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Peter Upton's

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The Team Colours Project.

The Original Heavyweight 1962-68.

Refs 1-54 and 1966 World Cup. 

Clearly one of the key developments in Subbuteo history (and for table soccer in general) was the introduction of 3-D OO scale footballers in place of the flat card (or celluloid) figures. These new figures first arrived in the 1961-62 catalogue. I believe the sets were rushed out for Christmas 1961, with the individual teams arriving a few months later. These new figures were more realistic and more colourful than the earlier figures, and were clearly more attractive to the youth market. In addition, unlike the celluloid flat sides, these teams were sold complete in attractive and practical boxes. Another boon for Subbuteo Sports Games was the 1966 World Cup. Footy fever swept the country and Subbuteo's legendary status was assured. 

Mind you, this change in player type wasn't without its detractors. The new figures did not have the delicate balance (and therefore touch and control) of the flat teams. Although the bigger bases pack a decent shot and are better at traveling in straight lines, overall the player is not as good. This meant that the old timers and more serious adult players stuck to the original flat game, while the new OO version was adopted by kids everywhere. 

This first heavyweight casting is not a particularly attractive one, although it has some period charm. The player is wearing a short sleeved shirt with a v-neck, both of which are usually highlighted in the painting (although not always). There isn't a lot of detail, and the pose is still a bit flat when viewed from the side. The player's arms are rather thin, and the left hand is often missing. Although all this was probably due to casting limitations at the time. 

This first short sleeved design was replaced in the team sets around 1967, when the legendary classic heavyweight first appears. This new long sleeved design was finely detailed, and altogether a more robust figure. If you compare the earlier sets of Airfix soldiers to the later ones, you find the same improvements. Plastics technology was advancing, and so was Subbuteo....... 

Box Types. 

Box 1. Box 2. Box 3.

Box 1: White Box - This is the original box, and only had a very short period of production. A number of Subbuteo histories have dated this to 1959, but that makes no sense if the arrival of OO scale teams is 1962.
Box 2: - The first green box (although the green is restricted to a panel on the lid and the insert). This box shows the new improved logo, but the layout of the writing remains the same as the previous box. The white, printed top layer is stuck onto a thick rough card box, which is lacking in flaps. The white layer (plus corner strengthening tape) holds the box together. 
Box 3: - The layout of the box top was redesigned, and the box was printed onto a better quality card. The lids have flaps that are stapled. The staples can be horizontal or vertical, and there can be two or four staples to each end. There are also variations in the green colour of the box. This box lasted into the classic h/w era, and the final versions of this box have folded ends, and no staples.

The Team Colours.

For this page, the team names up to reference 40 come from the 1963-64 catalogue. After ref 40 I've quoted the year of introduction and the name of the original team (as I've done with the flat team page). With the new improved heavyweight arriving in 1967, it was thought that the teams of that vintage (i.e. refs 51 and 52) were the last ones to be produced in the short-sleeved figure. However, a reference 54 Plymouth from 1968 recently passed through ebay, and seemed to be a genuine side. So at present, this is the limit of this list. A Subbuteo dealer has also mentioned having a white 54 Plymouth in this figure that he thought looked okay, but further proof is awaited. The white version comes from 1970, which would seem much too late a date, but this outfit does exist as a celluloid figure, so maybe it is earlier than the catalogues suggest. 

Of course, Subbuteo production is haphazard, and a batch of the old figure could've been found and used up later than the rest. Then again, a white 54 would be easy enough to paint onto a plain reference 21.  

  1. Bournemouth, Barnsley, Bristol City, Charlton, Crewe, Doncaster, Exeter, Liverpool, Man Utd, Middlesboro, Notts Forest, Rotherham, Swindon Town, York City, Walsall, Workington, Wrexham, . Scottish sides: Aberdeen, Third Lanark, Clyde. International Colours: Wales, Switzerland, USSR, Czech. Benfica
  2. Birmingham, Cardiff, Chesterfield, Chelsea, Everton, Gillingham, Halifax, Leyton Orient, Leicester, Portsmouth, Shrewsbury Town Scottish Sides: Albion Rovers, Cowdenbeath, Dundee, Glasgow Rangers, Raith Rovers, St. Johnstone, Queen of the South. International Colours: Scotland, Italy, France.
  3. Brighton & Hove Albion, Bristol Rovers, Huddersfield, Southend, West Bromwich.
  4. Stoke City, Sunderland
  5. Coventry City, Manchester City. 
  6. Mansfield Town, Newport County, Oxford Utd. Torquay, Southport, Watford, Wolves.
    • The illustrated example is clearly Subbuteo Old Gold, but the team is advertised as "old gold (or yellow) (or amber)", so variations might exist.
  7. Aldershot, Aston Villa, Burnley, West Ham Utd.
  8. Newcastle Utd, Scottish sides: Dunfermline.
  9. Brentford, Lincoln City, Sheffield Utd, Southampton.
  10. Darlington, Derby County, Fulham, Luton Town, Notts County, Rochdale, Stockport, Scottish sides: Ayr Utd. International sides: England, West Germany, Austria

Alternate ref 18 with long sleeves.

  1. Carlisle, Millwall, Reading, Queen's Park Rangers. Scottish Sides: Kilmarnock, Morton. Also Racing Club de Paris.

  2. Nobody was on this number in 1963-64 It is usually Bristol Rovers.

  3. Blackpool. International Colours: Holland. 

    • Seen with black hair/boots and brown

  4. International Colours: Belgium, Spain, Jugoslavia 

  5. Plymouth Argyle. Scottish Sides: Hibernian. International Colours: Eire, Southern Rhodesia.

  6. Arsenal. Scottish Sides: Stirling Albion.

  7. Ipswich Town, Peterborough Utd.

  8. Barrow, Bolton W, Bury, Scunthorpe, Tottenham H, Preston N.E.

    • Long sleeved version also spotted.

  9. Introduced 1963 - Barcelona.
    The original version of this number was Bradford (Park Avenue). This version had red, Amber and black hooped shirts, and white shorts. However, this figure was replaced in the catalogue that introduced the OO scale figures, and has not been seen in OO scale to my knowledge. The kit had not been used for a number of years, and it seems likely that it was replaced in the new range for that reason. Why produce an obsolete kit in the new figures? 

  10. Scottish Sides: Hamilton Academicals. 

  1. Bradford, Swansea Town, Tranmere, Leeds Utd.Scottish Sides: Airdrie. Also Real Madrid and Red Banner.

  2. Colchester, Chester, Sheffield Wednesday, Hartlepool. A rare spell of being busy for ref 22.

  3. Bradford City. Scottish Sides: Motherwell

  4. Scottish Sides: East Stirling, Dundee Utd

  5. Scottish Sides: Celtic.

  6. Bangor and Drumcondra (although rather oddly it is also Brazil in 1963-64)

  7. Northampton Town. Scottish Sides: Hearts, Arbroath, and Stenhousemuir. International side: Hungary. 

  8. Norwich City. This is the original version of Norwich and has black shorts. International side: Sweden.

  9. Scottish Sides: Partick Thistle. 

  10. Hull City, Port Vale. Scottish Sides: East Fife.

Original black shorts version of ref 40.

  1. Blackburn Rovers. 
  2. Scottish Sides: Alloa, Dumbarton.
  3. Bishop Auckland. 
  4. Scottish sides: St Mirren, Queens Park. International side: Juventus
  5. Barnet. International side: Milano
  6. Was blank in 1963-64 (previously another version of Bradford Park Avenue). 
  7. Introduced 1963 - Oldham Athletic. 
  8. Introduced 1963 - Grimsby Town.
  9. Introduced 1963 - International Side - Germany. Not sure how this ties in to West Germany on ref. 10
  10. First Version. Introduced 1963 - Crystal Palace. Black Shorts.
    Second Version. Introduced 1965 - Crystal Palace. White Shorts. Seems to be the most common version in this figure
    Third Version. Introduced 1968 - Crystal Palace. Claret and light blue stripes, white shorts. Probably too late for this figure, but if the 1968 Plymouth exists, then this one might as well.

  1. Introduced 1965 - Liverpool, Bristol City, Workington, Crewe. 
  2. Introduced 1965 - Chelsea, Carlisle Utd, Cardiff, Shrewsbury, Bristol Rovers, Ipswich, Stockport, Birmingham.
  3. Introduced 1965 - Coventry City, Reading
  4. Introduced 1965 - Scottish Sides: Dundee. International colours: Scotland.
  5. Introduced 1965 - Scottish Sides: Hibernian
  6. Introduced 1965 - Scottish Sides: Motherwell
  7. Introduced 1965 - Mansfield Town. International Colours: Sweden.
  8. Introduced 1965 - International Colours: Spain.
  9. Introduced 1966 - Wolves, Southport. 
  10. Introduced 1966 International Colours - Brazil.


  1. Introduced 1967 - Millwall, Chester.

  2. Introduced 1967 - Lincoln 

  3. Introduced 1968 - Portsmouth. Not yet seen as an old heavyweight.

  4. First Version. Introduced 1968 - Plymouth - green version.
    Second Version. Introduced 1969 - Plymouth - white version.

*I remain a little sceptical as to whether teams 53 and 54 were ever produced in this figure. Team 55 Anderlecht was introduced the same year (1968), as ref.53 and the original green ref.54, and a 1969 white Plymouth might bring even more teams into play. Nevertheless, there are a few in collecting circles, and the white team shown did not look an obvious repaint when I held it in my hand...

World Cup 1966 sides.

As explained in the World Cup 1966 appendix these teams were produced in named boxes for the World Cup. This proved a good marketing move for Subbuteo, as the whole country was caught in the grip of the competition. (well, I say the whole country. I daresay my Dad couldn't have cared less!!)

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