Subbuteo Tribute Website.
Page 1: Official Range 1950s - 1970s.
1950s Journey Into Space.
A non sporting boxed game by Peter Adolph, but still sold under the Subbuteo logo. It came in a large flat square box, most of which was taken up with the plastic rings. I've not managed to play with a set, so I'll turn this entry over to Peter Ford, a website visitor who owned a set in the 1950s....
"The main character was called 'Murph Under', and the game (impressively boxed) consisted of a large clear plastic ring into which fitted a balloon. This assembly was fitted onto the picture rail of a room on a wire clip.
Also supplied were four twisted wire 'launchers', along which plastic flying saucers like three-bladed sycamore leaves were propelled using short lengths of plastic cubing. These flew very well, and the object of the game was to land them on 'Saturn' - the planet formed by the balloon and plastic rim. If the saucers hit the balloon, they bounced off quite impressively, so it was essential to keep the fireguard on the open coal fire.
A tally book with Capt. Murph was supplied to record successful landings on 'Saturn'. A surprising degree of skill was needed, and the game was enthralling."
November 2017: I have now illustrated the paperwork supplied with this set. These booklets match those found in other Subbuteo sets of the 1950s, so you have a rather impressive rules (and setting) book, a Peter Adolph style logbook, an instruction sheet for assembling your "model planet" (frankly that's a bit grand for a balloon), and finally a send-away that explains Ashley's Pilot badge. The sheet explains - "I will send you FREE a replica of the WORLD MEDAL OF MERIT immediately you have made your INITIAL LANDING on Saturn. This handsome badge will convey to your friends that you are a skilful pilot of ROTATOR SPACE CRAFT". Your achievement needed to be witnessed by a friend (so no cheating) and obviously added two addresses (you and the friend) to Peter Adolph's marketing database.
A final detail from this set. 1950s collector Luca Genzano points out that the ring comes in both brown and clear plastic. I'd seen both, but assumed the brown one was just the plastic showing it's age....
1950s: By Spacecraft to the Moon.
As with the 1950s Racing games, why produce one box set from an idea, when you can produce two? By Spacecraft to the Moon was essentially the same game as Journey into Space, but instead of landing on a balloon, you had to land on a "moon" inside the box.
1950s: Stick on team badges.
"when references 1, 2, 10 and 15 are ordered together, a Gummed International Emblem Sheet is included free.
Although this gummed sheet was mentioned in the Subbuteo catalogues from 1949 until 1965-66, it remains one of the most obscure Subbuteo items out there. It was first mentioned to me by the sadly missed Stan Russell, who told me that when he played with the celluloid teams in the 1950s, his group played using red, blue, white and green figures and they were able to send away for a set of stick-on national badges to turn these teams into the home international sides.
The catalogues advise that you would be sent this sheet "free" if you ordered ref 1,2, 10 and 15 at the same time (i.e. Wales, Scotland, England and Ireland). I guess part of the reason it remains rare is that players would already have teams 1 and 2 in their original box set, and would not need to order them again.
December 2010: I've still yet to see an uncut version of this sheet, but at least I've now seen one of the badges. The lovely detailed Welsh badge shown above was spotted at the Table Soccer Exhibition in Essex in October 2010. Thanks to Jon Rosten for bringing this player along.
1960s: Gummed number sheet.
This is from a 1960s club edition, and is the fore-runner to C129. This lick and stick gummy sheet was also part of the full flat team (set D). Unlike C129, this sheet also had sticky player positions (i.e. IR - inside right). These were designed to be stuck to player bases, and I actually have a couple of teams with these stickers still in place. In fact, I had the teams before I picked up this sheet, so it was nice to discover that these were real Subbuteo stickers. Mind you, I'm still not sure what an inside right actually did. Rugby and cricket versions also exist.
1960s: The Beatles.
Regarded as the most valuable item ever made by Peter Adolph's company, mainly because they are desired by the multitude of Beatles fans rather than just the small, loyal band of Subbuteo collectors! The set doesn't actually mention Subbuteo on it, but it is advertised on the back of the Subbuteo Companion Games catalogue of October 1964 (see the middle illustration above). The band members are 2.5 inches high, so alas they are not the correct scale to provide half time entertainment at a Subbuteo ground. The advert states that Peter Adolph has "exclusive manufacture approved by the Beatles", and the story goes that he met them early in their career, and got the deal before they'd become really famous. The advert also states that this is "number one in the series", but no other scale pop stars seem to have been produced - shame. A big thank you to Lorenzo Carloni, who provided the excellent photo of this set.
1960s: The Beatles Official Pins.
This is a variation on the Beatles theme, and another example of Peter Adolph using and re-using his mouldings. The hard plastic white rosettes come from the standard Subbuteo football version (shown further down this page). The picture above hopefully shows the excellent detail on the castings, and the wonderful guitars. The four Beatles are named across the display card, and rather fairly I think, all four have sold the same amount on this card. The price written on the top of the card is a very reasonable 5 cents (suggesting an American origin of course). Expect to talk to your bank manager about a slightly larger amount should you want one of these nowadays. Just stunning. A huge thank you then to Stefano Garavelli, who was kind enough to send these pictures in.
Further details on the Beatles set are to be found on my Charles Stadden page (Mr Stadden actually designed the figures for this set).
April 2014 Another card of Subbuteo pins has surfaced - this time with the rosettes in red.
Just when you thought that every Subbuteo item ever produced was nicely catalogued on this website another strange and wonderful item appears.
The "U-Paint" outfit appeared in small quantities somewhen between 1965 and 1968. I've had two similar reports of this set. The box set illustrated here was bought in a sports shop in Birmingham (called Perry's!) and other sets came from East London. Both people who had these sets as kids remember buying lots of them and painting like mad, so I've no idea why the sets did not get a longer run.
In the Birmingham version, the name of the set was stuck on to an older box set, and it was described to the buyer as "an experimental line". Inside the box were two teams of players still on their sprues. These could be either white or flesh coloured plastic. In the flesh coloured sets even the goalkeepers were flesh coloured, which I'm sure is unusual for heavyweights. The bases came separate to the figures, and were red and blue, although the London sets had white outers. In addition to this you were given a tube of glue, some paints, a brush, one of the old large balls, and some cheap goals.
The paints were contained in little see-through capsules, nicely described as "like cod liver oil drops". These were apparently really awful gloss colours. The goals were solid plastic, and only 2cm deep. As the ball has a diameter of about 2.5cm, the whole ball cannot actually cross the line using these goals. Opps.
The great advantage of these sets was that the whole thing cost only a few pennies more than a complete team, so the buyer was effectively getting the teams half price. That and having a nice empty canvas to work on. This was important as team kits were beginning to change in the 1960s, and Subbuteo weren't all that quick in catching up.
1960s: Football Favors.
Sculptured polythene football figures 3ins high on stand, hand painted in the colours of your favourite club.
This was an collectable statue, which could be considered a forerunner to the C120 version. Like C120, the footballer is in a kicking pose, but this had a real 1950s look. It appeared (not illustrated) in the 1963-64 catalogue alongside the rosette (see below). I have seen the illustrated flyer for this item in earlier sets, but it obviously did not last very long as it does not feature in other catalogues of this era that I own (i.e. 1961-62 and 1965-66). The statue was described as 3 inches high and cost 1/6d, which was cheaper than the 2/6d cost of a rosette. The flyer calls these "grand souvenirs of your favourite clubs". As with most Subbuteo items "all league club colours" were available, although at least here they admit to "approximate designs".
The back of the flyer offered a competition for all who purchased a favor. You were required to provide answers to six questions about your favourite club (nickname, honours, favourite player etc) and then say in less than fifty words why you followed your particular team. In the 1960s you had to earn your prize - there was none of this multiple choice "name the team in red who play in Liverpool" rubbish you get on the TV these days.... At least the prize was worth the effort as it was a season ticket to your favourite club.
The short life span rather suggests that the favours were not a success, but this did not stop Subbuteo producing the C120 statuette in 1969.
This item was a hard plastic rosette with a hand-painted player in the middle, and was available in any of the team colours in the standard range of the period.
It was introduced around 1963, and originally appeared alongside the favor statue, It then wandered around the price lists for a further decade in search of a reference number! It is often mentioned near the "awards for club players" section where it was very much the cheap option. However, the above pictures illustrate what an impressive little item the rosette actually was, and I imagine it would have been quite satisfying to win one of these in a tournament.
It appeared in the catalogues until the end of the A-Z range in 1975-76, and was still advertised as available in all colours, which would give it a 1-190 range. However, like the C120 Statuette, unsold stock in collecting circles seems to indicate that the 1972 range of 1-81 (plus 1970 World Cup sides) will cover 99% of the rosettes you might find. As with the statues, teams up to 190 were probably done on request, and might surface from time to time. One of the later teams that has been sighted is the ref 93 Roma as shown above in an Italian catalogue.
The rosettes were sold in boxes or bags. There are actually two types of box. The plain version has writing in front of a picture of the rosette in white on both panels. The second box has this design on the back, but the front has a diamond shaped hole, so you can see the colours of the rosette you are buying. Whilst the later bag definitely looks part of the Subbuteo range, the boxed version plays down the Subbuteo link. I have been told that these rosettes were available from the sellers outside of grounds on match days in the 1960s and 1970s along with the usual unofficial scarves etc, and this is perhaps why this item is rarely found within old collections of Subbuteo.
Awards for Club Players.
As mentioned on the un-illustrated accessory list, Subbuteo produced a series of cups, plaques and medals during the 1960s and 1970s which were outside the standard accessory ranges, and aimed at Subbuteo clubs.
metal shield with engraved footballer on polished wooden base
A rather impressive looking item for Subbuteo clubs to hand out to as prizes. It cost 80p in 1976, which was just over the price of a team, and made a nice mid-range prize between the rosettes which were then 15p and the EPNS cups which started at £1.85. It's worth noting that the player on the plaque isn't on a Subbuteo base, so like the EPNS Cups, this could simply be a standard item from a local engravers and also used for "player of the year" awards in youth clubs etc.
with engraved footballer figure
The medals were another choice in the "Trophy" range.
You had a choice of Bronze medal or Silver. The Bronze medal was the more
affordable of the two - costing a similar price to the plaques above. The Silver
medal was in the same price bracket as the medium sized EPNS cups. Like the
other items in this range, the medals were introduced in 1958, and lasted into
the 1970s. Thanks go to Ian Roberts for the superb photo of the bronze medal, which
matched the blurred photo of this item from the 1958 catalogue.
December 2008: Thanks to Stefanos Kouratzis and Ashley Hemming who both sent me pictures of the silver medal in the same week.
As an interesting aside, Subbuteo sculptor Charles Stadden invoiced for work on a medal in April 1967. I do not know whether this was a replacement as the price/description of the medals does not change. It could have been done for a tournament. For the record, here is Mr Stadden's description - "Motif medal depicting in relief elation of player after scoring goal. 3" diameter motif modelled in relief in plasticine and wax."
1958-1979 EPNS Cups.
Thought I'd squeeze in further details of the EPNS Cup here with the plaque and the medal. The picture on the left comes from the 1958-59 catalogue, which was when Peter Adolph first started selling awards for players. Whether these cups were actually marked up as Subbuteo, I don't know. It is possible that they were just standard trophies from an engraver close to Adolph's 1960s headquarters in Tunbridge Wells. (same goes for the plaque and medal for that matter). The picture on the right is the smallest of the three trophies. For more details on the EPNS Cups, please see the details under C162-C164 which were the numbers given to these cups for the final year of their existence.
Early 1970s: Subbuteo (Angling) Dicer.
Subbuteo were obviously so pleased with the UFO shaped dice alternative produced for Subbuteo Angling, that it was also sold separately. This enabled you to replace the simple dice in any board game with a large cumbersome alternative if the mood took you. I've also managed to get a picture of the box for this item (from e-bay).
1975 Team Reference Chart.
This simple little Alphabetical Team Reference List appeared in the mid-1970s, and is probably self-explanatory. The team posters of the 1970s lacked an A-Z team name list, and this product filled the need nicely. It had a green and gold plastic cover, which matched the look of the logbook of the period. Whether it was produced for retailer or consumers (or both) I'm not too sure. The team lists were still not too out of hand at this period, and frankly, it was not any trouble to find teams on the chart. By the 1978 expansion of teams, the alphabetical list had been absorbed by the SubbuteoWorld catalogues, and a separate list was no longer necessary.
1977-1978: Special Team Wraps.
In the late 1970s, Subbuteo had the idea of selling their normal boxed teams in themed packs containing four teams, shrink wrapped inside a card wrap-around. The two sets illustrated here are not featured in catalogues, and may well have been trial promotions. The one on the left features in Subbuteoworld's rarest items, and has the four special boxed C500 home international teams sold in a special silver wrap for the Queens Silver Jubilee. The set on the right is from the following year, and features the "semi finalists" of the 1978 World Cup Final. Only problem? The tournament was held in groups, with the two group winners contesting the final. So no semi's took place - opps. The final was between second phase group winners Argentina and Holland, while the 3rd place play off was between group runners up who were Brazil and Italy. So I guess those are the four teams.
Although not in the catalogues, both these packs were squeezed onto the 1978 accessory price list, one on the bottom of each column of accessories (so the home internationals pack is listed between C133 and C134, but doesn't have a number itself). The price of the two packs was £4.40 each, which was a slight saving on four C100 teams at £1.15 each.
1979-1980 More Special Team Wraps
Subbuteo had a second go at producing four packs in 1979-1980. These new packs featured the new team boxes with one player visible in a window, and the new Subbuteo logos etc. The packs above were featured in the 1980 Italian catalogue, and represent all the teams in that years European Championship. So we have Holland, West Germany, Greece and Czechoslovakia in one box, and Italy, England (note that we have the wrong flag), Belgium and Spain in the other box.
Two more of these packs were given numbers in the standard accessory range. C165 was the standard home internationals pack featuring the same sides as the Silver Jubilee (but in the late 1970s boxes) produced in 1979. C174 featured the four previous World Cup Winners (again in the late 1970s boxes), and this set appeared in 1980. As they have proper "C" numbers, they are discussed in the normal range. Somewhat surprisingly, there were also two four team wraps issued for the 1990 World Cup. See the Misc.1980s-2000 page for more details.
For later miscellaneous stuff including The World of Sport, and Boots editions - follow the link.
The Team Colours Project (Ongoing illustrated team lists).