theyflysohigh : Steve Marsh

Welcome to the West Ham United Memorabilia Collection featuring everything Claret and Blue

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email:  theyflysohigh@btinternet.com

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Subbuteo ...

Subbuteo Table Football

Subbuteo is a set of board games simulating team sports but is most closely associated with the football game, which for many years was marketed as 'the replica of Association Football'. The 'Subbuteo' name is derived from the Latin Falco subbuteo, a bird of prey commonly known as the Eurasian Hobby, after a trademark was not granted to its creator Peter Adolph to call the game The Hobby.

The availability of Subbuteo was first announced in the August 1946 edition of The Boy's Own Paper. The advert was vague and didn't provide any detail about what was actually on offer. The same month Peter Adolph lodged a patent application for the game. Once orders started to pour in Adolph set about converting his patent idea into a deliverable product.

The first Subbuteo sets consisted of goals made with wire and paper nets, a cellulose acetate ball, cardboard playing figures in two basic kits (red shirts with white shorts, and blue shirts with white shorts) and bases made from buttons weighed down with lead washers. No pitch was provided: instead, the purchaser was given instructions on how to mark out (with chalk, provided) a playing area onto a blanket (an old army blanket was recommended). The first sets were eventually available about 6 months after the original advertisement appeared. An early innovation was to replace the early cardboard figures with a 2-D celluloid figure, known to collectors as 'flats'.

Early production of Subbuteo was centred near Tunbridge Wells, in Kent. The early years of subbuteo were marked by fierce rivalry with 'Newfooty', a similar game that had been invented in the late 1920s by William Keeling of Liverpool. As a means of differentiating his product, in 1961 Adolph introduced a three dimensional handpainted plastic figure into the range. After several design modifications, this figure evolved by 1967 into the classic 'heavyweight' figure.

There were several further evolutions of figure design. In 1978 the 'zombie' figure was introduced to facilitate the machine painting of figures. After much negative feedback, the zombie figure was replaced in 1980 by the 'lightweight' figure that continued until the 1990s.

In the Beginning - Card & Celluloid

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1947 - THE FLAT CARD PLAYER

The first Subbuteo players were made of card and were available from 1947 when the game was invented, They came as a press out FLAT CARD TEAM SQUAD, this is how a team would have looked. You would simply press out the figure and slot into a base. The bases were available separately in various colours to match the team. Waddingtons the company which manufactured the game still had hundreds of these card teams in strips of 11 at their offices in Leeds right up to them selling out to Hasbro the toy giant. The card figures were much loved by players for the delightful style of play they could produce (they are better than heavyweights at spinning, swerving and chipping). For this reason, they continued to be sold alongside the OO scale teams until the early 1970s, and still have a devoted following amongst serious players.

1949 - THE FLAT CELLULOID PLAYER

These flat celluloid players came in a small packet, this chap replaced the card player and was more hardwearing. The celluloid player was available well into the 60's. Both the Card and Celluloid players were found in the box sets of the 50's. Waddingtons also had hundreds of these celluloid teams still in their original packs. Some of this stock was given to the Subbuteo Collectors Club. There seem to be at least three variations of base.

The first type and the original have the words “Subbuteo” and the patient number "R.D.851000" printed around the top of the base. There is also a later type without the patient number just the name, and finally, the recent re-issues that seem to be just blank. The bases were produced in 11 different colour ways and are highly sought after by collectors. The harder to find colours are: black, old gold, tangerine, yellow, grey and in the West Ham colour way maroon. It is worth noting that the flat figures don't have coloured socks, and sock colours are not consistent in the early OO scale figures either. The sock colours seem to be fixed by the 1970s, when teams were illustrated in Subbuteo catalogues for the first time, and after that date new teams were introduced just for sock trim variations.

COLLECTOR Ref No. 1 - 50

Collector references numbers 1-50 were the first teams produced by Subbuteo, and are therefore mostly the colours that English and Scottish club sides were wearing during the 1950s and 1960s. The catalogues of the time also make reference to Irish teams, and international country sides, but these are secondary sides and not the reason the team was produced.

WEST HAM UNITED: COLLECTOR Ref No.7

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THE ORIGINAL HEAVYWEIGHT PLAYER

The first of the 'OO' scale figures. They were available in 1961 for a very short time and they had 'V' neck shirts and short sleeves. In my opinion these little chaps for me are the best. The very first 'Continental' style players in 1961 came in white boxes. Then came the green boxes with two variations with a white rim. For some reason the first batch of original heavyweight teams that were all made with black shorts.

MID TO LATE 70's TEAM BOX.

The player graphics on the front of the box was added. This is the most common of the pre 80's boxes. These boxes didn't seem as sturdy as the earlier versions.

Classic Heavyweight figures from 1961 until late 1970’s

Ref No.7 Variations to Base

Left to right: Claret Base

Sky Blue Base

Claret Base with Flesh Plastic

Red Base with Flesh Plastic

White Base with Blue Inners Flesh Plast

WEST HAM UNITED: COLLECTOR Ref No. C120

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FOOTBALLER STATUETTE: 7 & 79

The Footballer Statuette could be hand-painted in any of the club colours on the team lists. It survives in the catalogues until 1975-76

WEST HAM UNITED: COLLECTOR Ref No.7 & 79

Introduced around 1963 the Rosette originally appeared alongside the Footballer Statuette.

The Rosette is made of hard plastic with a hand-painted player in the middle, and was available in any of the team colours in the standard range of the period

WEST HAM UNITED: COLLECTOR Ref No.79

Away Strip

First version: White Shorts 1971 - 72

Away Strip

Second version: Blue Shorts 1973 - 1980

WEST HAM UNITED: COLLECTOR Ref No.195

Introduced in 1978-79 West Ham United

Collector Ref: 195

1976-77 (Home)

Ref No.195 later became Ref No.209 in 1978

Home

WEST HAM UNITED: COLLECTOR Ref No. C131

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C131 THROW IN

Approx. OO scale, hand-painted spring-operated figures on finger-control base. Enables you to place the ball where you want it. Companion set to the corner kickers, like the kickers, these were available in the 1970's in a range of ten colours. The set had one redesign which removed the metal clip, and made them simpler to manufacture. The new plastic bases seem to play just as well (or maybe just as badly) as the old ones.

WEST HAM UNITED: COLLECTOR Ref No. C132

C132 CORNER KICKERS

Debuting in 1972-73 these seriously oversized chaps were the Subbuteo rugby conversion figures on new bases.

Articulated, hand-painted figures with "kicking" action on finger control base, adding practical skill, ball control and direction to corner kicks etc.

WEST HAM UNITED: COLLECTOR Ref No.209

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209    Zombie Handpainted

209    Zombie Machine Paint

209    Lightweight Handpainted

209    Lightweight Machinepainted

 

 

 

 

Bases:

Zombie base has the word SUBBUTEO

in caps.

Zombies...

The zombie is the rather insulting name given to Subbuteo's first attempt at a figure which could be assembled and painted by machine. 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.

EARLY 80's TEAM BOX

There was now a big transformation in the type of team boxes Waddingtons were using. The classic lift off lid box had gone and we now had a slide out tray plastic tray with a small window to view the player.

Team colours all introduced in 1980-83. This is also the point where heavyweight / zombie production stops, and the new lightweight figures become the standard.

Handpainted Lightweights

Although the lightweight was introduced as a player to be machine printed, like zombies, these figures were also hand-painted. This practice was widespread in the early years of the figure, but slowly died out.

Machine Painted Lightweights

The lightweight was designed to be machine printed. These prints allowed fine details, and were at their best when coping with the craze for pin stripes in the early 1980s. Teams introduced from 1981 onwards are more likely to be designed as a machine printed.

 

Bases

As far as base lettering goes on lightweights, there are only two versions. The 1980s base is identical to the final Zombie base, and has the word SUBBUTEO in caps. In the early 1990s, this changes to Subbuteo in small letters.

WEST HAM UNITED: COLLECTOR REF No.C180

WEST HAM UNITED   v. ARSENAL

F.A. Cup Final Set

This item was only sold in 1980-81 and there are two versions of the set. The original version was the 1980 Cup Final with Arsenal and West Ham. Both teams appear in this set in their home kits but they actually played in their away kits. The teams are 232 Arsenal and 209 West Ham United in the machine printed lightweight figure.

WEST HAM UNITED: COLLECTOR Ref No.327

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West Ham United

Collector Ref: 327

1980 (Away)

WEST HAM UNITED: COLLECTOR Ref No.355

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West Ham United

Collector Ref: 355

1981-83 (Home)

WEST HAM UNITED: COLLECTOR Ref No.357

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West Ham United

Collector Ref: 357

1981-86 (2nd Away)

EARLY TO MID 80's TEAM BOX

With this box you could now view all 11 players, and the inner tray was made of polystyrene. This was probably the best of the post 80's boxes.

WEST HAM UNITED: COLLECTOR Ref No.488

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Team Colours all introduced 1982-84

West Ham United

Collector Ref: 488

1984-85 (Home)

WEST HAM UNITED: COLLECTOR Ref No.627

Team colours all introduced 1985-90

MID 80's TEAM BOX

This was the same as the previous box but rotated 90 degrees.

West Ham United

Collector Ref: 627

1986-96 (Home)

WEST HAM UNITED: COLLECTOR Ref No.667

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Team colours all introduced 1985-90

West Ham United

Collector Ref: 667

1988-89 (Home)

WEST HAM UNITED: COLLECTOR Ref No.712

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Team colours all introduced 1990-96

West Ham United

Collector Ref: 712

1990-91 (Home)

Alternative version not shown in catalogues

LATE 80's EARLY 90's TEAM BOX

The packaging was now becoming more compacted and had a smaller window to view the players.

WEST HAM UNITED: COLLECTOR Ref No.752

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WEST HAM UNITED: COLLECTOR Ref No.816

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West Ham United

Collector Ref: 816

1995 (Away)

HASBRO

In 1998 American toy giants Hasbro took over production of Subbuteo. This resulted in the production of a new type of one piece moulded plastic base, still with the same figures inserted into them. The range of products however became even smaller as sales suffered at the hands of Nintendo and Playstations. Towards the end of 1999 Hasbro announced that production of the game was to be halted. This was due to an apparent lack of interest amongst a computer dazzled younger generation. This evoked outrage amongst fans of the game, and the decision was reversed. Nonetheless, sets and teams are still very hard to come by as stocks of individual teams were limited.

WEST HAM UNITED: COLLECTOR Ref No.63752

EARLY TO MID 90's TEAM BOX

Very similar to the previous packaging but we now have the FA Premier League symbol on the front of the box.

WEST HAM UNITED: COLLECTOR Ref No.63752

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MID TO LATE 90's TEAM BOX

We now saw a 2 windowed box and inside the players and bases were to be self assembled. Included 11 outfield players and a keeper in each box.

One of the most valuable possessions of any plastic kit manufacturer are the original moulds. As Airfix production over the last thirty years has shown, these moulds can have a long life if they are looked after properly. Of course this life span gives the moulds a high value, and there are many examples of them being sold between companies, allowing old forgotten kits to live again.

The same thing seems to have happened to Subbuteo's 1970s moulds, as the classic figures from this era have since reappeared in other games.

 

In 2002 the Italian toy company Parodi bought the licence from Hasbro to produce Subbuteo. This resulted in a completely new base being developed and a completely new and extensive range of teams. Furthermore, for the first time, bald and ponytailed figures were included in the sets. Alongside this was a whole new range of accessories, including goals, Astropitches, balls, fencing etc. New Boxed sets were also available. This was great news for fans of Subbuteo. Although sold widely in Italy, these new products were not being stocked by any UK retailers. Nonetheless, by this time many UK based trade internet sites were now established and were soon shipping these new products to the UK. However, their is now some concern that Hasbro will not renew this licence and once again, the production of Subbuteo will be halted

Zëugo Table Football

Zëugo is an Italian Subbuteo table football clone that was introduced in 1997. It was designed by Edilio Parodi, and is produced by the company that bears his name. Parodi was the Italian distributor of Subbuteo products, and when Hasbro stopped providing equipment for his Italian market, he produced this game to fill the gap. Parodi has a great reputation among the Italian table soccer fraternity, and his name is featured prominently on the boxes.

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The ZEUGO teams originally came in a square box with 10 players plus a keeper. Then in 2006 they changed the style and shape of the box, added an extra player and also improved the quality of the bases. ZEUGO teams have always been handpainted just like the SUBBUTEO teams of the 60's and 70's and this is a tradition that continues today. The detail and quality of the ZEUGO handpainted teams is quite superb and much improved on the quality of the handpainted teams of 30 years ago. Each ZEUGO team comes already assembled and they are ready to play.

 

Many of the new ZEUGO teams are only available from SUBBUTEO WORLD with new kits being added all the time.

Zeugo teams come on a 2 piece flat bottom base.

Base combination Light Blue outer with Red inner

WEST HAM UNITED: COLLECTOR Ref Z44A

Subbuteo World

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WEST HAM UNITED: COLLECTOR Ref NR098

2 piece flat bottom base with new style Black Team Box.

Base combination Red outer with Light Blue inner

SANTIAGO thatsmagnificent.com

WEST HAM UNITED 1960

New teams from thatsmagnificent. Consists of 10 outfield players on claret and sky bases, team specific goalkeeper. housed in a traditional style long box. bases and box are branded 'santiago'. all santiago teams have been handpainted in the UK and are completely compatible with subbuteo.

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STEFAN CORDA

2004 saw the Stefan Corda company launching two completely new types of base - the ultima range, which includes Raptors and Veloche. The Raptor base, in particular has taken the Table football world by storm. It's flat base, chipping edge and substantial weight makes it a real base for the 21st century.

REPTOR G2

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