Not Past It - The Beanie Baby Craze

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As a kid, the weeks leading up to Christmas for just the best.

So, full of excitement for family.

I hadn’t seen all year all the food.

I would inevitably Gorge myself on and obviously I had my mind on what goodies Santa would be bringing forget visions of sugarplums.


I was dreaming of Bratz dolls Furbys, and of course Beanie Babies, Today, I’m not past it, and the spirit of the holiday season and the toy shopping craze.

We’re sharing our episode.

We aired earlier this summer, all about these cuddly stuffed animals.


If you haven’t heard this one stick around, My dad was so into Beanie Babies.

He was ready for one of them to be worth so much money.

One day.

Remember Beanie Babies.


Those cute under stuffed toys with clever names, like chocolate the moose or Patti.

The Platypus people went crazy over them.

We put out a call to you.

Our dear listeners to hear how you bought into the beanie craze with your hearts, your mind.


Ends and your hard-earned cash.

We have to dedicate an entire room of our house to all the animals really Collective and it really took up the bulk of our childhood.

My parents owned a toy store.

When I was a kid.

I remember being at school and my Mom calling my classroom and asking me, which Beanie Babies did I want?


Because as soon as she put them out, they would be sold out within an hour.

We had this idea that they were going to be worth so much.

So instead of playing with them.

We cut the tags on them, kept them in this bin and we would go through and make sure that they were all accounted for.


And I was like, it’s a stuffed animal with beans in it.

You know, what’s the big deal?


Babies were such a big deal until they weren’t the beginning of the end of the stuffed toys became clear 22 years ago this week on August 31st. 1st 1999 when a news flash appeared on the website of Beanie, Baby manufacturer, Ty ink, it’s simply read.


All beanies will be retired.

No more quackers.

The duck or Pinky The Flamingo.

The company says every last one will be retired.

So after one final frenzy of buying collectors will have to go cold turkey and by the turn of the century Beanie Babies will become has be From gimlet media.


This is not passed it a show about the stories.

We can’t quite leave behind every episode.

We take a moment from that very same week in history and tell you the story of how it shaped our world.

I’m Simone palana.

And today on the show how Beanie Babies became a national Obsession inspiring, a frenzy of mass purchasing toy store fights and sky-high price speculation, and we uncover what the The Thai Inc.


Beanie, Baby bubble.

Can tell us about the human desire to get rich quick.

Don’t be a meanie and keep it here.


Okay, I’ll keep workshopping that one.

Just just don’t go anywhere.


At the 1994 American International Toy Fair in New York City.

You could find every toy imaginable, behold the skeleton Warriors, an epic tale of this, the ultimate forces of evil for toy companies.

This annual event was the place to show off their latest Creations.


These are the first musical minis ever beginning with our monkey family, piano play set, and lots of furniture to arrange and rearrange is fill the mold with place it in.

Creepy crawler oven.

We simply need to make over 100 jiggly-wiggly insects and this year a relatively Unknown toy maker named.


Ty Warner had a booth to show off his latest creation.

Ty was a failed actor.

Now, following in the footsteps of his father who had also sold toys.

He founded tie ink in 1986.

And for the first several years business was slow, but this year in 1994.


He was unveiling a toy that would reverse his fortune Beanie Babies.

The response was modest people didn’t really get it.

Toy store owners.

Thought they were two under stuffed and too brightly colored.


Oh, what fools?

Because little did they know that within a year Tides would turn and ties favor in late. 1995 word was getting around about these cute little creatures.

I started collecting Beanie Babies back in late, 1995 early 1996 and we got the kids involved in a lot of this.


So it was really kind of fun.

This is Becky Assistance.

Or oh she runs a Beanie Baby authentication business.

She can tell you which toys are real and which are fake.

She has this job now because in the 90s, she was one of the first Beanie, Baby influencers, you know, just girl boss things.


Back in the mid 90s, Becky lived with her husband, and three kids in Naperville a suburb of Chicago.

Not too far from Beanie, Baby HQ.

She’d heard about the plastic being filled toys from her neighbor also named Becky, Becky Phillips, Becky and Becky P.


Loved to collect the toys.

Tai Anka had published a list of all the Beanie Babies that were available.

And the Becky’s were trying to get a full set for each of their three kids.

They were just doing it for fun until one day.

Becky made a huge discovery that would change her entire approach to collecting.


She was browsing around at a local flower shop.

When she saw these gift, baskets inside of them, were Beanie Babies.

She had never seen before beanies.

She didn’t even know existed.

Becky just couldn’t help herself and I’m like, okay, I’m gonna go for it.


I’m going to spend $25 for these gift baskets, just to get the beanies $25 for toys that usually cost just five.


She was invested when Becky got Home.

She rushed over to Becky peas house.


Just right next door.

She was in her pajamas and I’m like, oh my God.

Oh my God.

I gotta show you this and I said, you’re not gonna believe what I found here.

And so we’re looking at each other were like, oh my god, there are beanies out here that are not on this list.


We’ve got to find out what else is out there.

They immediately started calling stores around the country that sold tie ink toys, even contacting stores in Canada.

And in Europe trying to find new Beanie Babies.


All of a sudden other beanies were starting to surface.

There’s dinosaurs.

There’s a snake, there’s a panda, Peking, a panda.

There’s a chilly, the polar bear and we’re like, oh my gosh, these are these are retired.

So nobody knows about these.

Nobody has these When Becky e says retired, she means beanies that are no longer being manufactured, the to Becky’s realize that Ty Warner.


The owner of Beanie Babies was putting models out into the world and then never making them again that made these older versions rare and potentially worth something.

If they could get their hands on them and this hunt that the Becky’s were going on TY Inc, the company who made Beanie Babies was Really laying the breadcrumbs for it.


Ty Warner was a master of manipulating supply and demand.

He used a strategy.

Economists, call deliberate scarcity.

He did this in a few ways.

First, he would artificially restrict the supply by only producing each beanie and small quantities.


He’d also limit the number of Toys, he sent to individual stores, this made the beanies harder to get your hands on and all the more enticing.

And tie would regularly announce the retirement of certain characters creating a frenzy to NAB those Bean.


He’s about to disappear forever.

People didn’t want to miss out and without enough Supply to meet the demand, the value would Skyrocket Ty.

Had a very lucrative Dynamic on his hands as he was introducing more and more beanies.


We would go around to all of these stores and we would pick up these bags and bags of beanies the Becky’s.

They It out how to make ties, deliberate scarcity work for them.

They made lists and calls and collected.

All the discontinued beanies.


They could find.

Then they plugged into this Jewish thing at the time, called the internet, never heard of it and got on what Becky calls.

The board’s old school online chat rooms to see if other people might be interested in their special retired, beanies.


We were realizing people were willing to pay money on these boards for these beanies.

I call pay $100 for Humphrey.

That’s Humphrey.

The Camel.

A popular beanie that was retired in 1995 for all you.

Ricky beanie heads out there.


We’ve got ten Humphreys.

You realize how much money that is.

We’re just like we could sell these once they realized how big the demand was.

They got serious selling rare beanies, not just on the boards, but also at toy shows, the county fair and sites.


Like beanie by scooping beanies up and telling people what they were worth.

The Becky’s were actually creating a new even more lucrative.

Secondary Market.

The Becky’s weren’t, just beanie dealers.

At this time.


They were the beanie dealers.

Becky’s background made her perfect for the job.

She had a degree in Business Administration and computer science and had worked for over a dozen years.

In it building, huge databases.

She made her Beanie Baby side, hustle her Beanie Baby full-time gig.


I’m telling, you, girl, boss things in late 1996 about a year.

After the Becky’s first started collecting prices, started to take off, they were selling.

For hundreds, even thousands of dollars.


And then the beanie babies craze hit even higher Heights.

In April of 1997 about a year and a half into the toys popularity.

Ty Warner made a partnership deal that would introduce his toys to a much wider audience.

Now at McDonald’s your kids can get teeny beanie babies and a Happy Meal.


Real Thai, Beanie Babies in a mini size to toss tuck or just plain loved ones teeny beanies beanies brittini ER and what their little faces?

Oh, I can that’s just too cute and apparently just about everyone in America thought.


So too, the McDonald teeny beanies is what broke it wide open and it went bonkers.

Everybody was going to McDonald’s at that time, including the Becky’s, their goal was to collect all 10 teeny beanies that McDonald’s included in their Happy Meals, beanies, like inch The Inchworm nuts, the squirrel, and Smoochy the Frog.


If they got a full set of 10, Becky says they could sell it for about $100, but there was a roadblock to making this fast money during the promotion McDonald’s realized that the demand for these toys was greater than the supply.

Why the McDonald’s Corp started?


Suggesting that franchise owners limit the number of Happy Meals, each person could buy to 10.

So the Becky’s hatched a plan Becky got in her van with her kids and I got in my van.

We would drive through the McDonald, we would get each of the kids $20.


They would go in one door, get the Teeny beanies.

We would go through the drive throughs, then we would pick them up.

The other end of the door.

Okay, child scammers iconic.


The McDonald’s teeny bikini craze sent fans looking for the full-size versions, the OG beanies.

The Nationwide frenzy shifted from McDonald’s to local stores.

People would stand in long lines pushing and shoving so they could add to their collections at its peak.


It was estimated that Ty was shipping retailers, 15,000 orders of beanies a day.

Of course, it was always hard to get the ones you actually wanted deliberate scarcity in action, but for the Becky’s who’d been stockpiling old-school beanies for years.


This crazed meant cash.

People were paying hundreds and hundreds of dollars for these rare beanies and they thought that they’re going to take.

These beanies, are going to put them away, and they’re going to sell them and use this money to send their kids to college and be able to Will help the kids.


Maybe put a down payment on a house or whatever.

They were thinking that these are going to be super valuable.

This was the moment when collecting beanie babies.

Stop being, just a fun thing for parents to do with their kids.

A lot of people both fans and dealers wanted to get their chance at what they thought was a legitimate investment, an investment that they were being told not to miss.


I don’t know how to begin on this when something’s a good and literally sells itself.

That’s a hot dog.

To tell you it folks, we have literally, there are 28 be babies in here.

When you consider retirement home shopping networks, were marketing them like crazy.

The media was spreading the hype and beanie experts.


Like the Becky’s were publishing price guides speculating.

How much beanies would be worth in the future.

If you know, the prices that are current for the week that you’re trading, you’re going to be able to sit back and relax.

You need to know the prices to trade buy or sell correctly.


Someone so far as to take their search International.

So why you may ask are Americans arriving by the plane load to snap them up in London.

Well, it’s because supplies are running desperately low in the states.

They were so popular in the states that people even willingly traded their guns for them.


Police are turning to beanie babies in the fight against Crime.

In all 40 guns were exchanged for the Beanie Babies, the frenzy around the toys also, So led to Crime a masked, man, robbed a gift store in California at gunpoint.


He stole five thousand dollars worth of Beanie Babies, and left.

The cash register full of cash.

Untouched one, West Virginia, man, who worked at a lumber yard shot and killed.

His coworker partially over a beanie babies debt.


I mean, the grip these beanies had on our 1990s throats.

Things got out of hand doesn’t even begin to cover it.

The crazed though, didn’t last forever.

It’s kind of like the stock market.

If a starts to go up too high, you always know.


There’s going to be a crash.

After the break, the Beanie Babies bubble bound to burst.

So tyke a seat.


That’s not it either.

Just stick around.

I’ll keep working on it.


Welcome back.

I’ve been awaiting for you.

Okay, I think that’s the one.



Before the break Beanie Baby fever reached its peak in the late 90s.

Tie ink was shipping.

The little poseable dolls.



One magazine.

There were several dedicated to the toys had a circulation of 1 million, and speculators were spending thousands of dollars for toys.

That originally sold for $5 each.

They were betting that other people would want to buy their beanies down the line for even more than they paid for them.


But by the beginning of 1999, it was pretty clear that the supply of beanies was starting to eclipse.

The demand when people started seeing how many were coming up for sale on eBay?

This whole myth of beanie babies being rare went right out the window.

The only rare ones were limited edition ones and probably the first two generations.


This is Leon schlossberg.

I’m an avid collector of Beanie Babies, who owns one of the largest collections of Thai products in the world.

He’s actually planning on starting at I Museum and he remembers when everything started to fall apart and the speculators realized cow or sitting on all these bees.


And so is everybody else.

These things are going to crash in value quick When Ty Warner announced in August of 1999, 22 years.

This week that all beanies were about to be retired.

The goal seemed like it was to counteract that crash.


It was all a part of ties, deliberate scarcity, strategy, but this go-around people didn’t go on a buying frenzy, like they had in the past and dealers started to get scared on top of that.

The so-called retirement didn’t last long just four months later.


Tie Inc.

Announced they’d keep beanie babies around after all.

Over the next couple of years, people like the Becky’s started to unload, their beanies en masse causing prices on the secondary Market to bottom out.

Anybody who’s didn’t crash what declined was the value curve.


And the number of adults that were speculating and beanie babies.

And the Beanie Babies State just as popular as a never been time.

Kept making beanie babies and people can mine them this time though.

It was the kids in the end.

That was only a ticket out for some people, specifically, beanie dealers who got in early like the Becky’s.


When all was said and done many.

People lost thousands of dollars and some cases their entire life savings on the secondary market and Ty Warner became one of the richest people in the world.

He officially became a billionaire, appearing on Forbes list of wealthiest Americans in 1999 with an estimated net worth of 4 billion dollars.



Funny how things always seem to work out that way and these get-rich-quick scenarios a few people get rich.

And the rest are left stunned that the fairytale riches, they were promised, never materialized.

So, why do we become so obsessed with these incredibly risky?


And frankly, pretty illogical bets on the future?

What is it about us?

That gets so wrapped up in a get rich quick scheme.

Turns out, this kind of thing is baked into our genetics, first and foremost.


Human beings are the ape that imitates.

This is Bill Bernstein.

He’s a neurologist turned history buff and he wrote a book.

About financial manias, called the delusions of crowds.

You see, your neighbor buying beanie babies, and making fabulous, amounts of money and that induces envy and you wonder, why can’t I get rich too.


He says that it’s the basic premise of fomo or fear of missing out and it’s this envy and this desire to be like others that leads people to get in on the scheme that drives prices up in the more prices get driven up, the more attention, the object of the speculation.


In gets and it becomes a vicious cycle or a virtuous cycle.

However, you want to call it.

Bill says that to understand why we do what the people around us are doing.

It’s helpful to go back more than 10,000 years.


When humans were migrating to the Americas human beings, how to build kayaks and igloos.

Learn how to hunt bison, on the Great Plains or to produce poison blow guns and the ammo.

On all, but were things, we needed to survive.


And so if you can imitate the one person who knows how to do any of those things in your chances of surviving are much greater.

So that ability to imitate will be selected.

For basically, the more we were like everyone else, the more chances we had at survival and that trait that tendency to imitate just stuck around.


But there’s more than just wanting to collect Beanie Babies, because our neighbor has them.

And they told us, they were valuable our desire to get rich quick.

Also has to do with another intrinsic human behavior, were drawn to situations where we stand to win big, but the likelihood of us actually winning is pretty low.


Again, bill says this impulse can be tracked back through evolutionary time, you know in the situation where there are 100 people.

Lead your tribe and only one or two of you are going to be lucky enough to kill the bear or the Bison that will actually help your tribe.


Even though the bear or the Bison is hard to kill, it’s worth the risk because you feed the whole tribe.

We’ve been taught to go for these high-risk situations because we needed that high-reward to survive.

So these two components of human behavior that have been selected for over Millennia.


Our drivers not Just for the beanie baby bubble, but for any other bubble, whether we’re talking tulips in the 1600s llamas and the 1980s or even today’s cryptocurrency craze.

They’re simply not built to last forever, the bubble finally bursts.


When the last participants have entered into it and then there’s no one left to buy.

This is exactly how the beanie baby bubble formed and eventually burst the high price.

Is of Beanie Babies weren’t actually based on anything real.


The fact that this whole economy emerged around these toys toys, that frankly aren’t even that Dynamic.

I think speaks volumes about how desperate we are to just get that little Edge that step up that opportunity to live a little better.


Now, don’t get me wrong.

I understand the appeal of collecting beanie babies for a while.

My beanie babies were my most treasured possession.

However, when you’re making life plans, based on toys, just remember Fortune plays a fast and unpredictable game and the game is rigged.


Sure, a few people might come out of it richer the Thai Warner’s of this world.

But for the rest of us, all I’m saying is, we’re working with a system that takes advantage of our evolutionary desires to get rich quick.

So if you’re going to swing big, just make sure that you’re placing value on things that actually have value.


Do a little homework.


Let’s research.


Not pass it as a Spotify.

Original produced by gimlet and zsp media.

This episode was produced by Sarah Craig.

The rest of our team is producer, Amy, Padula.

Our associate producers are Julie, Carly and room when Philip Laura Newcomb is our production assistant.

The supervising producer is Erica Morrison editing by moral Waltz, Andrea be Scott and Zach Stewart.


Ponte a fact check.

Bye Jane, Ackerman sound design and mixing by Bobby, Lord, original music, by Sachs kicks, Ave.

Willie Green, Jay blasts, and Bobby Lord.

Our theme song is Toko, Liana by cocoa with music supervision by Liz Fulton, technical Direction by Zach Schmidt, show art by at least Harvin.


And Talia Rahman, the executive producer and CSP media.

Exact Stewart Ponte the executive producer from gimlet as Abbie.

Ruzicka special.

Thanks to Zach be so net and to our listeners who sent his voicemails.

Is Livia from El, Paso, Texas, Sara Gonzales from Albuquerque, New Mexico?


Marry Lily & Wilcox, Katie, and everyone else who sent us their Beanie Baby stories.

And to Lydia pull green, Dan Behar and Clara Sankey Emily wiedemann list Styles and Nabil, cholan pod.

And hey, if you’re looking for a new show, check out dysfunctional.


Family story time from gimlet, each episode features a story about strange, families, estranged families, deranged families.

So just like families.

It’s hosted by the incredible.


Just go find it on Spotify.


Follow not past it.

Now to listen for free exclusively on Spotify.

Click the little bell next to the follow button to get notifications for new episodes.

You can follow me on Twitter at Simone.


Thanks for Hangin.

We’ll see you next week.


We stopped at every single McDonald’s and we ordered as many Beanie Babies as we could.

And for the next six weeks.

I ate nothing but Old, McDonald’s, burgers and cheese danishes and I am not kidding.