Subbuteo Tribute Website.
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.
Updates for February 2022.
Newfooty team lists
Friend of the website Peter Winstanley has sent in a full set of scans of the Crestlin/Newfooty price list of 1962-63. This was a year earlier than the one I had previously seen. The full scans showed an extended accessory list, which I've added to the New footy Accessory lists. Even better (and surprising), was a full list of team colours that were available in the new 3-D figure. Not only was this the first 3-D list I'd seen, but it is the first Newfooty list I've seen to mention team names. The list is much bigger than you might expect. The most astonishing thing are all the smaller national sides available, which include unique sides for Antilles, Ecuador, Iraq, Ghana, (El) Salvador, Nicaragua and New Zealand. Other countries on more standard colours are Panama, Honduras; Pakistan, India, Egypt, Sudan and more. I would call these "World Cup" sides, but most of these were not even featured in the qualifiers of the appropriate competitions (1958-66).
The long lists have made me finally split out the Newfooty team list from the accessories. So both now have their own page. I'll check my archives for more team pictures - especially 3D ones.
The updating of the accessory pages continues, as always with the help of Ashley Hemmings. This time out, I've updated C153 Diving Goalkeeper with caps, and C175 The European Cup Winners pack. Both these items had tiny pictures, which I have improved. In scanning the Euro Pack, it is noticeable how different a shade the two red teams are. The ref one does look like a proper 1970s red (although black hair and boots is more rugby than football in my experience). The 214 is the brighter red of the 1980s. On the Inter side, the blue is so dark, that the black lines get lost. Nottingham Forest were the cup holders at time of issue, but why was Munich chosen over Ajax or Celtic? Surely that would give a better mix.
Longshore Products 2020 onwards
New Longshore products have been announced at the January 2022 trade toy fair. The sets have not arrived on the Official site (predictably), but they are on the website of UK distributors University Games. There is a 75th Anniversary set (that looks suspiciously like the standard set with a new logo), plus an Official Liverpool edition, and related team set. All of these are due to be released in April 2022, so this site is ahead of the game for about the first time ever.....
Site visitor Rowland Lyons has kindly pointed out that their is a new official rubber backed pitch available at online retailer Subbuteoworld, priced at an expensive £79.99. Confusingly, the pitch isn't part of the University Games range. Mind you, I can't find it at any of the international distributors either.
Pleasingly, Subbuteo news site Subbuteo Online is back in action, with news stories on the Longshore products, and the table soccer world cup. It's lovely to have them back. In addition, the second edition of their Subbuteo magazine is available to pre-order. It's a lovely product, so well worth supporting.
Another new, and welcome addition to the Subbuteo community is this Subbuteo cricket website. The site expands the cricket information on this site, with great pictures of the teams, sets, and accessories such as the rare fence surrounds. It also features new 3-D printer produced cricket accessories and teams, of which I was completely unaware (probably because I don't do facebook!!). Give the site a visit, and send them some love!
The Observer's Book of Association Football.
Back in the day, for inquisitive working class families (like mine) a shelf of Observer's books was essential. This series of small, inexpensive guides began with Birds in the 1930s. By the 1970s it had expanded widely. Among our books, my Mum had Cactus (no 27) and The Cotswolds (73). My Dad had Weather (22) and Heraldry (41). My sister had Larger Moths (14) and Bird's Eggs (18). (In fact, we still refer to these!). I had Astronomy (32), Postage Stamps (42) and of course Association Football (47).
My football book was a second-hand library version from 1974. A big plus to this small book were the colour plates of team shirts. I later found out that the book and plates were updated every two years. There are four versions to look for (see above) dated 1972, 74, 76, and 1978. There in a final 1980 version with Kevin Keegan on the cover, but it lacks the shirt colour pages. You can watch the growth of Admiral if you have all four books....
Why this nostalgia trip is here, is the link to Subbuteo colours. Modern collectors with easy access to websites like Historical Kits, often question the accuracy of Subbuteo, and wonder where their kit colours came from. However, these contemporary records offer an answer. More often than not, the Observer's illustration (and kit descriptions which cover shorts and socks) match what Subbuteo were doing. So here are Luton Town from 1974, and Rochdale from 1978. Look familiar?
Luton Town. Shirts: Orange with black and white stripe; Shorts:
Navy blue; Stockings: Orange
Rochdale. Shirts: Blue with white stripes; Shorts: white with blue stripes; Stockings: white with blue rings.
Whether one source was copying the other, or whether both came from a third official list I don't know. The books do highlight a few classic kits that Subbuteo missed. The full page shown above, from 1976, shows the panelled Carlisle United kit that almost unbelievably graced the top flight in 1974-75 (equally crazily, Manchester United spent the year in the second division). Carlisle were placed on the Birmingham City reference (101), but it did little justice to the real kit. Likewise, the Bradford City kit with amber and claret front stripes should really have been covered too.
Updates for March 2022.
Rival games 1980s-90s Pro Action Football.
Website regular Ashley Hemmings kindly sent in a picture of the "unpainted" Pro Action Football team. This was slightly embarrassing for me, because I'd purchased one last year meaning to put it onto the website, but had forgotten to do so. Opps. I had also acquired another unnamed team with a red and white striped shirt, black shorts and red socks. If these unnamed teams are part of a Spanish range, then obviously this one was designed to be Athletic Bilbao. However, it would also make a great Sunderland, Southampton or Sheffield United if you want to fill out your Premier League collection.
Subbuteo magazine adverts
It was a quiet month, Subbuteo-wise, so I've finally made a start on a new section on Subbuteo magazine adverts. I've been planning this for some time, because I wanted to do the subject justice. I've spotted that several ebay entrepreneurs are selling Subbuteo adverts cut from football magazines (generally, you can buy the magazines cheaper than the ads!). A browse through ebay shows just how many advert variations there are, especially in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when many of the individual accessories get their own illustrated ad (i.e. the scoreboard or astropitch).
However, rather than just a simple advert gallery, I wanted to tie the adverts to their proper publications and dates, and explain the history of the comics and mags that were used. It's going to be a long project, but hopefully enjoyable. I've started things off with scans of magazines (or books) that I actually own. I've been lucky here, as I only have half-a-dozen different magazines (mostly from car boot sale house clearance), yet these include an Eagle from 1951 with a football ad, and a copy of The Rover from 1953 which has a small Speedway ad. The original 1946 ad from The Boy's Own Paper is well known in collecting circles and is also included.
This batch is strong on the 1940s-50s, but that is really as far as I've got. I've squeezed in a couple of 1970s ads, to give an idea of the later era. I suspect the later decades will get their own pages once we get going. The ads will inevitably be duplicated in different mags, and I am aware that the later era will be almost exclusively Shoot, Match and Roy of the Rovers. I don't have many of these, so as usual, help from visitors will add to everyone's knowledge. So if you own a Shoot, Roy of the Rovers, Match, Goal or similar with an advert in it, feel free to send in a scan of the cover and advert. Otherwise I daresay I'll pick up a few more issues once the boot sale season gets going.....
Updates for April 2022.
Whispering Angels - Miscellaneous Items 1940s-60s
I'm not sure whether this was more appropriate for a December update or this April one (it didn't arrive on April 1st.....). Italian collector Pasquale Carrassi is quickly becoming the king of weird Subbuteo related products. He acquired this simple paper advert in a collection of Subbuteo which he is dating to December 1955. An internet search of Whispering Angels doesn't bring up any details, but one for Swedish Angels will supply you with lots of boxed "chimes" to this design (one box suggests an origin date of 1948). It's certainly not something you would expect Subbuteo to be selling, but actually it isn't that outlandish. The 1950s and early 1960s see Peter Adolph constantly looking for the next big thing, be it cashing in on the space race or The Beatles. It is worth pointing out that this item (like the fishing float) was sold under the Subbuteo name, but not under Subbuteo Sports Games.
Peter Adolph's Space Games.
On the subject of cashing in on the space race, Pasquale's hoard also contained this lovely advertising brochure (and order form) for Journey into Space, printed expensively in navy blue and silver. Full details of this item enlarged the Space Games section to the point where it needed its own page, which (as a sci-fi reader) I was tickled to be able to name "subspace".
International box sets
Pasquale's trio of updates ends with this more traditional Subbuteo item - a lovely celluloid set from West Germany. Researching tournament Subbuteo made it clear that the "flat" version of the game was exported to West Germany and Austria, alongside the low countries. So it is great to finally be able to illustrate one of these early sets (this one is dated to August 1961). The set does have one quirk though, as there is no label on the box at all. That suggests a mail order origin. At this point the German distributor of Subbuteo was listed as Vertrieb Czarkowski, Solingen. If this name sounds familiar, it is because his son Peter Czarkowski won the first Subbuteo World Cup in 1970.
Subbuteo clones Introduction.
A few months ago, Pasquale introduced us all to Italian "budget" table soccer clone Calcio Gol. Among the adverts for this game was a big Olimpiadi edition, featuring a variety of sports reproduced in a tabletop fashion. Now German board game collector Joerg Streiberg has sent in some pictures of an unused set. This allows me to show an overview of the contents and a picture of the very nice basketball figures which were included in this set (and indeed had their own edition). Sadly, the swimming, track and field, and water polo used flat tokens in bases. Otherwise, we might actually had a proper tabletop representation of this spoof....
This comedy item comes from a Spitting Image book. I've owned this photocopy for years without really knowing what to do with it. The set contents humour is a bit broad, but there is a bonus laugh to "table show jumping" being used as a further unlikely set, because the Newfooty company did actually manage to produce that in the 1950s. Who said these games were unlikely?
Anyone fancying drawing up some rules for table swimming needs to remember that unlike genuine Star Wars weapons, Subbuteo goalkeepers sink in water (yes, I've been watching the Vectis toy auctions TV programme).
Heavys 300+ others
Back to the sensible table soccer stuff now. Italian heavyweight collector Alessandro Calvo has kindly provided a few more pictures of named boxes. Frankly, we can never have too many of these lovely things! Alessandro's teams show that Cagliari (ref 72) was one of the early teams requested by Parodi as a test in 1970-71. (Makes sense as they won the league in 1970). He also shows that Pescara and Avelino were originally issued as named teams. I assume this was before they arrived in the 500s range of 1976. Finally, we have a couple more examples of the Portuguese heavyweight range.
New Community Website - The Zeugo Catalogue.
When I updated my Zëugo pages with an overview of sets and accessories, I wondered what to do with the team range. I had illustrated the original team range, but that was just 56 teams. The new range had already gone past 400 teams, with multiple variations, and then there were completely different numbered ranges produced for Subbuteoworld. I hand hand-written a team list, but I had spaces, and I didn't have nearly enough pictures.
So hurrah for Colin Forward, who independently decided this task needed to be done, and has producedThe Zeugo Catalogue. This has launched with a comprehensive illustrated team list of the official (I'm very impressed) and aims to cover all the other teams and products produced for this game. A project well worth supporting. I've added the link to my Zëugo pages, and the links page. We really our lucky in the table soccer hobby to have so many useful resources available online. I know from my interest in other toy collectables that this is not the norm, and information is often hard to come by.
May 2022 Updates.
Subbuteo in the 1940s
Appropriately for the Subbuteo anniversary year, we make a second visit to 1947, thanks to collector Stuart Phillips. He owns this incomplete, but vital set from the Autumn of 1947. This previously unseen set is essentially the first edition amended (rather crudely) to account for the change from Woolworths button bases to the first purpose made set of "super flattened bases". This meant that the pendulum washers were no longer required, and they have been crossed off the lid. New assembly instructions were also glued into the rule book.
Seeing this set was pleasing enough, but it also provided an even more exciting item - a price list from Autumn 1947. The 1948 price list was generally regarded as the first version of this annual guide, so to see an earlier one was a real thrill. This item didn't disappoint either, with tantalising descriptions of the pitch options of the time (plastic sheeting, or imitation baize), and other weird anomalies. For instance, team ref 7 was a second white/black kit (different colour goalkeeper!), Set E was goal frames (not bases), and Set H was goalkeeper bases not the figures.
The details of this set, and the list combined to rather muck-up the order of items in my Subbuteo in the 1940s article. Well, we live and learn, so the page has been re-ordered and re-written. The details need to filter through the rest of the site (flat teams, accessories, catalogues), but I've run out of time in May. They will start to fill in next month.
Longshore Products 2020 onwards
Talking of the 75th Anniversary, and the wait goes on for any anniversary products. The release of the relevant edition from current licence holders Longshore has been pushed back to July. At least proper pictures and details have arrived at the website of distributors University Games, and some of the online retailers. The striking "dark box" now seems confirmed, alongside a golden ball and corner flags, complete with the Anniversary logo... And that's it. A golden team would have been nice. Also, the Liverpool edition and team were pushed back to a May release date, and like this update, they are leaving that late too... Once again, the real products are now illustrated online. My worry about an official team being released in May (just before the new year kits are announced), seems to have been dealt with by using a simple all-red kit as a base for the Liverpool side, with Liverbird crest and chest advert added. Liverpool don't tend to move very much from this template, so it should look okay*.
Michael Fletcher advised me to check the relevant sites for these updates, and he also spotted a "Maradona Edition" from Spanish distributor Eleven Force on Amazon - although it is currently out of stock (which usually means it is not released yet). We haven't had any new Eleven Force "specials" since the Longshore takeover. At first glance, this looked like it was again using the lightweight partwork team stock as a base. However, the illustration on the box lid covers all of Maradona's teams, so alongside Argentina, Boca Juniors and Napoli who appeared in the partwork, you have Argentinos Juniors, Sevilla, and maybe a later Boca Juniors that don't. So we wait to see which figure the teams are produced in. A "flexible" Argentina would be very welcome, as this hasn't been produced since the days of the unofficial Total Soccer range.
June 2022: The Liverpool is still out of stock everywhere. The real-life 2022-23 Liverpool strip is now shown at the brilliant Historical kits website, and it does appear to lack any kind of trim. So perhaps Longshore were tipped off!
Cricket accessories - flat era
One of the remaining omissions on this site was a picture of the 1950s era sight screens, which had appeared as set 13 in the 1950s cricket price lists. Both Ashley Hemming and I have been looking for this one for a while. So hurrah for Stephen Kimber who has acquired this slightly tatty version, and sent in a couple of pictures. Another item ticked off the list! This is an unusual accessory because it is the only cricket accessory item of the 1950s that wasn't just a simple replacement for something in the original box set. Also, as it surely can't be of practical use, it is a very early example of the "decorative" accessories which became the norm in the OO scale era.
Other interesting anomalies have turned up in the last couple of months, but you'll have to wait until the June updates to see them. Still, makes it worth coming back again...
Rule Books - 1940s-60s.
With the arrival of a proper scan of the 1947 rule book, I have been able to revisit the article on the rules and rulebooks from the early years. Previously, the page started with the earliest book owned by me, which was from 1949-50. In truth, the new arrival makes very little difference. The rules, and the way that they were set out remained constant for twenty years or more. So all the new book means is that I've been able to push back some of the text by a couple of years. I've taken the opportunity to amend the site so that the quotes are bigger. If you want to recreate the original game, this hopefully makes things easier.
Accessories The A-Z range (A-M)
All the quirky 1947 items have now also been added to the accessory range page. The accessory list was one of the first things that I laid out for this site over twenty years ago. At the time, I didn't have access to the full range of Subbuteo price lists, so did not know the exact dates for each item. This gave me a problem on the very few occasions when letters were reused. For Set L, I gave the two very different accessories (card referees; logbook) a code of (a) and (b) for my own reference as much as anything. With the referee sheet on the price list in 1948-49 I figured I was on safe ground... Shows what I know. This reference was a different pitch option in 1947. So my codes have gone, and dates have arrived. As usual, a bit of a page tidy has also taken place.
Keeling Games, Newfooty team lists
A bit of good fortune with this. I knew Ashley Hemming had sent me the full scans of the 1948-49 Subbuteo price list, and wanted to check this to the 1947 version. However, all my PCs/back-up drives have "Ashley" picture folders*, so where was it? In the search, I found the rules to the magnetic "Newrugger" game produced by Keeling Games, and some extra photos. The rules are basic, and you can try them with any tabletop magnetic game you happen to own. Ashley also spotted a big batch of Newfooty going through ebay a month or two back which included some teams still un-punched and on their cards. I'd never seen these before. There may well be more teams in that lot that I can add to the illustrated listings - when I get time. Interestingly, all the teams in the collection were card ones.
*Only Ashley and Australian collector Karl Warelow have picture folders named after them on every PC/hard drive I still have operating. The site would be much less complete without both of them spotting variants, especially as I don't always have time to do so. So raise a cheer for both!
Netcam Subbuteo 2012 onwards
Something a bit newer now, and a bit of information for the completists. I had two emails just weeks apart asking about the opposition team in the 2015-16 Barcelona box set. The official picture of this set shows a red/white opposition team. The emails questioned this, but there they differed. One had a blue/white opposition whilst the other featured the yellow/red Barcelona kit from the previous season. That set also had the yellow Barcelona ball (rather than claret version), plus coloured flags, and different goals (the ones from the Fabbri partwork). Assuming these are all original, it suggests that Netcam/Eleven Force were not to fussed as to what stock they were using in these sets.
So thanks to Mark West for the blue team pictures, and Phil Eccles for the away kit details.
Mark's pictures allowed me to includ a nice big picture of the hoop Barcelona team here, because it is probably my favourite side from the Netcam years.
Accessories - C200-61221
Squeezed this in from a late email from Ashley Hemming. He's proud to show off all four colours of set C201, which is the goalkeeping version of the corner-kick figure. He should be chuffed to finally get all four too, as in my experience, the yellow and blue ones are really tricky to find. The kickers cover the period when the red paint changes to a lighter shade - so I have the red kicker in two different tones (but I still need a yellow one!). Such a nice picture, I've added it to the Focus On gallery of corner kickers as well!
The Subbuteo News Section.
After last year's successful festival, Alan Lee and friends are busy arranging a a second edition. As usual, more details will appear at the Wobbly Hobby Shop website. One to look forward to if you can make it.
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?
February 2022. At the retail toy fair in January, Longshore debuted a 75th Anniversary box set, and an official Liverpool FC edition and individual team.
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 email@example.com
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.