Why were Beanie Babies so popular

Why were Beanie Babies so popular
Image credit: Flickr (CC) / Dominique Godbout

Beanie Babies will go down in the history of stuffed animals as one of the most popular stuffies ever. There is a science behind that, say experts. Lets see if they are right.

Beanie Babies were launched in 1993. There were nine such toys at first. Originally production lasted until 1999, but they were back a year later due to popular demand. They have been around ever since and still are a household name. But what made Beanie Babies so popular?

There are several factors behind that.For one the toys were, and are, very charming. They are also well made and not that expensive. Another nice tactic by Ty, the company that makes them, was putting special versions on sale only in certain regions.

For example The Britannia Beanie Baby was sold only in the United Kingdom, says Mark Stern from Slate. And it was really so. As a result it turned into a collectors’ item. Along with many other Beanie Babies.

Problem was, they were too popular. And most people bought them exactly because they were popular and were hoping they will become a rare expensive item in the future. Well, the opposite happened. Since everybody knew that and bought one, their collectors’ value depleted. Some people even bought hoards of Beanie Babies with the sole intention of reselling them for a profit.

This was helped by the fact that during their peak years, some Beanie Babies were indeed selling for thousands of dollars. There were even special rules. For example you should not remove the tag, otherwise you would lose 50% of the value of the toy.

According to Zac Bissonnette’s book called The Great Beanie Baby Bubble (yes, there is a book about it), Beanie Babies were so popular because Ty Warner did great marketing and manipulating of the supply and demand. This included subtle trick in the manufacturing as well. For example the toys were understuffed so they were more flexible which Ty tought made them look real.

The company also did small batches of each toy and gave an even smaller amount of it to each retailer. Thus it seemed that Beanie Babies were both rare and selling out quickly. So fans tended to form lines at the stores before the release of each new toy in order to be sure they will get to buy one.

So while fad and greed propelled Beanie Babies to stardom, there were also many people that got them simply because they love stuffed animals. Now they still have a load of stuffies they love and appreciate.

The rest of the people simply have stuff they desperately try to sell on eBay for less than what they paid originally. Yes, less. So… if you want a classic Beanie Baby, say the Britannia teddy bear, you can find it online for as little as two British pounds. Now that is a great deal, isn’t it? This is the real benefit that Beanie Babies were so popular. Now people who actually like them and don’t see dollar signs when they look at them, can have them cheap.