Perhaps the old saying, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” is best demonstrated by the frenzy that erupted around a little group of critters known simply as Beanie Babies, some of the most coveted and collectible little creatures to hit store shelves since the Great Cabbage Patch Epidemic.
The story begins with toy creator, Ty Warner, who had a simple idea of selling his little furry creatures, unique in that they were stuffed with pellets, rather than traditional stuffings. This gave them a soft pliable feel, not unlike the tacky beanbag furniture from yesteryear. In the hands of another entrepreneur, success might have been modest, but Ty had a plan, one that would eventually make him a billionaire.
He took the first nine babies (Legs, Pinchers, Spot, Flash, Patti, Chocolate, Cubbie, Splash and Squealer, if you must know) and announced that they would soon be retired from production. People soon realized the potential for them to become collector’s items and began snatching them up at every opportunity. Subsequent releases of all kinds of critters, some 300 of them in all, were equally desirable to collectors of all ages, many who desperately tried, and continue to try, to build a complete collection. And while the dolls have always carried a very reasonable suggested retail price, the collector’s market is a very different story. The first baby, dubbed “Ty #1” has commanded prices as high as $8,000. As one might expect, price tags such as these tend to bring the counterfieters out of the woodwork. As a result, a number of Beanie Authentication Services are now available to help collectors ensure that they have the real thing and not a cheap knock off.
In recent years, McDonald’s has included a smaller version of the toys, called Teenie Beanies in their Happy Meals, and Beanie Kids and Beanie Buddies have also been introduced. And the good ol’ Beanie Baby, although it’s popularity has waned since the 90s, is still produced and still scooped up by collectors eager to keep their menagerie of animals up to date and complete. Stuffed animals may come and go but none have ever impacted the market quite like the Beanie Baby, a toy who has won the hearts of millions and made one particular toy maker a remarkably wealthy man.
If you were ever the proud owner of one or two (or a hundred) Beanie Babies, tell us all about it in our comments section as we pay tribute to these lovable creatures from yesteryear.