Beanie Babies Mania: Were We All Duped in the 1990's?
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Beanie Babies Mania: Were We All Duped in the 1990's?

Back in the 1990's a craze went worldwide when Ty, Inc.created Beanie Babies. The biggest problem was, they held them back from the kids who loved them most. Collectors hoarded these toys and parents would not let their children play with them, because they may be able to sell them for a giant profit. Now Beanie Babies are very easy to come by and the thrill has worn off.

Several years ago, when my oldest grandchildren were just babies, we found out about the craze called Beanie Babies, a small posable beanbag toy in various animals with heart shaped tags on their ears, tush tags on their bottoms, and names and dates and stories for each one.. They were the craze of the 1990's and the original editions were causing quite an uproar in the colectibles circuit.Being that I had grandchildren, I decided that I would start collecting these adorable stuffed toys.for my then two grandchildren.. The original Beanie Babies made by Ty were Legs the Frog, Squealer the Pig, Spot the Dog, Flash the Dolphin, Splash the Whale, Chocolate the Moose, Patti the Platypus, Brownie the Bear (later renamed "Cubbie"), and Punchers the Lobster (later renamed "Pinchers"). These first editions were relesed in 1993 and became a rage, selling for hundreds of dollars and causing parents and grandparents to go to extremes to get these lovable toys. 

I recall getting up at four in the morning with relatives to stand on line for a store to open at ten because the stores only had a few to sell. The secondary market for these hard-to-come-by animals made plenty of mney for those willing to lay out big bucks for these cute toys. My thoughts were to give them to my grandkids and no matter how long I had to stand on lines, or just whatever I had to do; I was going to get those Beanie Babies. From drug stores, to toy stores, to high end chain stores like Nordstrom, we would go. Be it around the corner or several miles away; have Beanies...we would travel.

According to eNotes.com, the marketing stragegies of Ty Warner, Inc. (in 1993 became Ty, Inc.) was to keep small amounts of this product available to the public. They only released a few to each store and never to the major toy chains. Instead of discontinuing the certain Beanie Babies, they would use the word "retired" which would bump up sales and cause a frenzy among buyers, especially those who had big plans to overcharge for the "retired" BB. But no matter how hard we tried, there were always a few we found it impossible to retrieve. Then the word of counterfeit BB's spread like wildfire, and people were even imprisoned for creating and distributing counterfeit Beanies.

In 1997, in honor of Princess Diana of Wales, they made a purple Beanie Babies called Princess. This was released in limited quantities, as had the rest of the prior Beanies. With proceeds being donated to the Princess Diana of Wales Memorial Fund. This issue caused another frenzy and the sales of this deep purple bear with the signature white rose on her chest drove the secondary market through the roof. I know for a fact that friends paid over $100 for this hard to come by, special edition. Then without any notice, there were hundreds of the bear made available, due to the worldwide demand and her value plummeted, back down to the $6.00 price tag.

Another frenzy started when McDonalds released Teeny Beanies with the purchase of a Happy Meal. I remember going through a drive through one day on a very long line, and when I got to the window, they had no more of the Happy Meal burger I ordered. I told them to forget it and just give me the darn toy and the soft drink. After all, it was my seventh drive through of the day.

My daughter reminded me of a day when she was in the supermarket with my then toddler granddaughter. She was chewing on the Princess Bear's tush tags, when a lady chastized my daughter for allowing her child to play with such a toy. My daughter quickly reminded the woman that it was a "toy" and that her Nana gave it to her to "play with."

So now walking through my local supermarket, there are displays of Beanie Babies of all shapes and sizes. I do not even stop to see what new faces have appeared. The craze is over. I checked on eBay.com just to take a peek and see if they were commanding any real money. The best I could see was $10.00 for a limited edition one and others that I paid $6.00 plus tax for, started at just a penny. Now that my grandchildren are too old for Beanie Babies, I will be donating the rest of them to our local food bank, so kids can still enjoy them.

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Comments (7)

I remember this craze but was never involved.  I'm not getting email notifications and found this on BuzzItUp.  I guess they're still working the glitches.  Nice story!

An eye-opening post. Thank you dear Diane. Always in support of you

I too remember this craze, but I don't think I ever bought any.  Every now and then I will see one at a garage sale, and of course you can still see them for sale occasionally at the drug store.  Enjoyed your article on Beanie Babies very much.

Great article

I remember the Beanie Baby craze! Women I worked with were obsessed with it! There was even a special book that listed the values of each one. Can you imagine...a real, BOOK, made out of PAPER! It would be outdated before the ink dried these days! I thought the idea was kind of neat. I didn't know much about collecting, but to me, based on what they were going for at the time, it seemed like a fun investment! MUCH cuter, softer, and cuddlier than boring ol' stocks.

Looking back, though, and your article confirms this, I am glad I didn't go nuts for Beanie Babies back then. I would've lost big time.

What a great piece of information.

Good strategy to only supply a few for a large demand, it helps the company earn more money! : P

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