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Subbuteo Heavyweight Team Boxes

Another small avenue worth exploring on Little Plastic Men is the history of the 'team box.' A new design was almost as guaranteed as the periodical reincarnation of Dr Who during the 1960's and 70's when every few years you would be treated to a new design c100 team box totally out of the blue, or green...

Just as you had finally got used to the current box (because it was never quite as good as the last one and needed getting used to) it would be killed off for something bigger and better... well in the eyes of Waddingtons anyway. In my opinion, they seemed to get smaller and worse, but there you go.

I remember in 1977 when the first smaller green box came out, I was devastated as they looked rubbish against my perfectly stored and ordered large box collection. I think the only saving grace was the Home Internationals series, which added a bit of colour to my collection of teams. Being a full 1 cm shorter, the new boxes didn't sit correctly on the shelf and the plastic trays made it difficult to write the players names on, unlike the card trays I had grown up with and innocently abused with felt pen with such revered names as Keegan, Clemence and Toshack.

The box can be a good way of determining a teams age, but must be stressed that teams were often swapped from box to box so not always a concrete guide for collectors today, but, if you find a team with the corresponding original number sticker on the box, then it is more than likely from the correct era as shown below. As for value, an original numbered box does add to value to a team, but the age seems unimportant to most collectors, a heavyweight Bradford or a Liverpool can be the same value if made in 1971 or 1979, what can make a difference is if it's in the pre 1971 box (Type 3) with the wire keeper and especially if it is the older vintage heavyweight figure. (see figures reference section)

Below is the history of the team box used for the heavyweight figures from 1961 to about 1980. The team holder was an accessory only and designed for the first flat cardboard and celluloid figures, so strictly not a heavyweight figure box, but as it had such a long production run and was the first of all the official team boxes to follow, so seems criminal not to include it in this listing.

Pre 1970
Team Holder
Type 1
Type 2
Type 3
The early flat celluloid teams used to be sold in packets without bases (and the earlier card figures on press out sheets) and the idea was to buy just the colours of bases you needed and swap over the teams. A team holder was a luxury and were available as an accessory in the form of 'set S' and could be bought in several colours and there were at least three different styles of labels produced during its long production run, which seemed to come to an end around 1971. The card inner tray held eleven based figures and also had a loop to hold a short wire rod for the goalkeeper, there was also a hole to house a large football. Rollover image for tray view.
The first of the standard size boxes that were issued with the new 'continental' teams (the 3d plastic figure) is known as the white box and it seems to have had a short production of about a year. The card inner tray has 11 inserts for the team and the now longer attached goalkeeper wire runs vertically down the center of the box.

The famous Subbuteo green is introduced to the team boxes for the first time. Two slightly different shades of green can be found in this design and in the second the corners of the box are no longer stapled. Some boxes can be found labeled with World cup team names opposed to reference numbers which were introduced in time for the 1966 World Cup in England.
Rollover image for tray view.

A short lived design which used a very bright green in the printing process. The inner tray remains the same as on the two previous designs. As with type 2 some boxes are labeled with World cup team names opposed to reference numbers, a trend that seems to have continued up to type 6.


Type 4
Type 5
Type 6 / 6a
Type 6b
On the first of these boxes the card inner tray is configured for the wire keeper, but later changed adding an extra slot to hold the new design green plastic rod handle. Interestingly, the logo has moved back to the 1960's player drawing (a mistake at the printers?) and possibly why the box was replaced so quickly with type 5, which is identical but for the updated footballer logo? Rollover image for tray view.

Identical to type 4 but with a more modern looking logo. The World Cup team named boxes opposed to reference numbers exist as well as a small amount of named club sides too, such as the West Bromwich Albion box shown below.

1975 saw a change in the logo to the large 'splash' design. Two versions exist with minor changes in the logo to the latter. An increasing amount of teams with factory stamped named boxes opposed to reference numbers appear in this type of box, such as New Norwich and Leeds 2nd. The last of the World Cup team labels can be found on the Type 6 box. Rollover image for tray view.

c.138 Special England team box. The team was sold as an accessory rather than a numbered team in the 1976 catalogue. Last of the card inner tray designs.



Type 7 / 7a
Type 7b
Type 8 / 8a
Smaller version of type 6 introduced in 1977. A plastic tray replaces the card inner tray. Two similar designs were made of type 7, the second showing a change of address from Tunbridge Wells to Chiddingstone Causeway, Tonbridge. A new feature is that the inner tray now comes shrink wrapped, possibly to stop opportunist spare player thieves looking to replace their broken figures while browsing in the toy shop? The first Zombie figures can also be found in this box type. Rollover the image for a view of a shrink wrapped team.

c.500 Special named box made for the four Home Internationals. England, Scotland, Wales & N. Ireland. England 2nd was also marketed in the range but was simply in the England home kit box with a square '2nd strip' sticker on one end. The four home teams were also issued twice in sets with card slip covers or 'wraps' see rollover below

The last domestic boxes used to house the heavy weight figure. Two versions exist, the first (8) came with an outer shrink wrap and once opened left a hole in the box for the figure to fall out. The revised second version (8a) has end flaps with the reference label at both ends and the small window is sealed with cellophane. Plastic sliding tray on both versions (see rollover) This box continued to be used for the Zombie and early lightweight figures into the early 1980's


Non UK Boxes
Type 6 & 7
France Only
Type 6 & 7
Italy Only

During the 1970's Delacoste, a French toy company, were given licence to sell the game in France and a range of teams were painted (or over painted on existing teams) in France for their home market. The boxes for these teams are identical to the ones used in the UK but have the Delacoste stickers showing the team name and a unique reference number, firstly with a four figure number and often with the UK reference number still left on the box and then moves to a larger labeled six figure reference starting in 656 or 657. It is interesting to note that some teams although being exactly the same, did turn up under two reference numbers to boost sales, an example being the Uk Reference 19 team Barcelona was marketed in France as BARCELONE 657.072 and BAYERN DE MUNICH 656.772

At the very tail end of the heavyweight production a series of some 21 teams were produced exclusively for the Italian market covering Italian club and International teams. Each team was presented in it's own dedicated colour box with the 'splash logo' player in the correct colours for the team contained inside the box as well as having the team name and badge on the box end. Two versions appear to exist. The first version is the larger Type 6 box followed by the smaller Type 7 box (pictured) that drops the Tunbridge Wells address and adds an Edilio Parodi import sticker on the side of the lid.









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