Subbuteo Tribute Website.
The Team Colours Project.
The Zombie 1977-80.
The zombie is the rather insulting name given to Subbuteo's first attempt at a figure that could be assembled and painted by machine (although the one on the right here looks more like Frankenstein's monster). The nickname comes from the lifeless look of the player - there is no attempt at a pose and almost no detail. Worse still, the first zombies sold did not even have the Subbuteo logo around the base. These new bases were designed to clip together in the machine without the need for glue, but the early ones are often glued (messily) and are ill fitting. This can leave the player poorly balanced. A mid-1970s player given an unboxed team of this type may well have concluded that these were a cheap Far-Eastern rip-off of the beautiful game.
All these problems make the poor old zombie a deeply detested figure. Several Subbuteo fans of the 1970s have stated that the zombie was their reason for giving up the game (it was either that or discovering girls). Others would carefully go through the boxed teams at their local shop to make sure they only bought the heavyweight sides. My Italian Production page explains the lengths gone to by the Italian importers to avoid this figure.
However, this figure isn't all bad (no really). Once the logos were added to the bases, the peg fitting seems sensible and attractive. The players are quite dainty (even if real footballers are not), and the symmetrical player does improve the balance and touch of the figure. Well, sometimes it does. In addition, a change in the glue on late 1970s heavyweights had led to deadly rattling bases as the weights came loose inside. The inside of the zombie base alleviates the problem as the weight is on a central pin, and the top of the base presses it down tightly into place. Also, there seemed to be an increase in tatty "Friday afternoon" painting in the late 1970s, possibly caused by the same increase in demand that had lead to the decision to machine paint in the first place. All of which meant that as a youngster my favourite teams were among my machine printed zombies. My top two sides were number 9 Sunderland and 209 West Ham, both of which can be seen on this page. Or at least they were my favourites until the machine printed lightweights appeared and my head was turned by the 329 England, and yellow pin striped Liverpool away.
Of course the coming of the lightweight in 1980 signalled the end for the zombie. Subbuteo Sports Games Ltd had listened to the (many) critics of the zombie, and made sure the new figure was much more detailed and attractive.
The aim of this page is a little different to the heavyweight and lightweight lists. Although the catalogue pictures in the zombie era are attractive, it seems pointless to list all the teams again. Especially for such a short lived and unpopular figure.
At no time was the zombie the only figure in production, and what I want to produce is a checklist of reference numbers that have been spotted in this figure. The teams up to 190 had already been in production for a number of years as a heavyweight, and many were no longer accurate. So while the common sides were produced, the more unusual teams are few and far between in this figure. Teams between 191 and 322 are contemporary to the zombie era, so these are more likely to appear. Looking at the list shows that the UK customers of this era were (perhaps unsurprisingly) predominantly buying the modern versions of British teams (191-220 and 303 onwards). The NASL also seemed well supported. Many of the other teams were probably produced for export, although given the Italian dislike of the figure, it would be interesting to know how many of the Italian club sides were painted onto zombies.
I've further complicated the list because I thought it would be useful to divide it into hand-painted and machine printed versions. Machine printing is usually pretty obvious, although where I'm not sure I've put the team in the hand-painted (H/P) column. There are also plenty of examples of trim being added by hand to machine printed sides. I've generally left these sides in the machine printed column.
Machine Prints: - As well as the obvious choice of plain colours for shirts, shorts and socks, sleeve trim was no problem to the process (England 317 is a nice one), nor were collars, cuffs, or sock tops (although occasionally these were added by hand or forgotten about). The shirt body without sleeves was also done (16 + 232). There is also the thin striped shirt, and a thicker hoop. Then there is the Admiral logos (e.g. Coventry 206 and Wales 319), and the lovely chevrons of West Ham (209). Hand painted versions could not do this trim justice (although they had a go!).
I don't really intend to illustrate every zombie on this list, but there is plenty of room for expansion. So if you have a favourite zombie you wish to show off, then feel free to send me a picture or scan. Hopefully this page might change a few people's opinion of these little guys.
April 2004: Paul Lloyd, who worked on various Subbuteo
projects from 1969, and founded the original collectors club in 1992, has
advised me that every reference number in the catalogues between 1977 and 1981
were produced in zombie, heavyweight and lightweight figure, and he saw a set of
them at Waddingtons HQ a number of times. If this is the
case, then this page loses some of its purpose, but I think it is worth keeping
going on the tick-list. Why? Well, even the really long term collectors don't
appear to have seen zombie teams above 320, and even certain references that are
common as heavyweights (like ref 7) are still awaiting positive sightings.
December 2008: I've added a few more pictures to freshen up the page. Thanks to everyone who has sent in pictures and info.
August 2015: This page has not had a picture update for ages, so err... here is one. Thanks to all who have sent in.
May 2021: A few more illustrated zombies. Please keep sending these in....
|02||Cyprus||X||X||12||Bristol Rovers||X||22||Blank (Stockport)|
|03||West Brom||X||X||13||Blackpool||X||X||23||Partick Thistle||X|
|04||Stoke City||X||X||14||Bournemouth||X||24||Queen's Park|
|06||Alloa/East Fife||X||16||St Patricks Ath||X||X||26||Bangor|
|07||Gzira Utd (Malta)||17||Blank (Sheff Wed)||27||Hearts||X|
|08||Newcastle Utd||X||X||18||Bury||X||28||Norwich City||X||X|
|32||Blank (Alloa)||42||Chelsea**||X||X||52||Excelsior (H)||X|
|33||Blank (Bishop A)||43||Blank (Coventry)||X||53||Rangers||X|
|34||Juventus||X||X||44||Blank (Dundee)||X||54||Blank (Plymouth)|
|35||Hull City||X||45||Hibernian||X||55||Anderlecht (B)||X||X|
|36||Rapid Vienna||X||46||Marsaxlokk (M)||56||Ajax (H)||X|
|37||Helmont Sport (H)||47||Southport||X||57||AC Milan||X|
|38||Blank (Grimsby)||48||Spain||X||58||Inter Milan||X||X|
|39||Poland||X||X||49||Blank (Wolves)||59||River Plate||X|
|40||Blank (Palace)||50||Brazil||X||X||60||Blank (Subbuteo)|
*The hand-painted 31 was seen in the late red collar version. (as
** Later hand-painted ref 42s have a (usually unpainted) white collar and cuff.
|61||Blank (N'hampton)||71||Blank (Cork)||81||Liverpool 2nd||X|
|62||Blank (Australia)||72||Genoa||82||Den Haag Ado||X|
|63||Blank (Montrose)||73||Blank (Clydebank)||X||83||Twente Enschede||X|
|64||Oostende (B)||X||74||Aston Villa||X||84||Utrecht||X|
|65||Blank (UK)||X||75||Blank (Forfar)||85||Feyenoord||X|
|66||Blank (Raith Rvrs)||76||Foggia (I)||86||Go Ahead|
|69||Blank (Darlington)||79||Blank (W Ham)||89||N.E.C.||X|
|95||Bologna||105||Venezia||115||Cape Town City|
|98||Palermo||108||Grasshopper Club||X||118||Durban Utd|
|100||Man Utd||X||110||Lugarno||120||Durban City|
|121||Blank (Vienna)||131||Arminia Bielefeld||X||141||Nancy|
|122||Austria Vienna||X||X||132||Blank (B M'Bach)||X||142||Nantes|
|124||Blank (Wacker)||134||Newcastle 2nd||144||Valletta (M)|
|125||Lask||135||Preston NE||145||Blank (Paris SG)|
|126||Blank (Donawitz)||136||Birmingham City||X||146||St Etienne||X|
|127||Blank (Fortuna D)||137||Bordeaux||X||147||Rennes|
|153||Blank (Czech)||163||Uruguay||X||173||Blank (Portsmouth)|
|157||Eire||X||167||Blank (Rochdale)||177||Blank (Charlton)|
|158||Morocco||168||Chelsea 2nd||X||178||Farense (P)|
* The basic navy shorts version is illustrated. There is also a
machine-printed black version with sleeve trim, and I've seen a hand-painted
navy version with the sleeve trim.
** The black skinned players were often included in the zombie 164
*** Both versions of 169 have been sighted as a zombie.
|181||Blank (Partick)||191||Man City||X||X||201||Stockport||X|
|182||Blank (St Mirren)||192||Leicester||X||202||Southend||X|
|186||Blank (N'Hampton)||196||Dundee||X||206||Coventry City||X||X|
|187||Sliema Wand (M)||197||Orient||X||207||Leeds Utd||X||X|
|188||Blank (Paris FC)||198||Mansfield||208||Leeds Utd 2nd||X|
|189||Blank (Peterboro)||X||199||Plymouth||209||West Ham||X||X|
|190||Blank (Kilmarnock)||200||Rochdale||X||210||Hamburger SV||X|
|216||Eintract Frankfurt||X||226||Atletico Madrid||236||Swansea||X|
|217||Eintract Braun||227||Colo Colo||X||237||Ham Kam|
|241||KPT||251||Paris St Germain||261||New York||X|
|274||CUF||284||Elfsborg||294||Newells Old Boys|
|276||Tornar||286||York City||X||296||Rosario Central|
|306||Paris FC||X||316||Sochaux||326||West Brom 2nd|
|307||Torquay||X||317||England||X||X||327||West Ham 2nd|
The machine print of ref 321 has some of the trim added by hand.
The original un-numbered Melchester Rovers (of Roy of the Rovers fame) has also been spotted in the zombie figure.
Zombie Rugby teams.
Production of the original rugby base ceased around 1975, and teams started to be sold on standard football bases as these ran out. As football production switched to zombies (and then lightweights) rugby production too switched to these figures. Lightweight rugby teams have certainly been sighted, but although I've had reports of zombie rugby sides, none have yet been sent in to the site. Anyone got one?
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