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Peter Upton's

Subbuteo Tribute Website.

What's New for 2022. Subbuteo's 75th Anniversary.

Well, Hello !!

Welcome to the What's New page for 2022. Anything updated or added to the site over the next twelve months will feature here.

As Subbuteo launched in 1947, this year marks the 75th anniversary of the game. Hopefully lots of cool things are planned for the year.

The website updates have slowed down recently, as two years of additions have covered a lot of the things I had previously missed. As usual, I still have a few more things planned, but the stuff that other collectors send in are usually the stars of the show. So if you have something interesting to share, please send it in.

If you have been using the 2021 Updates to navigate the website, it has joined the What's New 2020 page in the archives. Follow the links to find all the stuff you may have missed if you've not visited for a while.....

As previously, I need to start with a big thank you to Alan Lee of The Wobbly Hobby Shop who has provided the technology on which this website has been updated, and indeed put out into the world. Without it, I probably wouldn't be online at all. So send Alan and the Wobbly Hobby Shop some love.

Alan's grand plan is to get us all playing the game once more, and the last two years have seen new clubs, new tournaments, and a big Subbuteo Festival launched. Pretty impressive in a time of Covid restrictions. Be sure to check out your local table soccer club, where you are certain to find a warm, friendly atmosphere. Things are bound to be even bigger for the Subbuteo Anniversary (have I mentioned that?!). I'll update my news section when I can, and don't forget to check out the  English Subbuteo Association website for activities in your area.

These days, you can also check out all the Subbuteo News stories on the BBC website!

Updates for January 2022.

Subbuteo in the 1940s

Where else to start Subbuteo's 75th Anniversary, but back with the original 1940s releases? I have had a lovely email from Ivor Eisenstadt. His uncle Joseph Cossburn had been a huge Subbuteo fan from the very earliest days (he upgraded from a New Footy set in May 1947). Sadly, Joe passed away a couple of years ago, leaving Ivor a small, but very important collection of the earliest releases. This includes some Woolworths button bases, uncut card teams (in colours I had not seen in this format), plus a box of cut-out teams and old "super flattened" bases in  nice variety of colours.

Here is the uncut ref 11 in full (the team Peter Adolph supported - Queens Park Rangers). This is the only team I've seen with a short-sleeved goalkeeper. The collection also included an uncut set of the national emblems (something this site waited years to see), plus the original receipt and membership card. 1950s Subbuteo is fairly common, but the 1940s stuff is another level entirely. So its great to see these wonderful survivors. Check out the hole in the Woolworths button, then check your Granny's button box.....

North American Range

 

The North American  page hasn't been updated for a while. In fact, I had to look up what on earth I'd called it..... Anyway, we have Cristian Giovangiacomo to thank for this update, following up his details of the Belgian "Derby Edition" last year. This US Club edition was already on the site, but I had only seen the box lid previously. We can now see the back cover, the contents, and the unique way the American boxes open up. I've also added this one to the International box sets page.

I've also added the abortive "Major Indoor Soccer League" details to the Jokari page (a major oversight). It has also reminded me that the reverse of this link up between Subbuteo Sports Games and Jokari link up had still not been added to the site..... and so......

Jokari Products 1982

   

The first new page of the year. Hopefully not the last.....

The range of Jokari sports equipment (variations on a "swingball" style of game, but without a pole) appeared in the 1982 Subbuteo trade catalogue, but I had assumed that this was just a "shared catalogue" link-up with the US company, and the ranges were separate and unrelated. I had also assumed that the Jokari equipment was made in the USA, and imported. However, Italian collectors have branched out into this range, and found that the European sets were made (in Taiwan) by Subbuteo Sports Games under licence from Jokari Inc, and that the (photocopied!) paperwork and boxes featured Subbuteo logos..... Sets for obsessives perhaps, but this site is definitely for obsessives, so here they are..... I also remembered that the Kikari "football on a cord" training device was advertised (under the Subbuteo brand) on the back of the Panini Espana 82 World Cup book. So that is included as well. Who knows what rubbish is floating around in my house waiting to be scanned in? I also need to thank Fabrizio Fedele, who supplied the details and pictures of Shuttle Volley, and also collector Lionello Palmieri who owns the set. It was these details that made me realise that the Jokari sets had been Subbuteo branded.

Miscellaneous Unofficial items. - Zeugo Official 2012 England Euro Finals team - Vauxhall Promotional Kit.

 

This is a quirky limited edition Zeugo team. It was essentially produced as a "gift" to Vauxhall retailers, alongside the promotional materials provided for a sales push during Euro 2012 - Vauxhall being one of the official sponsors of the England football team. It came in a large box, which also contained the glossy brochure explaining about the campaign. The brochure has a range of items available to the consumer - mugs, hats, flags, etc; but disappointingly, none of these use any of the table soccer style logos seen in the paperwork.

Whilst Zeugo always have an England team in their range, this one is different because the official Vauxhall licence allowed for the proper "three lions" England badge to be added. Not a consumer item, the only way to get one would be via a Vauxhall employee, or to find one on the second hand market. I'd long admired it, so a big thank you to fellow Worthing Five-Star player Dave Croucher, who allowed me to borrow the team for scans and photographs for the site.

I've added the team to the Unofficial promotional items page (link above), and also the Zeugo by Edilio Parodi page.


The Subbuteo News Section.

The UK Club League.

With Covid restrictions eased, the long awaited UK Club league got underway in the Autumn of 2021. We need to celebrate the hard work and dedication involved in getting so many new clubs started in such trying circumstances. I've heard good things from friends who have visited the new Redhill and Solent clubs which are the closest ones to me (sadly, personal circumstances have prevented me from joining any of these trips as yet). If you haven't played for a long time, it is time to get practising! And support your local club where possible. As always, check out the English Subbuteo Association website if you are an English player looking for club action.

The Worthing Five-Star Table Football Club (Re-launch).

 

While on the subject of playing the game, I need to mention that my local club - The Worthing Five-Star - has returned to action with a successful opening night (on 23rd September). This is great news, as the club has been active since 1981, and has always had a lovely, friendly vibe. It returns in a new, and bigger venue - The Heene Road Community Centre in Worthing, and with four lovely new pitches. Whilst I will miss the slight insanity of playing in a sweet shop, the new venue will hopefully allow numbers to grow. Big thank you must go to Brian Barnes for hosting us in his tiny shop for the past few years. The re-launched club will be meeting on a Thursday, fortnightly to begin with, and then hopefully back to weekly.

If you are on social media, the club has a facebook site - @worthingfivestar and apparently twitter as well @FivestarTfc (I hope I have that right!).

Longshore's Official Subbuteo Products.

  

This site is usually last with the news, but a few casual visitors may not be aware that a(nother) new Subbuteo range has been launched in the UK. At present, this consists of two box sets and a separate England team. One set has the traditional red and blue teams, whilst the other is an England special, which was going to tie into Euro 2020. The England team is available as a separate boxed side - in a box that looks suspiciously like the previous range.

The new license holders are a Hong Kong based company called Longshore, and the UK distributor is University Games (who have merged with the previous UK distributor Paul Lamond). The box sets, aimed at the Christmas toy market are priced around £40. I never get sent review copies, so a "focus on" page will have to wait until I see a cheap one frankly.... The players are a new design, that has been described as "cartoony", which doesn't seem to have gone down too well with collectors (although I daresay we'll still collect any teams that are produced, right?). Perhaps the thing that was great about Subbuteo when I was a kid, was that it looked realistic and grown-up, which is what you are striving to be as a youngster. I'm not sure a "kids" product will hold interest of players going into their teens. That said, I loved Super Striker as well, and that wasn't grown-up in the least. So what do I know? Perhaps the teens will move onto the more specialised table soccer equipment (see below).

The official Subbuteo website has been updated, and you can look at the relevant distributors and available sets. There is a French/Belgian set and a Portuguese set, although to be honest, the differences are minimal. However, Eleven Force are still the Spanish distributor, so it will be interesting to see if they keep producing unique sets (the Atalanta set is on their website).

 

February 2021. More products have been added to the official website, but none seem headed for the UK. A Greek set has been added (once again, the same set as the UK version with minor differences to the lid), and this is backed up with four team sets unavailable (as yet) elsewhere. These are essentially unofficial versions of AC Milan, Inter Milan, Newcastle Utd (or PAOK) and a green/white/green kit which would cover Panathinikos. The blown-up photos on the Greek distributor's own website show that these are the new "Longshore" figures.

The accessories page now features a (reissued) fence set, a referees set, and a VAR referees set. Giochi Preziosi are both the Greek and Italian distributors, so we wait to see whether these teams will also appear in Italy (the "Milan" kits make more sense in Italy, and the box has an Italian flag as well as a Greek one (plus Belgian and Spanish flags). The green players in the above picture look like they are disco dancing. All the sets on the official website have this "bent players in box" issue. Not a great thing for the promotional shots is it?

New Page Longshore Products 2020 onwards is now covering this stuff in more detail.


Table Soccer News.

   

More new(ish) products in the table soccer community. My article on the competitive side of  Table Soccer hadn't been updated for a while, and I find that the equipment is always evolving. I'd noticed in the months prior to lockdown, that when our table soccer club members played at tournaments, they would return with distinctive new teams and bases that "are becoming the norm". The teams had a very recognisable sunken inner base, and a new chunky player type, very different from the Stefan Corda figures (and its clones) which had previously been prevalent, and are shown in my article.

I've found out that this new range is called Tchaaa4, and it was designed by veteran FISTF player Daniel Scheen. Daniel is Belgian, and the range name (that looks weird in English), is apparently a phonetic spelling of a goal celebration pronounced more like "chow" in English. It amuses me that onomatopoeic words (splash, moo, woof) should cross language barriers, but don't translate as well as you would think. It makes me wonder how this website's English "comic book" usage of Arrgghhh, and sheesh, actually work in translation, but I digress.....

The Tchaaa4 range has actually been running for a few years, and has built up a range of different shaped bases for different styles of play. The actual playing figure is designed to be perfectly balanced - "front to back, and left to right". The players are available in a wide range of colours, so they can be used unpainted without clashing. This is either a colourful modern take on the serious abstract sport of table soccer (like table tennis), or it is a travesty that ruins the whole look of the game, depending on your point of view.... (Games Workshop stopped you fielding an unpainted army in their war gaming tournaments. I'm just saying.....) If, like me, you have a football kit obsession, then  "paint-your-own" white players are available, as are some expensive decal teams of a very fine quality. Base decals are also produced, and look great. The range also includes many of the other useful items for the modern game such as polish, goalkeepers and handles, a measuring tool, and practise walls for shooting.

Friend of this website, the Wobbly Hobby Shop is now the official UK distributor. Hopefully this will make these products much easier to obtain in the UK. Find them on the website.

In updating The FISA and FISTF page, I realised that I had neglected to add the bases produced by another old friend of this website, Little Plastic Men, who produce the iBase and the CLR Dynamic. So I've squeezed these in too.

I feel the competitive pages do need to mention some of the other innovative table soccer products out their, such as Extreme Works pitches, and professional goals etc. These things really do make a difference to how the game plays. If your company is making or importing table soccer stuff, let me know, and I'll pass on the details here. Can't say fairer than that.


Subbuteo - Storia e Curiosita (the Italian team books).

Whilst I have always been aware that the majority of Subbuteo collectors are in Italy, the language barrier means that I can only skim the surface of this deep knowledge base. Luckily, online translation services have become easy to use, so hopefully we'll be able to share much more information in the future.

These books open the door to some of this Italian knowledge, and a big thank you goes to my friend Fabrizio Frazzoni and fellow authors Alessio Lupi and Matteo Lastrucci for sending me these huge reference books. They consist of a two volume lightweight catalogue (refs 1-400 in volume one, 401-830 in volume two) written by Messrs Lupi and Lastrucci and published in 2018, plus a heavyweight title from all three authors, published in December 2020.

All three books have a similar format. Each reference number is laid out with crisp photographs of known variations, along with a list of the real life teams that Subbuteo associated with it. The "Storia e Curiosita" of the title are a delight, as the authors focus on one team (often one of the more obscure ones), explaining about their history, performance at the time of Subbuteo production, or perhaps details of the original kit manufacturer etc. The research and work that has gone into these histories is staggering. All is written in Italian of course, but apparently there are mobile phone apps that will translate for you on the fly (and the dates, cups and scores are pretty universal, so you can get plenty from them in any event).

If these illustrated lists were all the books contained, I'd have been impressed, but there is lots more. Both lightweight books have a dated index of references, so you can see which teams were on each reference in each year (I've done a little of this, and it is a lot of work!). The second lightweight volume has a further index by country, plus photos of all the Hasbro sides, non-catalogued teams, and the lightweight Italian specials.

The heavyweight book has even more goodies, with the English and Italian catalogues detailed and illustrated (plus some of the other key European ones). Pictures of all the old heavyweights, including the 1966 World Cup, plus the 1970 World Cup boxes, the Jubilee teams and the Italian specials. Then there are articles on Hybrids, Portuguese, Spanish and Brazilian production, goalkeepers, the special team service, and more. (even the mysteries of Santos and Milano get a look in!). The heavyweight list goes all the way to the final Italian heavyweight reference of 359, which is a discussion UK and Italian collectors need to have, along with the "elephant in the room" that is repainted sides of course. Whilst I am a little suspicious of some of the variations shown, it is important that they are here for discussion. The variations covered are certainly impressive. For example, even within the first ten heavyweight references there are three important variations not on this site - the ref 5 Man City with claret sock trim (I've seen it before, but not with a good picture), the gold ref 6 (like the gold 49, it carried over from the ohw range), and a reverse painted ref 8 i.e. white stripes on a black shirt (I've seen a ref 34 painted like this, but never a ref 8).

A special mention must be given to graphic designer Mauro Pispoli, who was responsible for the overall look of the books. And the credits page is a real "who's who" of the Italian collecting scene. Great work all round.

The books are not cheap - 50 euros for the lightweight set, and 40 for the heavyweight book, but mine have barely left my side since arrival! So they are certainly recommended. If anyone is interested in buying the books they can contact Alessio Lupi at artlibri@tin.it

The Updated Wobbly Hobby Shop Website.

The full Wobbly Hobby Shop experience is now available. The updated site is a joy to use, and now completely independent of ebay. So it is even easier for UK customers to obtain the Tchaaa4 range of high performance table soccer products. Other modern table soccer products are in the pipeline, and of course the site retains its useful spares service for replacement vintage players. Go take a look!


This website's technology sponsor, Alan Lee, has not been wasting his lockdown either. He has been updating the website for the English Subbuteo Association. The aim is to make this long established national association the central point for all Subbuteo and table soccer activity in the country. The noble aim is to bring everyone who loves the game together whether they play modern rules with sliding players, or old school rules with heavyweights or flats - or anything in between. As we are a minority hobby, this needs to include the collectors as well.

Obviously it isn't great timing, but I would suggest that any collectors who don't play the game seek out their nearest club, and go along for some matches. I really cannot recommend this highly enough. I am aware that I am the biggest nerd going, and I am happy to sit in my bedroom surrounded by hoarded stuff. However, my local club coaxed me out of my shell about fifteen years ago, and I have to say that I haven't regretted a single moment of it. I've gone from being completely hopeless at playing to... well some level of mild competence.... We've played in extensions, and a tiny flat, and now a (tiny) sweet shop. But all our members past and present have been lovely, and I've found tournaments to be very welcoming too. Most of our new members get up to my standard in a few short weeks (!!) so don't let fear of being outclassed put you off....

Now the Covid restrictions are easing, there are a number of events getting arranged, and new clubs opening their doors. The English Subbuteo Assn website is the place to see if there is anything happening close to you. Take a look....


Moments in time (a series) (No 4).

The Portuguese top flight 1972-73

1 SL Benfica  (ref 138)
2 CF Belenenses (ref 2)
3 VFC Setúbal (ref 36)
4 FC Porto (ref 278)
5 Sporting CP (ref 277)
6 VSC Guimarães (ref 21)
7 Boavista FC (ref 273)
8 GD CUF (ref 274)
9 Leixões SC (ref 4)
10 FC Barreirense (ref 4)
11 SC Farense (ref 178)
12 SC Beira Mar (ref 6)
13 CD Montijo (ref 174)
14 CF União Coimbra (relegated) (ref 279)
15 Atlético CP (relegated) (ref 275)
16 União de Tomar (relegated) (ref 276)

Promoted - Académica (ref 272);  SC Olhanense (ref 280); Oriental (not in catalogues).

Although Benfica had been in the Subbuteo catalogues since winning the European Cup in the early 1960s, the Portuguese league did not arrive en masse until the 1978 catalogue. That year saw a huge expansion into the European leagues, and team numbers increased from 190 to 321. The new Portuguese team colours were introduced as references 272-280.

The Portuguese league is rather unusual, in that since formation in 1935, it has been completely dominated by just three teams; Benfica, Porto, and Sporting. In fact, only Belenenses (in 1946) and Boavista (in 2001) have won the league outside of this trio. The new Subbuteo references pleasingly covered both Sporting (277) and Porto (278), and both these references continued until the end of the full numbered range in 1996. Boavista (273) and Académica (272) were also well supported Portuguese teams that survived in the range into the 1990s.

However, the other teams that graced the new references turned out to be very obscure. Only Atlético CP, a minor Lisbon side, featured in the league shown in my World Soccer magazine of 1977, and then they were comfortably bottom. None of the sides appear in the team range that was produced in Portugal for their own market in the 1980s. My World/European football yearbooks struggle to place them either. So how and why were they selected?

As the league at the top of this section suggests, the answer is to go back further into the 1970s. The Portuguese first division of 1972-73 was the only top flight appearance for CF União Coimbra (ref 279), and we find that Atlético CP, and União de Tomar were relegated alongside them (with Tomar seemingly never to return either). The teams were replaced for 1973-74 by the aforementioned Académica, plus SC Olhanense (ref 280) and Oriental - another small Lisbon side, who never featured in Subbuteo's catalogues (and seem to have worn dark red shirts). All the teams from the top flight of this year feature somewhere in the index of the 1978 catalogue (and I've filled in the reference numbers in the above table).

From a UK catalogue perspective, the inclusion of all these kits from 1972-73 in the 1978 catalogue seems a bit odd. However, these heavyweight sides have been spotted in named long boxes from earlier in the 1970s. Like Italy, and France it seems that the Portuguese teams were originally produced for export to the country in question, and only dropped into the standard range when the whole thing was unified in 1978.

This does lead to some odd dating, so the German teams on refs 210-223 (No 1 in this series) were designed for the 1977-78 season, but the Portuguese teams in the 270s are five years older....


See also the Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. My kind of old school website. Old PC/dial-up friendly. No pictures, no thrills, just loads of wonderful football league tables and cup results.


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