Subbuteo Tribute Website.
Hasbro's Licensed Stuff in the 21st Century.
Whilst Hasbro have proved reluctant to invest heavily in the Subbuteo table football game, they did discover that they own a well recognised and much-loved football brand. They have thus been happy to pick up licensing monies for an ever expanding range of tat.... err quality merchandise aimed at the cash-rich (I wish) forty and fifty-something male population. Here is a selection of stuff you may (or may not) feel the need to own.....
Royal Doulton Figures.
Now this was a strange match-up. In 2004, Royal Doulton and Hasbro teamed up to produce these large, limited edition porcelain figures. They were modelled by Martyn Alcock, and issued in a limited edition of 500. I believe that there were twelve different kits produced, and if you bought all of them (good luck - they were £80 a pop), then you received an even more limited edition Brazil Statue. The figures were surprisingly big, and pretty heavy. The retro-designed box was a lovely touch though.
As of September 2023 there is a whole set of the trophies on ebay (the buy-it-now will make your eyes water). I don't think I'm going to illustrate them all, but here is the lovely Brazil statue that was the reward for buying the whole set. This one had a certificate numbered 40 (from a run of 125), so I am assuming that there are more Royal Doulton collectors with this kind of money than there are Subbuteo collectors.
For the record, the twelve Subbuteo references replicated were 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 (albeit with white socks), 16, 21, 25, 41 and 42. With the Limited Edition Brazil making thirteen.
Smirnoff Subbuteo Shoot Out Set.
This one was much more representative of Hasbro licensed products in the 2000s, than the Royal Doulton link up (although thankfully cheaper). Produced by Beams UK Ltd, the Subbuteo link was tenuous to say the least. Seen in Sainsburys in the Christmas period of 2004-05, this set contained two miniature bottles of Vodka, and three shot glasses with a rough Subbuteo silhouette design. The bottles were too big to be used in the Subbuteo Chairman's drinks cabinet, but too small to be an effective Subbuteo drinking game (take a shot every time your opponent does/every time the referee says change etc)*
*Not recommended at FISTF tournaments.
The Subbuteo Slot machine.
Wow, drinking and gambling on one page. Another Hasbro licensing classic, this is the Subbuteo fruit machine. You think I'm bored, and making stuff up now don't you? I don't suppose many Subbuteo collectors can boast one of these. If you see one in a pub, check there's not a Subbuteo collector outside in a JCB...
The Marks and Spencer "Green Box" Range 2009.
These items were produced by Marks and Spencer to sell alongside their "retro inspired" lightweight set. They were the first big range of promotional products, and were clearly sold as gifts for Dads rather than gifts for children. They were an amusing, and rather eccentric list of products, but had little to do with the original game - a common theme for this page. The range included....
The Boots the Chemist "Blue Box" range. 2010
This range proved to be a repeat run of the Marks and Spencer stuff above, and surely produced by the same manufacturers for a different retailer. The more eccentric (and expensive) items like the rattle and the football fell by the wayside, and a couple of new things snuck in. The packaging was now a lovely deep blue, rather than the green of the earlier range, although the brown secondary colour remained. The boxes were still covered in lovely retro Subbuteo pictures and designs.
Sadly, Boots did not see fit to issue a real Subbuteo set to go with all this nonsense. I am aware of the following items:-
The Marks and Spencer Toiletries Range(s) 2013-2014
The Subbuteo licence returned to M&S for this stuff, also known as the Shower Gel range for reasons that will become obvious. As far as I am aware, there are two years of products, with different illustrations used for boxes, mugs and wash bags each time. My sister loves the post-Christmas sales at M&S, so she purchased lots of these sets when they were much reduced in price. Then she presented them to me for birthdays and Christmases for several years. This was either great planning, or she'd stuck them in the back of a cupboard and forgotten them......
The original year has straightforward pictures of the red and blue players from the new set in action pose. The second year sees the players out in the field.
The range included the following things:-
Thankfully, the gel is M&S, so it is useable, with a pleasant smell. The tubes are solid, so you could use the gel, then wash up the bottle and put it back in the presentation box if you wanted to keep it looking nice for a collection (or for pictures on a website...). You can tell which of the pictures are mine, and which are those Chris Allen posted to the Subbuteo forum, because mine were gifts, and my sister took the (reduced) price labels off.
The wash bags have a great alternative use. My original one holds a couple of Subbuteo teams, a goalkeeper and a polishing cloth etc, which gets taken to my table soccer club nights. A cheaper option than the posh Astrobase boxes everyone else seems to have.
The John Lewis Mug (2015 or 2019?).
When the Marks and Spencer range finished in 2014, the baton was taken up by another classic British retailer, John Lewis. They produced a "Special Collectors Edition" of the game, and this mug reproduces the artwork on that set (even down to the logo stating the name!). The set was re-released in 2019, so it is possible that the mug dates from this later release.
Box sets in the 21st Century - This page has a picture of the relevant box set.
The Posh Cuff Links
Aren't all cuff links posh by definition? I don't think anyone in my peasant family background has ever worn these things. Surely they provide buttons on shirt cuffs. Isn't that sufficient?
Anyway, this second set of cuff links come in a really posh presentation box, and are little Subbuteo men in silver. Okay not real silver, but at least not metalised plastic, like the Subbuteo FA Cup.
The Posh Kitchen-ware.
Gifts for the modern man who knows where the kitchen is. Or at least, the man who needs a beer opened. Or a J2O if you are like me and don't drink beer at home. The salt and pepper folk are described as grinders. I assumed they were salt and pepper pots, but I suppose you wouldn't get a lot of salt in them. Still, in this health conscious age, a tiny salt pot is probably for the best.
The Colour Changing Lamp.
Surely the kind of product the word Kitsch was invented for. It's a giant Subbuteo man who plugs into a USB socket and changes colour. It gives off more light than the Subbuteo floodlights, but looks like a Soviet statue of a working class hero if you have it in the corner of the ground. It has a switch so that you can fix the shirt to a single colour if you are the kind of supporter who gets nervous around a rival's team colours (arrgghh, it's gone sky blue again....)
It has a retro inspired box - which just means it is designed to look tatty and old before you've even bought it. The makers managed to get it into the Christmas catalogues for a fair few different shops, like Argos, and Robert Dias. So they are easy to acquire if you really must.
The return of an old friend....
Whilst I was checking Subbuteo gifts online to see if I'd missed anything obvious, I found this mug set (Sports Direct?) that has the modern "green grass" Subbuteo box. Once again, it's a nice looking mug, but what is that sticking out the top? It's our old friend Shower gel. Glory be. I was just running short.... no wait. I wasn't.
The Charity Luggage Labels.
I assume that is their purpose (I don't travel). Okay, this is in one of those rubbery fabrics with an embossed Subbuteo player in popular, but luckily generic colours (not h/w colours though, the socks are wrong). I've only seen these two. I would've assumed they were some generic tat really, if it wasn't for the backing cards which have the Subbuteo logo, as well as explaining the good cause (The Meningitis Trust). I know of charity badges that were produced. I'll add a picture when I can find a nice one (send one in if you have it).
Netcam Limited Edition Collectable Figure.
Spanish company Netcam owned the licence to produce Subbuteo games and equipment between 2012 and their disappearance around 2016 when Eleven Force took on production. Whilst most of their production is therefore useful game related products (see Netcam Subbuteo 2012 onwards) they did have this one go at producing tat... err merchandise. These were giant sized Subbuteo players that you could, well, display I suppose. Unless a larger scale "Garden Subbuteo" is a thing. Unlicensed Barcelona and Real Madrid figures were produced in open display boxes (the type that collect dust). Later a couple of licensed teams appeared. Valencia is shown, and I am pretty sure Juventus was done too. The later figures did not have boxes, but were instead sold with a card tag attached to the leg, which would hold the relevant barcode, and safety information.
Fancy Dress Outfits.
More of Hasbro's licensing madness. Fancy Dress Specialists, Karnival Costumes actually have official Subbuteo party outfits. Whilst the majority of the outfit is, of course, a rather basic football kit (a Subbuteo t-shirt, plus shorts and socks), the key recreation has to be the base. This is created with what they describe as a pair of "deep padded foot covers" made of sponge. You can see that these wrap around your feet, and they do have Subbuteo written around the top. The outfit is available in the proper box set colours of red/white and blue/white, although the base would work with any kit you'd feel appropriate. I suspect if I wore this to a party, I would spend the whole night getting "flicked" which would be annoying. Lucky then, I'm a nerd, and I don't do parties.
The little video on their site showing a bit of a wobble is nicely done, and made me laugh. Big thanks to Andrew Gregory for spotting this one.
I have a fear that this section may outgrow the page. Nevertheless, I have lots of Subbuteo T-Shirts in various states of wear, and feel I should catalogue them, before I've worn them all out. These were all supposed to be nicely folded in a drawer.... but look like I've never touched an iron in the photos..... The Worthing Five-Star Table Soccer Club meets weekly, and it is useful to have a lot of appropriate clothing for flicking evenings. That's my excuse.
Long Sleeved Shirts - Next.
The first Subbuteo clothing I ever picked up, and still a favourite, although they are really too tatty to wear anymore, except in lockdown perhaps... Both have a single Subbuteo man on the back of the collar. The red version has an row of players on the front, and a felt style Subbuteo logo on the sleeve. The black one has a rubbish row of footballs on the front, and nothing on the sleeve. So it goes. These are the only long-sleeved Subbuteo shirts I've ever seen. Useful for playing in winter (under a coat and three jumpers if you've ever played at a historic sweet shop).
Embossed Shirts - England and Brazil (2006)
The pinnacle of clothing arrives early in this list. They have an embossed plastic line-up of players, and a fuzzy-felt style team name (I assume site visitors are old enough to have owned fuzzy-felt). There is a Subbuteo falcon patch on the sleeve. No expense was spared. The Brazil is a number 10 shirt (Pele!), and the England is number 9 (err Crouch?). My England one is beyond help. The green colour ran on the Brazil shirt. Not mint in box then. But much loved....
The Brazilian World Cup 2014 (copyright 2011)
England underperformed badly, so the shirts got sold off cheaply, after only a couple of weeks. Every cloud.... I think these were sold in Sainsburys. Once again, my bargain hunting sister bought these back for me from a shopping expedition. The blue one was only in extra large in the sales, and those who have met me know that I am a long way from extra large.... so here it is unworn. The green shirt again has the "retro" look, that means it is designed to look tatty. If I wanted the transfer to look like that I'd wash it at the wrong temperature, and iron it on the front.
The Dream Team, the wordy t-shirt, and a big logo (copyright 2016)
These were in Tescos, and are copyright 2016. By this time, I was buying a copy to wear, and a copy for the drawer.... (in the sales). The Dream Team is a solid design, although again it has the annoying tatty retro look. Enough already. Has a slight disadvantage in that the strikers get tucked in.... The players look like modern Subbuteo. The green shirt has lots of words. Too much to read, without looking like you are giving someone a hard stare. The white shirt I had forgotten I had, and I've no idea where it came from. It has small sleeves with tight cuffs. In fact the whole shirt looks a bit slim, even for me. Surely not a unisex Subbuteo shirt?
The ones I'd never got around to ordering....
I'm not even sure which catalogue this was ripped from. Or the date. Hopeless for a history page, and I apologise. Both are great looking tees actually. The white one has a player on the back, and the blue one says "the beautiful game". Too late to order now though.....
Men's Short Tee Short Leg Pyjama Set (2021).
These arrived in Tesco stores during Euro 2020 (in June/July 2021). They consist of an officially branded Subbuteo T-Shirt, and a not officially branded pair of generic black pyjama shorts. I can't work out any difference between this t-shirt and any of the others on this page.... so if you want to wear it outside, that's fine by me. (You can leave the shorts at home mind....)
The T-Shirt is actually one of the better ones to have been produced, with crystal clear chunky player graphics. If you are a Subbuteo nerd (and of course that's me), you can be amused that the teams in the design are very clearly the UK generic range that was produced way back in 2012. You have the unofficial England, Scotland and Ireland (flags rather than badges), plus the original generic sides including the red/white and blue/white from the box set (but minus the all-white kit). If you are still angry about the breakaway super league, you can enjoy the fact that because the "big six" had official licensed Subbuteo teams at this time, none of them feature here.....
A big thank you to my mate Fred for finding this set for me on his weekly Tesco shop!
Official Socks (2008 or 2010).
Th official pack of Subbuteo socks (on the left) was produced exclusively for Tesco (for Father's Day I think) in 2010, although the copyright is 2008. The pack contained five pairs of socks each with a different design. Most were just Subbuteo logos, but one pair did have a nice image of a diving heavyweight goalkeeper. It showed somebody in the design studio cared.... Credit to my mate Kevin, who found this set in a bargain bin. Do any of my mates buy things for the proper price? Hopefully not.
February 2020: A slightly more boring pair of monochrome socks have now been produced. I like the throwaway tag better than these socks to be honest.
Official Subbuteo Hats.
I believe that both of these hats are actually Waddingtons era promotional items. The playing association magazines of the time (Subbuteo Scene etc), often had offers for t-shirts, pens, key-rings and suchlike, and I think the hats come from here. Karl Warelow kindly sent me a link to the green cap on ebay. It made me recall that I owned a really horrible Subbuteo sun hat, that I would have to dig out the bottom of the Subbuteo cupboard. As luck would have it, a duplicate copy of the sun hat appeared on ebay shortly afterwards, with a nice picture. So I was saved the bother!
Do you have any weird and wonderful Subbuteo items that could grace this page? If so, then please feel free to e-mail the information to me.