So how many of you have ever played Subbuteo? From early 1940’s a love of soccer or football if you’re English, has dominated generations from boyhood to manhood. When it was just in it’s early stages it was never known as Subbuteo, instead it was just referred to as “the Hobby”. Back then for legal reasons the Hobby was too generic and as a name could not be registered. It was found however, that the Latin name for the ‘Hobby’ bird is Falco Subbuteo… and from there onwards, ‘Subbuteo’ was born.
Subbuteo is even bigger than ever and fathers, mothers, sons and daughters will enjoy playing Subbuteo for years to come. We have Mr Peter Adolph to thanks for commercially launching the Subbuteo Table Soccer game in 1947 from his base in Tunbridge Wells, England. It was an instant success with fathers and sons.
According to the Hasbro site who currently produce the modern day game of Subbuteo, the original ‘Assembly’ set was made up of two cardboard teams, a celluloid ball and two metal-framed goals with paper netting. A playing pitch was not included, so the instructions advised recipients to “… mark your pitch (chalk provided) on an ex-army blanket” and thousands of people did just that.
The first sets were made up of two cardboard team sheets with printed players (which needed to be cut out), 20 small plastic bases for the outfield players, and two rectangular brown bases for the goalkeepers (with metal rods for control). The goal frames were assembled from metal wire (the crossbars were a separate piece), and the goal was finished with a card net. Players were also given a piece of chalk to keep score with.
Subbuteo in the sixties
Subbuteo released a range of new 3D plastic moulded figures, as well as a range of accessories, including floodlights and TV towers. Following the euphoria of the 1966 World Cup, Subbuteo mania was born, with factories across Europe now producing plastic men.
Subbuteo in the seventies
At the peak of Subbuteo’s popularity in the 1970s, you could get over 300 teams – as well as a huge range of new accessories, including throw-in figures, corner kickers and stadiums. In a recent survey (2002) it was estimated that over 90% of fathers in the UK over 30 owned Subbuteo sets.
Subbuteo in the Eighties
In the 1980s there were nearly 7 million Subbuteo players worldwide and the company were producing over 750 kits. Andrea Piccaluga, table football world champion, had his flicking finger insured for £150 000.
Subbuteo in the Nineties
New development of a new, one piece moulded plastic base, still with the same iconic figures inserted into them were created in the 90s. With a huge fan base, flick-football fans throughout the world continued to play and build their squads.
Modern day Subbuteo
Now we have photo realistic players from some of the best clubs in the world, state of the art pitch, dream team stadium, collectors skill sets and advanced bases.
There have been a huge number of alternatives too over the years. Subbuteo cricket, Subbuteo rugby. Subbuteo 5-a-side football, even a far fetched subbuteo snooker, along with endless subsets of soccer sets like World Cup edition, Euro edition, Cup final edition and so on.
We have had years of fun with Subbuteo, My favorite Cameroon set has had the bottoms polished hundreds of times with Mr Pledge Furniture polish as they slide some much better – great tip from Skooldays.
Finally we’re sure you have your stories to tell…..over to you