Chances are that if you’re a millennial, you're at least familiar with Beanie Babies. (You may even have a few of your own.) The colorful, plush stuffed animals were introduced in the early 1990s and quickly became a hot collector’s item.
HBO Max’s upcoming documentary Beanie Mania follows the story of Beanie Babies creator Ty Warner and his extremely lucrative business. As he revealed in the documentary's trailer, his company Ty Inc. made $2.6 million from Beanie Babies alone in 1996.
Pretty wild, right? Well, get this: The following year, that number grew to $23 million. How, exactly? Well, Beanie enthusiasts were (and still are) willing to break the bank to get their hands on certain versions.
Fun fact: Beanies with imperfections are worth more.
While Beanie Babies were only sold for a few dollars back in the day, certain models became more valuable once they were retired. This was especially true for the Beanies Babies that may have had imperfections or were flawed in production.
Let me explain: While customers typically prefer items sans impurities, Beanie collectors wanted just the opposite. They desired misfit Beanie Babies that may have boasted an extra whisker or had a spelling error on its tag. To them, these flaws made the plush toys much more unique.
Warning: The same Beanie Baby may be available on eBay for both $1 and $10,000.
Unfortunately, there's no real consensus regarding the values of Beanie Babies. Some sellers will charge a few bucks for the same exact Beanie Baby that's being sold for thousands of dollars elsewhere. Bottom line: It's brutal out there and nothing makes sense.
We took a gander on eBay to see which Beanies are being sold for the big bucks (and also, simultaneously, little bucks). Keep scrolling to see what Beanie Bear inflation looks like.
Princess the Bear, 1997
The purple Princess the Bear is most definitely a collector's item. It was created just two months after Princess Diana's death in August 1997, according to Vanity Fair. The royal purple bear dons a small white rose on the left side of her chest.
According to Ty Collector, when the bear was released, retailers were only allowed 12 bears at a time. Those who were able to get their hands on the bear would then try to resell it at a higher price in an online marketplace.
At the time, some folks were paying $200–$300 for the bear online, even though it was only worth $5–$7 in real life. After almost two years, Ty Inc. stopped producing the bear, but the price gouging never stopped.
Nuts the Squirrel, 1997
Nuts the Squirrel was released in January 1997 and was retired by the end of 1998. This playful critter has a light brown furry physique with a black nose and brown thread whiskers. He also has a bushy brown tail — which technically made him one of the first Beanie Babies to have long hair.
Peace the Bear, 1997
Peace the Bear was one groovy release. The tie-dyed, rainbow-colored bear has a peace symbol embroidered on his chest, made from orange, red, green, purple, and yellow thread. Peace was released in May 1997 and retired in July 1999.
Smoochy the Frog, 1997
Curly the Bear, 1996
Curly the Bear was released in June of 1996 and was retired at the end of 1998. This brown cuddly guy has black button eyes and a larger black button nose. He dons a dark red ribbon tied around his neck.
Right now, Curly the Bear is being hawked on eBay for a number of different prices. This seller is asking for $45,000 for Curly, noting that there are "many errors" with this Beanie. Meanwhile, another seller is asking for just $0.99, except this model doesn't appear to have any flaws, making it less unique.
Mystic the Unicorn, 1994
Mystic the Unicorn was released in 1994 with “magic in her blue eyes.” According to BeanieBabiesPriceGuide.com, there were five generations of Mystic released in that year. Some generations portray Mystic with a white, coarse mane and a tan horn. Other versions have iridescent horns and rainbow manes.
Pinchers the Lobster, 1994
According to Beanopedia, Pinchers was originally released as “Punchers," though this may have been a spelling error.
Pinchers is one of the original nine Beanie Babies. He's made from bright red fabric and has two small, shiny, black eyes. With the claws and tail of a lobster, and his string antennae, he’s the perfect little toy for a child who loves the ocean. He was released in January 1994 and retired in 1998.
Valentina the Bear, 1999
As you can probably tell from her photo and name, Valentina is a Valentine's-themed Beanie. She was "born" on Valentine’s Day 1998 and available for all of 1999. She has a beautiful ruby-red fur coat and dons a white heart on her chest.
Halo the Bear, 1998
Released in September 1998, Halo the Bear will remind you of an angel. Her poem depicts her as a guardian angel watching over you from above. Unlike other Beanies, she's made of iridescent fabric, which may add more value. She ranges between $0.99 and $25,000 on eBay.
The End the Bear, 1999
When Ty Warner announced that they were shutting down the Beanie Babies line, The End the Bear was released. This black bear had the words “The End” stitched on his chest along with embroidered fireworks. He was retired in December 1999 and was supposed to be the last Beanie Baby produced.
Luckily for fans, a worldwide protest prompted the toy company to resume production the following year. Ty Inc. returned to stores in 2000 with a New Year’s Beanie Baby bear named The Beginning.
Hippity the Green Bunny Rabbit, 1997
Derby the Horse, 1995
There were four different versions of Derby the Horse. Earlier versions released in 1995 have a light brown body and dark brown mane. Later versions released in '97 and '98 boast a white patch on Derby's forehead.
Steg the Stegosaurus, 1995
Steg is a green and brown tie-dyed stegosaurus with black button eyes. He was released in 1995 and retired in 1996. Steg has often been counterfeited.
As Beaniepedia explains: "A genuine Steg always has the copyright year of 1995. His fabric is always green with brown and yellow hues. Any other colors indicate a counterfeit."
For more things related to Beanie Babies, catch the HBO Max documentary Beanie Mania when it premieres on Dec. 23, 2021.