Subbuteo Tribute Website.
Welcome to the What's New page for 2021. Anything updated or added to the site over the next twelve months will feature here. There are a few bits and pieces planned, but usually it is the unplanned things that are the best! As always, if you have something strange and wonderful, then send it in and share it with the community.
If you have been using the What's New 2020 page to find new stuff, and are looking at this short page with frustration - don't worry. I've just archived it - follow the link and you are back in time! The 2020 page got surprisingly big. I have no idea how I found the time... oh yeah, I was stuck inside "shielding" all year (sigh).
As with last year's page, I need to start with a big thank you to Alan Lee of The Wobbly Hobby Shop who has provided the technology on which this website has been updated, and indeed put out into the world. Without it, I might not have been online at all. Alan's grand plan is to get us all playing the game once more, so be sure to check out your local table soccer club once we get over the pandemic (and send the Wobbly Hobby Shop some love!)
As last year's updates finished with a bang, I've started this page with a recap of the December updates. Both these updates expand on lesser known areas of Subbuteo, and emphasise the sheer range of items produced during the game's golden years.
December 2020 Updates - UK Named teams.
A big thank you to Mark Skellon who sent in pictures of a big stack of named boxes, a collection put together meticulously over the last twenty years or more. As a collector of similar vintage, I was just staggered by the number of "typed name" boxes Mark has acquired. Offline at car boot sales and toy collecting fairs, I've acquired a good percentage of the English team releases of all eras, and yet I'd only ever seen three "typed" labels. Needless to say, these things are rare!
But were they hiding in plain sight? I ask this partly, because Alan Crampton's collection on Subbuteo Passion has both a labelled ref 74 Aston Villa, and a typed New Luton box! If anyone else has typed boxes, then I'd love to know. Mark has also sent in the typed named box for the South Africa cricket team, so I've added that to the Cricket Accessories.
You can see all the teams on the Named box teams page. You may well be amazed too....
December 2020: Portuguese Team Update.
The second "wow" moment to end 2020 was down to Portuguese collector André Moura. He has been collecting the Portuguese teams for years (especially their lightweight look-a-like figure, which he calls the Royal), and owns/is aware of far more teams than I had on the site. This has allowed me to fill out the Portuguese section of the International Team Production page, and a full Portuguese production page will be added soon (I've recently added a box set to International box sets, so will combine the two). His full collection pictures are too big for this preview, so you'll have to visit the page to enjoy them.
If you want more from André, he has a blog, instagram and facebook. As these things are a mystery to me, I'll quote his email, and hopefully that will put visitors in the right places! His blog http://myhybridgreenbox.blogspot.com/ is entertaining, but has been superseded by the more modern stuff. "You can see both (collection and handmade stuff) on Instagram - look for the_hybrid_man, and at Facebook (My Hybrid Green Box)." Clear? Good!
January 2021 Updates.
I'll start the year with this cracking photo showing the interior of the Europacup Editie, which was produced by Clipper, for the Dutch market. I was aware of the set because of a Dutch catalogue I possess, but had no idea of the contents or set up. This was their deluxe version, and sold alongside a standard club edition. More pictures and details on the International box sets page of course. Note the unique team interiors with space for a ball.
Many thanks to collector Vincent Guyaux who sent this one in.
Tipp-Kick Picture Update.
Tipp-Kick is the big German table football game. Although it plays more like Super Striker than Subbuteo, I have a small section covering it on the site on the Other tabletop footie games page. I do try to cover any football games that have individual moveable players. The update illustrates a little more of the modern Tipp Kick range. The timer might be useful for all table soccer fans, and the floodlights are a more powerful option than the old Subbuteo ones. Check out the rather beautiful official Tipp-Kick website/shop if you want to know more. It's aimed at Germany and Austria of course, but has various language options.
Whilst Tipp Kick "team" production is unique, because the game generally only uses one outfield player, I thought it would be worth highlighting the fact that their World Cup range was sold in "blind bags". This way of marketing collectables has been popular in recent years, even being adopted in the UK by older toy ranges such as Lego, Playmobil, and Sylvanian Families. This site suggested random bags as a way of selling Subbuteo even before the Photo-Real version had a half-hearted attempt at it. Recently Subbuteo Online has suggested the same idea. The big advantage is that a full range of teams (World Cup, or Premier League or whatever) could be produced, without the risk of the less popular sides being left on the shelf. A bag of four or five random players (like 4 or 5 trading cards), would allow teams to be built up - with perhaps something like a full edition and a practise pitch sold separately (that way spare players you haven't made up to a full team would still be useful).
The official Tipp-Kick website presents a game that still appears to be successful in the modern era of computer games and licensing. It is a frustration that Subbuteo is not sold with the same passion (admittedly, Tipp-Kick is still "a small family company" which probably helps). They sell standard and "pro" equipment, offer promotional players/sets for other companies, they even sell Revell paints if you want to paint your own teams! Everything that is covered by our full "table soccer" hobby in effect.
January 2021 - Hockey rules 1980-82. Time to play some (field) Hockey?
In the lighter lockdown of last summer, one of my mates cheered me up with a carrier bag of old Subbuteo that he had acquired at a sale. As usual, the scruffy pitch on top was thrown to one side, and we had fun looking at the lightweights and accessories within (nothing too exciting!). Whilst we had a (socially distant) cup of tea, I noticed that the pitch had some strange dotted lines on it.... it was a hockey pitch! And a "baize" one too, not nylon like the one in my set. What were the chances? There were no other hockey bits in the bag, and no football pitch. Weird? Anyway, the pitch has sat around in my house looking inviting, but checking the website made me realise that the hockey rules were not there. That was easy enough to solve.
The original Hockey set has become rather expensive sadly, but luckily it is very close to table soccer, and can be reproduced using standard equipment. Just copy the pitch pattern onto the back of a football pitch (or an old army blanket if you have one), and use standard players, goals, and your choice of ball. (I guess Alan at The Wobbly Hobby Shop would like me to point out that he has the proper hockey goals for sale!)
Hockey works well as a Subbuteo game, because the ball stays on the ground. It is much easier to reproduce than rugby. Ice hockey would work as an alternative. Hurling is also easier to recreate than Gaelic football. Mind you these games would need another different marked out pitch (and a combo of Subbuteo goal and rugby post!).
January Update. Miscellaneous Unofficial items. Parking the team bus.
Being unable to play Subbuteo with friends, I have been finding joy in my collection whilst stuck at home - and I dug out these Corgi vehicles recently. As I've previously mentioned, I was a regular visitor to general toy fairs in the past. Whilst there was never very much Subbuteo at these events, I have always been interested in other vintage toys as well, and often the bigger fairs were like visiting a museum - with the bonus that you could buy the exhibits. That's how these buses came my way. I am aware that there are modern team coaches available to buy from the usual online retailers, but to my mind these two beauties from 1995 are the pick of the bunch. If Subbuteo had produced a team coach, I'd like to think they would've looked something like these. Alas, only the two versions were ever produced, and they were a limited edition. Deservedly added to the unofficial items page.
February 2021 Update - Rugby Editions.
An update that should have happened about three or four years ago! A big thank you to Ashley Hemming who had sent me several interiors of rugby sets before the website hiatus. A few visits to ebay over the winter added more, and there were sets/leaflets in my house to photograph. The result is an update to the Rugby Editions page, and some resultant tweaks to some of the other rugby pages. All the alternate OO scale sets now have their own sections.
Looking at the different dated rule books means I've also tweaked the Rugby rules (OO scale) page - adding some early alternate rules, hopefully not to the detriment of the clarity of the later rules. I've also highlighted a dreadful clanger by SSG. The sensibly rewritten 1971 rule book was rather compromised by the fact that the section explaining how you scored a try was completely missed out.... Whoops. This explains why some sets have an extra yellow typed/photocopied "scoring a try" page.
February 2021 - Where did you get that hat?
When I updated the 21st century branded products page, I added a few clothes items, even though I was aware I might be inundated with t-shirt images - and there are certainly lots of unofficial ones available. However, Karl Warelow pointed out that I had a distinct lack of hats, and he sent me a picture of a vintage cap to start things off. This reminded me that I owned a pretty ghastly sunhat of a similar vintage. Before I dug it out, one of these monstrosities passed through ebay, with a nice picture that I've borrowed. As proof of the mad prices on ebay at present the sun hat made £26 or so. Really? Worth a laugh I suppose.....
Some more rather fancy dress....
Only this really is 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 is the base. This is created with what they describe as a pair of "deep padded foot covers" made of sponge. The little video on their site is nicely done, and made me laugh. The outfit is available in blue or red, and is currently on offer (just your luck - there are currently no parties). Big thanks to Andrew Gregory for spotting this one.
March 2021. Rugby Teams Update.
This update matches nicely to the rugby box set revamp last month, but is actually a bit of a coincidence. Heavyweight collector Mark Skellon has been trying to collect the rugby teams in his favourite figure, and kindly sent in a big bunch of pictures. If you like heavyweights, collecting these rugby sides makes sense. The painting style here is different to the football sides, and there are some unusual colour combinations. The number of heavyweights that Mark owns has allowed me to double up on many of the pictures. There are still a number to find, so if you have any others, please feel free to send the pictures into the site. I have also taken the opportunity to add in a few more lightweight rugby sides. The International sides (R1-R6) are the most common, and all these six are now illustrated. Enjoy!
March 2021: Longshore Products 2020 onwards (new page).
New Subbuteo licence holders Longshore Products are not making it easy to keep up with new Subbuteo releases. The fractured launch of products through half-a-dozen different European distributors isn't exactly helping matters. I have a horrible feeling that half the visits to the official Subbuteo website are me and Subbuteo Online trying to spot new things... With this in mind, I've started a Longshore Products page on this site to try and keep everything in one place (I think the number of products is out-growing the Subbuteo News section below). A quick thank you at this point to Mike Fletcher who has been helping to fill in both the Longshore and Netcam product lists.
The most interesting of the new products are women's football teams and sets. The England Lionesses game edition is beginning to appear (to pre-order) at UK retailers such as Crafty Arts. The Portuguese distributor is showing their national women's team in home and away colours.
May 2021: The set is now available at my favourite selling site - Subbuteo 2012: The Online Subbuteo Shop. Rui also has the teams available loose, if you really don't need (or have space for) another box set. The pictures on Rui's site show how detailed the new female players are.
March 2021 - Quick updates (but some wonderful stuff all the same).
Pelebol 1979 Extra Pictures.
Pelebol expert Pasquale Carrassi has supplied the website with further pictures of the quirky Brazilian range from the late 1970s. I am assuming this is the final fate for the moulds for the moulded heavyweight, and probably the triangular C117 flag (both items were obsolete in the late 1970s in the UK). Using different colour plastics for the figures works really well.
Football Rosettes Gallery
The Chelsea picture came in last year, and spent way too long in the pending
file..... Here are two different ways to paint a reference 42 rosette. Just a
reminder that if anyone owns a rosette not in the gallery, please send it in. A
big thank you to Simon Goodman for this one.
Just before I published this update, a picture came in from Andrew Bensley of an old gold ref 49 rosette. One I've never seen, and the all gold rosette is lovely. A good find that one!
Rule Books - Elementary Instruction books.
Jon Rosten sent me the pictures of this alternate Elementary rule book from the mid-1950s. The rules are the same as the usual version, however, what makes it an important booklet is the cover picture. To quote Peter Adolph, in it "Stanley Matthews utilises Subbuteo Table Soccer to explain Hungarian tactics to a friend". This seems harmless, but was actually part of Peter Adolph's battle with rival Newfooty. Richard Payne, in his book, "Fifty Years of Flicking Football" (1996) explains how Newfooty had enlisted Stanley Matthews as part of its advertising campaign, saying "Stanley Matthews plays Newfooty". When Adolph saw this photograph in the newspapers of Matthews using a Subbuteo set (to show how Hungary had beaten England in the famous Wembley defeat of 1953), he decided he could use it to counter the Newfooty claims. It turned out that actually he wasn't allowed to do this, so he had to destroy the leaflets involved. I had always understood this episode to be relating solely to "advertising leaflets", but this booklet shows that he was using the picture more widely.
A page that hasn't been updated for a while, so it is nice to add a pair of new pictures for these likeable sets. First up is a picture of the "72 inch length of plastic tubing" that was supplied as a track substitute in the basic version of Speedway (and is often missing). Secondly, a nice clear picture of the six figures from the motor racing game - black and green being the base colours that were unique to this larger race set. I'm still not convinced by Peter Adolph's attempt to make a racing car out of a Speedway bike cut-out mind. Regular helper Ashley Hemming sent in the cars. He may have sent in the Speedway too (or I pinched it off ebay.... not sure which!).
April 2021 Clones Introduction - Calcio Gol by Ellegi.
At the top of this page, I did write that the best updates are the unplanned ones. To prove it, here is a whole new table soccer "clone" that I was unaware of. To be honest, I suspect most UK Subbuteo collectors will feel the same. So a big thank you goes to Pelebol expert Pasquale Carrassi who kindly sent the details and a whole folder worth of pictures for this 1970s Italian curiosity. The game included figures that were clearly influenced by (okay, ripped off from) the Subbuteo "scarecrow". However, they were produced in a much bigger size. The pitch was a roll-up plastic thing, the deluxe set had a digital scoreboard/timer (batteries required), and the ball has a washer inside like the bases..... Cheaper versions had unpainted, and unassembled teams (supplied on the sprues). The game also reached Germany and France, and the Elligi company also produced an Olympic game with football, basketball, water polo and more. Madness!
I've added the game to the Subbuteo clones Introduction page. I did feel that this page was a little short on items, and this game fills it out beautifully. Well done Pasquale!!
Nearly everyone who writes in to my site takes the time to praise "The Table-Top Years" on YouTube, presented by Keith Littler. I don't have time to watch much (even on TV), and haven't checked how to link to YouTube content, or even decided whether I should. Lucky then, that I've noticed that the Keith Littler has set up his own website advertising his DVDs and the YouTube stuff. So here's a link to that instead..... The DVDs are great fun, and are certainly recommended viewing.
Accessory Pages - C140-C169, C170-C193
Like many of us, regular contributor Ashley Hemming has been amusing himself in lockdown by getting his stadium set up. In doing so, he spotted that he owned two variations of the monochrome logo C143 box - one with the accessory printed in black, and one with it in white. How odd is this? The black version has extra text on the front, which gives the early Tonbridge address. The pale box is a Leeds version.
Ashley also noticed that the Astropitch boxes/tube were not illustrated on the site, and sent a couple of pictures. I'm grateful, as all my Astros have tubes and not boxes. These have been added to the accessory pages - which do need a little bit of a review.
Miscellaneous Items 1970s-2001.
Another of my regulars, box set expert Karl Warelow sent this picture in. Whilst not a "proper" Subbuteo team wrap, this is nonetheless an attractive and unusual item. You wonder how it managed to survive all these years frankly. It dates from the late 1990s, when Subbuteo sales were falling away, and the smaller Premier League teams seem to have stuck around unsold in toy shops everywhere. Of course, we all should have bought more and stuck them in the attic.....
May 2021 Updates.
Newfooty and Newcrikit.
I have not touched the Newfooty pages for a while, so this is a welcome update. In the last couple of months, I have been pointed towards ebay on several occasions as expensive Newfooty items were going through. Way over my budget these days, but there were nice pictures to "borrow". (If any of these pictures are yours, let me know and I'll give you a credit!)
So we have improved pictures of the Newcrikit set, images of a boxed Targette game (still on ebay if you fancy it!) and details of the Crestlin price list of 1963/64 with prices of the individual 3D teams and figures (the figures were available un-painted and un-based, at a cheaper price than the celluloid teams).
In addition, a big thank you to Simon Goodman, who sent in details of a non-catalogued Newfooty team (as far as both of us are aware). This is a team with yellow and white hoop jerseys, and white shorts. You can see that this was a proper printed celluloid side, but it is a bit of a mystery who it would have represented.
UKSA Items from 1990.
Last summer, collector Chris Allen posted some interesting items on the old Collectors forum, including this rather cheap looking plastic watch - history unknown. Since then, I've discovered that the double-sided 1990 Subbuteo price list had a dedicated section for the old United Kingdom Subbuteo Association. Alongside the expected club items like t-shirts, mugs and pens, was the watch, plus a much more useful stopwatch, and a return for my old faithful lurid green holdall (which was previously C200). Pleasingly, the items were given reference numbers (mostly in a UK5xx range) and I've started a new page Players Association products to cover these, and other items produced for club members and tournament players. I've seen other t-shirts in Subbuteo club literature, and in the Italian catalogues, and will feature these in due course.
New French Sets.
Another month, another new set, (or two) arrive on the official Subbuteo website. This time we have some France only issues. There is an official French national version with an attractive "real players" box design. This reflects the similar Spanish version of 2018-19 (released under the Netcam/Eleven Force licence). Will they get a female version to match though? Then there is a new Marseille box set - the last one was back in 2015. That's almost vintage.....
Zombies - Picture Update.
I did suggest to Fabrizio Frazzoni that the wonderful Italian Subbuteo team books (see below) really need a zombie version to complete the set..... but this was not met with much enthusiasm for some reason!
Actually, these unloved figures would be hard to produce as a book, as so few of the potential references turn up in collecting circles. Nevertheless, I remember Paul Lloyd being adamant that all the references were painted on zombies, and having watched them on ebay for six months, enough unusual references have appeared to suggest that he might be right..... That said though, it is clear that the figure was mainly used in the machine-printing process, and that the vast majority of zombies were produced in a very small number of teams. When it came to hand-painted sides, the players were sent out in batches of 1000 (i.e. 100 teams). However, the one unpainted pack that I have seen had well over 800 heavyweights, with a small batch of zombies included randomly in the mix. That gives the possibility that zombies were not even painted in full batches, and I've certainly seen teams that are a mix of zombie and lightweight. However, the assumption that some references skipped the zombie and were only painted in heavyweight and lightweight is likely to be false. Any side could still turn up here. In fact, there is an interesting quirk among the rarer sides. The 1-400 lightweight book has a very few references where no lightweight was available for the illustration. And yet, three of those (180, 249 and 291) I have seen as a zombie.
You could be naughty, and argue that the rarity rates among zombies are "purer" than those seen in heavyweights, as the latter have 20+ years of repaints to factor in..... However, there is good evidence that zombies were used more often for the common sides. If you consider the old First Division sides who changed kit in the zombie era, you will always find that the machine-printed zombie is more common than the heavyweight. For instance, think of 207 Leeds Utd, 209 West Ham, and especially 232 Arsenal, which is really common as a zombie, but actually quite tricky to find as a heavyweight.
I never included all the more common zombies in the gallery, but I think the time has probably come to correct this. So expect a few more zombie pictures over the next few months, as I get these guys scanned in, and lined up in the right order.
June 2021 Updates.
Please note that the Subbuteo Festival has been postponed until Sunday 5th September 2021. Still, it means more time to sort out all those spares to bring along....
My other planned updates for May (just a little accessory range review) have been put on hold due to my laptop having a complete power failure.... Luckily, I'd managed to get the big vintage PC back working again (a big thank you to Paul for helping me get the replacement vintage graphic card). Of course, I'm back to where I was a year ago, with most modern websites not being available to my vintage browser (and in a catch-22, the new browsers won't work on the old hardware). Still, I can reply to emails, and update the site (as you can see). Laptop repair/replacement is a work in progress.....
I have found that part of the reason for my previous tardy updates/email answering is that I'm simply not able to spend time upstairs with the big old PC anymore (other commitments). So be prepared for delays to emails for a week or two..... Luckily, to make up for the delays, this month's initial update is a beauty.
Spanish Borras Editions 1982 and The Spanish Team Range - 1980-82.
The Spanish team range of the early 1980s has been on the website for a number of years, in the form of some rather blurry catalogue illustrations. Like the Portuguese range of a similar vintage, this set of teams is exciting because they were produced under licence, and many were unique - i.e. they were never fed back into the standard numbered UK range. Whilst a couple of catalogues exist in collecting circles (I've seen 1980 and 1983), the pictures are frustratingly indistinct.
A big thank you then, to Spanish collector Julio Candelas, who has been painstakingly assembling a collection of boxed teams, and has very kindly found time to photograph his players to share with the site. The teams are not all perfect (see the added blond hair on ref 12 above), and add a few more mysteries (ref 20 Alaves has white shorts in the catalogue, but blue here), but they are an important extra layer of information, and I'm delighted to have them here. Note the beautiful ref 19 Granada in the above picture - which actually has a plain white back to the shirt.
The teams have been added under the catalogue illustrations on both the Spanish Borras Editions 1982 page, and the International Team Production summary page. I've also taken the opportunity to update the text of the Spanish page, as it had pulled in information from other pages, and was very disjointed.
C121-C139 Interchangeable Goalkeepers.
An advantage to being back on the old PC is that I've got easy access to my earlier picture files (and the scanner). Just about the final email to come in on this PC last year was from site regular Karl Warelow, who had spotted this lovely sealed interchangeable goalkeeper set. This is the bubble pack after it became 61133, and was a box type missing (until now) on the accessory lists. I'd like to scan in lots of my heavyweight interchangeable goalkeepers if I get time, as there are a ton of variations in them.
July 2021 Updates.
I'm still having technical issues, so just a few things to keep visitors amused.... I can't visit much of the internet at present, so I can't check on other Subbuteo sites.
Miscellaneous Items 1940s-60s Football Favors
Pasquale Carrassi comes up trumps once again, with a picture of a "carded" football favor, and also an unpainted version from several angles, allowing us to appreciate the full sculpt of the figure. A proper vintage outfit worn by this one, with rolled-up sleeves, proper collar and big shorts.
Accessories C101-C110 C109 Pitch.
Simon Wade kindly sent in a picture of his bagged pitch, and I scanned in the one I had sitting around as a contrast.... then realised that I didn't have any bagged pitches illustrated on the website.... so here they are. Simon's pitch has the added bonus of a price label from retailer John Menzies. This is interesting in that it is a mid-1980s price (matches the 1985 price list) whereas the pitch is clearly a late 1970s one. I am assuming it is up-priced unsold stock. A danger when trying to date products for this website.
21st century branded products - Tesco (F&F) Men's Short Tee Short Leg Pyjama Set 2021.
Over the last year, my friend Fred has very kindly allowed me to add some essential food items to his weekly Tesco shop. This week along with the Tesco High Juice Apple Squash, was this rather classy Subbuteo pyjama set. Good spot Mr Fred! Whilst Subbuteo nightwear is something new for the website, in actual fact this seems like a standard Subbuteo T-Shirt, coupled with a pair of generic (unbranded) pyjama shorts. The shirt is actually one of the better ones that have been produced, as the team graphics are really bold and colourful. Nerds like me can be amused that the player representations clearly date back to the 2012 UK generic releases, including England, Scotland and Ireland with "flag" badges. (Is that retro yet?). Haters of the proposed super-league will also be pleased that the big six were all officially licensed sides at this time, so none are represented here.
In fact, it's such a great T-shirt, I am very tempted to wear the top at the local Subbuteo nights when they resume - except that everyone will know that technically I'll be playing in my jimjams. (I can't believe the spell check didn't call me up on jimjams. Is that in the dictionary these days?)
Euro 2020 (and a bit).
Are the pyjamas really the only Subbuteo release we are going to get for the delayed Euro 2020? There was talk of a big Subbuteo push during the original tournament dates, and there was a faint hope for an official set (In the end, I think the official England edition was supposed to be the tie-in). Okay, I know it is hindsight, but with the two biggest Subbuteo markets (England and Italy) making the final, plus Spain in the semis, what a huge cross-selling opportunity this would have turned out to be. Subbuteo missed the boat again (sigh). Mind you, the game is always guaranteed to feature somewhere. The Daily Mail for Saturday 10th July featured a "beginners guide" to the final with the graphic designer doing the usual Subuteo player representations - check out Mason Mount shown above in his retro 1993 England kit (ref 719). Amusingly, both the Subbuteo logos on the base, and the Umbro logo on the shirt have been removed from the original figure. Modern football and trademarks.... don't go there.
At the Euros this was Wales vs Italy, or was it Switzerland vs Spain, or maybe Russia vs Denmark, or... oh you get the general idea.
Mind you, about half the games in Euro 2020 could have been reproduced using the generic all red/all white teams in the Champions League set. FIFA kit rules and all that....
Pinched this picture from online retailer Subbuteoworld. Here is the generic West Ham/Villa/Burnley side produced in the new style figure and in the new look boxes. Not shown on the official Subbuteo website rather typically, but hopefully proof that more teams are going to come later in the year.
August 2021 Updates.
The football season has started again (did it ever really finish?). With an end in sight for my technical issues, evenings drawing in, and football on the radio, I'll hopefully get back to a more regular update schedule. In the meantime, here is the last of the slow summer update programme.
Card and Celluloid teams
Two different emails about card teams has prompted an update to this page. Firstly, Alan Lee turned up a surprising collection of un-punched card teams in blocks of three to a sheet. I had never seen this, and they were never sold in this way, so I am assuming that they are a glimpse into the production process. Was this was how the teams came into the factory? Alan's teams were all ones that Waddingtons had as unsold stock when they were closed down in the 1990s (i.e. they are all still available at Subbuteoworld as single teams). So were these uncut sides also held by the company into the 1990s?
I also had a couple of interesting emails from Bob Varney, who played in the flat team dominated tournament era. He had spotted that I didn't have ref 14 illustrated in card, and was able to help out (there are plenty of other card references missing if anyone else has them). He also found that an old friend still owned the cardboard ref 55 and sent in some great close-ups, which I've added. A beautiful and very elusive card side. The card teams after reference 50 are a puzzle. Several catalogues state that the card teams were only available up to ref 50, and Bob advises that he has only ever seen refs 51 and 55 (both of which are on the site). Were these the only two produced? And if so, why?
As usual these days, I've taken the update as an opportunity to review the flat team page/article as a whole. I've added a piece on the "Alf" figure, really as a tribute to Mike Hyatt who named it, and added a few more details and pictures from elsewhere on the site. It makes the page a bit too big really, but hopefully the extra detail is worth it.
Football Rosettes Gallery - 1960s ref 20.
Website visitor Joe Gregory very kindly sent this one in, and it is another rosette we can tick off as seen. Joe adds a potentially interesting story behind this item, which was found (boxed) in a drawer during a clear out. His family were big fans of the Oldham rugby league club, and these were their colours at the time of rosette production. Joe says that they always wore black shorts, rather than the white of the official Subbuteo rugby side (R13). In the 1960s, when Subbuteo were still producing ref 20 with black shorts, no professional football teams were actually wearing it (Hamilton having worn white since the 1950s). However, as Subbuteo was sold by reference number, there was nothing to stop enterprising rugby souvenir sellers acquiring the appropriate figures. We know rosettes were sold outside of football grounds. Outside rugby league grounds too?
Cricket Clones - Wicketz.
Appropriately for a summer update, here is a little cricket. Wicketz is a very likeable boardgame, that gets to feature on the website because it uses the Subbuteo cricket figures as playing pieces. Brian Middleton has sent in details and pictures of the original "200 Limited Edition" of the game, essentially a labour-intensive prototype. This bigger version had a lovely unique wooden scoreboard, which was sadly removed from the full production version due to cost (later on, you could buy a re-branded Subbuteo cricket scoreboard in black, but it was never included in a set).
I also found I still had a few unused pictures of the giant wooden limited edition of the mid-1990s, so I've added a couple just so the sheer work involved can be marvelled at!
The UK Club League.
With Covid restrictions eased, the long awaited UK Club league gets underway in the Autumn. We need to celebrate the hard work and dedication involved in getting so many new clubs started in such trying circumstances. I've heard good things from friends who have visited the new Redhill and Solent clubs which are the closest ones to me (sadly, personal circumstances have prevented me from joining any of these trips as yet). If you haven't played for a long time, it is time to get practising! And support your local club where possible.
We're also getting close to the date of the rearranged Subbuteo Fest (Sunday 5th September 2021), and I've been told that things are progressing well. On a personal note, I won't be able to fill my "special guest" slot, due to my ongoing family commitments. Frustrating, but there it is. I hope everyone has a great time. I'm sure there will be lots of bargains, and the friendly atmosphere of these events is always part of the joy of attending.
The Subbuteo News Section.
The Subbuteo Festival - Sunday 5th September 2021
Please note that due to continuing Government Covid restrictions, the Subbuteo Festival for 2021 has been postponed until Sunday 5th September 2021.
The Ubiquitous Alan Lee of the Wobbly Hobby shop is arranging this (hopefully regular) event to celebrate all that is good in the Subbuteo community - whether playing, painting and modelling, or collecting. The maiden event is at the Haverhill club venue of New Croft, Chalkstone Way, Haverhill, Suffolk. Hopefully, a fairly central location for all. There will be a collector's fair, a tournament, plus a painting competition, skills contest, and a quiz. As most of us Subbuteo lovers are over 50 years old, hopefully we will all be fully vaccinated by July, and it will be nice to be able to stretch our legs, and enjoy a community meet-up. Regrettably, I'm not going to be in attendance for this one.
More details and directions to the venue are on the The Wobbly Hobby Shop website.
Longshore's Official Subbuteo Products.
This site is usually last with the news, but a few casual visitors may not be aware that a(nother) new Subbuteo range has been launched in the UK. At present, this consists of two box sets and a separate England team. One set has the traditional red and blue teams, whilst the other is an England special, which was going to tie into Euro 2020. The England team is available as a separate boxed side - in a box that looks suspiciously like the previous range.
The new license holders are a Hong Kong based company called Longshore, and the UK distributor is University Games (who have merged with the previous UK distributor Paul Lamond). The box sets, aimed at the Christmas toy market are priced around £40. I never get sent review copies, so a "focus on" page will have to wait until I see a cheap one frankly.... The players are a new design, that has been described as "cartoony", which doesn't seem to have gone down too well with collectors (although I daresay we'll still collect any teams that are produced, right?). Perhaps the thing that was great about Subbuteo when I was a kid, was that it looked realistic and grown-up, which is what you are striving to be as a youngster. I'm not sure a "kids" product will hold interest of players going into their teens. That said, I loved Super Striker as well, and that wasn't grown-up in the least. So what do I know? Perhaps the teens will move onto the more specialised table soccer equipment (see below).
The official Subbuteo website has been updated, and you can look at the relevant distributors and available sets. There is a French/Belgian set and a Portuguese set, although to be honest, the differences are minimal. However, Eleven Force are still the Spanish distributor, so it will be interesting to see if they keep producing unique sets (the Atalanta set is on their website).
February 2021. More products have been added to the official website, but none seem headed for the UK. A Greek set has been added (once again, the same set as the UK version with minor differences to the lid), and this is backed up with four team sets unavailable (as yet) elsewhere. These are essentially unofficial versions of AC Milan, Inter Milan, Newcastle Utd (or PAOK) and a green/white/green kit which would cover Panathinikos. The blown-up photos on the Greek distributor's own website show that these are the new "Longshore" figures.
The accessories page now features a (reissued) fence set, a referees set, and a VAR referees set. Giochi Preziosi are both the Greek and Italian distributors, so we wait to see whether these teams will also appear in Italy (the "Milan" kits make more sense in Italy, and the box has an Italian flag as well as a Greek one (plus Belgian and Spanish flags). The green players in the above picture look like they are disco dancing. All the sets on the official website have this "bent players in box" issue. Not a great thing for the promotional shots is it?
New Page Longshore Products 2020 onwards is now covering this stuff in more detail.
Table Soccer News.
More new(ish) products in the table soccer community. My article on the competitive side of Table Soccer hadn't been updated for a while, and I find that the equipment is always evolving. I'd noticed in the months prior to lockdown, that when our table soccer club members played at tournaments, they would return with distinctive new teams and bases that "are becoming the norm". The teams had a very recognisable sunken inner base, and a new chunky player type, very different from the Stefan Corda figures (and its clones) which had previously been prevalent, and are shown in my article.
I've found out that this new range is called Tchaaa4, and it was designed by veteran FISTF player Daniel Scheen. Daniel is Belgian, and the range name (that looks weird in English), is apparently a phonetic spelling of a goal celebration pronounced more like "chow" in English. It amuses me that onomatopoeic words (splash, moo, woof) should cross language barriers, but don't translate as well as you would think. It makes me wonder how this website's English "comic book" usage of Arrgghhh, and sheesh, actually work in translation, but I digress.....
The Tchaaa4 range has actually been running for a few years, and has built up a range of different shaped bases for different styles of play. The actual playing figure is designed to be perfectly balanced - "front to back, and left to right". The players are available in a wide range of colours, so they can be used unpainted without clashing. This is either a colourful modern take on the serious abstract sport of table soccer (like table tennis), or it is a travesty that ruins the whole look of the game, depending on your point of view.... (Games Workshop stopped you fielding an unpainted army in their war gaming tournaments. I'm just saying.....) If, like me, you have a football kit obsession, then "paint-your-own" white players are available, as are some expensive decal teams of a very fine quality. Base decals are also produced, and look great. The range also includes many of the other useful items for the modern game such as polish, goalkeepers and handles, a measuring tool, and practise walls for shooting.
Friend of this website, the Wobbly Hobby Shop is now the official UK distributor. Hopefully this will make these products much easier to obtain in the UK. Find them on the website.
In updating The FISA and FISTF page, I realised that I had neglected to add the bases produced by another old friend of this website, Little Plastic Men, who produce the iBase and the CLR Dynamic. So I've squeezed these in too.
I feel the competitive pages do need to mention some of the other innovative table soccer products out their, such as Extreme Works pitches, and professional goals etc. These things really do make a difference to how the game plays. If your company is making or importing table soccer stuff, let me know, and I'll pass on the details here. Can't say fairer than that.
Lots more new and wonderful things......
My inbox and picture folders have been filling up with interesting things recently, just when my updating time is being squeezed by the spring gardening season.... so if you've sent in weird old things for the site, bear with me as I sort though it....
However, this looks a great year to be a Subbuteo collector, and there are lots of things happening that I felt needed an urgent mention. Of course, I'm never going to find time to be a proper "news" site (instead, check out the wonderful Subbuteo Online), however, these are things you really shouldn't miss.
Subbuteo - Storia e Curiosita (the Italian team books).
Whilst I have always been aware that the majority of Subbuteo collectors are in Italy, the language barrier means that I can only skim the surface of this deep knowledge base. Luckily, online translation services have become easy to use, so hopefully we'll be able to share much more information in the future.
These books open the door to some of this Italian knowledge, and a big thank you goes to my friend Fabrizio Frazzoni and fellow authors Alessio Lupi and Matteo Lastrucci for sending me these huge reference books. They consist of a two volume lightweight catalogue (refs 1-400 in volume one, 401-830 in volume two) written by Messrs Lupi and Lastrucci and published in 2018, plus a heavyweight title from all three authors, published in December 2020.
All three books have a similar format. Each reference number is laid out with crisp photographs of known variations, along with a list of the real life teams that Subbuteo associated with it. The "Storia e Curiosita" of the title are a delight, as the authors focus on one team (often one of the more obscure ones), explaining about their history, performance at the time of Subbuteo production, or perhaps details of the original kit manufacturer etc. The research and work that has gone into these histories is staggering. All is written in Italian of course, but apparently there are mobile phone apps that will translate for you on the fly (and the dates, cups and scores are pretty universal, so you can get plenty from them in any event).
If these illustrated lists were all the books contained, I'd have been impressed, but there is lots more. Both lightweight books have a dated index of references, so you can see which teams were on each reference in each year (I've done a little of this, and it is a lot of work!). The second lightweight volume has a further index by country, plus photos of all the Hasbro sides, non-catalogued teams, and the lightweight Italian specials.
The heavyweight book has even more goodies, with the English and Italian catalogues detailed and illustrated (plus some of the other key European ones). Pictures of all the old heavyweights, including the 1966 World Cup, plus the 1970 World Cup boxes, the Jubilee teams and the Italian specials. Then there are articles on Hybrids, Portuguese, Spanish and Brazilian production, goalkeepers, the special team service, and more. (even the mysteries of Santos and Milano get a look in!). The heavyweight list goes all the way to the final Italian heavyweight reference of 359, which is a discussion UK and Italian collectors need to have, along with the "elephant in the room" that is repainted sides of course. Whilst I am a little suspicious of some of the variations shown, it is important that they are here for discussion. The variations covered are certainly impressive. For example, even within the first ten heavyweight references there are three important variations not on this site - the ref 5 Man City with claret sock trim (I've seen it before, but not with a good picture), the gold ref 6 (like the gold 49, it carried over from the ohw range), and a reverse painted ref 8 i.e. white stripes on a black shirt (I've seen a ref 34 painted like this, but never a ref 8).
A special mention must be given to graphic designer Mauro Pispoli, who was responsible for the overall look of the books. And the credits page is a real "who's who" of the Italian collecting scene. Great work all round.
The books are not cheap - 50 euros for the lightweight set, and 40 for the heavyweight book, but mine have barely left my side since arrival! So they are certainly recommended. If anyone is interested in buying the books they can contact Alessio Lupi at email@example.com
The Hobby Magazine - Subbuteo Online.
More reading matter to enjoy. The aforementioned Subbuteo Online has launched a new Subbuteo magazine called (appropriately enough) The Hobby. First issue is available to order, and it is selling well. More details, when I've obtained a copy!
The Updated Wobbly Hobby Shop Website.
The full Wobbly Hobby Shop experience is now available. The updated site is a joy to use, and now completely independent of ebay. So it is even easier for UK customers to obtain the Tchaaa4 range of high performance table soccer products. Other modern table soccer products are in the pipeline, and of course the site retains its useful spares service for replacement vintage players. Go take a look!
This website's technology sponsor, Alan Lee, has not been wasting his lockdown either. He has been updating the website for the English Subbuteo Association. The aim is to make this long established national association the central point for all Subbuteo and table soccer activity in the country. The noble aim is to bring everyone who loves the game together whether they play modern rules with sliding players, or old school rules with heavyweights or flats - or anything in between. As we are a minority hobby, this needs to include the collectors as well.
Obviously it isn't great timing, as we are all still in lockdown, but I would suggest that any collectors who don't play the game seek out their nearest club, and go along for some matches. I really cannot recommend this highly enough. I am aware that I am the biggest nerd going, and I am happy to sit in my bedroom surrounded by hoarded stuff. However, my local club coaxed me out of my shell about fifteen years ago, and I have to say that I haven't regretted a single moment of it. I've gone from being completely hopeless at playing to... well some level of mild competence.... We've played in extensions, and a tiny flat, and now a (tiny) sweet shop. But all our members past and present have been lovely, and I've found tournaments to be very welcoming too. Most of our new members get up to my standard in a few short weeks (!!) so don't let fear of being outclassed put you off....
Now the lockdown is easing, there are a number of events getting arranged, and new clubs opening their doors. The English Subbuteo Assn website is the place to see if there is anything happening close to you. Take a look....
Moments in time (a series) (No 3).
The French Second Division 1980-81 and the sheer madness of Subbuteo's high water mark....
|Group A||Reference||Group B||Reference|
|Gazelec Ajaccio||345||SC Abbeville||303|
|AS Angouleme||222||AAJ Blois||214|
|Olympique Avignon||219||Stade Brest||214|
|RCFC Besancon||18||Stade Malherbe Caen||338|
|AS Beziers||344||Berrichonne Chateauroux||336|
|AS Cannes||127||US Dunkerque||248|
|AS Corbeil Essonnes||331||En Avant Guingamp||147|
|FC Grenoble||285||AC Le Harve||339|
|FC Gueugnon||47||FC Limoges||303|
|AS Libourne||63||UES Montmorillon||156|
|Olympique Marseille||219||US Noeux-Les-Mines||47|
|FC Martigues||348||US Orleans||181|
|Etoile Montlucon||342||Paris FC||323|
|La Paillade Montpellier||21||Stade Quimper||154|
|S R Saint-Die||343||Stade Reims||232|
|US Tavaux Damparis||340||Stade Rennes||147|
|CS Thonon||Missed?||FC Rouen||337|
|FC Toulouse||341||SFC Thionville||47|
Okay, so heavyweight purists might disagree, but in terms of range the 1981 catalogue is the high-water mark of Subbuteo production. Football, rugby, cricket, hockey, the huge World of Sport Compendium, Sport Billy..... Okay, it is my era, but the range was never bigger and bolder than this.....
However, the sheer madness of the 1981 output is really encapsulated by the arrival of the French 2nd Division to the team range. Prior to this point, like most of the other European leagues, Subbuteo and distributor Delacoste had provided the French top flight. Expanding to cover the second division seems reasonable, until you realise that this has two sections (Groups A and B) of eighteen sides apiece, many of whom have never got close to being in the French top flight. Whilst most of the teams thankfully used existing numbers, SSG did see fit to release eleven new teams between refs 336 and 348 featuring giants such as SR Saint-Die an US Tavaux Damparis.... (a dull blue kit with red trim). I wonder what most Subbuteo customers in the UK made of this expansion. Frankly, I wonder what French customers made of this expansion.
Most of the teams are still on the 1982 poster, but are gone after that. The most weird/desirable team must be the weird tri-colour 337 Rouen. This team is only shown in the UK 1981 catalogue. The French catalogue sticks to the more Rouen-like ref 225. Was it an error? An away kit?
Whilst the early 1980s saw Spain and Portugal producing their own ranges of teams, these were never fed back into the standard UK range. All the other team ranges make more sense than this one..... Oh, and what happened to poor old CS Thonon, the only team I can't find in the alphabetical lists? For the record, they played in yellow and blue (ref 47) as did SFC Thionville, so some confusion may have occurred. CS Thonon missed out on promotion to the top flight in a play-off in 1982, before sinking back down into the lower leagues before recent mergers took them out of existence...
See also the Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. My kind of old school website. Old PC/dial-up friendly. No pictures, no thrills, just loads of wonderful football league tables and cup results.