Fad-Tastic! Beanie Babies

    March 30, 2011 at 11:00 am

    There is a reason they are called fads. It’s because they disappeared just as quickly as they blew up in popularity.

    Today’s Subject: Beanie Babies

    Beanie Babies are stuffed animals made by Ty Warner Inc. Each toy has an inner “posable lining” and is stuffed with plastic pellets (or “beans”) rather than conventional stuffing, giving Beanie Babies a flexible feel. The line became a phenomenon in the late 1990s when Beanie Babies became both a fad and a collectible. Ty, Inc. stopped producing Beanies in 1999; but consumer demand made them reconsider and a year later a Beanie Baby named “The Beginning” was introduced to remind people of Beanie Babies’ comeback.

    Here are some things you probably didn’t know about Beanie Babies:

    The original nine Beanie Babies launched in 1993 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”). I know, I know, Punchers is a MUCH cooler name.

    Based on the sales and revenue of this toy, Ty Warner Inc. created an empire worth over $6 billion. I just spit out coffee.

    Teenie Beanies, an offshoot of the Beanie Babies line, were made by additional manufacturers for a few McDonalds Happy Meal promotions. They are not new Beanie Babies, but Beanie Babies in a smaller size. Keep enjoying your fries. Nothing to see here.

    Beanie Babies began to emerge as popular collectibles in late 1995, and became a hot toy. Ty systematically retired various designs, and many people assumed that all “retired” designs would rise in value the way that early retirees had. Did the same thing to my grandpa.

    In an attempt to beat out the Webkinz craze, Ty decided it was time for Beanie Babies to go online. This new version of Beanie Babies was called Beanie Babies 2.0. The purchase of a Beanie Baby 2.0 provided its owner with a code to access a Beanie Babies interactive website. All that effort for a stuffed animal. Eh, for some people maybe.

    During the Beanie Baby craze, the rarest general issue beanie, according to the Winter 2000 edition of Ty Beanie Babies, published by Collectors Value Guide, was considered to be the dark blue variation of “Peanut” the elephant. Peanut could not be reached for comment.

    Garcia the bear was released in January 1996 and retired in May 1997. He is a tie-dyed bear that seems to be a tribute to Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead. There aren’t many of him left because most fans tried to smoke him.

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