‘Kick to flick’ football figures score highly at auction

Posted on 24th October 2018

In a world of high-tech electronic gaming you might think that the old table-top football game of Subbuteo would have well and truly had its day but results at this week’s Antiques and Collectables Sale might make you think again. 

Two boxed sets of five Royal Doulton Subbuteo figures caused a bit of a bidding war when they sold for £240 and £200 respectively, way in excess of their guide prices of £100-£150. 

The game – where you flick 11 men at an over-sized ball on a rolled-out felt pitch – was first invented by Peter Adolph near Tunbridge Wells just after the Second World War. In the intervening decades it grew into a worldwide phenomenon, which would see several million annual sales at its peak. It spawned many international tournaments (there is still a World Cup and a governing body); it has been endorsed by many football personalities such as Alex Ferguson and Bobby Charlton; and it even entered popular culture, for instance when it had its own television series and was used to illustrate the cover of the Undertone’s hit single ‘My Perfect Cousin’. 

Computerised gaming may now have taken over the market but there are still plenty of fans out there who want to collect the little figures in their different team colours, not to mention a whole world of accessories from floodlights to grandstands that span over 60 years. And, in some cases, as our recent sale proves, they can make worthwhile investments. 

Incidentally, the same sale also saw model railway equipment, boxed model vehicles and a collection of Airfix military models all making good prices. But that’s a whole other ballgame!

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