Subbuteo Tribute Website.
Spanish Production - The Borras Era.
Spanish Production 1980-82 (and onwards?)
I'm not sure of the origins of this range, but it was made by a Spanish company (Juguetes Borras) under licence from Subbuteo Sports Games Ltd (SSG). The "made under licence" nature of these games is different than most of the other international editions, which were produced by SSG in England and exported. To emphasise the point, even the pitch features the Borras logo. The range comes right at the end of the Waddingtons expansions into Europe which seem to have been staggered through the 1970s. Oddly, Peter Adolph had already had an earlier expansion into the Spanish market (see Spainish production 1960s for details), but that (and the related Subbuteo factory in Barcelona) seem to have ceased when Waddingtons had originally taken charge in 1968. As Spain has such a huge football culture, it seems strange that it was neglected for a decade, and that only the top few teams were ever featured in the familiar team range.
Having said that, as the 1980s arrive, we do seem to see this change in the way Subbuteo was produced abroad, as Portugal and Brazil also did their own manufacture at this time.
Spanish Editions - 1980 onwards.
The advertising brochure included with the box sets suggests that there were three versions produced in these Spanish boxes. The Club Edition, a "Junior" Edition, which was essentially a Display Edition, probably arrive with the 1980 catalogue, whereas the Special World Cup Edition would have come later. The illustration of the Junior set shows the smart plastic interior, featuring Spain and Brazil as the teams. The addition of the FIFA World Cup Edition to this leaflet dates this set nicely to the time of the Spanish World Cup of 1982. Obviously a useful cash-in on the football fever that would've spread through the country at that time.
The third set on the advertising brochure shown above was the FIFA World Cup edition. This had the more familiar lid, and looks as if it was going to be the standard UK release. However, a copy of the actual set has now come to light, and it is much more interesting. The box moved the FIFA markings up to where the English version says "Table Soccer", and renames the set Espaňa-Mundial '82. The interior, like the German sets of the period is flimsy vacuum formed plastic (of a type UK customers weren't cursing at until the mid 1990s!). The big difference though, is in the World Cup itself....
As shown on the box, the Spanish FIFA World Cup statue is a proper, high quality, metal product on a suitable plinth. I assume these replicas were already being made for the World Cup, and being obviously superior to the standard Subbuteo version, were preferred by Borras.
Spanish Subbuteo expert Jorge Vila has this to say about the trophy....
"In 1980, the Playme toy company (the factory was in a town very close to Valencia) manufactured a collection of pencil sharpeners with various shapes, animals, objects... and included a version of the world cup. There were two variations, one with a gold sign and one with a red sign. The pencil sharpener was just below the base. In 1981 the company went bankrupt, and months later the same figure appeared in the 1981 edition of Subbuteo by Borrás. I have the Cup of Borrás and it is exactly the same figure, but without the pencil sharpener. Either they bought the stock of pencil sharpeners shaped like a world cup, or used the same moulds to make it. Curiously, in the photograph on the box of the World Cup Edition, the cup with the red sign appears, but the one with the gold sign always came in the box (in all pictures I have seen on internet)."
Jorge does not know if the red one exists as a Subbuteo item, but he does at least own the pencil sharpener....
Spain - Cola Cao Edition.
Spring 2013: Spotted on ebay earlier this year, this was another strange Spanish set, that appears to be of a similar vintage. This Cola Cao set (sponsored?) had similar contents to a standard club edition. The teams were hand-painted lightweights of Spain and Brazil (pale skinned), and the look matches the hand-painted teams seen in the Spanish team range mentioned above. It should be noted that the Cola Cao name was also printed onto the edges of the pitch. A Cola Cao sticker was also provided. (Not sure of the date of this set, but worth pointing out the large orange flags, as opposed to the small flags of the 1982 World Cup set.)
The Borras Accessory Range.
Juguetes Borras also sold Subbuteo teams and accessories in their own distinctive boxes. The bubble packed accessories seem to be the standard UK versions, but everything else - stands, pitch, goals, goalkeepers etc. were reboxed. The teams were also produced in this style, and two variations of team box suggest that the range continued for at least a couple of years, although nothing much later than this date has been seen in collecting circles.
The 1983 catalogue has the following accessories listed. It is probably obvious, but I've put the sets that have distinct Spanish boxes in Bold letters. All the boxes have the same picture on them as the teams and the Club Edition.
|C102||Porteros (Diving goalies)||C127||Balones Continental (Continental balls)||C142||Gradas (Terrace)|
|C106||Porteros Sueltas (Spare keepers)||C130||Porterias (World Cup goals)||C143||Grada Corner (Corner terrace)|
|C107||Equipo Arbitral (ref/linesmen)||C131||Saque de Esquina (Corner kickers)||C144||Balon oficial campeonato (Panel balls F)|
|C108||Vallas (Fence)||C132||Saque de Banda (Throw-in figures)||C148||Porterias standard (standard goals)|
|C109||Terreno (Pitch)||C139||Banco Entienador (Bench Set)||C158||Marcador (Scoreboard)|
|C110||Torre TV (TV Tower)||C141||Espectadores (Spectators)||C159||Policias (Police Squad)|
The Borras Team Range.
Juguetes Borras had their own team range, matching the editions/accessories in attractive, solid looking boxes. Unlike most Subbuteo markets, Spain produced their own number range for their teams. For instance, the team shown above is Athletic Bilbao, who arrived in the UK team lists in 1983 as reference 440. In Spain, they are reference 2.
Spanish catalogues dated 1980 and 1983 have now enabled me to fill in this section. It seems that a range of 54 teams was established by 1980, featuring a full Spanish league range with an amazing thirty two different references. The first seventeen references are in alphabetical order, and represent the Spanish top flight of 1979-80 very nicely (it was an 18 team league with Valencia doubled up with Real Madrid in all-white). The other fifteen Spanish teams references (and some teams added back in) give another 19 sides, that are probably the majority of the Spanish second division of the period (which had 20 teams).
The list was then completed with 22 of the top selling national and club sides that featured in most of the other international ranges - so there are Brazil, West Germany and England alongside Liverpool, Juventus and Anderlecht. By 1983 the list had increased to 62 sides, with this expansion allowing the range to cover all the sides at the 1982 World Cup.
The teams that have come to light have revealed two different box types. If you compare the box shown here with the Bilbao one, it should be apparent that this version has a window, and a different interior layout. In addition, whilst the Bilbao box has a lift off lid, this one is a card wrap with a slide out tray.
Excitingly for lightweight collectors, many of the teams shown in the Spanish catalogues are unique to this range, and never made it back to the standard UK version. There is a nice example shown above - ref 11 Rayo Vallecano. This team (which looks like a white skinned Peru) never appears in the UK or Italian catalogues, and you had to wait until the 2003 Parodi range before it featured again in a Subbuteo catalogue.
The few teams that did transfer into the UK range were added in the team list between 424 and 440, on the 1983 poster. The most interesting thing here are the long gaps between these team numbers. The UK (and Italy) had Spanish sides on reference numbers 424, 425, 431, 433, 439 and 440. It must be assumed that some of the other Spanish sides were pencilled into the other numbers, but as the worldwide range was already getting unwieldy, I assume the decision was made not to include them.
Frustrating, there doesn't seem to be a way to match the Spanish sides to the UK gaps, alphabetically or otherwise. Of course, there are thirty-two Spanish club side references, and only seventeen spaces between 424 and 440. Even accounting for some team duplication, there is no obvious way to tell which might have been lined up to fit.
Looking at the Spanish catalogues you soon run into troubles with the accuracy of the illustrations. Hopefully I'm sorting this out by the addition of pictures of the real Spanish teams, although sometimes this seems to make things worse (blue shorts or white for refs 10 and 20?). In the international section, all the teams usually produced with black players are shown in the catalogue with a standard flesh colour. This makes Cameroon look like a different side. However, the real teams such as El Salvador (shown above), and Honduras were produced with the correct colour players. However, Peru were added to the description of Rayo Vallecano in 1983, and that is white skinned, and the Brazil team in the Cola Cao set shown above is also a white version.
The number of blue and white striped teams in the Spanish leagues is notable in real life, and the attempt to make many of them unique here is admirable. I suppose it is down to the fact that this is a much smaller range than the four divisions of England would have needed, and so Borras could be more accurate with the look of the sides.
All this means that I've felt the need to add notes to the team list as shown below. I've pointed out the existing references closest to the Spanish teams, shown as UKxxx to reduce confusion. It is interesting that Barcelona looks more like UK472 from 1983, than the earlier ref 19. This suggests further feedback to the UK range, and I wonder whether the non-illustrated Alaves (UK478) and Zaragoza (UK479) were also meant to come from this range.
December 2007: A big thank you to Jesús Ridao, James Hardcastle, and regular helper
Eddie Lang for sending the catalogues to me.
June 2021: Another huge thank you, this time to Spanish collector Julio Candelas, who took the time to photograph his collection of these teams. This enables us to compare the catalogue images with reality for the Spanish league teams. This is very useful, as the catalogue images are not too accurate with regard to the national sides taken from the English range, and of course the catalogue printing left a lot to be desired. It is worth noting that two of Julio's players here have had their hair painted blond, but there is no other evidence of repainting on the larger pictures of his collection (as always they have sadly been reduced for the site).
September 2021: The Subbuteoworld website was selling an interesting collection of these teams. The lightweights generally backed up Julio's collection, so I've not doubled up those pictures, although I have added a machine printed ref 2 (the familiar UK440). However, the Subbutoworld collection did feature more zombies, and I have added some of these to show that zombies are actually not that uncommon in this range.
Honduras - Unique to Spain, and has been seen on ebay. A blue Honduras was sold on UK405
Irlanda (Northern Ireland) - (UK320)
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