Yesterdaystoys is a small Cottage Industry
based in Waltham Abbey Essex, UK and has been trading
in Subbuteo, Vintage Toys & Board Games for some
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.
Digger: Hello Greg.
Hello David. I was expecting your call. I was up at the local
car boot quite early.
selling or both?
I was getting rid of some bits and pieces for my daughter.
not a lot of money to be made at car boots. Everyone wants something
for a pound or two.
Yes, you are dealing with a certain mentality - 50p or £1.
even if it's a few pounds and well worth it they try to beat
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?
Digger: How did
they go on eBay?
I did the occasional bits on eBay and they went quite well.
Yesterday's Toys now your full-time job?
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.
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!
Digger: Are you
out at all the fairs 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.
people are finding you?
Yes. There's another site called CollectFair - I don't know if
you've heard of them?
Digger: Yes I
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
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?
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.
It makes me nostalgic just hearing the names. Because I can
remember so many times connected with those toys.
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
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.
cars, a Johnny Seven and parts
of the Chipperfield's Circus set
are some big names - Hornby, Subbuteo, Action Man, Airfix,
Parker, Waddingtons and Spears to name a few. What are your
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.
people hanging on to old sets in lofts or has it all long
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.
interesting because one or two of my clients doing vinyl and
posters told me that a lot of their stock is heading east too.
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
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.
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
you said you were getting a car a week back then and you were quite lucky getting a car a week.
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
with the free gifts?
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.
No, I wasn't allowed one of them! My mum said they were
dangerous and only had small front wheels.
I don't remember them being dangerous.
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.
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.
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.
not allowed to sell toy guns anymore either.
No, that's not something I was into.
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.
I think nostalgia is a big thing and I'm the world's worst for
reminiscing. It's not just me though.
not a bad thing to be really, as long as you also look forward.
Oh yes, I don't live in the past.
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.
Yes. The trouble is I buy stuff that I don't want to part
Digger: That is
In the end I had to hire a container and managed to full that
up quite successfully!
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
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
did cricket but did they also do rugby?
The football was the main one obviously, but they did others.
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.
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
these getting a lot more difficult to source?
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?
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.
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?
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.
and Waddington's Board Games
about the future Greg?
got plenty of stuff to put on so I can see it progressing -
people seem to be finding me okay and buying stuff.
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
good to have a high conversion rate.
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
Anything that doesn't quite make the grade, I'll sell it on
Sell it on that worldwide garage sale!
still like to keep a good standard of product for eBay.
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.
glad to hear it. Thanks Greg for talking to us about
Yesterday's Toys and best of luck with all of your plans.
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
"Yesterdaystoys" is a small Cottage Industry
Based in Waltham Abbey Essex ,UK, and has been trading
in Subbuteo, vintage Toys & Board games for some
aim to offer an expanding and full variety of Subbuteo
boxed sets, teams, accessories, vintage toys &
bear in mind that all the items we sell are pre-owned,
looked after vintage Toys, and vary between 10 and 40
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone: 01992 710239 or 07999178491