Sorry girls, but this idea is actually aimed at your children. My six year old and his friends have been enjoying playing with Sports Stars figures, a new alternative to collecting football playing cards. These are footballer mini-figures which you build, collect and swop to form your own football teams. You then play a game that’s a cross between table top football or Subbuteo (which has recently relaunched) and Lego. You collect and create your teams from the famous faces in the premiere league including players from Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal .
You buy the collectable mini football figures - all in this year’s home or away kit – one at a time in foil bags. They are £1.99 and come with slider base or a football. Although you get a few figures at a time if you buy the sets, you are not given the Chelsea, or Arsenal team in one fell swoop- you have to collect the figures separately and build your own fantasy football team.
The head of each mini figure is modelled to look very like the actual player and of course children will want to collect their favourites. But the designers have gone one step further so you can swop the parts of the mini figures around. This means you can put the legs of your best striker with the head of your best header. The fact they are all of sliders so you can play the game of table football means their legs don’t have much to do with it so it’s a little odd as a concept perhaps and we haven’t ventured there . But it certainly gives the game a new dimension. I bet football managers the world over wish they could create the perfect players so easily!
You can get mini sets with a couple of figures and pieces of hard plastic turf for a fiver – so you have to buy a few to create the whole pitch this way ( the pitch comes in 24 sections which snap together)
You could actually play the game without any pitch at all. As long as you have the figures you could play on the floor or a large table with a shoebox each end of the room for the goals (if you want to make it really easy to score) or a child’s shoe each end to make it a little more challenging.
But if you want to make a more professional looking pitch, it’s probably quicker and cheaper to buy the full pitch and play set ( £19.99) and get all 24 sections of the pitch at once and then just collect more players, rather than just getting a couple of squares at a time with the smaller sets.
We were given one of these larger sets to review and the children definitely enjoyed it more having the whole pitch to play on. As well as the pitch, this set also comes with proper goalposts, nets and flags, gliders for the players, and three mystery footballers.
The children said what they like most about it, apart from building the pitch and putting the figures together and then arguing about who was having which player, was being in goal. Because the goal keepers come with special slider bases with long handles so you can swing them backwards and forwards across the goal area and help them save the ball. Apparently if you press down on one end the player will leap up in the air and can save the ball however high it is.
Sports stars are a fun concept and sit well with boys’ fascinations for fantasy football leagues I think – but as with all toys it’s the way children engage with the idea and involve their own imagination that takes a good idea into a league of its own. And this is a game that certainly captured the imagination of my crew.