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Peter Upton's

Subbuteo Tribute Website.

Aquila. Barcelona Production in the 1960s.

Page 1: Introduction, Editions and Accessories.

These two pages are essentially a write-up of some excellent research by Spanish collector Jorge Vila.

This website has existed for twenty years, but Subbuteo production can still surprise and delight even the most jaded collector.

However, perhaps this range should not be a complete surprise. The Barcelona operation is well known to Subbuteo historians. Richard Paine's book "Fifty Years of Flicking Football" (1996) states that "in 1963 a factory opened in Barcelona, which concentrated on trade moulding, and hand painting". This was one of two continental sites that Peter Adolph set-up in his Bird Watching havens. The bigger factory was in Gibraltar, where Adolph owned a flat. The Barcelona factory was known as Aquila, which was another of Adolph's Latin bird references (used later for the unreleased Aquila game).

Daniel Tatarsky's later history of Subbuteo "Flick to Kick" (2004) ties the Barcelona origins to a meeting with George Erik on a bird watching trip. Erik worked in the Barcelona office before becoming Subbuteo's Development Manager in Tunbridge Wells in 1965.

Richard Payne further explains that toy company Line Bros (Tri-ang etc) had leased Subbuteo's Tunbridge Wells moulding factory in late 1963, and this caused supply problems for Subbuteo. So figure production was switched to Gibraltar and Barcelona. Tatarsky suggests a peak production of 100k figures a week for Tunbridge Wells and Gibraltar, with perhaps 10% of that figure from the smaller Barcelona factory. All pretty straightforward, with Barcelona supplying the British workforce with figures.

Another well known Subbuteo statistic perhaps masks what else was going on. Again we look at Tatarsky's history, where he points out that in 1969 (newly owned by Waddingtons), Subbuteo Sports Games Ltd had 653,000 in sales, but only 7500 of this was from overseas sales (all via mail order). Coincidently, 1969 was the introduction of team reference 60 - FC Subbuteo (Barcelona), which was apparently, the factory works team. This was produced in classic heavyweight of course, whilst being painted and assembled in the UK. The narrative looks clear. Waddingtons expanded into Europe in the 1970s, the era of growing team lists, and famous distributors like Parodi (Italy) and Delacoste (France). However, there is no Spanish team list, and no famous distributor of the 1970s. Subbuteo was made in Spain, but was it sold there? Barcelona was, and remains, a football mad city. Surely Subbuteo sold there? Well, yes it did. In fact, the pictures have been circulating in Subbuteo circles for a few years.

 

Here is a Subbuteo market stall, outside of Barcelona's stadium. A wooden hut stuffed with Subbuteo goodies. Box sets, teams, and accessories all clearly visible. Now I assumed this was in Subbuteo's 1970s continental expansion, but it isn't. It is in the mid-1960s (check out the box lids). So lets go back to the start - to Subbuteo figure production in Barcelona in 1963. What figures are being produced? Old heavyweights of course. Thought the short-sleeved teams had a nice simple UK based production? Think again.

Then it gets even weirder. Spanish teams come in two figure types. Old heavyweights and.... the chunky rugby figures. Intrigued? Okay, lets start looking at what was produced.

Box Sets.

 

"Invented in Britain, Manufactured in Spain". You can't get much clearer than that.

All three of the early Subbuteo sets were produced in Spain - Club, Display, and Floodlighting. The booth pictures above show a line of club edition boxes (or perhaps just the lids), along the top of the stall, but both the Display and Floodlighting are shown as open on the stall itself.

Spanish paperwork has them priced as follows:

Continental Display - PVP - 250pts
Continental Club - PVP 525pts
Continental Luminoso (Floodlighting) - PVP 892pts

Pictures on the Subbuteo Museum website show that these sets were laid out in an identical fashion to the British equivalent, but that the insert was a plain white rather than green. The set was copyrighted to 1965.

 

What is more interesting is the teams included. The standard red/white and blue/white teams would mean little to a Spanish audience, where none of their major teams played in these colours. For a set produced in Barcelona, it makes much more sense to include the famous home side. And for them to play? An all-white kit (conveniently Real Madrid) fit the bill nicely.

It is worth noting that in all the sets seen (which isn't many!), Barcelona are on all red bases and Real Madrid (rather obviously) on all white. The significance of this will become apparent when we look at the team lists.... but you'll have to click to The Spanish team production page to look at those (this page was going to get too long....).

Accessories.

Another look at the kiosk pictures above show that all accessories, including teams, were sold in bags with header cards. In 1965, the usual Continental accessory range had reached C112 (the club flag) - but items like the standard balls and goals were still in the A-Z range of the "flats".

Jorge has sent pictures of the following bagged accessory items, which we therefore know were sold in Spain.

I'm sure more sets will arrive over time. Again, the excellent Subbuteo Museum website has bigger pictures if visitors are interested.

Ready to look at the teams? Okay, lets head for the Spanish Team List page.


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