Subbuteo was invented in England by Peter Adolph in 1947. It was based on an earlier table football game from the 1920s called New Footy. The Subbuteo trademark included a bird of prey called the hobby. Peter Adolph wanted to name his game after this bird and call it ‘The Hobby’ but he could not licence the name. Instead he looked to the Latin name for the hobby which is Falco Subbuteo.
The first Subbuteo set composed of cut-out cardboard figures with plastic bases, two goalies with bases and control rods, a plastic ball and two metal goals. A pitch was not provided – instead players were able to mark out their own on a blanket with the chalk included in the pack.
Subbuteo grew to be really popular in the 1960s when a range of 3D figures were launched as well as lots of accessories, such as floodlights. After the World Cup in 1966, Subbuteo turned into a worldwide craze and new factories producing the little men opened up throughout Europe. Subbuteo reached its peak in the 1970s. At this point there were over 300 teams available.
Subbuteo continues to be popular and is sold today by Hasbro. Over 500 million figures have been made since the game was launched.