Subbuteo Tribute Website.
The Unofficial Stuff.
Because footballers and hemispherical bases aren't copyright right?
Subbuteo was such a successful and popular brand, that it stands to reason that it was a good bandwagon to jump onto. But why pay lots of money to Waddingtons or Hasbro, when you can just hint at the connection?
Tom Taylor's Streaker Sets.
Produced using figures from an old German railway manufacturer, and some specialized table football bases, these were Tom Taylor's headline grabbing Streakers (available from his website tablesoccer.co.uk). Tom showed them to a journalist who had asked about Subbuteo streakers as a joke (I think the journalist was supposed to be doing a serious piece on an upcoming event in Birmingham). Anyway, the story made the front page of the Birmingham Post, and spread far and wide across TVs and radio - even as far as South Africa. Best quotes came from a lovely BBC article which said "...the streakers... are unlikely to be sanctioned by Subbuteo's governing body" and my favourite, "Marketing experts dismissed the move as a publicity stunt, an accusation denied by Hasbro". Oh, if only Hasbro had enough interest in the game to stage a few publicity stunts. Did Hasbro even cash in on all that free publicity and interest in their game that Tom's inadvertent fame provided?
Even if Hasbro never managed to cash in on the fun of the Subbuteo streaker stories, at least Tom Taylor did. The interest prompted a second edition of the set, featuring new castings. The new version was sold in both a male and female version, with a police officer of the appropriate sex to pursue the rogue fan. Amusingly, the set also had a lovely set of rules, which actually do work in play. The basic idea is that "table soccer" has no added time, so wasting time with a Streaker has some value! The defending player flicks the streaker, and the attacker gets to flick the police officer in an attempt to intercept him/her. As well as wasting time, the streaker can also save a player if his spare goalkeeper is stuck outfield. Not only that, but as these figures are on professional sureshot bases, you could use one as a spare goalkeeper if you find yours is clashing with the opponents team. (if you don't mind odd looks from your opponent).
The continued success of the streaker sets led to even more "special" sets being produced, to represent famous streaks from history. My favourite includes a policemen holding his helmet out to cover the streaker's private parts.
Mind you, this is perhaps a more effective way to deploy a streaker in table soccer.......
1950's Metal Goalkeepers.
A major problem with the flat players of the 1950's is that the goalkeepers are not very sturdy, and once their ankles have bent they are next to useless. I bought these metal 'keepers from a gentleman who played Subbuteo in the 1950s. He was sure they were a real Subbuteo item (he purchased them with a pair of deluxe metal goals also in the above pictures). However, nobody else had heard of them, and I can't see where they would fit into the range, so here they are in the unofficial stuff. They are heavy lead figures, and you certainly can't throw them around the goal to make saves. However, they are a big target, and the widely spaced legs catch a 1950s football very nicely. They are a wonderful item and deserve a place on the website as some type of old tabletop football accessory. They are probably from a blow football game, or alternatively from a tiddly-winks style game called "Shoot".
MM/A263 Scalextric Presentation Trophy Set (1966-70)
Subbuteo is getting hard to find at car boot sales these days. Recently, a friend bought me a single, common, early 1970s heavyweight in rather tatty condition. "As a bonus", he said, "you have three cups and a horseshoe in the bottom of the box". Looking closely at this find, it was obvious that the horseshoe was actually a racing winners garland which made me think of Scalextric. Sure enough, Roger Gilham's comprehensive Scalextric book (5th Edition Haynes 2001) had the photographs and details. We then laughed at the crazy "buy-it-now" prices for these things on ebay. It's not just Subbuteo collecting that has these optimists...
Whilst Subbuteo did trophies for the players, it is hard to find suitable sized cups for the teams to parade with inside an otherwise perfectly formed stadium. The FA Cup from the presentation set is tiny and fragile, and has no base to stand on. Goblets in Lego or Playmobil are okay, but not great. Even these Scalextric trophies are really too big a scale. In my team photo they remind me of 1970s line-ups in Shoot, where the impressive oversized trophies turned out to be minor babbles won by the reserves, like the Central League, or the East Riding Cup*. At least my speedway rider seemed chuffed to get a garland.
As an interesting aside, Mark Adolph's book points out that Subbuteo's plastic moulding firm actually made the drivers for Scalextric in the 1960s. I'm not sure how long this arrangement went on for, but it might be possible that these trophies also came from the Subbuteo facility. That would be a nice touch.
*For the ultimate real-life oversized football trophy, check out pictures of the Sheriff of London Charity Shield/Dewer Shield, which was the fore-runner of the modern day Charity Shield.
1970s-1980s? - Cake Decorations
Collectors who've met me at swapmeets over the last few years might have a couple of these on their shelves (or more likely in a box of tat at the back of a cupboard). I've owned a couple of these guys since I was a child, and they came in a bunch of second-hand football figures, which included those for both Subbuteo and 4-2-4 (without bases). As I had lots of different Subbuteo figures at the time, I wondered whether these were from Subbuteo or some other rival game, and wondered what bases they might fit.
I've never found an answer, and nowadays I think they are just birthday cake decorations. As a child I only had a couple, but I acquired a big bag from one of my many car boot sale attending friends (hello Roy, if you are reading this). Because it was a really big bag, I've been giving them away ever since.....
I used to think that my green ones were Ireland, to go with Scotland and Wales. It seems more likely that they are goalkeepers.... What is interesting of course, is that the painters used exactly the same colours as Subbuteo did. Okay, these were probably the available Humbrol colours of the vintage, but they still look great. Note that I have a very few claret players among the red.
There is a moulded Subbuteo player in the middle of the picture, so you can compare sizes.
If you are having a Subbuteo themed birthday with the above mentioned cake decorations then how about an unofficial table soccer birthday card? This was given to me by my work mates about fifteen years ago. They were slightly apologetic that it was a child's card, but it was so appropriate that they couldn't turn it down and I was delighted with it. These days, with Subbuteo being a retro icon for men of a certain age, official Subbuteo cards exist. However, in the early 2000s it was a surprise to see this, and I wondered how many kids of the period even knew what Subbuteo was. Perhaps the card had sat unsold in the shop for decades! Note the 1990s backward baseball cap look. The cat-eared table soccer players are a nice touch. Having both hands over the table is technically illegal of course.... and that drink is really going to affect the performance of the players later in the game. Where did the slide go? Honestly....
Big thanks to my work colleagues for finding this wonderful piece of kitsch.
This illustration was sent some time ago, and I've only just rediscovered it. These were small chocolate Easter Eggs in the colours of famous Greek teams. Inside each was a player in the appropriate kit, on a very familiar style of base. Sadly, they are not to scale, but still.... much better than most of the tat you get out of Kinder eggs.
I saw these on e-bay, and they are not an official Subbuteo item of course. But where else would they get the idea of putting a semi-circular base onto a footballer...
These days, there are official Subbuteo socks of course.
Professional Quartz Timer.
I'm not sure whether this is an official item or not. It is a cheap looking timer, in a cheap looking box. The box makes no mention of a Subbuteo (or indeed football) connection, but the logo looks fairly familiar.... Mind you, no registered trade-mark. A sneaky non-licensed rip-off seems likely.
Team Coaches (Corgi Classics 1995).
Okay, so these are not Subbuteo and are not pretending to be. However, if Subbuteo had produced a team coach or two, I would like to think that they would look like this. These sets from "Corgi Classics" recreated two famous "retro" cup parades (not sure if they actually made the details up though). The brown coach featured Manchester City's FA Cup win of 1956, and had the team in a "purple" colour to match the away kit worn in the final. 1956 was also Corgi's year of birth, and they were celebrating 40 years with this range. The second coach celebrated Burnley's unlikely League Championship from 1959-60. The Manchester City set featured a AEC Regal Coach, and the Burnley set had a Burlingham Seagull Coach, if you are interested in that kind of thing.
The Manchester City coach didn't want to come out the box (!!), and not wanting to force it, all my photographs are of the Burnley version, with a little bit of appropriate Subbuteo added for fun (it was a slow day). The little chaps on the top of the coach work well (but the plastic tray only balances up there - it isn't fixed). There are separate wing-mirrors that can be attached to the coaches to make them look even more accurate, but I didn't dare cut them off the sprues. My Airfix experiences in the 1980s have left a scar..... (if you ever tried to glue all the tiny bogies onto the Churchill tank, you know where I'm coming from)
Whilst there are plenty of modern football coaches available online in club colours, it is the care and detail of these sets that marks them out. If you use your old Subbuteo to look back at previous eras of football, then these sets are the perfect match.Glorious.
Zeugo Official 2012 England Euro Finals team - Vauxhall Promotional Kit.
This large boxed item was produced as a promotional aid for Vauxhall retailers. Vauxhall were an official sponsor of the England football team, and of course this link gets exploited to the full during the Euros and World Cups. Subbuteo is such a well known and well loved football game, that companies looking for a little football gift often look in this direction. Although Subbuteo re-launched in 2012, I am assuming that the planning for this product pre-dated the re-launch, and so Vauxhall went for the next best thing - a Zeugo side. Either that, or the lovely retro heavyweight look of the Zeugo product appealed more.
Whilst Zeugo always had an England team in their standard range, the advantage to this version is that it was produced under the official Vauxhall licence, so it has the proper "three lions" badge, and is a lovely recreation of the 2012 kit (compare with the team photo from the brochure shown below).
The large box also contained the glossy brochure for the retailer. This has all the details you would expect about the promotional materials available for a sales push. Vauxhall did include a page of England football items available to the consumer, such as mugs, bennie hats, and car products such as flags and mini kits, but sadly nothing Subbuteo/Zeugo related was produced in this regard. This, despite Vauhall taking the time to design a table soccer style logo for the promotional book..... I imagine the only way to get this team was to acquire the pack from a Vauxhall employee, or keep an eye on the second hand market.
A big thank you to fellow Worthing Five-Star player Dave Croucher who allowed me
to borrow the set for photos and scanning.
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