Subbuteo’s founder built a rival game to take down his old company

In another delve into the often weird and wacky history of Subbuteo we take a look at the time Subbuteo’s founder Peter Adolph actually plotted to replace Subbuteo with a new game.

After selling Subbuteo to toy giant Waddingtons for £250,000 plus share options, Adolph was employed as a consultant to the brand.
However, after feeling his ideas were not being taken on board by the new owners he set about trying to build a rival to Subbuteo.

In typical Adolph fashion he delved into the world of ornithology to pick a name. While Subbuteo is named after the latin for the hobby bird after Adolph was blocked from calling the game The Hobby, he used the Latin name for eagle for his new project.

Aquila was the name of the new game it was strikingly similar to Subbuteo. According to Adolph’s son, Mark, in the book ‘Growing Up With Subbuteo’, the new company had to be placed in his and and his mother’s name because Adolph was banned from competing with Subbuteo after selling the company.

The box set is almost identical to Subbuteo with sets of coloured players, goals, oversized balls and an eye-catching box design. However there was one big difference – large ‘striking’ figures designed to make it easier to fire the ball into the net when attacking.

Pic: Peter Upton

After creating Aquila, Peter Adolph actually tried to sell the concept of the new striking players to Subbuteo and Waddingtons without success. When that failed, Aquila was dropped.

According to Mark, it was enough for Peter to have created the prototypes to make a point to Waddingtons.

Aquila was never really a thing unfortunately but at least one box set was produced and has survived.

It was not the only grand idea Peter had – he also developed a baseball game to be sold in the US. Neither idea really got off the ground and Subbuteo continued to be the go-to game for table top football enthusiasts for generations to come.

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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