Subbuteo is very much the global game and a large part of that was due to expansion by founder Peter Adolph and later Waddingtons.
The company launched German teams in the early 1970s and then a Munich box set in 1973 but it also produced versions of some of the more iconic Subbuteo box sets in other languages.
A box set designed for the German market has landed in the hands of collector Nico Muller – and it contains a couple of surprises once you dive into the box itself.
Nico says: “What have I got here? Despite the usage of a Continental Club Edition box lid it is obviously a Club Edition from the 1977-80 Re-boxed Editions Era. The polystyrene inners had not been used before 1977 so this edition must be a hybrid version.
“The facts are:1) This set was sold in Germany. Hence the box lid is reasonable.
2) The German Rules Book contains a copyright signature by SSG dated 1975. This means the set wasn’t sold before 1975 but possibly later.
3) The German catalogue included says that all Bundesliga teams are available in the C100 range. The teams mentioned are the ones from the 1978-79 season. Hence the polystyrene inner is reasonable.
4) I bought this set second hand from the widow of the former owner. There were no other teams or accessories except of one unboxed C108 Plastic Fence Surround.
“According to the information given by the widow the former owner must have been 16 years old in 1978. Not exactly the age when the average teenager splashes out money for toys. Besides there are no breakages or glued figures. So I suppose it wasn’t used very often. All this leads me to the conclusion that this set is genuine as is. But why would the German importers Bienengraeber put two Heavyweight references inside (63 and 75) which are so unusual for the German market that the team reference sheet in the catalogue doesn’t even put a name to these teams?
“Instead only the team colours are described. Who would have cared about Montrose and Forfar Athletic anyway? But again, there are no clues or hints that these teams have been placed in this set by the original owner. We all have come across sets that were mixed up by children when they heavily played the game. But in these cases you’ll normally find traces of the original references 1 & 2 (single bases, broken players etc.). This set seems completely genuine to me. Although it’s a weird set.”
The answer could be that this is one of the later sets of the era, when Subbuteo often filled boxes with unsold teams. These can be from anywhere in the range and the result was a small number of box sets with rare teams instead of the traditional red and blue sides. As they were unsold teams it is likely they were more unpopular and that means they are more likely to be rarer now.
Thanks to Nico for sharing the unusual German box set.