Is It Worth It... Beanie Babies
Mary Novakovich is an award-winning travel journalist who has been contributing to The Independent since 1998. When not hiking or skiing, she focuses on the culture, food and history of France, Italy and Eastern Europe, particularly the countries of the former Yugoslavia, where her family is from.
Sunday 02 May 1999
Admittedly, Beanie Babies are quite cute, if you're into that sort of thing. They come in all animal shapes, from tigers to bears to puffins, and they're about six inches tall. But what the manufacturer, Ty, has done is to "retire" each toy after a limited period, thereby creating an instant collector's item. And it's working. If you can get your hands on the rare Peanut the Royal Blue Elephant, for example, you could flog it to some spoilt American kid for $5,000.
Shops have cottoned on and, frankly, are taking the mickey. A few stockists that have in-demand "retired" toys are refusing to sell you one unless you buy five plebeian ones. In the US, neighbouring shops will show as much as a 200 per cent difference in price because harassed parents have lost their heads while buying for their darlings. Or for themselves - the craze has also infected grown-ups.
Beanie Baby clubs have sprouted around the world, and collectors are clogging the internet with frantic requests for Nana the Brown Monkey or Brownie the Brown Bear ($4,000 each). And now Ty has unleashed Beanie Buddies, Attic Treasures and Pillow Pals on the world. Take cover.
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