Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Subbuteo World (Catalogue I), 1979

For just ten of your British pennies, this catalogue could have been yours in the late 1970's, a small price to pay for the unfettered joy that lay within. Twenty-four half-size pages filled with every possible football team, accessory and Subbuteo set was displayed in full colour and capable of generating so much excitement in the juvenile mind that there barely seemed any point in buying the stuff at all.

I say that because this was a doorway into the realms of fantasy that any young football fan would have genuinely relished. Inside we get The Subbuteo Story, a history of the table soccer game in three paragraphs that reminded the reader how this simple pastime had grown and grown over more than three decades.

There was How to play Subbuteo, a worthwhile prĂ©cis for the newcomer that basically says 'flick the players to move the ball to score goals.' Well you never know – this could have been read by a girl, conceivably.

We see six different Subbuteo Soccer sets available to purchase, each with a differing array of components and each aimed at a variety of budgets. Whether you wanted a basic Display Edition (teams, balls, goals but no pitch) or the full Stadium Edition (containing teams, a pitch, balls, floodlights, ball boys, a scoreboard and a section of grandstand), you couldn't help but let your mind boggle at the choice on offer.

But all of that was nothing compared to the main feature of this catalogue and many others (to say nothing of wallcharts) – the six pages featuring 322 Subbuteo teams in all their myriad colours and patterns. How many hours must have been lost by the thousands of kids gazing in wonderment at the regimented rows of vivid and bright figures before them. Some were familiar, others less so but they were never unfamiliar for long. A quick check of the 6-page index would quickly tell you that the team wearing red and white quartered shirts with red socks and shorts was actually the Italian club Rimini - a team you were never likely to buy but you wouldn't have left out of the catalogue for all the world.

At the back, there were pictures of all the things you could buy to personalise your Subbuteo collection beyond comprehension. Tournament goals, 'live action' goalkeepers (spring-loaded, of course), TV camera crews – hell, even the World Cup itself if you were prepared to squint a bit. And if football wasn't your thing, why not pay the 10p anyway and check out the Subbuteo Rugby and Cricket sets. The enormous cricket-bat-on-a-stick and the oversized ball seemed a little bit odd, but then, like rugby, cricket was for strange people anyway.

And that was that, except for one final note: this was the first of two near-identical Subbuteo catalogues produced in 1979. The other was released later in the year and was different in only one small detail – it had the Iran national football team in its listings. Never let it be said that Subbuteo didn't cater for all tastes.


  1. take a look at this project
    it is a documentary about subbuteo!

  2. Very nice article

    Subbuteo is making a comeback :)

  3. Thanks for the link, Anonymous...

    So I hear, tecalee69! Bye the way, I love what you're doing over at Same Old Subbuteo Brand New Kits. It's a great site! :)