Subbuteo Tribute Website.
The Team Colours Project (Ongoing illustrated team lists).
One of the most sought after items for many collectors, especially in the world of toys, is a shop display. The main appeal is the chance to recreate the joy of a probably long lost local toyshop (or sports shop, as was often the case with Subbuteo). That's surely better than recreating the squalid condition that old toys had to suffer in your bedroom....
There is obviously a rarity value to factor in as well. Subbuteo was mass produced, and even relatively poorly selling items were produced in sizable numbers. On the other hand, the shop display was limited to one per store, and many stores did not use the official stands anyway. I cannot think of too many in my area that did.
So this page is a celebration of trade stands and displays. Obviously, it needs a bit more detail, so if anyone has pictures of their local shop, or other stands, then please send them in.
1970s: Single Figure Team Displays.
What is cooler than having a wall chart with pictures of all the available teams on it? How about owning the real thing?
The team boxes from the 1970s were ideally designed for simply stacking on a toy shop shelf, with the numbered ends outward. So no real display stand was needed. However, this did not show off the actual teams, and often a shop would not be able to stock the whole range anyway. So what better way to produce extra sales than one of these beauties for little boys to gape at?
Shown above is the earliest single figure display that has yet been sighted. This has five trays, displaying a team range of 55, which dates it to around 1968-69, very early in the era of the classic heavyweight. Please note that the teams are not in the correct places in this picture (this is what happens when you borrow pictures from the internet!). In this version of the set, the players are displayed in the standard team box interiors of the era.
Things to note about this team range.
It isn't the very earliest possible classic heavyweight range, as ref 40 Crystal Palace, and ref 54 Plymouth have both swapped into the later versions. Norwich have green shorts, and white socks.
It should be noted however, that reference 40 is the unusual "claret stripes on sky body" variation.
Both ref 20 and 24 are still in the early black shorts versions.
Ref 31 Blackburn Rovers has a sock variation.
Ref 53 Portsmouth has shorts trim.
Ref 23 Bradford City is still red and black.
Ref 55 Anderlecht is a lighter colour.
Full trim version of ref 3.
This second display shows the expanded range up to FC Subbuteo at ref 60, plus the World Cup 1970 teams, which date it to around 1969-70. This means no room for the nameless original ref 61, which was red and black stripes. Although the picture I have isn't very clear, it appears that the ref 23 is still in those colours in this display anyway. This is the earliest display to feature inserts that were the green versions of the fifteen man rugby box.
Each team was identified by one of the little number circles from the box ends, except for the World Cup teams. these were identified by name, typed onto either the green insert or a white label. There were sixteen World Cup 1970 teams, but luckily, Brazil were already in the normal range, and this allowed the use of a single tray for this range.
ref 20 and ref 24 now have white shorts.
ref 55 Anderlecht is painted in the darker mauve.
Standard versions of ref 3 and 31
Ref 59 is a horizontal band, although a diagonal is mentioned in catalogues of this era (although it is very rarely sighted in the wild).
A five tray display piece has also been sighted simply hosting teams 1-75 with no World Cup sides, which would match the 1970-71 catalogue. Interestingly, this second set also had typed stickers advertising the rugby versions of several of the kits. In the 1970-71 catalogue are a few quirky team colour descriptions - ref 26 with blue shorts, ref 32 with black shorts, and the tangerine version of ref 47. However, once again none of this are reflected in this display case.
In this case, the black shorts version of ref 20 has returned, although 24 has white shorts.
The claret version of ref 61 (Northampton Town) features.
Back to the full trim version of ref 3 and sock variation of ref 31.
The second (more common) version of ref 74 Aston Villa.
Here we move onto a seven tray version of the team display, housed in a beautiful long green tray with Subbuteo Table Soccer, and the 1970s "ball" logo running down the sides. The trays here slot in with a surround to hold them in place, but this leaves the top figure projecting rather oddly over the ledge. The display a shows the classic 1-81 plus World Cup range, which ties to the 1971-72 range.
Again ref 20 has black shorts, perhaps explaining why the two versions are fairly similar in rarity.
The original white shorts version of ref. 79 (West Ham 2nd) is still here.
It is the usual second version of ref 74 Aston Villa.
Ref. 59 is again the common horizontal band version. This didn't arrive in the catalogues until 1973-74, although the general opinion is that the change was much earlier than that (and the diagonal stripe is very rarely seen).
Here, ref 61 is back to the early red and yellow version.
Ref 3 is the standard version (no trim). So is ref 31.
Dark version of ref 55 Anderlecht.
Other than that, the range is notable for the absence of the strange anomalies found in early 1970s catalogues. Once again, quirky versions like amber shorts on 46, the tangerine 47, and black shorts on 32 all appear in the 1972 catalogue, but all are absent here. This might help to explain why these sides go back to the classic versions once the illustrated catalogues start in 1973. Perhaps the quirks were errors in the catalogue, or simply never established themselves across the whole figure painting business.
I've seen pictures of a further version of the seven tray display, which completely matched the variations (or lack of) mentioned above, although the players were in the wrong places. However, there was one strange anomaly - ref 10 was painted onto a rugby player.
Subbuteo continued to make these displays as the range increased. I've seen the 1-106 (+ World Cup sides) range of 1972-73, and I believe that 1-190 was also done, although I don't seem to be able to find a picture of these items yet (if you own one, send a picture in).
Here's another interesting shop display. This time the teams are 1-150, without the World Cup sides. This does not actually match to a specific catalogue year, as the teams increase from 106 in 1972-73 to 165 in 1973-74. So I suppose the size of the box determined how many teams would be displayed.
This display still belongs to the son of the original toy shop owner. He was allowed to keep one item when the toy shop closed, and chose this. Good work! As photographed for the site, a good few of the players are in the wrong positions, but this "straight from the loft" condition adds to the charm. The teams, as usual, seem to straddle their accepted catalogued dates. The "proper" claret ref 61 is now in place, but the ref 79 (West Ham 2nd) still has white shorts. The close-up reveals the most interesting player in the whole box - a reference 123 in the non-catalogued "mauve" shorts variation. The odd looking team on ref 133 in this illustration is a badly painted ref 83, in case you were wondering.
1968-69 Accessories Shop Display.
This stunning item is a shop display for the new accessories that were produced at the beginning of the Waddingtons ownership era in the late 1960s. It is one of those things that you have to marvel at how they have managed to survive for 45 years. The stepped stand in classic Subbuteo green was designed to show off Continental accessories C117 to C126, plus the redesigned scoreboard that was still being sold as Set Z.
Now this is another really lovely cardboard window display. It is designed simply to hold one team box, which I suppose could have the lid on (as illustrated), or perhaps revealing the team inside. The team box fits into a suitable slot (shown here both empty and filled). A nice touch is that the thumb of the hand goes in front of the team. A neat way to show window shoppers that the colours of their local side were available.
The date of the piece (circa 1969-71) can be gathered from the kicking footballer logo (in the colours of the 1970-71 catalogue), and the wording ("more than fifty teams to choose from....").
This type of quirky promotional material don't tend to be kept by shops, so it's a great thing to see survive.
Another interesting item that has turned up a couple of times is this window sticker, designed to be displayed on the inside of the glass.
Moving rapidly into the 1980s, and we find that Subbuteo Sports Games obvious love of paperwork once again provides useful information. These display stands were offered in Subbuteo's trade catalogues, produced at a time when retail customers had to make do with posters.
1982-83 Display Stands.
This was a large free standing black metal unit, which held an impressive amount of Subbuteo. As the trade catalogue put it, this "carries boxes of all sizes, even the awkward ones for goalkeepers and astropitch" both of which hang off the sides.
Almost as interesting as the display is the chance to see the shop range for these years in the monochrome accessory boxes. I liked these boxes as a kid, but they had quite a short life, and do not turn up as often as other ranges. It's certainly interesting to note that both the floodlights and Grandstand moved from their attractive colour boxes into monochrome in 1983, and the pitch also started to be boxed at that time. Note also that the colour of the illustration on the corner stand box changed from black to white. The FA Cup and League Cup also switched from Hobby Crest boxes in 1982 to monochrome logos in 1983.
1982-83 Counter Spinner.
The lovely counter displays for blister packs show the change from hobby crest to monochrome logo even more clearly. The backing picture also changes on the cards, matched to the picture on the club edition.
The two stands for 1985 show bold changes in design. There are now more teams shown on the big stand, and also room for hangers. This made sense, as the accessory range was shrinking, and more items had moved onto the blister cards. This also affected the smaller blister pack display, which no longer rotated. The new flat version also saw the arrival of the goalkeepers and even the cups onto card. Of course, all the boxes had changed once more (and the number range moved to the 63xxx version). The blisters were colour coded, with yellow for balls, red for playing accessories, blue for stadium accessories and lilac for the cups. I never noticed this at the time, and I guess it was because all the items were very self-evident. If you wanted a pack of balls, it wasn't difficult to pick them out whatever the colour. Still, they look nice on display don't they?
Here are a couple more simple pieces of shop display material. These are the counter display boxes for Subbuteo's Soccer Plotter and Trophy Trail. The Soccer Plotter was C160 in the accessory range, introduced in 1979. It was a simple league ladders poster featuring the four English divisions with clubs and colours shown on reusable stickers. Despite the more boring monochrome display box, the Trophy Trail (C176) was introduced a year later, and allowed a more generic cup competition to be shown. Neither item made it into the 1981 catalogue, although I think they hung around (unsold!) for longer than that....
1990s: The Goal Stand.
Alas, no picture for this one as yet. I remember one of these by the door at one of my favourite toy shops (in Horsham, West Sussex), and amazingly, a fully loaded one did turn up on ebay a year or so ago. Alas, I seem to have lost the picture in my computer crash last year. The thing was absolutely huge though - imagine a goal shape around the 1985 stand. Obviously, the ebay one was not travelling by post (airmail to Italy sir?) Of course, even the teams were on hangers by then. Who remembers having to tilt their body/head at ridiculous angles to read the names on teams at the back of the display? No wonder the boxes got damaged.
2000s Parodi Team Stand.
I've been sent pictures of this stand twice, but I don't know whether its use was widespread (the pictures could even be of the same one....) This is an Italian stand that harks back to the glory days of the 1970s with one player from each team currently available displayed on thin shelves. However, the range here is the Hasbro teams Parodi offered in their re-launched catalogue circa 2001. Essentially, this was the unsold stock from the 1990s "European range". It's such a lovely wooden case, that it does look more like something a collector would build rather than a manufacturer.
Sadly, that's all the information I've got at present. So it's time to pick another destination.
The Team Colours Project (Ongoing illustrated team lists).