Bankrupted by Beanie Babies


#1

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#2

Well, yeah. It's something like a legal Ponzi scheme.


#3

Rule #1. If it says collectible, it will be worthless. Seriously, how did people think that these would be worth something when it was obvious that everybody was buying them? Scarcity and demand are the key ingredients.


#4

La ouch. People make unfortunate assumptions regarding future market trends. Hard too be happy after blowing your wad on a dud.


#5

I remember being a teenage kid working at McDonalds during the height of this insanity. I have never seen anything like it, not even with the Tickle Me Elmo craze or the Gameboy Color shortage. (Worked at CompUSA for the latter)

Grown adults who should have otherwise been mature would stand in front of me, and scream at me , accusing me of hiding these things.. destroying their kid's education.. ruining their future. I got called whole varieties of names. I got threatened, nearly assaulted, and had to call police multiple times to remove these maniacs from the restaurant.

They were convinced we had some secret stash of these things, that we were all keeping. Us. Minimum wage workers at Mcdonalds. As if we'd actually REALLY be trusted with valuable things.

That should have been everyone's first hint. You don't buy things with high resale value at a FUCKING MCDONALDS.

A plague on anyone who was involved with collecting this bullshit. You utterly ruined two summers of my life.


#6

I was curious how many beanie babies were still listed up on ebay (93K+) and I found this gem...

http://www.ebay.com/itm/PRINCESS-DIANA-BEANIE-BABY-One-Of-A-Kind-1st-Edition-/161080733226?pt=Beanbag_Plush_US&hash=item258128ee2a

There was definitely a time to sell those things but it's long gone. I think I bought about 5 when I was a kid and just recently got rid of em a couple years ago.


#7

Yeah, anyone who gets into collectibles has to understand the market involved. The sad thing is that a lot of people view the umbrella term of "collectibles" as a get-rich-quick business opportunity. They're people who will invest money into something they don't understand with the idea that "anyone can make money, as long as you spend time on it." As anyone into collectibles will tell you, there's a big difference between actual fans and those looking to cash in.

When I was in high school, I played Magic:The Gathering, and although I primarily played for fun, the collectable aspect influenced my purchases and it was an easy way to see how supply & demand played into the actual price of a card. It also introduced me to the differences in trading, in how value is perceived by different people, and interestingly, the difference that consumers see between a retail entity (a "shop") versus a normal individual (short version: shops deal with cash and they expect to get a low-value deal).

I ended up selling off my Magic cards when I was in college and no longer played, and the high-value cards I was able to sell on eBay, in many cases for a profit. Of course, the actual total amount of money I spent on the hobby still put me in the red from a purely financial point of view, but the amount of fun I had with it meant that the "reimbursement" was a nice way to finish the hobby. But it was an actual hobby, and my involvement in the hobby gave me a deep understanding of the actual market -- which led to a successful sell-off when I was done.

However, even established collectible markets are fickle. My dad is into old cars and got interested in buying a car for cheap and then fixing it up. He purchased a 1950 Plymouth for cheap, and started to work on it. He quickly realized he didn't actually like working on cars! He still has it, unworked on, and has instead bought a "near mint" 1950s Plymouth for more money. He did some more reasonable restoration work, like repairing the dashboard, and found that he enjoys the finished cars much more than the "buy cheap and repair them as an investment" element. Again, though, the money that he's spent is justified in some way due to the actual enjoyment he gets from the cars.

Almost every story I've read about people who get into a collectible purely for the money end up losing out. To me, it's really not that different from trying to start a business with something that you're not familiar with. I don't think Ty is innocent in whipping up interest in Beanie Babies, but I was a teenager during the Beanie Baby craze and I heard FAR more people saying "they're cute, but not an investment." Any collector will tell you that for your collection to be worth anything, it has to have one of two things -- immense value to you, or immense value to someone else. If you don't keep track of whether there's value to someone else in your collection, then you better hope you really love whatever you're collecting. If not, you need to keep an extremely close eye on the market and know when to sell. Otherwise you're just spending money.


#8

I collected Magic cards too for a while - I played actively and collected the sets from when I was an active player. Most of them have basically just held their value, but I collected them more for sentimental reasons than as an 'investment.'

Like most collectibles, they appear to be following the typical trend of '10 cards in a set of 350 are valuable, the rest aren't worth the paper they're printed on.'


#9

I think that was an excellent piece of filmmaking. I think what I really appreciate about this story is it points to a deeper insight about the intersection of speculating, hoarding and gambling - all of which are behaviors seen as perfectly acceptable on Wall St. when it's oil futures or pork bellies, but when it's stuffed animals it seems absurd.

I'd like to see the Beanie Baby story expanded to include more about the father and the family - apparently there's quite a bit of material there.


#10

Just going to leave this here...


#11

I was working at K-Mart putting myself through uni when the first wave of toy-stupidity hit; namely, Cabbage Patch Dolls. Maybe something similar preceded them, but as a young man at the time I couldn't recall anything like it from my 21 years on Planet Erf. As I watched parents elbowing each other to get at cheaply made plastic dolls I think I knew I was getting a privileged first glance at the fall of western civilization. But the CPDs, at least initially, were fought over to avoid the unthinkable scenario of a disappointed child at Xmas time. Though I guess Beanie Babies were the ones that really exploited the tulipmania/fake collectible approach.

tl;dr A fool and his money is soon parted.


#12

That guy still has a nicer house than I have...


#13

Since you are youngish (by your own admission), you can be excused not to have experienced the great tulip mania of 1637.


#14

What is really sad is if you search the sold listings and sort by most expensive. Tons of fraudsters trying to sell the exact same thing for thousands of dollars. They only need to find a few suckers.

I have not been active on ebay much in the past few years, but recently I started selling some stuff and I noticed a lot of that. Many items listed as buy it now for $3-$200 over their price at amazon. I guess it is a good business strategy, but it just seems like preying on people.


#15

Oh my goodness, I remember the Cabbage Patch thing! It was my first distant witnessing, luckily my parents were not going to let me get anything that had to be stood in line for or fought over.

And the great Christmas Barbie "shortage" in the late 90's, when adults shamelessly bought out the Barbies and then resold them for $100 or more at markets... and PEOPLE BOUGHT THEM.


#16

Since I was 21 at the time of Cabbage Patch that means I'm almost old enough to remember the tulip mania.


#17

What amazes me is that the dad here is Chris Robinson, who played Dr. Rick Webber on General Hospital for years. So weird to see such a different side of the actor!


#18

Ty was the first person in on the pyramid scheme and it shows.


#19

Not really...


#20

Wow.