Gallery Page 5
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A screenshot from one of my many last ten second 'snipes' but as usual I was outbid by a determined new collector. The item, a team, was worth £40 tops and other veteran collectors had stopped at £35 so I went in at a bold £43.01 just to get it. God knows what the winner entered as the maximum bid amount.
Staring blearily eyed at auction has ended screens at 2.30 in the morning, I often kick myself for not going the extra quid and a quick check on the bidders page shows it was one of my old foes that has outfoxed me yet again, to add insult to injury, eBay send me an email telling me I've lost the auction this time, but very kindly give a list of alternative things I may be interested in like a Victorian dolls house or a Roman spoon.
Fallen Little Plastic Heroes
Theres about 700 heavyweight players in the photo (its at least four players deep in some areas) all broken at the ankles apart from about a dozen that still have some of the bar left. If only the owner knew what he or she was doing by trashing Bishops Auckland, Bradford and other collectibles like #46, #61 (original), #26, #12, #65, #63, #162, #165 and #168.
There must be at least 100 references from the 190 including the complete set up to number 34 and most of the world cup teams (although not all 10 of each) Sad as it may seem I actually spent the whole Saturday afternoon last week trying to salvage the original 61's as all 10 figures were there, but it was hopeless. The fate of the bases will remain a mystery, but they were obviously used for some important project and recycled. Naturally, I did what any other serious collector would do for these fallen heroes and set aside a quiet corner of the garden and buried them with full Subbuteo honors, shooting six rounds into the air with my air rifle while a neighbour solemnly played excerpts from the Subbuteo Sound record on her Walkman. If they should survive the acid rain and new developments, it would be nice to think that some 22nd century archeologist will unearth them and each and every one carefully cleaned and restored to its former glory.
1969 England v Portugal Programme plus free Ken
Subbuteo as a company were always good at simple but effective marketing and in the glory years at Tunbridge Wells came up with some real marketing gems, this was probably one of their finest. In December 1969 England played hosts to Portugal at Wembley and a free Ken was given out with every programme. I suspect that it was a logistical nightmare at the factory manufacturing up to 100,000 Ken's ready for the game. Sadly no mention of the free Ken promotion can be found in the programme which would have made a nice touch.
I'm sure many readers will, I as do, remember the real Ken fondly from their youth, he would turn up without fail at every cup final as well as all the England games, I've tried to find out a bit more about Ken, but very little is known about him. What is known is that he was a civil servant and also a councilor for the local Conservative party and very proud of his Boscombe roots (a suburb of Bournemouth) and so began his career at Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic Football Club, who in the 70's changed their name to AFC Bournemouth. He would parade around the Dean Court pitch in his colourful mascot attire and it is said by some that witnessed Ken in the early days that he would sometimes be almost too familiar with the youngsters in the crowd to gain popularity with them and coupled with a terrible lisp would often get abused by the young boys. This didn't seem to bother Ken and almost reveled in the attention he got from them.
Ken probably saved the club a fortune in pre match entertainment, my guess is he was on free tickets because of this and may have hit on the idea of becoming the self appointed England mascot to see how far he could push his luck at other venues, like Wembley, after all it's a small price to pay to dress up in funny clothes, scare a few hundred kids half to death and swing a rattle around if you get into all the major sporting events for free. I'd do it, just think no queuing to get in, a seat next to the Queen or at worst next to the dugout and more than likely a free pass to the players post match party. The more you think about it, Ken Baily was a clever man, but sadly a half century before his time. In this day and age his simple idea would have ballooned into Ken Baily Enterprises (UK) plc and been a merchandisers dream. I honestly believe big hearted Ken did what he did out of sheer patriotic love for everything British and maybe just the crack of getting on Match of the Day was recompense enough (along with the free tickets) for all his efforts. He was probably totally oblivious to the fact he could have made a small fortune from his public image and also from Subbuteo Sports Games for using his figure in the C114 accessory and endorsement on the lid of the Express set, or maybe he did?
Whatever the case Ken became a family favorite (bar those impressionable youngsters) and British sporting and football events have never been quite the same since he hung up his rattle.
Ken died some years ago and there are many questions still unanswered which only adds more mystery to the Ken Baily story. Did he openly confess to who he was, or was he so modest that he would return to work at the council offices on Monday morning after the big match as if nothing had happened? If so, did he dig a secret underground cave and have a flashing red 'Kenphone' that was a direct line to the FA? Did he have a loyal Uncle to cook his meals and tip him off when a major sporting event was about to happen? Could he drive a car and if so was it called the Kenmobile that fired little red plastic rattles from pods mounted on the bonnet? Probably not, it would be too far fetched and research does infact show he favoured public transport and his old bicycle, but nevertheless I bet he had a little plastic Ken figure standing on the mantelpiece at home to remind himself of his unique achievements and I should think he probably would have seen enough football games to make very educated guesses at the spot the ball.
...And what has happened to the 100,000 Kens that were given away free with the programme?
As an interesting footnote to this section I have been sent various e-mails over the last year on the subject of Ken Baily, many of which have been from the plus 35's like myself who could recall back to the good old days of Sportsnight, getting an Express set for Christmas and of course Cup Final day 'incorporating Ken'
One visitor to the site very kindly mailed me and sent a touching letter penned by Ken in 1992 offering his condolences to a family friend in their bereavement and has given permission to make this available in the Literature section.
I bought this team in 1999 off eBay, of course in those days as some will remember a team was never over a tenner and if there were twenty items up for grabs at any one time you thought it was Christmas! Anyway, I digress. About a year after I picked up another River Plate in a collection and as I usually compare my duplicates and sell off the worst set I took a closer look at this one. I noticed that this example had a very strange colour for the boots and hair so kept them both. I have never seen one like this since and always try to convince myself that it must be a repaint of some sort, but It is without doubt an original team and the light brown colour has not been overpainted, infact having seen literally hundreds (or is it thousands?) of teams I would stake my life that it's an original, the skin colouring, the patina on the black and the gluing all point to it being original... unlike other teams I have bought off eBay.
So, the burning question is, did Mrs. Whatshername sit there one evening, painting away in front of the fire and run out of standard brown paint? Working to a deadline did she nip up to her Son's bedroom and find a tin of Airfix Khaki (The one you used for the 8th Army soldiers) and slap it on to get the team done for Monday morning? The Khaki, though not so good for painting boots, does actually work very well for the hair colouring and in my opinion looks better than the standard brown.
The Streaker Set
The streaker set made national news when it was first released a few years ago, I think there was some confusion as many enthusiasts including myself were led to believe that Hasbro had actually released the figures, but infact the figures are a registered design and copyright of the table football shop Peldroed Borth.
I have to admit that on first impression I though they were a fun item and didn't exactly put them on my wants list and it wasn't until recently that I picked up a set along with the rule sheet and have to admit that the figures and their tactical use in playing the game is rather good. As I now try to actually play the game rather than just collect, was impressed that when the chips are down you can bring on the streaker and maybe change the course of the game, or at least slow down your opponent from taking your defense to bits for the umpteenth time. It's very similar to playing a joker in It's a Knockout, one minute your trailing to Shrewsbury in the local heat and the next thing you've changed the course of the game and on your way to Jeux san Frontieres.....well almost.
If your into playing, it's worth getting a set to spice up your game and the rules are very well laid out and easy to understand. Although not FISTF approved yet, some UK clubs have adopted the streaker ruling and for home use they are nothing short of brilliant.
My figures came unpainted and it took an unusual amount of time to paint them as I couldn't decide if the girl streaker should be a natural blonde or a peroxide blonde. I don't know why, but went for the second option.
Explaining the technicalities of the rules is too long winded for this page, but basically doing a streak can be tactically advantageous during a game as no extra time is added, which is great for big time losers like me! Other commonly applied streaks during play are the desperate streak, the winning streak and the preemptive streak and if you manage to do a full streak (which is to run to all corners of the pitch without getting caught by the police) you are allowed to do it all over again in the same game (usually only one streak is allowed during a meeting)
If you are under 18 or completely repulsed by nudity, please don't roll over the image of the streaker set with your mouse pointer!
The Flashing Number 53
This has to be to ultimate in official Subbuteo paint jobs. The figure is totally original and has not been tampered with in any way and I can't believe for a minute the Friday afternoons dragged so much in Tunbridge Wells that mistakes like this could genuinely happen, I suspect it was more of a joke, some bright spark was having a bit of a laugh, probably showed it around their mates and then sneaked it into the box. To be in on the joke, roll over the picture with your mouse.
Twenty five years later we laugh at the little bare bottom like they did before us, oh how we laugh... it's the original streaker! and as an added bonus you can prolong the enjoyment even further and move the mouse pointer quickly on and off the picture making the number 53 uncomfortably dance, a bit like how politicians do when trying to win votes from ordinary common people at election time.
The Subbuteo Sound (1973)
This is one of the things that never appealed to me when I first had my Subbuteo in the 70's most probably because we didn't have a record player until 1981 so it wouldn't have been much good anyway.
I recently got a friend to record the soundtrack off this single and found it to be totally hilarious, in true Subbuteo fashion, it was probably recorded at the head office at Tunbridge Wells on a bank holiday by the staff, it's not quite as bad as an England World Cup single, but comes very close. There is a brilliant commentator on it who sounds like Mr. Greyson or Mr. Cholmondley-Warner off Harry Enfield and friends who gives a very indecisive post match report while the crowd (a couple of Subbuteo employees more than likely I think) chant football songs from the era.
There is quite a strange production on the record using springline reverb on the intermittent crowd singing, this effect means that you can get one or two people to sing like their at a football match and once the recording has gone through the processor the two voices (should) sound like a whole stadium of football fans. It works to make your average pub singer sound great and also on backing vocals for pop tunes, but sadly not on the Subbuteo Sound record which sounds more like two employees laced with sherry singing into a springline reverb unit. I checked the sleeve notes to see who produced the single and found the following note: The publishers would like to thank the Wadhurst School Silver Band and members of the staff of Subbuteo Sports Games Ltd. for their help in making this record... I thought so.
I obviously can't reproduce the whole single here, but have put a few short clips on the page for your listening pleasure. Click once on the heads of the three players for MP3 soundbites and also the Falcon logo in the top right hand corner of the sleeve for that classic post match report! (you may have to wait for up to 30 seconds for the download for each clip with a 56K modem.) A trivial observation is that the song found by clicking on the goalkeeper's head is quite 'hooky' and sticks in your head for ages, especially if you've viewed this late at night after a few beers. I guarantee you'll be humming or even singing out loud "singing ooh ooh ooh Subbuteo" (depending on how many beers you've had) and waking up the whole house on your way up to bed!
One thing that is very well thought out is that on side two of the single, the running time is exactly 5 minutes from the kick off to final whistle, so all the kids had to do was to time their games to 5 minutes a half and score the goals in sync with the roars on the single and I would imagine you couldn't get much closer to actually thinking you were at an International football match, absolutely perfect, who needs an X-Box or Atomic Kitten CD's when you've got this?
It's been so long since I did a gallery page the repaints have mounted up. As a change from rather looking at the individual works of art as on previous pages, I've grouped together original teams that have been overpainted but still can be identified. If only the original owners knew what they were doing! In this section we have....
160 Romania - you can just pick out the original socks, the shirt and bases have been completely overpainted.
65 United Kingdom - The socks, shorts and base remain intact, but the shirt has been painted in gloss red.
17 Karlsuher - Nice attempt at a Birmingham that almost works, bar the white sleeves.
58 Atlanta - with repainting of shorts in duck egg blue and base inners painted gold.
78 Coventry Away - Only the shorts have been overpainted in a gloss bright yellow, very wise as the player can been seen much better in foggy weather by the other members of the team.
33 Bishop Auckland - The dark blue has been overpainted with a gloss dark blue (whoever did this wants shooting!)
115 Cape Town - Probably by the same person who did the Bishop Auckland team. The shirt has been overpainted in yellow and for some strange reason the outer base changed from original white to airforce blue. The yellow inners have also been painted bright yellow to match the shirts.
12 Bristol Rovers - Blue socks added to this one and a red nail varnish hue on the shirts.