You are in the Special Features section - - Subbuteo, Vintage Toys & Board Games - Subbuteo, Vintage Toys & Board Games





Yesterdaystoys is a small Cottage Industry based in Waltham Abbey Essex, UK and has been trading in Subbuteo, Vintage Toys & Board Games for some years now. 

Here Digger & Greg talk about the business that started from some items picked up at a boot sale and about their memories of toys gone by.


Various Subbuteo sets



Digger: Hello Greg.

Greg: Hello David. I was expecting your call. I was up at the local car boot quite early.

Digger: Buying, selling or both?

Greg: I was getting rid of some bits and pieces for my daughter.

Digger: There's not a lot of money to be made at car boots. Everyone wants something for a pound or two.

Greg: Yes, you are dealing with a certain mentality - 50p or 1.

Digger: Yes, even if it's a few pounds and well worth it they try to beat you down!

Greg: I'm in Waltham Abbey in Essex and it's a good boot sale area.

Digger: Can you please tell us a little bit about the background to Yesterday's Toys Greg?

Greg: I used to do eBay first of all like a lot of people do. Tools and suchlike, as I was an engineer, a fitter/welder. I've always had an interest in Dinky toys and Corgis. I'm a seventies kid - born in '64 and when I was a kid I can't remember playing Subbuteo. My dad used to buy me a Matchbox toy once a week. I was at work and one of my friends cleared out his shed and his garage. He came to work and tipped out all these things in the bin and there were all these Subbuteo plastic players in there. Odd and sods of a cricket set. This was about nine years ago. I wondered if they'd sell on eBay so I was pulling bits and pieces out of the old boxes and made up a couple of teams. So that's how it all started on eBay.

Digger: You had a light bulb moment?

Greg: Yes.

Digger: How did they go on eBay?

Greg: I did the occasional bits on eBay and they went quite well.

Digger: Is Yesterday's Toys now your full-time job?

Greg: I share it with another business of a friend of mine which sells China. It's called China Matchers and is a big China replacement website for dinner plates and so on.

Digger: That's clever.

Greg: I work for her three days a week and the other four days a week I work for myself. In the Spring, Summer and Autumn I'm out buying quite a lot. I try not to spend more than I earn! (Laughs)

Digger: Are you out at all the fairs Greg?

Greg: I go to Newark which is a big fair and I go to Detling in Kent and Swindon. But the Subbuteo started with eBay and digging the men out of the bucket. My friend said "Why don't you do your own website? Save on a few eBay fees." It was a bit daunting, because it was an expense for me when I didn't have much spare cash available, but I took the plunge and did my website early last year and it started from there.

Digger: And people are finding you?

Greg: Yes. There's another site called CollectFair - I don't know if you've heard of them?

Digger: Yes I have.

Greg: I advertised on there for a year and it was quite good but you are limited space-wise. You only have sixteen pages which is only about 160 items for sale, which is no good to me. I'm lucky that I'm quite familiar with it because my friend at China Matchers has the same format and so it's quite easy to do a photo, load it up and include a description. The trouble is, with Subbuteo, it's so detailed and you've got to itemise every little bit if there are damaged players or the paintwork's got something wrong with it. I'm just slow I think! Hence, it takes me a long time to do one advert. But now I have a reasonable stock on the site. I am a bit too particular, but then again if I was a buyer I'd want to know all about the item.

Digger: That's not a bad thing Greg, being particular. I'd rather that than someone who didn't pay attention to detail. So how significant do you think the nostalgia factor is when customers are choosing toys for their children or grandchildren?

Greg: I think there's a fair few people in their forties who can recollect back to their seventies childhood and they can remember things like Subbuteo and Action Man.

Digger: It makes me nostalgic just hearing the names. Because I can remember so many times connected with those toys.

Greg: Yes, it's a lot more tactile. We have such a computer generation now, as you know, and the kids want to lay in bed, push buttons and look at the screen.

Digger: And get fat. I can remember going down to the local store and buying accessories for Action Man and there were dozens of packs to choose from.

Greg: Yes, whatever your pocket money would allow you to buy, but I've had quite a few people who have bought stuff and called me up to tell me they're having a Subbuteo night. "We all went down the pub the other night remembering what we did as a kid and so we're playing some Subbuteo." Hence they're buying some stuff off of me. It happens quite a lot.


Matchbox cars, a Johnny Seven and parts 
of the Chipperfield's Circus set



Digger: There are some big names - Hornby, Subbuteo, Action Man, Airfix, Parker, Waddingtons and Spears to name a few. What are your best sellers?

Greg: Subbuteo by far really. If I could so Subbuteo on its own I would, but finding the stuff is just so hard plus everyone's looking on The Internet.

Digger: Are people hanging on to old sets in lofts or has it all long gone?

Greg: I think people are very much more aware of what things are worth from the TV programmes. With Subbuteo - most of it's going abroad actually. The Italians love it, the Greeks are buying it. So not much is staying over here.

Digger: That's interesting because one or two of my clients doing vinyl and posters told me that a lot of their stock is heading east too.

Greg: Yes, it's strange really but that's been the case for quite a while. I get several people from England that are collectors and buying the stuff but I also seem to get a lot from Europe and even had an enquiry from a fellow in Argentina.

Digger: The Web is amazing. We couldn't have imagined this as teenagers, could we?

Greg: No, it's totally different.

Digger: We used to write off for something from a magazine and have to wait weeks for it to be delivered.

Greg: That's right. We had to wait in those days. There was no instant buying over The Internet plus financially we used to have to save our money up before buying.

Digger: Yes, you said you were getting a car a week back then and you were quite lucky getting a car a week.

Greg: In the early seventies I remember I was getting 50p a week pocket money. It wouldn't get a lot - possibly a few bags of chips.

Digger: And those comics with the free gifts?

Greg: Yes, I was into Whizzer and Chips and all that kind of thing. I loved comics. I was never really into Subbuteo, which is strange considering what I'm doing now. And with Action Man, I remember my cousin was always playing with Action Men and burying them in sandpits.

Digger: Chopper bikes?

Greg: No, I wasn't allowed one of them! My mum said they were dangerous and only had small front wheels.

Digger: Really? I don't remember them being dangerous.

Greg: Anyway I wasn't allowed one. But I remember Matchbox toys were the thing and I played with them for hours. I also remember having an Eldon car - it was air-operated with a trigger that moved the car with air and I played with that until I broke it. I never had Dinky cars - they must have been dearer. I had a few Corgis like the fire engine - that was my pride and joy.

Digger: My favourites were the Chipperfield's Circus, because there were so many vehicles and the detail was go good. And the WWII models of searchlights and anti-aircraft guns and barrage balloons and so on. They must be worth money now.

Greg: They will be worth thousands, the originals. I had a fort somewhere with cowboys and Indians. Another thing you can't see much of these days. But I was mainly a car kid I think.

Digger: You're not allowed to sell toy guns anymore either.

Greg: No, that's not something I was into.

Digger: There was one called Johnny Seven, I think, and it had seven different projectiles fired from different parts of the 'gun'- plastic rockets, arrows with plungers and so on.

Greg: I think nostalgia is a big thing and I'm the world's worst for reminiscing. It's not just me though.

Digger: That's not a bad thing to be really, as long as you also look forward.

Greg: Oh yes, I don't live in the past.

Digger: You're in the best of both worlds Greg. You're up-to-date with technology and moving the business forward and dealing in memories at the same time.

Greg: Yes. The trouble is I buy stuff that I don't want to part with.

Digger: That is a fault!

Greg: In the end I had to hire a container and managed to full that up quite successfully!

Digger: You've got to learn that it's only stuff and that you can only have it for a little while and then you've got to get rid. You can look after it for a few months and enjoy it and then sell it on.

Greg: My friend says "Don't fall in love with your stock." Which is totally true. For Subbuteo, I've probably only got 15 or 20% of what I have loaded on the website. It's hard getting the complete teams and replacing missing items and it's very time-consuming.

Digger: They did cricket but did they also do rugby?

Greg: The football was the main one obviously, but they did others.

Digger: Yes, with the success of the football I suppose they decided to try branching out into other sports. I remember the cricket had a very ingenious device for holding the batsman.

Greg: The late seventies, early eighties was the peak of Subbuteo and if you are really lucky you can find a hockey set. I managed to find one of those. Also Subbuteo angling and 5-a-side Express.

Digger: Are these getting a lot more difficult to source?

Greg: Boot sales are where I try to find most items, because that's where you can find them at the right money. Sometimes I do buy them there and I suppose ten years ago you could have found them every week but now it's only occasionally. The odd piece, although I've been quite lucky recently and found a few collections. I found, with my website, that people email and phone me and tell me they have stuff and ask me what I'd give for it. You have to pay fair money for it but you can still find it. 

Digger: Are you still on eBay?

Greg: Mainly other items like tools and retro stuff from the sixties and seventies although I try not to do too much and channel my energies into the website. I think I'm up to about 540 items on there now and I try to do a bit more every night and put a few bits on. It's all heading in the right direction.

Digger: There you are in Essex and in the past you would have had to rely on passing trade or go to the fairs but now you're getting people from Argentina, Greece and Italy, so it can't be bad, can it?

Greg: No, it's a fantastic thing and the best part about it. If you are on the high street or a market stall you're relying on someone coming in and finding it locally. But The Internet attracts people from all over the world.

Digger: And you don't need a shop.

Greg: I have storage and keep stock in some kind of order but not having a shop is a plus.


Action Man and Waddington's Board Games




Digger: What about the future Greg?

Greg: I've got plenty of stuff to put on so I can see it progressing - people seem to be finding me okay and buying stuff.

Digger: You're doing something right. You obviously advertised on a few websites, but how else are people finding you?

Greg: I want to do a newsletter once a month or so to let all my clients know what's going on and about new stuff. I'm not sure how that's going to work - I'm talking to the software people about it. Hopefully I'll get that done in the next month or so. I looked at my site stats and I'm getting some good hits but the main thing is that a large number of those are turning into sales. 

Digger: That's good to have a high conversion rate. 

Greg: I suppose that with the stock I have on the website it is good. I am trying to keep my quality control high and standard of items I sell high. Because if you start doing things quickly, you can let your standards drop. I would rather do this slowly and regularly. As you know, collectors want good items - they'll pay good money for the right stuff.

Digger: And if they like you and trust you they'll keep coming back and recommend you.

Greg: Anything that doesn't quite make the grade, I'll sell it on eBay.

Digger: Good. Sell it on that worldwide garage sale!

Greg: I still like to keep a good standard of product for eBay.

Digger: The problem on eBay is that there's such a wide range of conditions for what looks like the same items and people will invariably go for the cheapest. So if your item is excellent quality and 50 and someone else is selling the same item with a description of 'reasonable wear and tear' for 25 then that's the one that will go.

Greg: If I have odds and sods and spares then I can sell more from eBay because it gets used more. Anything that's in the condition I would want to buy goes on my website rather than eBay.

Digger: I'm glad to hear it. Thanks Greg for talking to us about Yesterday's Toys and best of luck with all of your plans.

Greg: Thanks David.


Action Man, Airfix, Ariel Games, Corgi, Dinky Toys, Fleischmann 'HO' Gauge, Heller Models, Hornby 'OO' Gauge, Ideal Games, Invicta Games, Lima 'OO' Gauge, Mainline 'OO' Gauge, Matchbox, Monogram, Parker Games, Peco Track & Accessories, Scrabble, Spears Games, Subbuteo Football, Subbuteo Rugby, Tonka, Waddingtons Games

"Yesterdaystoys" is a small Cottage Industry Based in Waltham Abbey Essex ,UK, and has been trading in Subbuteo, vintage Toys & Board games for some years now.

We aim to offer an expanding and full variety of Subbuteo boxed sets, teams, accessories, vintage toys & board games.

Please bear in mind that all the items we sell are pre-owned, looked after vintage Toys, and vary between 10 and 40 years old.

Only goods that are in very good / excellent condition are offered for sale, so please buy with confidence in the knowledge that every item has been closely inspected before being listed.

You can contact us by.
Email Address:
Telephone: 01992 710239 or 07999178491








This page layout and content  is the intellectual property of and cannot be reproduced without express permission. 

We are not responsible for the content of external websites.

If we have inadvertently used any image on this web site which is in copyright and for which we, or our retailers on our behalf, do not have permission for use, please contact us so that we can rectify the situation immediately. Images in this article are, to the best of our knowledge, either in the public domain or copyrighted where indicated. 

Home Page | About | Contact | Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy