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Beanie Babies

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Beanie Babies

 

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Introduced by Ty Warner Inc. in 1993, it was a toyline of animals stuffed with plastic pellets or "beans" instead of conventional PVC and Polyethyne. The first Beanie Babies 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).

It gained such a popularity in the late 90s becoming the biggest toy phenomenon since Cabbage Patch Kids. Ty Warner's toyline was introduced in 1993 when in created soft, understuffed animal beanbags, simply known as Beanie Babies. Kids loved the little creatures because they were attractive, small and inexpensive, but it would not be until 1996 that Beanie Babies created national hysteria.

At first, Beanie Babies were just another cute toy, but when Ty decided to ‘retire’ the original toyline in 1996, adults scrambled to collect them before they were gone. After that the discontinued toyline was highly sought-after collector’s items, which coerced Ty into releasing more and more Beanie Babies to capitalize on the overnight popularity. But like all clever companies, Ty distributed the animals in limited quantity, and created a scarcity by retiring animals before the market was saturated.

Suddenly Beanie Babies were sought after like gold, while new animals were being released at rapid rates to fan the flames of desire. Collectors hoarded the animals, creating a vast market of limited supply and high demand. The Beanie Babies lure went beyond children, and adults enticed as well to get the last remains on the shelf. Both kids and adults made it their life’s goal to complete the set, and collect what is now over 300 individual characters.

Based on the sales and revenue of this toy, Ty Warner Inc. made over $6 billion.

There are several styles of animals, but each new release differs in color, fabric, accessories and name. The classic Ty Teddy comes in purple, pink polka dotted, iridescent blue, rainbow striped and even emblazoned with a British flag, and each has its own name. And there are just as many variations of spiders, pelicans, sharks, monkeys, etc. Any animal you can see, or can’t (Pegasus and unicorn) comes to you via Ty.

Authentic Ty Beanies are carefully controlled, and priced at the affordable $5-$7 range, regardless of future rarity. However collectors' obsession made the Ty #1 Bear to go for over $8000 out on the collector’s market.

Beanie Babies expanded into Teenie Beanies, the ultra tiny toys that look like little brothers and sisters to the big Babies, as well as the more traditional stuffed animal style Beanie Buddies, and the doll-like Beanie Kids.

Fake Beanie Babies began to surface also in 1997. Early on, cheap knock-offs and fakes of commons were widely available at discount prices, but when the Beanie craze began to fade, counterfeiters started focusing on rarer releases and country exclusives.

Some fake versions of real beanies were made that had never been produced by Ty, such as some red fake Pinkies and mint green fake Quackers. Even the FBI was involved in the case, cracking down on counterfeit beanies in the late 90s, some people were prosecuted for direct known involvement in their commerce; like a couple from St. Louis Park, MN; who were sentenced to prison, probation, and fines for their involvement in smuggling counterfeit beanies. In the UK, in the city of York, authorities seized more than 6000 Princesses and Britanniae from a ring.

The released versions of this toyline are: Beanie Babies (1993), Teenie Beanies (1997), Beanie Buddies (1998), Beanie Kids (2000).

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