Subbuteo Tribute Website.
The Boxed Editions
Page 6: Box Sets of the 21st Century.
When covering the Subbuteo Sports Games era of the game, it made sense for the website to split out the international sets from the British releases, as the game was produced in the UK, and the sets for the home market had an organised range.
This changes in the 21st Century, because sadly British production has ceased. American owners Hasbro began to licence out the game's production to other companies, and none of them have been British. With nearly all these sets being conceived and produced overseas, it was no longer possible to make a nice clean split in pages.
This website was started in 1999, so all these sets have been produced during the life of the site, and most have been discussed at length elsewhere on these pages. Therefore, this page is really just a summary of what has been produced, highlighting all the changes in licencees over a twenty year period.
As I wanted to include all the production this century, the page starts with the final original Hasbro range, which also concludes the 1990-2000 page. These sets were a continuation of the previous range, and so are a better fit for that page in my opinion. However, they are 21st Century sets and do make a good starting point to the eccentric production history on this page.....
These sets were available exclusively through Toys-R-Us in the UK. They were supposed to be produced for Christmas 2000, but actually did not arrive in most stores until early 2001. They were a nice little range, but did not get much publicity, and just seemed to slowly fade away. As the Premier League and Manchester United sets were dated to 2000/01, they had a built in obsolescence, and were later discounted to clearance. Whilst they did have a small accessory and team range, my local Toys-R-Us never had the whole range, and I had to send for the extras direct from Hasbro.
As mentioned below, the first time I saw the 2000/01 Premier League set in a store was in 2003. That date leads us nicely to the next set to be produced.
Premier League Edition:
This was identical to the previous Premiership set, with the new style referee and linesmen. In fact, my local Toys-R-Us continued to sell the version with the older box lid with the new range, the 2000/01 boxed sets not arriving in Hove in mid 2003. That raised a chuckle :-)
Man Utd Edition 2000/2001
Again, this was an edition taken from the previous range, but it was at least updated with new Man Utd kits. I know you can't believe Man Utd would have changed kits. Mind you, the away kit in this set have strange green shirts with thin white hoops, and black shorts. Nice, but surely it should have been navy. That might make the thing collectable! The sets were originally £29.99 but were reduced to half price once it wasn't 2000/01 anymore.
The most exciting part of Hasbro's re-launch was the announcement of a new Grandstand Edition. And here it is. It contains three teams (blue/white, red/white and yellow/white), the old faithful fence and scoreboard as well as the grandstand, of course. This was produced in new colours - red tiers, with white side panels and roof and also includes a cardboard sheet of supporters.
The Parodi Edition 2003-05.
The first company to gain an official licence from Hasbro to produce a true Subbuteo range was Edilio Parodi s.n.c. an Italian Toy Company. They had been the official Italian distributor of Subbuteo from 1970 to the mid 1990s, when Hasbro advised them that they would be doing the distribution themselves. This led to Parodi producing the Zeugo table soccer game, which was essentially a clone of the much-loved hand-painted 1970s Subbuteo.
Spin on a few years, and Hasbro changed strategy. No longer interested in distributing Subbuteo, they licensed Parodi to produce a range for the Italian market. I'm not sure the set, accessories and teams from this range were ever officially released in the UK, although various online sellers here did obtain stock, and I have picked up a set at a car boot sale, so they are out there.
The contents were pretty basic - two teams, two goals, two balls, a pitch, and a rule book in Italian, English, French, German and Spanish. The production was all unique to the Parodi range, featuring different player and base types, plus goals and goalkeepers borrowed from the company's Zeugo range. Follow the link on the above title to read my original "Focus On" for this set
The single set existed throughout the run of the Parodi licence, and the only differences in it seem to relate to the teams. My original set had teams in the colours of Fiorentina (all violet) and Vicenza (red and white stripes/white shorts). I have seen sets where the teams were painted in standard red/white and blue/white colours (as Parodi's zeugo sets often were). My car boot sale find had random teams from the large Parodi team range (Arsenal away and Chelsea away), so anything is possible.
The Parodi licence was not renewed in 2005, so that Hasbro could produce......
The Hasbro Photo-Real Editions 2005-07.
This was a second attempt by Hasbro to bring the game into the 21st Century, the unique selling feature being collectable flat figures featuring real players from top European sides. Like the Parodi edition, the original set had its own page on my website on release showing more details (follow the link above). The whole range of items produced in this period also has its own page - Photoreal Subbuteo 2005-07
There were actually three versions of the set, shown from left to right above. The original set had "new" on the box. The 2006 version removed the word "new" from the lid, and coincided with the second season of player cards. That meant that the badges of the two extra teams (Roma and Benfica) were added to the box lid, and the new set of cards were the ones included in the box. The third edition had no more new teams, but updated the players and team colours once more.... However, it seems to have had a much smaller release. These player cards were not available in separate releases, and the sets are a much rarer item on the second-hand market.
There was also a five-a-side "Arena" version, which is shown on the photoreal page.
Below this point, the editions all relate to two different licences, and they split between two different player types. There are sets with the new flexible "Netcam/Paul Lamond" figures, and sets with a reproduction lightweight produced for an Italian magazine partwork by Fabbri Editori.
The Marks & Spencer Edition 2009
After the photo-real era had slowly faded away, this lovely retro-designed release was a welcome surprise. Whilst it is essentially a standard lightweight club edition in a fancy box, the production is a little more complicated. I have heard that the original "lightweight" moulds from the 1990s have gone missing. So a close inspection of this set reveals that the playing pieces are all from a magazine part-work produced exclusively for the Italian market by Fabbri Editori also in 2009. Once again, I produced a "focus" page for this set at the time, and the heading above leads there.
The teams in the set were the traditional Subbuteo ones of red/white and blue/white. The set had three balls, two goals, the pitch, and a single thin rules sheet. Unlike the Parodi (and photoreal) sets, this one had a proper insert to support the fragile items. Always a good idea.
NetCam/Paul Lamond 3005 Team Edition 2012.
The official Subbuteo licence moved to Spanish company Netcam in 2012, and they linked up with British distributor Paul Lamond to launch a full range of Subbuteo in the UK. The original box set for this range is shown above. Did I produce a "Focus" page for this one? Of course I did, and the link is again on the title. Netcam had different distributors for each country, and produced different box sets for each. These get complicated, and the Netcam page is probably the best place to review the whole lot, along with the teams and accessories released.
This set did make it to the High Street in the UK, and was even sighted briefly in Tesco. These were soon reduced in price though, and it was a high point for the range. There are later Paul Lamond sets, but I think they were online sellers only.
The only alternate team edition seems to be a Greek edition, with appropriate teams. The Spanish and French markets had alternate box lids and international teams.
Special Collector's Edition 2015 (with re-release 2019).
An unexpected UK arrival for Christmas 2015, this set was originally exclusive to John Lewis. Although produced with a new partner store, this is clearly a follow-up to the successful Marks and Spencer set, which was produced as a Christmas set in 2009. Once again, the set was produced using the lightweights of the Fabbri Editori partwork. Although the box lid shows the red/white and blue/white kits of the Marks and Spencer set, the teams here were actually a couple of the partwork releases - Brazil and Italy. The set is generally a cheaper production than the lovely Marks and Spencer set, with a one-piece box, and no plastic insert. Everything just came in plastic bags.
A further surprise was a return to this set to online sellers in 2019-20. This re-release was dated 2019, and had a slight tweak to the teams, with the Italian team now being the all-blue kit that Italy wore when they won the World Cup in 2006. The other team was still Brazil. These two teams were the first two "cheap offer" sides of the 2009 partwork, and were probably over-produced.... Mind you, the partwork teams appear in plenty more sets down the page.....
Official Club Editions 2015-16 and on. (Netcam/Paul Lamond)
These editions were produced for club shops, and repeated the idea first trialled by Hasbro with their Manchester United set of the late 1990s. The original releases were seen in Netcam's home territory of Spain, but they branched out into France, Portugal and the UK. Although Paul Lamond had an official team range featuring the top six sides in England (plus Celtic and Rangers), it seems that only Arsenal and Liverpool were lucky enough to be receive a full edition. These original boxes still saw a proper plastic insert, and benefited from a ball featuring the appropriate club logo. (This extra perk seems to have been dropped for the second year of Spanish sides).
These sets are dealt with in detail on the Netcam page, but here is a selection of sets in the similar style. England and France only saw one round of these official sets, but the Spanish range kept growing (see further down this page), and the Italians arrived late to the party.....
Sets with real players on the lid:-
The Spanish "Silhouette" Official Editions 2015-17
For the smaller Spanish clubs, a more generic box lid was designed, with illustrated players rather than the real thing. The 2015 sets (Valencia and Athletic Bilbao) had the lid cut out and club ball of the "photo" sets shown above. This was dropped for the 2016 sets (Real Betis, Real Zaragoza and C A Osasuna) and the 2017 set (Sevilla). The 2016-17 sets also see the new flat bases introduced. There was also an official Benfica set in Portugal, with a unique illustrated lid.
The later official editions copy the look of the International Playset shown below....
International Playset 2015. (Netcam/Paul Lamond).
This Edition was a replacement to the basic 3005 Netcam/Paul Lamond set from 2012, and was the second basic set to be sold in the UK. Despite the high price of these new sets, the production was disappointing with a thin box and no insert to support the product. As the lid shows, the teams had switched to all red and all white. Once again, the rules were a thin single sheet. I think this was the first set to have kicking and heading players wearing the kits provided in the box set. This became a theme....
Similar sets were produced for the Greek market featuring unofficial recreations of their top teams. Note that these have the window with players and ball from the earlier range.
The Champions League Editions 2015, 2016 and 2019. (Netcam/Eleven Force/Paul Lamond).
The Champions League Licence first showed up in Italy in 2015, and was assumed to be a deal struck by the Italian distributor of Subbuteo (Giochi Preziosi SPA). However, the box set later spread across to other markets. Both the all white/all red team version (dated 2016) and the all blue/all red team version (dated 2019?) were also issued by Paul Lamond in the UK. The 2016 version is near identical to the International Playset they had issued the previous year. The teams are the same, and perhaps only the logo on the pitch and the ball markings are different.
Spanish and Italian Official Editions 2017-19 Eleven Force.
These simple official editions adopt the kicker/header style of box, and were sold in Spain and Italy. There were Champions League branded editions here too, for Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.
Italian (four team) classic figure editions.
The Italia Edition (shown on the left) caused some excitement when it was first released, as it was assumed that the teams were going to be the new flexible netcam players in unseen kits.... but no, this was another use of the Fabbri Lightweight partwork. It was soon joined by the British Edition, which featured the Fabbri recreations of the home nations, and English text on the box (although I'm not sure it was sold in the UK - a friend who has one confirms it is an Eleven Force set, not a Paul Lamond one). The Brazil and Argentina sets arrived later, featuring the club sides from their respective countries. The wide range of teams in the original lightweight partwork certainly allows for many sets like this (and see further down for more versions!).
For the record, the teams included in each set are:-
Italian Collectors Editions (and Athletic Bilbao!)
Yet more use of the 2009 Fabbri Editori partwork teams, and the advantage of picking classic kits becomes clear - you can call this a "Retro Collectors Edition" and it never goes out of date.... I assume these were produced for club shops, and if the vintage kit had the Scudetto on it, all the better. These box sets only have two teams in them, and the opponent team seems to have been selected from the more generic partwork side. For example, AC Milan are paired up with the white and green of Ferencvaros.
The picture on the left here shows the interior of the Roma "Collectors Retro Edition", that shows the basic nature of the contents. The picture on the right scarily opens up this section, as it is an Athletic Bilbao Collectors Edition.
10933 Eleven Force World Edition.
This looks like no other Netcam/Eleven Force set, and is the only edition with flexible players that had more than the basic pair of teams. The three teams in this one were England, Spain, and a mystery third side. A very pretty box set!
Special England Edition (2018) (Paul Lamond)
A late Paul Lamond set, probably produced with an eye on the 2018 World Cup. The box set included England, and "one surprise national team". This surprise team is a not very accurate Brazil - yellow shirt, blue shorts and white socks.
Official Game/Official England Game (2020) (Longshore/University Games).
Although the marketing is telling us that this is a new era of Subbuteo, under new brand owner Longshore, it is useful to compare the box lid of the new "official game" version with the Paul Lamond "Team Edition" released near the top of this page in 2012. It's the same logo, it's the same images of players and it's the same stadium background. The ball is at least flying off at a different angle... It is not a surprise to learn that UK distributor University Games is related to 2012 distributor Paul Lamond Games.
Both box sets are officially priced at £39.95, and I'm not sure you are getting that much for your money. There is the standard Official Game, a new Club Edition in essence, with teams in the traditional red/white and blue/white. Plus the Official England Game, where one of the teams is in a proper England kit, complete with "three lions" badge (something the Paul Lamond versions never managed).
In a move that may bring back the International set pages (!!), the English language/team on these sets means that they are unique to the UK. Portuguese and French variant sets have been sighted.
That brings you up to date with the editions. You can now visit the international box sets, the five-a-side page, or look at something else.
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