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Peter Upton's

Subbuteo Tribute Website.

The Team Colours Project.

The Zombie 1977-80.

The zombie is the rather insulting name given to Subbuteo's first attempt at a figure that could be assembled and painted by machine (although the one on the right here looks more like Frankenstein's monster). The nickname comes from the lifeless look of the player - there is no attempt at a pose and almost no detail. Worse still, the first zombies sold did not even have the Subbuteo logo around the base. These new bases were designed to clip together in the machine without the need for glue, but the early ones are often glued (messily) and are ill fitting. This can leave the player poorly balanced. A mid-1970s player given an unboxed team of this type may well have concluded that these were a cheap Far-Eastern rip-off of the beautiful game.

All these problems make the poor old zombie a deeply detested figure. Several Subbuteo fans of the 1970s have stated that the zombie was their reason for giving up the game (it was either that or discovering girls). Others would carefully go through the boxed teams at their local shop to make sure they only bought the heavyweight sides. My Italian Production page explains the lengths gone to by the Italian importers to avoid this figure. 

However, this figure isn't all bad (no really). Once the logos were added to the bases, the peg fitting seems sensible and attractive. The players are quite dainty (even if real footballers are not), and the symmetrical player does improve the balance and touch of the figure. Well, sometimes it does. In addition, a change in the glue on late 1970s heavyweights had led to deadly rattling bases as the weights came loose inside. The inside of the zombie base alleviates the problem as the weight is on a central pin, and the top of the base presses it down tightly into place. Also, there seemed to be an increase in tatty "Friday afternoon" painting in the late 1970s, possibly caused by the same increase in demand that had lead to the decision to machine paint in the first place. All of which meant that as a youngster my favourite teams were among my machine printed zombies. My top two sides were number 9 Sunderland and 209 West Ham, both of which can be seen on this page. Or at least they were my favourites until the machine printed lightweights appeared and my head was turned by the 329 England, and yellow pin striped Liverpool away.

Of course the coming of the lightweight in 1980 signalled the end for the zombie. Subbuteo Sports Games Ltd had listened to the (many) critics of the zombie, and made sure the new figure was much more detailed and attractive. 

Team Colours. 

The aim of this page is a little different to the heavyweight and lightweight lists. Although the catalogue pictures in the zombie era are attractive, it seems pointless to list all the teams again. Especially for such a short lived and unpopular figure.

At no time was the zombie the only figure in production, and what I want to produce is a checklist of reference numbers that have been spotted in this figure. The teams up to 190 had already been in production for a number of years as a heavyweight, and many were no longer accurate. So while the common sides were produced, the more unusual teams are few and far between in this figure. Teams between 191 and 322 are contemporary to the zombie era, so these are more likely to appear. Looking at the list shows that the UK customers of this era were (perhaps unsurprisingly) predominantly buying the modern versions of British teams (191-220 and 303 onwards). The NASL also seemed well supported. Many of the other teams were probably produced for export, although given the Italian dislike of the figure, it would be interesting to know how many of the Italian club sides were painted onto zombies.

I've further complicated the list because I thought it would be useful to divide it into hand-painted and machine printed versions. Machine printing is usually pretty obvious, although where I'm not sure I've put the team in the hand-painted (H/P) column. There are also plenty of examples of trim being added by hand to machine printed sides. I've generally left these sides in the machine printed column. 

Machine Prints: - As well as the obvious choice of plain colours for shirts, shorts and socks, sleeve trim was no problem to the process (England 317 is a nice one), nor were collars, cuffs, or sock tops (although occasionally these were added by hand or forgotten about). The shirt body without sleeves was also done (16 + 232). There is also the thin striped shirt, and a thicker hoop. Then there is the Admiral logos (e.g. Coventry 206 and Wales 319), and the lovely chevrons of West Ham (209). Hand painted versions could not do this trim justice (although they had a go!).

I don't really intend to illustrate every zombie on this list, but there is plenty of room for expansion. So if you have a favourite zombie you wish to show off, then feel free to send me a picture or scan. Hopefully this page might change a few people's opinion of these little guys.

April 2004: Paul Lloyd, who worked on various Subbuteo projects from 1969, and founded the original collectors club in 1992, has advised me that every reference number in the catalogues between 1977 and 1981 were produced in zombie, heavyweight and lightweight figure, and he saw a set of them at Waddingtons HQ a number of times. If this is the case, then this page loses some of its purpose, but I think it is worth keeping going on the tick-list. Why? Well, even the really long term collectors don't appear to have seen zombie teams above 320, and even certain references that are common as heavyweights (like ref 7) are still awaiting positive sightings.
December 2008: I've added a few more pictures to freshen up the page. Thanks to everyone who has sent in pictures and info.
August 2015: This page has not had a picture update for ages, so err... here is one. Thanks to all who have sent in.
May 2021: A few more illustrated zombies. Please keep sending these in....

No. Team H/P M/P   No. Team H/P M/P   No. Team H/P M/P
01 Notts Forest X X   11 Reading   X   21 Belgium X X
02 Cyprus X X   12 Bristol Rovers X     22 Blank (Stockport)    
03 West Brom X X   13 Blackpool X X   23 Partick Thistle X  
04 Stoke City X X   14 Bournemouth X     24 Queen's Park    
05 Ballymena X X   15 Plymouth       25 Celtic X X
06 Alloa/East Fife X     16 St Patricks Ath X X   26 Bangor    
07 Gzira Utd (Malta)       17 Blank (Sheff Wed)       27 Hearts X  
08 Newcastle Utd X X   18 Bury   X   28 Norwich City X X
09 Sunderland X X   19 Barcelona X X   29 Blank (Partick)    
10 Austria   X   20 Hamilton       30 Bewick Rangers X  

No. Team H/P M/P   No. Team H/P M/P   No. Team H/P M/P
31 Blackburn* X     41 Liverpool X X   51 Brighton X X
32 Blank (Alloa)       42 Chelsea** X X   52 Excelsior (H) X  
33 Blank (Bishop A)       43 Blank (Coventry) X     53 Rangers X  
34 Juventus X X   44 Blank (Dundee) X     54 Blank (Plymouth)    
35 Hull City X     45 Hibernian X     55 Anderlecht (B) X X
36 Rapid Vienna X     46 Marsaxlokk (M)       56 Ajax (H) X  
37 Helmont Sport (H)       47 Southport X     57 AC Milan   X
38 Blank (Grimsby)       48 Spain X     58 Inter Milan X X
39 Poland X X   49 Blank (Wolves)       59 River Plate X  
40 Blank (Palace)       50 Brazil X X   60 Blank (Subbuteo)    

*The hand-painted 31 was seen in the late red collar version. (as illustrated)
** Later hand-painted ref 42s have a (usually unpainted) white collar and cuff.

No. Team H/P M/P   No. Team H/P M/P   No. Team H/P M/P
61 Blank (N'hampton)       71 Blank (Cork)       81 Liverpool 2nd X  
62 Blank (Australia)       72 Genoa       82 Den Haag Ado X  
63 Blank (Montrose)       73 Blank (Clydebank) X     83 Twente Enschede X  
64 Oostende (B) X     74 Aston Villa X     84 Utrecht X  
65 Blank (UK) X     75 Blank (Forfar) X     85 Feyenoord X  
66 Blank (Raith Rvrs)       76 Foggia (I)       86 Go Ahead    
67 Argentina X X   77 Dundee Utd       87 Haarlem    
68 Chile X     78 Celtic 2nd       88 M.V.V.    
69 Blank (Darlington)        79 Blank (W Ham)       89 N.E.C.  X  
70 Blank (Bohemians)       80 Northampton  X     90 Como    

A big thank you to Lorenzo Ogliosi for sending a picture of his reference 99. This is otherwise a very empty section of the zombie list!

No. Team H/P M/P   No. Team H/P M/P   No. Team H/P M/P
91 Parma       101 Carlisle Utd X     111 Servette    
92 Trento       102 Blank (Palace)       112 Winterthur    
93 Roma       103 Messina       113 Zurich    
94 Sampdoria X     104 Triestina       114 Switzerland X  
95 Bologna       105 Venezia       115 Cape Town City    
96 Bari       106 Alessandria       116 Southern Subs    
97 Brescia       107 Basle       117 Hellenic    
98 Palermo       108 Grasshopper Club X     118 Durban Utd    
99 Torino X     109 Lausanne Sport       119 Gillingham    
100 Man Utd X     110 Lugarno       120 Durban City    

No. Team H/P M/P   No. Team H/P M/P   No. Team H/P M/P
121 Blank (Vienna)       131 Arminia Bielefeld X     141 Nancy    
122 Austria Vienna X X   132 Blank (B M'Bach) X     142 Nantes    
123 Austria Salzburg       133 Turkey X     143 Bastia    
124 Blank (Wacker)       134 Newcastle 2nd       144 Valletta (M)    
125 Lask        135 Preston NE       145 Blank (Paris SG)    
126 Blank (Donawitz)       136 Birmingham City   X   146 St Etienne X  
127 Blank (Fortuna D)       137 Bordeaux X     147 Rennes    
128 Bochum X     138 Benfica X X   148 Monaco X  
129 Clydebank       139 Lyon X     149 Portsmouth X  
130 Blank Wuppertaler X     140 Marseille X     150 Valenciennes    

No. Team H/P M/P   No. Team H/P M/P   No. Team H/P M/P
151 Belgium 2nd       161 USSR       171 Middlesboro X X
152 Bulgaria X     162 Sweden       172 Blank (Coventry)    
153 Blank (Czech)       163 Uruguay X     173 Blank (Portsmouth)    
154 Bolton* X X   164 France** X     174 Australia    
155 El Salvador       165 Santos X     175 Haiti X  
156 West Germany X X   166 Italy X X   176 Zaire X  
157 Eire   X   167 Blank (Rochdale)       177 Blank (Charlton)    
158 Morocco       168 Chelsea 2nd X     178 Farense (P)    
159 Peru X     169 Luton*** X     179 Blank (Halifax)    
160 Rumania       170 Burnley X     180 East Stirling X  

* The basic navy shorts version is illustrated. There is also a machine-printed black version with sleeve trim, and I've seen a hand-painted navy version with the sleeve trim.
** The black skinned players were often included in the zombie 164
*** Both versions of 169 have been sighted as a zombie.

No. Team H/P M/P   No. Team H/P M/P   No. Team H/P M/P
181 Blank (Partick)       191 Man City X X   201 Stockport X  
182 Blank (St Mirren)       192 Leicester X     202 Southend X  
183 Airdrie       193 Aberdeen X     203 Watford X  
184 Blank(Shrewsbury) X     194 Crystal Palace X     204 York X  
185 Blank (Motherwell)       195 Dumbarton X     205 Cardiff X  
186 Blank (N'Hampton)       196 Dundee X     206 Coventry City X X
187 Sliema Wand (M)       197 Orient X     207 Leeds Utd X X
188 Blank (Paris FC)       198 Mansfield X     208 Leeds Utd 2nd X  
189 Blank (Peterboro) X     199 Plymouth       209 West Ham X X
190 Blank (Kilmarnock)       200 Rochdale X     210 Hamburger SV X  

No. Team H/P M/P   No. Team H/P M/P   No. Team H/P M/P
211 Wolves X X   221 Borussia M'bach X     231 Czech X  
212 Hertha BSC X     222 Karlsruher       232 Arsenal X X
213 Berlin TB       223 Hartlepool       233 Vard    
214 Middlesboro X     224 Frem       234 Frigg    
215 QPR X     225 Bristol City X X   235 Chesterfield X  
216 Eintract Frankfurt X     226 Atletico Madrid       236 Swansea X  
217 Eintract Braun       227 Colo Colo X     237 Ham Kam    
218 Charlton  X     228 Mjondalen       238 Fredrikstad    
219 Ipswich X X   229 Lyn       239 MP    
220 Rot-Weiss Essen X X   230 Valerengen       240 KIF    

No. Team H/P M/P   No. Team H/P M/P   No. Team H/P M/P
241 KPT       251 Paris St Germain       261 New York X  
242 KPV       252 Cowdenbeath       262 Boston X  
243 Lahden Reipas       253 Avelino       263 Shrewsbury X  
244 Rotherham       254 Pescara X     264 Toronto X  
245 OPS       255 Torino 2nd       265 Philadelphia    
246 TPS X     256 Lecco       266 Tampa Bay X  
247 HAKA       257 Rimini       267 Vancouver X  
248 Everton X X   258 Brindisi       268 Washington X  
249 Laval X     259 San Jose X     269 Portland   X
250 Lens   X   260 Harford       270 Bradford X  

No. Team H/P M/P   No. Team H/P M/P   No. Team H/P M/P
271 USA X     281 Hungary   X   291 Sundsvall X  
272 Academica       282 ALK       292 Halmstad    
273 Boavista       283 Hull City X     293 Norrkoping    
274 CUF       284 Elfsborg       294 Newells Old Boys    
275 Atletico       285 Oster       295 Boca Juniors X  
276 Tornar       286 York City   X   296 Rosario Central    
277 Sporting       287 St Mirren       297 Independiente    
278 Porto       288 Djurgarden       298 San Lorenzo    
279 Uniao-Coimbra X     289 Barnsley       299 Fluminense    
280 Olhanense       290 Orebro X     300 Cruzeiro X  

No. Team H/P M/P   No. Team H/P M/P   No. Team H/P M/P
301 Penerol       311 Forfar       321 England 2nd X X*
302 Nacional       312 Kilmarnock   X   322 Iran X  
303 Exeter City X     313 Motherwell X     323 Paris FC    
304 Lille       314 Strasbourg X     324 Man City 2nd    
305 Albion Rovers X     315 Bayer Leverkusen       325 ManUtd 2nd      
306 Paris FC X     316 Sochaux       326 West Brom 2nd    
307 Torquay X     317 England X X   327 West Ham 2nd    
308 Aldershot X     318 Scotland X X   328 Luton    
309 Bradford City       319 Wales X X   329      
310 Falkirk X     320 Northern Ireland X X   330      

The machine print of ref 321 has some of the trim added by hand.

The original un-numbered Melchester Rovers (of Roy of the Rovers fame) has also been spotted in the zombie figure.

Zombie Rugby teams.
Production of the original rugby base ceased around 1975, and teams started to be sold on standard football bases as these ran out. As football production switched to zombies (and then lightweights) rugby production too switched to these figures. Lightweight rugby teams have certainly been sighted, but although I've had reports of zombie rugby sides, none have yet been sent in to the site. Anyone own one?

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