Memoirs of a Collector’s Daughter: The Sad Truth of the Beanie Baby Supply and Demand

By Kelly Kopa

As the daughter of a collector, my father always instilled in me the idea that I should collect something that I was passionate about. I’m sure at the time, he also meant that you need to be smart about your investments but at the ripe old age of five, there was only one obvious answer to begin my career as a serious collector. The answer was Beanie Babies.

The Beanie Baby craze began in 1993 with the launch of nine stuffed animals: 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 Pinchers the Lobster. What made these toys so distinct was their inner “posable lining” and plastic pellets (or “beans”) stuffed inside, giving them a flexible feel. [1]
My personal Beanie Baby Collection

By 1995, Beanie Babies were the “hottest” toy on the market and emerged as a popular collectible. As part of their marketing strategy, its manufacturer Ty Inc. systematically retired various designs. Because of this, many collectors assumed that all “retired” designs would rise in value the way that early retirees had. [1]

If only I had followed my father’s favorite advice, “when you ass-ume, it makes an ass…” well you get the hint!

By 1999 and having collected over 300 Beanie Babies, the toy craze had come to a standstill after the Ty company announced that they would no longer be making Beanie Babies.

What was a 10 year old to do? Placing each one of my toys in a plastic bin, I said good-bye to all of my plush friends that would eventually make me millions down the road. Oh, how wrong I was…

Flash forward to 2014, I’m sitting at my desk looking through used car listings on CarMax.com. I recently moved to Dallas about 5 months ago from New York City and unlike New York, living in Dallas requires you to have a car. It’s been a running joke in the office of my “car-less” situation having to depend on my parents for transportation and the occasional Uber car service.

Going through the car listings, I begin to feel my heart beat faster and faster. Honda Accord…$20,000…Infiniti G25…$24,499.99…have cars always been this expensive? Calculating my costs, I hated the idea of spending even more than $5,000 for a used car. Skimming down the list, it dawned on me…SELL MY BEANIE BABIES!

It was a full proof plan. It’s been over 20 years they MUST be worth at least a couple thousand dollars at this point.

Rushing home I barge into my parent’s condo and raided the guest bedroom closet. Reaching high up into the shelf, I pull my beloved box of beanie babies to the ground. It felt like Christmas morning when I was reunited with my plush friends. Princess Diana Bear, Pinchers the Lobster, Derby the Horse, Spooky the Ghost…they were all there! The dollar signs began to flood my mind. Forget the Honda Accord, I’m getting my Camaro 2SS!

Using Ebay’s search engine, I determine the price for each Beanie Baby. Hoppy the bunny…$4.99…wait…that can’t be right! Princess Diana Bear…$24.99…you have got to be kidding me! My idea of owning a Camaro 2SS began to turn into a Smart ForTwo.

Turns out, the Beanie Baby craze had diminished and left behind thousands of crushed twenty-something’s who like me had hoped to earn some extra cash down the road.

Why did their resale value plummet? Simple. The supply had over exceeded the demand. Turns out, it would have been a better investment to sell the toys when the demand for them was extremely high back in the 1990s. (Anyone have a DeLorean handy?)

While there are certain exceptions including the misprinted versions of Iggy and Rainbow that sold for a combined $5,000 — most Beanie Babies are worth less than $5. Oh, the humanity!

Although I may not be able to get my Camaro 2SS, I don’t regret investing in these (in my opinion) unforgettable collectibles. They were a huge part of my childhood and I can’t wait to pass them down to my kids. Who knows, maybe by then they’ll be worth something! (I’m still an optimist!)

 

[1] “Beanie Babies.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 6 January 2014. Web. 11 January 2014.

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3 comments to Memoirs of a Collector’s Daughter: The Sad Truth of the Beanie Baby Supply and Demand

  1. Susan says:

    I can relate. Not only do I have a closet full of those. I have a closet full of Hallmark ornaments. Hallmark is probably not the best place to work if you have collecting tendancies :)

  2. Trigger Willis says:

    I have a bunch also that were my daughters
    I hope they come back in but like the avon bottles they will probly just take up space in my closet

  3. I will right away seize your rss as I can not find your email subscription hyperlink or newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Kindly let me know in order that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

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