Cast your mind back to the 1990s, and amongst the sea of Spice Girls merchandise, Buzz Lightyear dolls, Tamagotchis, and Pogs, there was the Beanie Baby. This teeny bean-bag toy, created by Ty Inc., were small, fairly inexpensive, highly collectable cuddly items, and they were bloomin’ everywhere!
From toy shops and greetings card stores, to McDonald’s and QVC, you didn’t have to go far to bump into a Beanie Baby. And during the height of their popularity, when both kids and adults were picking them up, you didn’t have to go too far to bump into a Beanie Baby collector either.
Word on the street was that Beanie Babies were as valuable as gold (well, sort of). According to the urban legend, if you collect them, invest in them, and keep them in good condition, one day you’ll have enough money to buy a small country.
Or at least that’s what everyone was led to believe. But what is the truth behind the Beanie Baby craze, and did a lot of people make a lot of money on these cute little toys?
All the answers and more can be found in a new docu-film which hits the UK today, called The Beanie Bubble (aka Beanie Mania). The film – from director/editor Ben Kitnick – is available to rent or buy on iTunes, and tells the story behind the rise and fall of Beanie Babies.
Featuring a wealth of input from Beanie Baby collectors and industry insiders, along with plenty of archival footage from the ‘90s, The Beanie Bubble shines a spotlight on what made Beanie Babies so damn popular. It looks at the way in which a simple, yet affordable toy managed to catch the interest of children, and then how that interest transferred onto adults.
From here, the docu-film discusses the popularity and collectability of the brand, and the ways in which it started to become hugely successful, and hugely profitable on the secondary market. And then the film looks at the obscene amounts of money that was changing hands for specific Beanie Babies, as well as the lengths that some people would go to, to get hold of the most desirable characters.
The movie also touches upon the impact that Beanie Babies had on online forums, as well as Ecommerce platforms, with specific reference to eBay. Buying products online is an everyday occurrence these days, but that wasn’t the case in the 1990s, and Beanie Babies certainly helped fuel online sales.
The docu-film then finally lands on the Beanie Baby crash, when the Beanie bubble finally burst. Through conversations with those who experienced it first-hand, the film is able to offer up a detailed account of what happened then, and what happened next.
There are highs, there are lows, and there is everything in between. This is a documentary which covers all aspects of this collector-mania, presenting a fully-rounded, and truly insightful story in the process.
Ultimately, The Beanie Bubble is a docu-film which looks at people, their passions, their interests and happiness, as well as their relationship to money and collectibles. It serves up a fascinating account, which offers an inside look at the fandom and the reasons why these toys took off in the way they did.
If you dabbled in Beanie Babies, recall seeing them around, ever wondered if anyone truly became rich off these toys, or just want to watch a thoroughly insightful docu-film, then this is one to seek out. You don’t have to be a collector to enjoy what’s on offer; you simply need to be interested in fascinating stories.