Following Chris' excellent trip down memory lane, I ventured into my garage today to drag out the box that contains most of my childhood Subbuteo stuff. As you can see below, it wasn't exactly being looked after.
Thankfully, the contents seemed to have survived.
1. Player Numbers (61206)
The smallest details can make or break an experience and for me, realism is very important. Naturally, with Subbuteo, there's already quite a large amount of 'suspension of disbelief' going on. Your team may well be resplendent in finely detailed kit, albeit more often than not without sponsor, but one simply can't ignore the fact that you are in effect fielding a team comprised of ten clones and one other who looks like the answer to the question 'What happens if you mix carbonite with a Mexican wave?' Added to this, your clone army are all flying around on something resembling flying saucers, so as I say, we're already having to use a lot of imagination. With that in mind, anything that adds that extra touch of realism is surely a good thing? That's where player numbers come in.
Did I say these were one of my favourite things? Well they are, for despite all the hassle of actually affixing them, once attached they did look the business. Just look at them. No longer ten clones, these players now had a role to play. No more would the centre forward of matches past be expected to play sweeper. Of course, the goalie already knew his place. He needed no number to affirm his role. He'd probably have killed for some muscle rub, though.
2. Scoreboard (61158)
One of the many joys of finding stuff from many years ago is the little things you'd fortgotten. Seemingly unimportant events you had no need to remember at the time, but years later providing an insight into a distant time. So it was as I prepared to open the box to my scoreboard, I couldn't wait to see which team names were in place. Who had taken part in the last ever Subbuteo match of my childhood? I slid the black plastic out of the box and there it was... nothing! I'd taken the team names out. Even the score was set at 0-0. Ah well.
Even in 1988, it was still all about Italy v West Germany
The scoreboard itself was a slab of black plastic with rotary dials to set the score (so long as no-one scored more than nine) and three slots in which to insert the competing team names as well as the event taking place. Several sheets of black card were supplied with reams of team names, written in a pseudo-light bulb font. The options available seemed to cover pretty much every European team going and almost all known competitions, as well as more specific ones such as 'Quarter Final' and 'Group Two'. While I may not have been able to see who I'd last played with, I could at least see who had taken part in previous outings by those team names I had cut out. Unsurprisingly these were just the teams I owned along with 'World Cup 86'.
|Come on you Wels!|
Even the great Winterthur were there...
Overall, with its plethora of options and imposing nature, dominating the touchline as it did (also meaning it got in the way a lot), the scoreboard was a very special addition to the Subbuteo experience.
3. Coventry City 86/87 Home (Team No. 652)
|An FA Cup Winner|
|In Pescara, the phrase 'Coventry who?' is often heard|
4. Adidas Tango balls - Orange (61209)
All very well for the real world, but snow never really fell on the hallowed green baize, unless your older brother decided to accessorise the pitch with some shaving foam. As we've already seen however, pretending is a big part of Subbuteo so if I say it's a snow covered pitch, then it's a snow covered pitch and we need an orange ball!
Later, a luminous yellow/green Tango was released and it also graced many a match, but deep down, it just seemed a gimic too far.
So there you have it. The Adidas Tango... iconic, versatile and a metaphor for the excess of the late 80s.
5. Astropitch (61178)
It is with a degree of smugness that I write that I owned the Astropitch as it was about three times the price of the standard pitch. Contrasting nicely with the view on 'artificial' pitches in real football, the Astropitch is rightly considered the king of surfaces on which to 'flick to kick'. Before I owned it, I had assumed it was a surface similar to that used in the cricket game Test Match, which flattened out well as it was made from polyester, but on purchase (in fact, on first picking it up, stored as it was, rolled up in in its poster tube) I realised this was not the case. It was a heavy thing and on unfurling, flattened out perfectly every single time. Not ony that, but the flock covering and heavy vinyl backing gave an almost damping effect which meant the ball didn't skim around as much, but instead, moved in a graceful, flowing and controlled manner.
When I first bought it, I wondered if it would prove to be an extravagance too far at £14.95, but after the first few flicks, it was obvious this was the future! From that point, my regular pitch, complete with its creases that just never fully went away, never saw action again.