Subbuteo Tribute Website.
The C131 Corner Kickers in red/white and blue/white must be one of the most common and unloved of Subbuteo accessories. Anyone who has collected Subbuteo at car boot sales (like me) must have amassed a huge bag of these chaps by now. The throw-in figures are saved from this unwanted fate simply because they are very fragile, and less survive intact.
However, in the early 1970s these two figures were advertised in the catalogues in a small range of different colours, and the larger sets of the time featured versions in the kits of national teams. Collectors have also found that these accessories were painted in a range of other team references not catalogued - which frankly isn't a surprise given what we know about Subbuteo production.
So this page is simply a gallery of the various corner kickers and throw-in figures that have been painted by Subbuteo. It is pleasing how many of these have been discovered, and there are probably many more out there. Seeing these figures in a full range of colours allows us to cast a fresh look at something considered very familiar, and hopefully will bring a new appreciation to the clever design of these figures.
A big thank you to Chris Allen, who posted his collection of these figures to the Subbuteo Forum at exactly the same time as I was scanning mine. This really helped fill the gaps I had in my picture collection.
The Official Reference Numbers.
When the corner kickers and throw-in figures were introduced in the 1972-73 catalogue, they were produced in the familiar set of one red/white and one blue/white figure. However, for 1973-74 it was announced that they were "Now available in references 1, 2 5, 7, 10, 16, 21, 25, 41 and 42." Teams 1 and 2 are the standard red/white and blue/white teams of course, and it is important to point out that these were sold at that time in numbered boxes with two identical players, as well as the "one of each" boxes which were the usual standard. The surveys of heavyweights numbers on ebay in the early 2000s backed up the idea that references 5, 7, 16, 21, 25, 41 and 42 were seven of the top eight best sellers (after Brazil). Ref 10 was inside the top twenty in these charts, and you could argue that it is not in the top ten only because its popularity fell in the late 1970s as Fulham and Derby County moved to other numbers.
Whilst ten teams was a nice number to pick, the next two most common teams were likely to be ref 8 (Newcastle Utd etc) and ref 9 (Sunderland etc). I wonder whether having to paint stripy kits contributed to Subbuteo Sports Games stopping at this point!
The Corner Kickers.
The corner kick figures of this original era come in a lovely display box with a crowd backdrop. The backdrop has holes for the arms of the players and a fold in the middle, making a V-Shape. The boxes are numbered with round stickers like the teams of this era. Pleasingly, the numbers seem to remain stuck to these boxes more often than with the mid-1970s teams, although this could simply be due to less handling. The lid of this original set has a split in the top, so the set can be propped up as a display piece, an idea Subbuteo had introduced with their cup range. Later in the 1970s the box was simplified to be closer to the throw-in version.
A nice show of kickers.... (from left to right):- refs 5, 7, 10, 16, 21, 25, 41 and 42.
The Throw-in Figures.
The throw-in figures have a smaller box, and it lacks the display stand feature of the kickers box. However, it is no less lovely. Once again, the boxes are numbered for identification.
Here are all the alternate throw-in figures introduced in the 1973-74 catalogue. Same references as the kickers of course.
The Box Set Figures.
As the 1970s progressed Subbuteo sold editions in ever bigger versions (if your budget allowed), and the very big sets (Munich and the Stadium Editions) included corner kick and throw-in figures for each of the three teams that they contained. This means that both figures have been sighted for England (154), Brazil (50), Argentina (67), West Germany (156), Holland (13) and Italy (166). I've also seen some of these teams boxed in pairs, but not in a named or numbered box - so I'm not sure if and how these were sold. England and Brazil are the most common of these references by far, and the most likely to be sold in pairs - both standard teams being big sellers.
For the final version of the Stadium Edition, the range of sets had moved into polystyrene trays that were modular - each set added a tray onto the previous one. In these sets, the figures are often zombies, and you usually see the standard red and blue teams in the "club edition tray", and more often than not, reference 67 Argentina in the "World Cup" tray. This means that the final Stadium Edition tray usually has red, blue and Argentina figures. The only other team I've seen in this era is Brazil.
The logical releases shown above are not the end of the story when it comes to references issued for corner kickers and throw-in figures. Things are more complicated than that, and with Subbuteo production you really shouldn't be surprised. The France and Mexico figures that I've used to illustrate this section really open up the lightweight era, and add a whole new range of possibilities. This version of France was ref 571 produced 1984-86, whilst Mexico was team 610 produced 1985-88.
(from left-right) ref 72 Cagliari, ref 94 Sampdoria, ref 55 Fiorentina, ref 57 AC Milan, and a possible Lazio/Napoli.
A large percentage of the un-catalogued items that have been seen by collectors come from the Italian leagues. There is a logic to this. Italy has the largest concentration of Subbuteo collectors, so it makes sense that their production is better documented. However, it is also the case that none of the standard releases chosen by Subbuteo are kits that are used in Italy to a great extent. Even the standard blue/white and red/white are not all that common in their leagues. Perhaps only reference five has much relevance with use by Napoli and Lazio. So it makes sense that if the Italian distributors wanted to shift stock of these figures they would need them painted into more relevant outfits.
The most common set appears to be corner kickers for reference 72 Cagliari. When I first saw one of these I was suspicious of it being painted onto a standard figure, but then I picked up a set (sadly not a numbered box) in a small collection at a British toy fair. Since then, I've seen another couple online. Both AC Milan and Inter Milan are both easy to paint onto standard refs 1 and 2, but the one shown above is a sealed set, showing that it was produced. Chris Allen has ref 55 Fiorentina in both corner kickers and throw-in figures.
Just to prove it isn't just Italian clubs in this section, here is a box of Reference 85 Feyenoord, a very attractive kit. I've also illustrated the full sealed packet of reference 610 Mexico shown at the start of this section. Note that these are the newer plastic based version of the throw-in figures.
Or simply paint your own.....
So what to do with all those red and blue corner kickers you've acquired? Well, why not copy this collection shown on the Subbuteo Online website, and paint up a display case?
Do you own a different set of corner kickers or throw-in figures? Then send me a picture!
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