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In 1993, the world went crazy for Beanie Babies, small, plush animals by toy company Ty.

Heralded as valuable collectibles, people would rush out to buy the $5.95 toys for their children or themselves, eagerly waiting for them to appreciate in value.

But then the Beanie Baby bubble burst.

As far as bubbles go, it wasn't bad ? at worst, most collectors were stuck with a few worthless stuffed animals they'd overpaid for.

But one family found themselves sunk by the toys.

The Robinsons of Los Angeles currently have tens of thousands of Beanie Babies, all stacked neatly away and labeled in boxes. The family estimates they spent roughly $100,000 on the collection, thinking it would eventually appreciate in value and pay for their kids to attend college.

But the spending was only the tip of the iceberg. For a time, the family let the dolls rule their lives, hopping from one "Beanie joint" to another, trying to sidestep the "one-per-family rule" by recruiting neighbors to make purchases for them and going to extreme lengths to catalogue and preserve their Beanie Baby hoard.

In 2009, their oldest son, Chris Robinson, decided to direct a short documentary (resurrected by Dazed Digital, which recently interviewed Chris) called "Bankrupt by Beanies" about his family's experience.

He interviewed his brothers Christian and Taylor, his mother Lesleigh, and his father Chris Robinson Senior to find out more about how the obsession started and the impact it had on his family.

When Taylor was three or four, he wanted a Beanie Baby. After his father Chris Sr. learned that they were valuable, he began to take the kids to different "Beanie joints" to get as many of the toys as possible.

"This is like admitting to a drug addiction," Chris Sr. now says of the Beanie Babies. He knew the schedules of when new toys were being released, and had an inside source about how much they would be worth.

Chris Sr. admits that when certain specialty items would come out, he'd buy more than one for each of his 5 children. He bought a total of 50 "Soar" Bald Eagle Buddies because they would only be sold for a day.

The kids would inventory all the stuffed animals in cubicles according to species, and place plastic protectors around the name tags. "That's how we spent our weekends," mom Lesleigh remembers.

Christian talks about how covert they had to be when they went into stores. The kids were taken to school late, friends were recruited, and everyone was told to pretend they didn't know each other. "Don't make eye contact, don't say hello to each other."

Eventually, Chris Senior thought that selling the stuffed toys would help pay for his children to go to college. "That was the plan. It never happened because we never sold them, we just bought them," Lesleigh says. "We missed that boat."

The family still has between 15,000 and 20,000 beanie babies. But they admit despite how dire the circumstances are now, the beanie babies could come around again. "I guess we'll see who's crazy in 20 years," the film ends.

source

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The Robinsons of Los Angeles currently have tens of thousands of Beanie Babies, all stacked neatly away and labeled in boxes. The family estimates they spent roughly $100,000 on the collection, thinking it would eventually appreciate in value and pay for their kids to attend college.

 

Does this mean the kids will never go to college now? 

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"I guess we'll see who's crazy in 20 years"

 

no need to wait to figure it out!

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Timing is everything.  For a brief time I looked for the quick buck and new the best way to make $ was to turn around as sell while the market was hot.  When the Wii Fit came out it was impossible to find after release day.  I saw the prices on ebay/craigslist and made it my mission to call around to local stores each day to check on inventory.  I think in the end I bought 5 or 6, sold all but one of them for at least double (I think they retailed for $90).  Obviously a Wii Fit today would be lucky to sell for $25 on ebay or craigslist. 

 

This family could have made a killing if they sold them shortly after they were purchased, its like holding on to a stock too long.

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He bought 50 special edition eagle things on the day they were sold?

 

That does somehow reek of a little autism...

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I have neighbors that bought tons of them thinking they would be a good investment... now they have trouble selling them for 25 cents each at garage sales...

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Greed will get you every time

Should of bought gold back then and they would have no worries.

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Greed will get you every time

Should of bought gold back then and they would have no worries.

you'd still have worries... gold can devalue too.. you have no idea if it will go up down or stay the same

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They expected them to be worth a lot in such a short time?? Give it 200 years...

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I never heard of Beanie Babies before. Must be a USA thing cause here in Quebec, Canada nobody went crazy for them as far as i know.

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gold can devalue too.. you have no idea if it will go up down or stay the same

 

Tends not to.

 

I never heard of Beanie Babies before. Must be a USA thing

 

We have them - UK.  Seen them all over Europe and Asia too.

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