Cast your mind back to the mid 90s. If you were of a certain age and predilection then, you may have been sucked into the impressive PR stunt that was Beanie Babies. Old muggins over here certainly was. ‘Buy now, cash in later!’ was basically their slogan, as far as I recall.
To help illustrate how valuable my Beanie Baby collection is, I enlisted the help of some friends… it’s a Beanie Baby / Sylvanian Family mash up!
When Ty Inc launched a ‘deliberately scarce’ range of nine stuffed animals, I fell for the predictions touted in newspapers and playgrounds across the land – these little guys were going to be worth big money one day. I distinctly remember a story about a woman swapping her Beanie Baby for a horse, circa 1998. Remember that? I mean, horses are worth thousands of pounds, right? Ergo, Beanie Babies were my retirement fund.
I’m not even exaggerating. I don’t have a retirement fund. And I’m self-employed, so no one legally obliges me to have one. I just have Beanie Babies.
Hmmm. You know, never once in the intervening years did I ever stop to think about that ‘lady swaps beanie for horse’ story. I’ve often heralded it as all the proof you need that I’ve made a sound investment. But maybe she swapped a duck Beanie Baby for a horse Beanie Baby. Maybe that was the news. She was just playing swapsies with two equally worthless Beanie Babies, and I hedged all my bets on her Chinese-whispered, now I come to think about it, implausible story.
I hoarded a fair to middling collection, as much as I could afford in 1996 when I was 14 and did not have a job. I was proud to acquire some Teenie Babies that accompanied my Happy Meals, because back then, I set foot in McDonalds. These bad boys are still-sealed – I think that means they’re worth even more, right?*
*Wrong. The complete still-sealed set of all 12 Teenie Babies are going on Ebay today for £30. I have three still-sealed Teenie Babies. That’s a collection worth £7.50
As per, something else soon caught my attention and the Beanie Babies were bagged up and put in storage, where they’ve languished ever since.
It’s been a good 20 years since I saw my collection, but they’ve stayed with me, somewhere in the middle of my mind. Whenever my husband and I have had money worries, I’ve triumphantly and confidently declared that we’re going to be fine, because I’ve got a bag of Beanie Babies somewhere and if and when they emerge from wherever I’ve put them, we’ll shove them on Ebay and retire. The Beanie Baby furore passed my hubby by, busy in the ’90s as he was, collecting Batman figurines. He didn’t understand the magnitude of what lay ahead. But that was okay, because I knew one day, I’d buy him a Porsche and gloat about my canny investment.
Recently, my childhood stuff emerged from storage. Still pristine, the Beanie Babies were back in my life and I was ready to cash in.
Keeping the dream alive, I didn’t Google the going rate of Beanie Babies these days, but my husband did, because he’s a jerk. He sent me a link to an article about how many of us schmucks had been had. We were all expecting to sell our Beanie Babies and pay off our mortgages, but it turns out, unless you’ve got a Diana tribute Baby you’re getting about £2.69 per babe.
While researching for this blog, I discovered that there is in existence a book entitled: The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute – which says a lot about how much money I’m not going to make. The book costs about £20. More than my entire collection is worth.
For those with a steely eye for an investment, if you’d like to buy my Babies, and I think I’ve done a pretty good job of describing them as worth their weight in gold, please enquire within. But I suppose I need to accept the fact Beanie Babies will not be making me rich. I tell you who is rich. Billionaire founder of the Beanie Baby family, Ty Warner. But I can’t even hate him, because he is a thoroughly lovely chap who has not only given away several million pounds to various charities, but also donated several million Beanie Babies to children in war torn countries. Inspired by the philanthropy of the founder of my collection, I will donate my Babies to a children’s charity. May they go to good homes and be well loved, regardless of their monetary worth, or lack of.
With thanks to my Sylvanian Family collection for their help with the photoshoot. NB. My Sylvanian Family collection is NOT for sale. Obvs.