Saturday, 29 June 2013

Subbuteo catalogue, 1969

Chances are if you lay your hands on any Subbuteo catalogue or poster, its main feature will be the ever-satisfying gallery of team kits for you to ponder over. This booklet, however, took a broader view - to promote Subbuteo as a phenomenon and to inform the public on how Subbuteo football is played.

Inside, the text is as finely honed by marketing experts as anything you'll find today. "Why are Subbuteo Sports Games so successful and popular? The simple answer is that they have been invented to mirror the many-sided attractions of modern sport to perfection. On your table in your home. Competition, enjoyment, skill, thrills... they are all there in miniature."

And so it goes on, telling us how Subbuteo Sports Games have been crafted to perfection as "the result of much thought and experiment over the years" to "represent in a boy's mind his favourite sports stars" and "are not just splendid to look at." If you wonder why Subbuteo is still held in such high regard today, it's because Peter Adolph, the creator of Subbuteo and the man that gave us these quotes, knew it was good all along and was finally confident enough to shout it from the rooftops. In the years that followed, more and more of us bought into the beauty of the game and thus a legend was born - no question.

This booklet helped to create an alluring image for the kids that wanted to play the game. Illustrations of Subbuteo figures standing shoulder to shoulder with smart-dressed smiling boys and their father reinforced the cheery vision of family fun that Adolph was keen to promote. Above them, the various boxed sets gave children something to crave the next time a birthday or Christmas came around. With words like 'Continental' and 'International' emblazoned in big red letters on the front, it was difficult for young kids not to get caught up in the excitement of it all.

For anyone still not aware of how the game was played some 23 years after it was first sold, a basic explanation was provided alongside quote after quote from satisfied customers the world over. "Vancouver Royals 6 Manchester United 2. Well, it looked pretty good on our table, anyway!" said P.N. Calder in Vancouver, Canada.

Although the wide range of team strips were not shown, several pages were dedicated to detailing many of the football accessories that were available to buy. Among them were a track-suited team "ready to run onto the field" but looking more like a band of onesie-wearing pitch invaders and a 'football statuette' on a plinth "in all club colours." As we've mentioned before, not all Subbuteo accessories had much of a purpose, but at least the sense of creativity behind them was never in doubt.

As if the world of Subbuteo soccer wasn't enough, there was also Table Cricket to master too. A picture showing a game in play provided ample proof that Peter Adolph had applied just as much attention to detail as with the football equivalent. Two groundsmen pulling a roller, sightscreens and a fully operational scoreboard were among many items on hand to complete the image of village green perfection in the juvenile mind.

With Rugby and 'Fivesides' (Subbuteo indoor soccer) also mentioned within the pages of this booklet, it seemed there was an entertaining world of sport to be enjoyed at your fingertips if you were a child of the Sixties. Little did anyone know that this was just the start of bigger things to come in the world of Subbuteo.


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