Munich World Series Edition 1973-76
The Munich World Series Edition, so we are told, is probably the most desirable thing on the planet and apparently there are not many about, which is why you need an extraordinary amount of money to buy one of these. My point of view is that owning a Munich set is a bit like owning an E-Type Jaguar or a 72 inch wide screen TV, you don't really need one, but owning one makes you feel as though (and lets everyone else know) you've really achieved something in your life... Although having said that, flaunting a 1973 Munich down the pub as the ultimate status symbol doesn't seem to impress the girls or carry as much weight with your mates compared with the guy who has the Jag........ Even worse, show a Munich to a thirteen year old kid who it was designed for in the first place just a short 30 years ago and they look at you as though you are mad, in today's terms the Munich equates to an X-Box with all the games which is (apparently) a shed loads more fun. How times and inflation have changed, thirty years ago this was the ultimate Christmas and Birthday present rolled into one, sadly it isn't today - unless your over 35. When I got into collecting I made my mind up there was no way I'd ever buy a Munich, it just wasn't worth the money and anyway, would probably cost me my marriage.....
......After I bought my Munich, by chance, my wife saw the cheque stub and walked out on me, tripping up as she went on the half built porch I said we couldn't afford to finish. It was at that point that I realised my collecting had gotten way out of hand and that I needed help. Funnily enough it was the local vicar of all people who rightly pointed out that I could have paid off the church appeal single handily or fed a starving village for a month on what I had just spent on the Munich. In hindsight it would have been alot more harmonious to either get the porch done first or to have stealthily spent the money getting all the heavyweights up to 190, spending twenty quids here and there. But you live and learn by your mistakes. She took the cat too.
It is self explanatory from the photographs what is included in the Munich set, I think there is just about everything that was available at the time bar the training devices, the VIP presentation set and surprisingly the World Cup. Packed on two trays it isn't hard to spot how clever the packaging was, the top tray is bulging with stuff which makes it look very grand, yet the lower tray is quite sparse. Had the accessories not been spread out so much on the lower tray and the pointless club flag ditched, the addition of a couple more floodlights and the missing World Cup would have made it perfect. I also realise that the actual value of the contents if bought in good condition off eBay or traded with other collectors would be well under a hundred pounds.... That makes for one expensive box!
Not pictured here are the team name sheets for the scoreboard the various catalogues included with this set. One interesting slip tells the new owner that due to shortages at the factory, some items could have been replaced for similar items, lucky for me this one seems to be intact including Ken's rattle, purple refs, unmarked log book, silver plastic scoreboard lamps and spare bulbs for the floodlights, although I do keep meaning to swop one of the two continental white balls included for a yellow one. The black blob at the bottom left of the lower tray is the referees whistle, although in its original position, it does look as though its been added to the set as an afterthought and would probably have looked better placed under the log book?
I wouldn't like to guess how many Munich sets are left, generally it is thought that the production run was short lived (around 3 years) and that each stockist was issued with one to display to take orders off with larger toy shops carrying minimal stock. As most kids of the time had at least some of the set already coupled with the large financial outlay it is not supprising that most kids like myself opted for a cheaper Club Edition and added the accessories they wanted. Of the ones that did sell, the sheer size of the box was impracticable for what is actually included and I know if I had owned one I would probably have ripped the inner trays out and used the box to store all my other teams in and left the Munich contents loose... somehow I couldn't see myself unpacking and then repackaging the set on a daily basis throughout the long summer holidays. Another theory for the rarity could be the fact that Munich was pitched alongside The World Cup Edition, which was not only cheaper, but I think a better overall set. The W/C Edition had all the vital parts for playing including three teams and the floodlights and a C119 World Cup - which still amazes me that it's not included in the Munich.
Of the sets that do survive, many are in poor condition and being a huge box, it was often used as the foundation for the pile of games stashed in the wardrobe and it's not uncommon to see a nice set with a heavily bowed lid from years of taking the strain of Monopoly, Cludeo and the like all stacked on top of it. Another little realised fact is that the cardboard used in the set is of quite poor quality and far too thin for the amount of accesories that they carry and it is no supprise that these haven't lasted the test of time.
Broken marriages apart, I'm sure arguments and friendly banter among collectors will no doubt continue for many years to come as to the pros and cons of owning this set, I can see both sides of the argument and at the end of the day it's how far you want to go down your own Subbuteo collecting road. I personally treasure mine and for me, above all else it is a true slice of footballing history, when you actually analyse the set and marvel at all the handpainted parts and dated little figures like the photographers with large format film cameras and policemen in uniform, seeing no need to wear riot gear or carry pepper spray, you feel almost a sense of loss that these good old days of toy manufacturing and indeed the game of football itself has progressed to a point that, although we live in hope, nothing will ever be produced on the proportion or magnitude of the Munich set again.