To some it’s just table football, little plastic men. But for many, Subbuteo is a lifestyle choice.
It’s not just the evocative memories either; there are thousands of clubs and regular players throughout the world. International tournaments exist and there are a plethora of independent firms and talented individuals producing teams and accessories to supplement the swathes of original gear still doing the rounds on eBay.
And it’s the hand made stuff that really catches our eye. The standard of some of the unique hand painted teams that exist is quite staggering. So if you know your Zuego from your Zombie, or even if you don’t, you’ll appreciate the work of Subbuteo artist Terry Lee.
Now Terry doesn’t just rattle off eleven skilfully painted players, he concentrates on football’s unique moments. We caught up with him recently to get the word…
Ok, stupidly obvious question how did this start?
I started by painting teams for friends which then spread to others worldwide through my Blog which started in October 2011. The single figures started with my Legends XI set which proved to be very popular as people were looking for a more detailed figure they could put on show. This then spread to other Modern Iconic figures such as Messi, Neymar and Balotelli. The Higuita figure really started off the single figures in their action poses as I was looking to create something new to Subbuteo which everyone could enjoy. I was tinkering around with the endless broken figures I have amassed over my time collecting Subbuteo and wanted to 'recycle' them somehow, I wanted to create something I could keep and display on my Blog to show potential clients what I could do. As a goalkeeper in my younger days my first obvious choice was the iconic image of Higuita and after many attempts came up with a figure I was proud of to display. I knew there was something special with this figure as even my wife Camila was impressed. I then posted the figure on my Blog, Twitter and Facebook and it was shown, shared and blogged around the world.
The IBWM Editorial team live for finding subbuteo items at car boot sales and charity shops; do you find yourself trying to track stuff down too?
It is a constant search for Subbuteo items whether its charity shops, car boots, classifieds or on-line auctions. I have been very fortunate on-line with items from classifieds and even sites like Freecycle and Freegle where you can get Subbuteo for free!!! (This is very rare but they do pop up every so often). My main source of Subbuteo is Ebay as they have thousands of items up for grabs and you can still find a bargain there.
Which piece have you enjoyed working on the most?
To be honest I enjoy every piece I work on but if I had to be pressed for a favourite it would have to be Higuita and his Scorpion Kick. I remember watching the game on TV with my father and was blown away, for me a truly iconic image in football. This figure has also helped me achieve coverage of my work to a wider audience through great websites such as this one.
Have you taken requests to produce anything?
I receive requests daily, from the bizarre to the ordinary. I am currently working on many requests which you will be able to see them in the near future. It is nice to have a challenge and people are certainly giving me that, some pieces are almost impossible to create but I try my best to get the right result.
Where can we get hold of these moments of genius?
An Email at firstname.lastname@example.org is the best way to get what you are after; I also have a Facebook page - Subbuteo Art and Twitter @SubbuteoArt. There are teams, single figures and the Iconic Action figures all available, even if you don't not see what you like you can also request a figure or team.