McLaren for sending this in. I must admit that Hearts was not the set I was expecting to see first, but here it is. Henry Smith was the goalkeeper, so that is why he is wearing the pin-striped shirt (yellow with black shoulders in Panini Football 86). John Robertson's blond hair in his Panini shot does catch the light much as Nick has captured in his very, very neat colouring in. Full marks. Robertson, Levein and McKay were all only 21 years old in Panini 86. I wonder if they were aware of the set, and what they made of it. Were they paid for their likenesses?
Mexico 1986 Team Wraps.
July 2014 - Proof that unknown Subbuteo items keep turning up. Thanks to Cristian Perucci who sent in this picture of a four team wrap for the Mexico World Cup of 1986. Note the nice illustration of Italy winning the trophy in 1982. This was also used on a matching Club Mexico box set, which can be seen on the International box sets page. These sets have English language, but I'm not sure they were sold outside of Italy.
Italia 1990 Team Wraps.
I guess having a World Cup in a country with a historically large Subbuteo market was too good an opportunity to miss for Waddingtons, as these team wraps are added to the box sets, accessories, and World Cup squads produced for this tournament. There are two different wraps, and the teams in them are actually not very exciting. There is a European wrap featuring Italy, England, Holland and Germany, and a South American one featuring Argentina, Columbia, Uruguay and Brazil.
Thanks to Mike Peacock for providing the pictures of these sets (of which I was completely unaware!!)
March 2020: Gabriele Cerescioli has sent in lots of pictures of his own version of these wraps, and they look great with the stadium pictures lined up. The most interesting thing is the individual team boxes, which are laid out above. These are the earliest form of the 1990s box, with the low, flat polystyrene inners and plastic holders for the players. The boxes have the 1980s style of labels, which continued for a short while on the new shape. Even with teams sold as a set, the difference in labelling is worth noting - different fonts, a different language (for Holland - Olanda), and a use of an N. in some cases (Gabriele mentions that this is quite common in Italy). In addition, some of the boxes have two labels, with one on the top, whilst others only have the end label - see Uruguay picture above.
Mid-1990s: The Toys R Us Team Wrap - Premier League Teams.
Regular contributor Karl Warelow sent this one in. In the late 1990s Subbuteo sales were noticeably tailing off, and I remember seeing multiple copies of some of the smaller Premier League teams sitting unsold at local toy shops. This looks like an attempt by major retailer Toys-R-Us to shift some old stock with a 3 for 2 offer. Obviously, by wrapping the teams in this way, they could select which teams were in the offer. For a basic sales item, this is actually an attractively printed wrap which included both the Subbuteo and Premier League logos, and its own barcode. It's the kind of "throw-away" wrapper, that I'm always surprised to see actually survive for this long.
The Chocolate Editions from Boots the Chemist.
A clever idea from some bright marketing spark, chocolate mini Subbuteo sets appeared at Christmas 1997,1998 and 1999 at larger branches of Boots, while a large chocolate trophy was issued for Easter 1998.
The 1997 set.
The illustration was lifted from ebay, and as you can see, this chap didn't eat his chocolate balls (I ate mine - just thought you'd want to know). The set contains a very small pitch with cheap goals, plus four outfield players, two goalies, and a ball. Plus 28 chocolate footballs, one chocolate cup, and 2 chocolate medals. The instructions doubled as a score sheet, and the idea was to eat a chocolate ball every time you scored. The winner of the game ate a medal or the cup. The players were two blue and two red, which I'm guessing were taken randomly from unsold Hasbro teams. My red players are AC Milan, and the blues are Arsenal away. My goalkeepers have dark skin and grey shirts. Obviously these sets sold well because a similar version was produced in 1998.
The 1998 set.
As you can see, this set was similar to the 1997 one, but had less chocolate. Another "e-bayer" who didn't eat his balls. Mind you, he has scoffed the medals, so the balls could be replacements, and frankly, why do I care? The box here matches Hasbro's natty box redesign which debuted on the second issue of the Premiership box-set, and continued into the relaunched 2000/2001 range.
The 1999 set.
A smaller set, and even more of a gimmick than the previous year. One goal, one player, one goalkeeper and a ball was all that was left of the Subbuteo items. You also got a yellow card, a whistle, and a footballer rattle. Oh and the all important chocolate.
The 1998 Trophy.
Please excuse my poor photo of this. My sister heroically picked this out of Boots' Easter egg range of 1998. The chocolate was a large round football (very tasty it was too). The Subbuteo was one figure and one ball. There was a huge range of player colours available, and mine was the player spinning on this website's logo.
Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, a new Boots set was not produced for 2000. Instead there was a mini version of the other table football game that has footballers on rods. This had the chocolate balls, the red and yellow cards, and a rather nice Subbuteo-like trophy. But Subbuteo is wasn't.
The later photo-real range was also promoted with Easter eggs - these can be found on the Photoreal Subbuteo page.
2001: Subbuteo Crackers.
This set has appeared on ebay a couple of times, but nobody seems sure when or where it was originally sold. The box advised that the set is ©2001 Hasbro International Inc, so it sounds like it was available Christmas 2001. However, none of the guys on the Subbuteo Collectors Forum could find a set for sale (and boy did we look!). The pack contained six crackers 29cm x 4cm diametre. These contain various Subbuteo related items - two five-a-side teams, two nets, two goalkeepers, a badge, a whistle, and a football. The middle section of the box contains the bits that did not fit in the crackers... a card pitch, two flat packed card goals (no expense spared here obviously), the goalkeeper rods and the all important rules. It could have sold pretty well if any of us had found a set !! Thanks to Gordon Oke who owns a set, and sent me all the details (his set came from ebay before you ask!).
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