• Year 1947
  • Year 1960
  • Year 1976
  • Year 1981
  • Year 1983
  • Year 1990
  • Year 2012

1947 The beginning.

Peter Adolph invented the game Subbuteo.

The three-dimensional figure appears

The new volume figure made of plastic arrives.

The short history of the zombies

A new figure, assembled and painted by a machine, is born.

Figure comes “lightweight”

A more detailed, thin and stylized figure.

The era Waddington

Hasbro transfers the Subbuteo rights to Waddington.

Hasbro stage

Hasbro recovers Subbuteo.

2012 A new beginning...

The XXI century Subbuteo arrives.

1947 The beginning.

1947 The beginning

Subbuteo was invented by Peter Adolph. Its name comes from its creator’s love of falconry. There is a falcon called the hobby (Falco subbuteo).

The first game dates back to 1947 and consisted of a small cardboard box with a brown label on the lid that had a list of contents. These contents were: two cardboard sheets with the players printed on them, 20 small plastic bases for the field players and two rectangular bases for the goalies with metal rods for controlling them; two goals made of metal wire; and a stick of chalk for marking the pitch (which was not included in the box), which was a cloth sheet that could be found in practically every home by the end of the Second World War.

The 1949-1950 edition

In this edition, the players were no longer printed on cardboard due to difficulties in cutting them out.

These new figures were made of celluloid plastic (cellulose acetate).

The first accessories began to be created, such as a metal device for holding the goal in place, a material to make the ball stick to the net, flags, etc.

The “Table Soccer Players Association” appeared during this period.

Subbuteo in the 1950s.

In 1953, 3 versions of the game were designed, each with a different retail price.

Popular Assembly Set.

Combination Set (plastic players).

Super Set (pitch, assembled players and accessories all inside a beautiful box).

The variety of accessories continued to grow and a miniature referee’s whistle, game clock, scoreboard, etc. appeared.

The three-dimensional figure appears

The three-dimensional figure appears


In this decade, Subbuteo produced the already-legendary three-dimensional figures.

The first figures were called Earlier. Their bases, which were larger, were divided into two parts, interior and exterior, which created the possibility of giving them different colours. The inside of the base was hollow, with a metal weight to give it some weight.

The figure had a short-sleeve, V-neck shirt, with little detail and a strange posture and a flat appearance. The player was placed atop the top part of the base using a thin rod (copy of the diagrams).

This figure was produced until 1967, when it was replaced by the so-called “heavyweight” figure.

The “heavyweight” figure had more detail and wore a long-sleeve shirt with a round neck. The designer of these figures was Charles Stadden and the figures were painted and assembled by housewives in Tunbridge Wells.

This was the era in which Subbuteo could be said to have taken off, since the sets were sold in a very attractive package and could be found in toy shops and sporting goods shops all over the country.

In August 1970, the “First International Table Football Tournament” took place in the Savoy Hotel in London. The prize was the John Waddington World Cup Trophy.

The countries that participated were Belgium, Ireland, Gibraltar, Holland, Israel, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Switzerland, the USA, Wales, and the champion West Germany.

In 1974, the Munich World Series was played, with Holland being the winner.

Accessories continued to be developed, with rods for changing the goalie, medium-sized balls, specific figures for corner kicks, and a much-anticipated accessory, the grandstand, which was sold with 5 spectators.

The short history of the zombies

The short history of the zombies

In 1976, the figure known as the “Zombie” was born because Subbuteo Sports Games needed a figure that could be assembled and painted by a machine.

The figure was very simple and lacked distinguishing features, and this is the origin of the popular way of referring to the figures as zombies.

Although they were created by machines, hand-painted zombie figures could also be found. Both versions of sets were available. These were the first figures to be exported to Greece.

This figure did not have much success.

Figure comes “lightweight”

The "heavyweight" figure arrives

In 1981, the figure known as “lightweight” was created; it is a more detailed figure, with bent knees (similar to the “heavyweight” figure) but more thinner and with a lighter design.

They were machine painted, although during the first two years of production they were also hand painted. These figures’ details allowed for logos, crests, and stripes.

This figure was used from 1981 until 1996.

Among the accessories created during this period were crowd barriers and mounted police.

In this period there was a change in Subbuteo’s location: the company moved to Leeds as it no longer needed the labour in Kent.

The era Waddington

The waddington years

The period that the Waddington era comprises is from 1983 to 1995.

From 1983 to 1987, Waddington progressively reduced Subbuteo’s product range (by removing its cricket, rugby, and hockey games from the market), and they also reduced the number of teams available (from 298 to 169) and the number of sets (in 1987 there were only two boxes, the Club Edition and the 1986 World Cup Edition).

In 1987, Waddington decided to relaunch its new line of Subbuteo products and to target a new audience.

Among the game’s new accessories were a new grandstand, now red and blue, and the grey corner piece, which was complemented in 1991 with the arrival of “Greek pillar” floodlights.

With this new launch, Waddington chose to acquire new licences, starting with those of the 1990 World Cup in Italy and the 1994 World Cup in the USA.

Two more licences were added in 1995: the Euro 1996 and an edition that included all of the teams from the Premiership.

Hasbro stage

The Hasbro years

Hasbro acquired Waddington in the mid 1990s. 

It began with a key change to the base of the figures. They were now just one piece and one colour, apparently solid and without the metal weight, with a larger bottom and a thinner curved edge. This increased the figure’s stability and made straight movements much easier.

Hasbro acquired the 1996 Euro and 1998 World Cup licences.

The official Manchester United Edition was later released with new accessories and also included the club’s crest on the centre circle of the pitch and on the balls. The new “Club” set even came with a surprise: the pitch was made of a new material – not as good as the baize from the 1970s, but better than nylon. It was a shame it only appeared in this set.

In 2000, Hasbro launched new sets that were a relaunch of the sets with the Premier clubs, an updated version of the Manchester United Edition, and a deluxe set that included the return of the grandstand (this time in red and white) and three teams.

Some of the most popular Premiership teams were launched, like Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Everton, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle, and Tottenham.

In 2003, Edilio Parodi acquired the rights from Hasbro to sell new Subbuteo products on the Italian market and to produce their own range (the return of the Astropitch, a new playing figure, a redesigned base more suitable to the modern game, etc.). The teams were painted in China.

Hasbro’s licence to Edilio Parodi lasted until 2005.

At the beginning of that year, Hasbro launched Subbuteo again, this time under the name “Photo-Real.” The figures were made of cardboard and had the faces of real footballers from 8 top European clubs.

After this edition, Subbuteo disappeared from shops, except for certain editions, such as the one that was made in England by Marc & Spancer shops in 2009 and was quite successful.

2012 A new beginning...

2012 A new beginning...

After several years of not being available in shops, a new Subbuteo game reappears with full force in 2012.

The packaging is mostly green – any other colour wouldn’t have been fitting…

The logo maintains the brand’s classic colours and lettering, but breathes a more modern air that is adapted to the 21st century.

The product follows this idea, respecting Subbuteo’s classic identity while adding new features that improve the game considerably.

Some of these features are:

A high-quality cloth playing field. Subbuteo is a game of precision, and the quality of the playing field is an extremely important point.
New base design that improves stability and makes movement easier.
More detailed figures: Teams have players of different races, with long and short hair, blonde/brown/red hair, different-coloured football boots, etc.
Nearly unbreakable figures: The new Subbuteo includes this great new feature. Figures are made with a more flexible and durable material that resists breakage.

The new Subbuteo has been received with great excitement by fans all over the world.

It’s been many years of waiting, but Subbuteo has returned… this time to stay…