The Beanie Babies boom has passed, yet eBay is still flooded with postings for the plush animals, and the now-vintage collectibles command exorbitant prices. Lori Verderame works as an antiques appraiser and frequently deals with Beanie Baby collections. She says the market is not as strong as it was in 2008 but there are still many toys available in good condition. "They're just not worth what they used to be," she says.
Beanie Babies first came onto the scene in 1995 when a California company called Ty Inc. introduced them to great success. The idea was that you could dress up your beanbag animal in different outfits and use it to play games. There were also phone cards that you could attach to the baggie to make it easier to carry.
Since their inception, Beanie Babies have been subject to several controversies including allegations of child labor violations at some factories where they are made. In addition, some people claim they are allergic to the materials used to make them. Last but not least, they are often forgotten about once their latest release comes out. Though they continue to sell on eBay at high prices, no one seems to want them anymore.
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While their value has declined—a Beanie Baby worth $900 in 2001 may now be worth $300—they may still command a high price in today's market, particularly if they are prototypes, Employee Bears, limited editions, first generations, "crazy anomalies," or ones autographed by Warner himself. Other collectors might pay more for rare and valuable dogs.
Beanie Babies were popular from 1992 to 2001. They were small stuffed animals covered with fabric faces that wore clothes similar to what some people wear today (T-shirts, jeans, boots). Each one had its own unique face with eyebrows, a nose, and lips. There were two main series of Beanie Babies: the original "cuddly" style and the "funny" style. The original style was available in several colors (white, black, yellow, red, green, blue) with each character being represented twice so there would be more choices. The funny style was only available in white or pink (prototypes only).
People loved them because they were tiny (about 1 inch tall) and cuddly and came in lots of shapes and colors. Warner Bros. didn't make much money off of them - their goal was not to make money but to create hype for their other products (such as Muppet Babies). However, they did make enough money to keep the line going for three years after they stopped making money.
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However, while the bulk of Beanie Babies released decades ago aren't worth much money now, a select handful are. Some Beanie Babies sell for thousands of dollars, according to Dr. Lori Verderame, an antiques assessor with a specialty in Beanie Babies who talked with us for this piece. Others sell for hundreds or even tens of dollars.
Verderame said people often wonder if Beanie Babies are worth anything today, since they're made from plastic and don't really have any real-world use. However, she explained that some Beanie Babies do contain valuable materials like glass eyes or metal buttons that could still be worth something today if they were able to be sold on the market.
Verderame also has some advice for would-be Beanie Baby collectors: "Don't buy them for their value, buy them because you love them already! That is what makes them valuable."
Finally, Verderame warned against buying up multiple copies of certain Beanie Babies to increase their value. If someone buys five copies of one specific baby, then sells all five, they'd only make $10,000 instead of the $20,000 they might have otherwise earned.