Is the Beanie Baby craze finally over? Can we all get on with our lives now?

It came to me this morning while reading an Oriental Trading catalog in the bathroom that I haven’t heard many stories in the media about the Beanie Baby Craze lately, for a long time actually. You know what I mean–the panting, goggle-eyed stories about sweet little old ladies who stand in line at McDonalds for 6 hours on a Saturday morning during a sleet storm so they can be the first ones on their block to purchase 20 Happy Meals and throw all the food away. The last time our McDonalds had a Teenie Beenie promotion, it generated hardly any extra traffic blocking the intersection, and the local press totally ignored it.

And yeah, I know the things are still in stores everywhere, but what brought it home to me was seeing several pages of Oriental Trading knockoffs at $2.95 a throw. You know an object has finally entered the American Pop Culture mainstream when there are dozens of Chinese factories out there tooled up to crank out crude imitations of The Object, and the Object is treated as just another trinket by the good folks at Oriental Trading. (Their first featuring of Beanie-type objects was headlined, “Exclusive! While Quantities Last!” which is unusual for them.)

So is it finally over? Oh, sure, I know there may still be a few unreconstructed collectors out there in the jungle, shouting, “Banzai!” and taking potshots at the tourists, but is the war basically over?

Are we ready, as a nation, to move on to the Next Big Thing?

It’s over. Can I still profit while getting them out of my house?

I LIKE Beanies. I don’t go ga ga nuts over them, but I do think they’re cute, and I have about…oh-six or seven?

We have a few around the house. I cut the tags off!! I let the baby chew on them!!

OK , OK. Here’s something I need cleared up…

What IS a BEENIEBABY!!!?!?!
I actually LIVE in China, where most of 'em are made now a days. I read about them being made, people talking about them being made, people talking about selling them abroad for cheap, people talking about the craze… I have even been offered one, but I had never heard of them at the time and didn’t accept the offer! kicks self

Now, I assume this is something like those little trolls people had before, things to have on a desk or somethin’… But what exactly is it like? Have they enriched your lives? Should I get one???

— G. Raven

I can still get a week’s worth of chores out of my daughter with the offer of a beanie baby, so I guess I don’t care if it’s over or not. However, it does make me ill to walk in her room and see a 10ft by 4ft space covered with them. By the way, beanie babies make the best birthday presents.

Morrison’s Lament-- a Beanie Baby is a small toy animal stuffed with little plastic beads manufactured by Ty. They have about sixty jillion different animals, some very small, hand-sized versions, and some larger bread-box sized animals. They also released limited-edition collectors versions, such as an Irish bear that was green, and a purple Princess Diana bear with a white rose embroidered over the heart, and supposedly, these are now worth quite a bit. They became a sensation in the States for no apparent reason, and McDonald’s resturants were beseiged when they began giving a smaller version of the toy away in Happy Meals. Apparently few children got to play with the toys, because Moms would hoard them away, hoping to hawk them later at a profit. In McDonald’s I actually saw a mother slap her child viciously across the face when the kid started to open the plastic wrapper the toy was in.

Get with the times! The beanie baby thing has been dead for 2 years. The Furby thing only last a year (thankfully). Now if only Pikachu would die a slow and torturous death, I’d have a jolly, merry Christmas.

Don’t be too quick to dismiss the staying power of mass hysteria, judging by these recent auctions on eBay:

Authenticated Ty Signed #1 Bear Beanie Baby – sold at $6,500.00

Or this:

Billionaire Bear beanie baby! – sold at $2,025.00

Or this:

AUTHENTICATED Royal Blue Peanut Beanie Baby – sold at $1,675.00

Barnum was right.

That’s horrible.

I hope it’s not over!
My nieces just ask for them and so I sent some.
I think they’re adorable. The only problem is “collectors”, who are as stupid as bubble gum card collectors. Like this generations stamp collectors, all due to get stuck with a trunk of worthless and never appreciated stuff.

Can’t say if the “craze” is over, but I hope Ty keeps making them. They’re cute, and like Sue Jo and Scarred said, they’re nice for gifts and bribes.

Besides, I only have two (both gifts) – a striped kitty (he’s lolling on the monitor, looking at me) and a bat, who’s happily sitting on a bookshelf next to a copy of Interview With the Vampire.

Wouldn’t mind having a few more.

My family’s has a fairly sizable collection in a display case; about a hundred total. Of course we hope that they’ll someday be worth a gigantic fortune and we pay off the mortage early and all, but somehow I doubt that it’s going to happen.

Beanie Babies are a new milestone in shameless marketing: A toy that was intended from the very beginning to spark a huge, frenzied craze and then flame out in an instant. (The cynic in me feels the same way about those dumb “milk caps” that invaded Hawaii in the mid 90’s.) What’s particularly tragic in this case is that the product was designed to be played with, and instead it got locked away like fancy jewelry. Madness.

And of course, the problem with making a fortune off of them is the same as with baseball cards, namely, finding someone who’ll actually cough up that much (or for that matter, someone who even has that much cash lying around). It’s still possible, as the Ebay examples show, but once the craze ends it becomes a lot harder to make that profit. One of the dirty secrets about this kind of “investing”.

What made me most ill was Ty’s shameless on-line poll a year ago asking whether they should discontinue Beanie Baby production. Obviously, only BB collectors were going to panic and flood the site with “Save the Beanies” votes (How funny would it have been if the plebiscite voted to nix the things?). And then Ty made a press release vaunting the “overwhelming” referendum! What a bogus way to re-invigorate interest in a fad that should have taken a dirt nap years ago.

My fiancee is a big fan of beanies, and has a quite large collection. I personally think they are cute, and yet because of this we are actually happy the craze has died down. For a few reasons. They are cheaper, and I don’t have to fight through 100 collectors to get a beanie for her. It’s mostly like any other toy now.

Of course, when she desperately needed the money at the height of the beanie craze, it came in handy. I was able to purchase those beanies back cheap!