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Peter Upton's

Subbuteo Tribute Website.

Miscellaneous Items.

Part 2: The Official Range 1980s-2000s

1981: 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.


1989: Subbuteo. The Computer Game.

There was a short period in the late 1980s when it became fashionable to produce computer versions of board games, and I suppose this was a reasonable thing to do. However, making a computer game of Subbuteo still seems pointless. A game of a game of a game. Nevertheless, this tie-in was attempted. The game appeared in 1990, just as the 8 bit computers were fading away, and the snazzy 16 bit ones were coming in. So, the game was available on the Spectrum, Commodore 64, Atari ST, Commodore Amiga, and possibly one or two others. On the Spectrum side, Your Sinclair gave it 83% in November 1990, but Crash only gave it 54% the following month. Meanwhile, the Atari ST version received 70% in issue 17 of ST Format.

I've played the Spectrum version on emulator, and it plays a rather slow and tactical game. Anyone who played snooker games on the 8bit computers will have some idea how this works. The control works thus: Select the player you want to use, rotate an arrow to decide which direction to flick, then hold the fire button down while the strength of flick bar goes up. When you release the fire button a second "swerve" bar goes up. Press fire in the middle of this bar for a straight flick. You get more swerve the further away from the middle you press. These selections are done "real time", so some co-ordination is advisable! The computer player is very good at swerve, and his defensive flicks are too accurate for me, so my games seemed to degenerate into small scale tactical flicking near my corner flags. It might while away a few hours (because the game is so slow!), but it isn't as much fun as real Subbuteo.

The Spectrum version is very basic, but for the 16bit versions, a few extra enhancements were made. I believe you changed the colours of your team by changing the colours of a boxed Subbuteo team displayed on screen. Neat.

1990s: Electronic LCD Game.

A little hand held computer game badged with the Subbuteo logo. The Irish strip with the Adidas shoulder flashes dates this game to circa 1994, but otherwise, I know little about it. The backing card ties in nicely with the other Subbuteo products of the era.

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.

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!!)


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!).

2002: Subbuteo Finger Football.

This must be one of the least regarded Subbuteo sets produced. It was not real Subbuteo at all, and it's a game that collectors generally shudder at. However, the history of the set is perhaps more interesting than what was actually produced.

The set was a direct result of Hasbro's cancellation of the game in the early 2000s, and their apparent disinterest in producing any new games. A smaller, more focused toy company, Flair Leisure Products, felt they could take the game forward and approached Hasbro with the hope of producing a Subbuteo box set. Flair are probably most famous for producing the Sylvanian Families range, which they acquired from Tomy. However, they have also reintroduced other classic toys such as Stickle bricks. Flair found that Hasbro were willing to licence the Subbuteo name (as seen elsewhere), but not the game itself. This was probably because Hasbro's photo-real game was being planned.

Flair decided to test the waters with the Finger Football game. This was a lightweight affair, in which the participants dressed their hands up as football players. The game itself was licensed from an American company, Atomic Toys, and had a supposed official "Finger Football Association". However, it was hardly an original concept, and cheap far-eastern copies are still available to this day should you be so inclined.

The main playing pieces consisted of a pair of plastic boots and socks, which fitted onto the players fingers. A pair of shorts covered the knuckles, and a cut-out card torso completed the look. There were standard red and blue torsos provided, but a template was included, so that you could make your own figures. The goalkeepers were just cut-outs on a rod, like cheap blow-football. Oddly, the outfield players were computer generated, and looked very modern, whereas the goalkeepers looked hand-drawn, and resembled thugs from a 1970s comic.

The main set was called "Ref 10300 Arena Pack" and this also included a pitch made from coarse material, with a high green surround of modern synthetic cloth, which wrapped around thin white plastic supports. The game was necessarily at a much bigger scale than Subbuteo, so none of the items are useful in other games. Unless you want to play with really, really big goals (which might be useful for me, frankly. Too many of my shots go for throw-ins....).

The packaging was attractive enough, although the computer generated players on the box have aged badly, and do not bear close inspection. At least the set came in a reasonably sized box, and the contents were clearly laid out on the back. It is also worth noting that Flair placed the product in small independent toy shops (usually those that stocked Sylvanians), so it was easy to locate and purchase.

Surprisingly, extra team packs were also produced, so that you could turn your hand into famous teams like Brazil. At least this was in the spirit of Subbuteo.

Unfortunately, you can't get away from the fact that the game was a five-minute bit of fun for youngsters (or post-pub), and nothing more than that.

Nintendo DS Subbuteo Game (2008)

     

Approximately twenty years after the last attempt at an Subbuteo computer game (see above), quirky publisher 505 Games came up with this interesting little diversion. With Subbuteo football itself being a representation of a real sport, producing an electronic recreation of it always strikes me as a little odd. However, the designers have definitely created a simulation of finger flicking, rather than tagging the name onto a football game, and that needs to be applauded. As you might be able to see on the above illustrations, the top screen of the DS shows the action in close up, whilst the touch screen below has a full size pitch on the left of the screen (the yellow rectangle refers to the part of the pitch enlarged on the top screen), whilst the right hand side of the touch screen shows a player and the flicker's hand. The controls are similar to a golf or snooker simulation. Pulling the finger back sets the strength of flick; the arrows around the side of the player choose the direction of the flick; and moving the hand about affects the spin or loft of the player.

As a regular Subbuteo player, the initial surprise was that the game worked pretty well. Once comfortable with the flick strength control, I was knocking it around quite nicely and stringing passes together. However, there were problems. The controls weren't intuitive, and I found myself using a mix of the touch screen controls and the keys. Even then, I was struggling beyond the basic play - i.e. onside flicks don't always seem to be offered (and I couldn't work out how to ask), whilst the game seemed to give me a defensive flick after every two flicks from the computer. At corners, I couldn't move the yellow box, and had to flick players from outside the enlarged viewing area. I'm still not sure quite what rules it was using. However, I did like the manual goalkeeper, which was controlled with a little window on the touch screen. Penalty shoot-outs were sadly from the penalty spot, not the shooting line, and the player taking the penalty was so close to the ball that it was hard to do anything different with them. I didn't score many penalties - I expect there is a knack. However, as I saved most of the computer ones (or it missed), the shoot-outs just went on and on until I was laughing too much to continue. The computer controlled team wanted to set up like a real football team, and didn't seem to know how to deal with my six man back line, which was useful. Oh, and mention must be made of the sound effects, some of which are very strange indeed....

Overall, the game options were sadly limited. There were friendlies and a World Cup, and that was it. Training mode turned out to be simply a friendly with an "undo" button.

As this was designed in 2008, there is a real mish-mash of Subbuteo types. The illustrations and videos all show the old "Hasbro" style of 3D figure, but the options allow you to use the special Cobra and Sidewinder bases from the photo-real game. In truth these special bases probably work better in the virtual world.

I suppose this is the easiest way to play Subbuteo on the bus. Otherwise, the real thing is more fun....

You've reached the end of this page of Subbuteo bits and pieces, but check out the third page for streakers and socks.


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