Created by Ty Warner in 1993, Beanie Babies were an early masterclass in generating hype & excitement through artificial scarcity. After an initial slow sales period for the product, Ty Inc. began limiting the quantity of each character that stores could purchase to only 36 units and then permanently retiring each character after a set period of time. This led to a finite supply in the early years and helped to drive the collecting hysteria that soon followed.
Each Beanie Baby had its own name, birthday, and poem. The toys were originally only available via small specialty & independent toy stores. Each animal had both a swing tag & “tush” tag. Production runs occasionally featured incorrect spellings, birthday errors, or swapped tags, leading to increased rarity & value.
At the height of its craze, even McDonald’s jumped on board with the inclusion of “Teenie” Beanie Babies in every Happy Meal. Certain characters had reached thousands of dollars in value. Everything was red hot .. until it wasn’t. The bubble eventually burst, and the once mighty Beanie Babie slowly faded into the abyss.