Busted by Beanie Babies: Family 'Invested' $100,000 in the Toys

Family Buys $100,000 Worth of Beanie Babies
It was a late-millennium version of Tulip Mania: the sudden belief that Beanie Babies, mass-produced stuffed animals filled with plastic pellets, would rise enough in value to make them lucrative investments.

Lots of people were caught up in the craze, which lasted from late 1995 to 1999, but it's hard to imagine a family going further than the Robinsons of Los Angeles, who sunk $100,000 into the toys in hopes of funding three college educations. Chris Robinson has made a short documentary about his father's obsessive pursuit of Beanie-fueled profit, and its disastrous financial consequences, called "Bankrupt by Beanies."

"This is like admitting to a drug addiction," his father says at the start of the film, over footage of boxes and boxes stacked high and labeled with their stuffed animal contents. "You want to forget it."

In an interview with Dazed Digital, Robinson recalled how his family's descent into compulsive Beanie-collecting began: with his then-6-year-old brother's desire to buy one, and "some idiot's" advice to their father that the toys "were 'valuable' and 'collector's items.'"

Robinson explains the fad as the product of collusion by merchants and savvier collectors:

I think the biggest factor for us was the network of shop owners and collectors and how they seemed to work together to create this mythology behind the company and their release schedule. My father bought into everything these people were telling him about how valuable they were going to be and how exclusive some of them were, and he passed that along to us and created this excitement in our family about what we were doing.

Weirdly, the Robinsons never actually tried to sell their Beanie Babies. They seem instead to have attempted a buy-and-hold strategy, before realizing (too late) that the price had collapsed.
They then packed the toys away, maintaining some vague hope that the value of their investment might rise, phoenix-like, from the ashes of Ty Inc.'s decision to stop making its signature product in August 1999 (a failed attempt to drive declining prices back up).

"I'm mostly just apathetic to them at this point," Chris Robinson says. "I see the whole time period as one of bonding with my family, despite it being an extraordinary waste of money that would have been better spent on pretty much anything else."

As Shakespeare asked in "Troilus and Cressida," perhaps ironically, "What is aught, but as 'tis valued?"

[H/T: Mail Online]

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My wife got into them too. I tried to explain to her at the time what makes something 'collectable" down the road and these have a "fat chance' of it. But she still bought more and pointed to my collectible cars I had. We now have a few, large, tupaware bins of them in the basement. proabaly have about 500 -1,000 of them worth about 10 cents on the dollars, maybe........my cars, they are now worth 2-3X what they were in the mid '90's. Consumers are like cattle, "heard" mentality.

July 26 2013 at 5:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I haven't hard of it but I do understand the toy is goooooooooooooooood

I have son so I love to buy one for my son

July 26 2013 at 2:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'll trade him a few dozen boxes of Garbage Pail Kids trading cards.

July 26 2013 at 2:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have never seen a Beanie Baby in my life. I know my sister bought some.

I truly do NOT think I am missing out on anything at all. As a matter of fact, I really do not collect anything. My mother always has said "Collection comes with Age.... you will collect."

I just turned age 61 last week. I still say I will never collect anything.

July 26 2013 at 1:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Had he sold at the right time he could have made a lot of money. He waited to long and now has scrap. Happens all the time with stocks.

July 26 2013 at 1:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to motorprops's comment

LOL. good analyisis. That is why I now stay away from both. My rental properties has been my best ininvestment (by far), followed by my collectible cars, then my coin collection, then my stocks, then my wifes beenie babies.

July 26 2013 at 5:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I bought one Beanie Baby in 1995 for a couple of dollars at a hospital gift shop when visiting my husband who had bypass surgery. . it came home with him and ended up in a basket of stuffed animals I kept for the grandkids visits. Three years later, at the height of the craze, I decided to research the particular Beanie in my possession and learned it was quite valuable...I advertised it for sale and the little bugger sold for 1100.00.Nice return on a investment of under five bucks but if I had left the tag on, it was worth 2200.00. Who knew????

July 26 2013 at 7:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If I was going to collect anything, I'd make sure I collected things that I personally like and which had some value to begin with.... and, not just collect nonsense because someone tells you its worth such and such or will be worth a lot down the road. Everyone has their own ideas of what is a "collectible." I could never understand collecting things like comic books, baseball cards, or in this case crappy stuffed little animal toys. On the other hand, I can understand collecting cars (if you can afford to), musical instruments (guitars), certain works of art, and things that have some intrinsic worth or value to begin with. The former collectibles like comics and baseball cards had little real value to begin with and despite an issue being rare and worth a ton of money now (to another collector), I personally wouldn't enjoy having or owning stuff like that. I would be looking at it solely as an investment to sell in the future to some other nerd.

July 26 2013 at 1:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

as with all investments... it is a gamble..... their choice so stop the crying about it

July 26 2013 at 1:03 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I knew a family that collected Beanie Babies - each in complete sets. She then sold them and was able to redo her living room floors with the money. She didn't wait too long to sell them - she was smart.

July 26 2013 at 1:01 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Isn't the father, Chris Robinson, who used to play Laura's father on General Hospital in the 80's?

July 26 2013 at 12:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Kathy's comment

Yes, He played Rick Webber. He was married to Laura's Mom , Leslie. He also had an affair with Monica Quatermaine on General Hospital.

July 26 2013 at 1:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This story is to push the father who was a long time actor on General Hospital--he played Rick Weber. He was already once in trouble for income tax evasion according to Wiki and was convicted.

July 26 2013 at 12:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply