Friday, October 24, 2008

808s and Heartbreak

Okay, here is another new post. It is once again a recycled paper from my writing class. Its a so-so essay that I wrote last night from the hours of 2-6:17 a.m. I have now been up for the past twenty-seven hours straight. The paper is an analytical essay in which you ask yourself a question, then proceed to answer it. I asked how much my Beanie Babies were worth. Since Wikipedia was expelled as a formidable source, understandably so, nevertheless it was difficult to find legitimate information on my topic. So I basically, just went on Ebay and found one stat. You may as well call me Tony Reali. Anyway, here it goes, once again, it's mediocre.

Now that it’s 2008, the 90s satellite should detach itself from the present and become its own decade in history. New Kids on the Block had a bunch of hits, Nancy Kerrigan was struck, Michael Johnson struck gold in Atlanta and on his feet, and as far as fidelity, everyone’s favorite Arkansan simply struck out. These events, along with some of the most watched, recorded, or followed happenings in history took place in the 90s. But nothing took the spotlight more than the plush critters we all used to and still probably have: Beanie Babies. Beanie Babies, remembered for their vestigial, yet wholly important heart-shaped tags, cuddly frames, and sweeping, universal appeal captivated an adolescent generation, and ultimately translated into parents spending incredulous amounts of money to buy their child plush morsels of satisfaction. But like the 90s staple VH1 inquires— “Where are they now?” Consumers who bought innumerable amounts of Beanie Babies have nothing left to show for their fanaticism but useless novelties, and are left to inquisitively wonder: “How much are my Beanie Babies worth?”

Launched in 1993, Beanie Babies made it big by staying small. Their creator, Ty Warner used several marketing strategies for this success; namely, keeping the Beanie Babies out of monopolized toy stores. Rather they were sold for less than $10 in specialty gift shops. In the early years, they went highly unnoticed with only nine models, but popularity heightened quickly. They flew under the radar, a tactic that ultimately ushered in success. They were more falsetto than fad. With cheap prices, market demand began to increase, and Ty Warner pulled the stuffed animals off the shelf faster than Vanilla Ice went platinum. Warner retired them, only to mass produce many more. In this cyclical fashion, Beanie Babies became increasingly popular, and by Christmas of 1995 these basic toys became a cultural phenomenon (Dyson).

Everyone wanted in. The menagerie of Beanie Babies increased from the Original Nine to over forty in a year. (Dyson). First Edition, became Second Edition, which became Special Edition, and of course, you always needed mint condition. Special interest Beanie Babies were incorporated: Princess Diana, Jerry Garcia, the Easter Bunny— all were immortalized in stuffed animal history. Naturally, McDonald’s shrewd eye for greasy consumerism even pandered the exploitation. Impressible parents drove to every McDonald’s in the city to purchase a happy meal with the special edition “Teenie Beenies” for an additional $1.99 (Dyson). These plastic-wrapped miniatures became all the rage just as quickly as their larger counterparts. Raking in $250 million in 2006 alone, needless to say, Ty Warner controlled the toy market.

The unforeseen Beanie Baby craze rocked the nation, but the romp fizzled after roughly six years when, in 1999, Ty Warner released a bear called “The End” signaling the end of an era (Dyson). Later, new collections were developed but maniacal craze was no longer existent. Incessant amounts of money spent on these toys seemed to have gone to waste. In fact, many people bought them solely as prospectors attempting to profit off of them as future collector items. Unfortunately for them, acute consequences were waiting on the other side of the millennium.

In attempts to unload some of their Beanie Babies, many people list them at online auction sites such as Ebay or Amazon. Most remain unsold. If the stuffed animals are bought, it is usually at minimal price. Going rates for mint condition Beanie Babies barely top $2, if they are even sold, a mere fraction of the initial investment (“Beanie Babies”). One of these toys with a bent or missing tag won’t even be marketable. Other collectors try to package their sets, but still can barely get more than $20 for multiple models (“Beanie Babies”). Clearly, they are as worthless as those Pokemon cards gathering dust in the drawer. Most Beanie Babies are nothing more than a nose diving fad.

Certain, rare models are worth money though. In the 90s, the average consumer may have unknowingly purchased a defected toy or one of the original editions. Randomly, the consumer may have paid a small price for a grand fortune. High demand was created for Princess Diana Bear with the wrong pellets inside, and for wrongly colored Chocolate the Moose, but those gaffes were quickly ameliorated by Ty Warner Inc., making those models rare, yet valuable. Upper-echelon collectors will have to shell out $6,999.99 for #1 Bear (“Retired Beanie Babies”). Few Beanie Babies have this type of worth though, and a vast majority can be considered invaluable.

Merely orphaned on their shelves, Beanie Babies became somewhat of an afterthought. The craze was so grandiose, that inversely their importance rapidly declined when the fad cooled. It’s not that they are altogether worthless, but the high expectations for resale value and collector status remain unfulfilled. Those that spent hundreds of dollars collecting Beanie Babies have to wonder what they were thinking over ten years ago. Nevertheless, these cuddly creatures still carry great childhood memories. So look back with a fond mind and a pristine heart— after all, I know your Beanie Baby still has one.


Aaron Brandt said...
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Aaron Brandt said...

One year later. Nothing.