Review: New 2021 Subbuteo VAR set

The new Subbuteo VAR set for 2021 is the first new accessory launched by Subbuteo for a couple of years.

It is notable because it is also the first new accessory from new license holder Longshore, a little over a year since the Hong Kong company took over the table football brand.

After a couple of less than impressive box sets the VAR set is probably not high on the shopping list of many Subbuteo fans but it is not actually that bad.

Priced at around £10 and on sale at Amazon, Subbuteo World and a handful of other sites, it’s not the most expensive accessory and is actually a nice idea. While VAR is not particularly popular it follows a long standing tradition of Subbuteo introducing things from the real world of football – from crush barriers in the 1970s to sponsors on shirts in the 1980s and 1990s.

So on to the VAR set. It is actually a new set and not a repackaging of old stock. You get a referee, two referee’s assistants and a fourth official holding a board with extra time on it.

You also get a VAR screen to place at the side of your pitch. A hefty piece of plastic, it actually feels like decent quality and the VAR branding on the side is a nice touch. The sticker used to show a match day event is a bit tacky but that can easily be replaced.

The screen looks good on the side of the pitch and I will be using it in a stadium build.

As always with new Subbuteo there is a down side. The referee figures are a bit blank. Expressionless faces and cartoon-y design make them look very much like a toy, while the lack of paint on the boots makes them look like they are wearing yellow wellington boots.

It’s this lack of attention to detail that will hold back the new owners if they don’t fix it quickly. However, not all the new designs are bad. The thin bases with wavy green pattern to indicate grass is actually quite nice and you can even chip a ball easily with them if you are that way inclined.

The box itself is pretty standard fare for new Subbuteo but does offer a clean, green design too. It looks decent when displayed and is actually a solid if unspectacular start to the new era of Subbuteo accessories.

In conclusion, if you’re a die-hard Subbuteo fan then £10 for this set is probably a good price. It’s not going to excite you are much as an older bit of Subbuteo kit but it’s a baby step in the right direction for a brand that lost its way a long time ago. I definitely like it a lot more than I thought I would.

Does it stand up to people who have 3D printed Subbuteo VAR sets? has a full VAR set complete with Stockley Park room and the quality is much higher here. At a higher price this is one for the more serious stadium builders, while the new official set is one for more casual fans of the game.

Where to buy the Subbuteo VAR set

The VAR set was originally on sale for £7.99 from Subbuteo World, however it was sold out in December 2020.

We got our set from Amazon for a little over £11. However, there have been reports of sellers on Amazon sending out older referee sets without the VAR monitor so be careful before ordering.

You can see the Youbbuteo video review below:

Stephen Hurrell
Stephen Hurrell
Stephen is the founder and editor of The Hobby Online and The Hobby by Subbuteo.Online print magazine. He is a giant nerd and specialises in Subbuteo, retro football kits and consumer stories. A journalist and editor of 15 years, he has written about football for some of the UK's biggest publications.

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