What's it Worth: Beanie Babies
Do you remember the Beanie Baby craze? When Beanie Babies were first introduced in the mid-1990s, they were marketed as cute, affordable, and highly collectible toys. They were incredibly popular with both children and adults, and many people began collecting them as a hobby. For some, they even became an obsession!
Ty Warner, the company that created Beanie Babies, created demand by making limited runs of characters. The resulting scarcity of certain critters drove some collectors to irrational behavior that resulted in what can only be described as mania.
Since their introduction in 1993, there has been a lively secondary market for Beanie Babies. While not all of these cuddleable critters are worth a lot of money, some rare or highly sought-after versions can sell for thousands of dollars. This has led some collectors to view them as an investment, hoping to cash in on their collection.
Though the craze surrounding them has died down since their peak popularity in the 1990s, there are still dedicated collectors who continue to add to their collections or seek out rare and valuable versions. Today, there are over 45,000 Beanies being auctioned on eBay at any given time. Most toys sell for about $5, though a small number will reach staggering figures. But what factors determine the value of Beanie Babies?
As any collector knows, condition plays a huge role in the value of collectibles. For Beanie Babies, signs of wear on both the toy and the tags are the biggest determining factors in condition grading.
Mint – To be considered mint, there should be no visible signs of wear, and both the hang tags and tush tags should be intact. Toys considered to be in mint condition typically fetch the highest prices at auction.
Near Mint – Even if the toy itself is in perfect condition, a slightly worn or bent tag is enough to warrant a label of near mint. You can expect to sell items in near mint condition at 80-90% of the price of the same toy in mint condition.
Excellent – A step below near mint, toys in excellent condition are in perfect condition besides creased or worn tags, and typically bring in between 65-75% of the mint price.
Very Good – Missing, torn, or very worn tags on a toy in otherwise perfect condition warrant a label of very good, and are priced between 40-60% of the mint price.
Damaged – Beanie Babies were created as toys, and as such, many have been played with. Significant wear and tear on the fabric, missing tags, and signs of repairs are all evidence of such, putting them in the damaged category. Toys that have been played with typically sell for between 5-25% of the mint price.
Beyond condition, there are some other factors that determine the value of your Beanie Babies. For instance, a retired Beanie Baby is usually worth more than one that is still in production since only a set number of toys are in existence. A great example of this are The Original Nine Beanie Babies, all of which are retired, and all of which are still desirable today:
- Patti the Platypus
- Spot the Dog
- Squealer the Pig
- Brownie (later called Cubbie) the Bear
- Chocolate the Moose
- Pinchers the Lobster
- Splash the Killer Whale
- Legs the Frog
- Flash the Dolphin
Whether your toy is in production or retired, you should also check the hang tag for its generation. Just like first edition books, first generation Beanies are typically valued higher than later editions. You should also peek at its tush tag to see if it was stuffed with PE pellets or the more sought after PVC pellets.
Though Beanie Babies considered “perfect” can bring in quite a bit of money, it’s actually the odd ones out that bring in the most cash. Some Beanies have earned a label as rare or unique thanks to factors like printing errors on the tags, limited runs, and even extra limbs. Figures with many errors can bring in between $10-15K, or even more. Incredibly, a Spike the Rhinoceros with a tag error once sold for a whopping $449,999.99 compared to the regular-tagged version, which currently comes in at a measly $2.00. While not every Beanie is capable of fetching such a pretty penny, here are some that have a better chance:
- Valentino the Bear – Released in 1994, Valentino was one of the earliest Beanie Babies, and is considered a classic. The most valuable version is the original, which has a number of errors on the tag, PVC pellets, and may even have a brown nose instead of the intended black one. Today it can reach prices up to $45K.
- Peace the Bear – This Beanie Baby was produced in several different color variations, but the most valuable is the tie-dye version. It can sell for several thousand dollars, with one selling for $7K in 2023.
- Curly the Bear – This Beanie Baby was produced with a number of errors on the tag, including a misspelling of “surface” as “suface” and a missing period after “A”. The most valuable version is priced around $2,500.
- Weenie the Dog – This adorable dachshund was introduced in 1995 and currently goes for around $2,500 thanks to its PVC pellet filling.
- Peanut the Royal Blue Elephant – Introduced in 1995, this version of Peanut was produced in a royal blue color, which was later changed to a light blue. It’s estimated that only 500 of the royal blue toys were made, making it a highly sought-after Beanie Baby that can sell for $1,500-2,500.
Advice for Sellers
Some people collect Beanie Babies to this day simply because they enjoy the hunt for rare or unique versions. While there are certainly opportunities out there to sell Beanies, we advise simply donating them unless you know what you’re offering. Keep in mind that counterfeit Beanie Babies and fraudulent listings are a big problem in the resale market, and it is highly unlikely you’ll be able to sell any toys that aren’t in mint condition.
If you’re determined to make a buck off your collection, consider selling through a Beanie Baby auction house or website specifically marketed to collectors in order to cut down on the risks and to fetch the highest price possible.