Soft, Cuddly, and Collectable: Ty Beanie Babies

First released in 1993, Beanie Babies have big eyes, colourful fur, and heart-shaped tags. Deliberately under-stuffed so that they can be posed with ease, eBay offers a wide range of Ty Beanie Babies for either cuddling or building a collection.

What makes Ty Beanie Babies collectable?

New lines of Ty beanie toys are released regularly, and once each line’s limited stock has sold out, it’s gone forever. Each line also contains some unique creative content. The heart-shaped tags can come with the toy's birthday or poems, and eBay has listings for some sold-out Beanie Babies that are considered high-value collector's items. Between 1994 and 1996, the tags were blank except for 'To' and 'From' to allow them to be given as gifts.

The Beanie Baby phenomenon

With nine Beanie Babies in the original line up, Beanie Babies were mostly sold through independent shops. The brand policy was to deliberately underproduce the lines to ensure scarcity, as well as restrict stock volumes to the retailers. This led to a healthy secondary market as lines were retired. Another major contributing factor to their early success was the business to consumer website created by Ty Inc. in 1995, widely acknowledged to have been the first B2C website. By putting the website URL on the unique heart-shaped tag, potential customers were engaged in a novel and, at the time, unique way. Ty beanie babies effectively became a marketing buzz before the internet had reached global adoption.

What are the main design elements of a Ty beanie baby?

There are a number of elements that make Beanie Babies uniquely recognisable. These include:

  • Stuffing material: Rather than soft stuffing, Beanie Babies are stuffed with plastic pellets. This is what gives them their flexible, manoeuvrable feel.
  • Under-stuffed: They are under-stuffed so that they look more life-like, and can easily stand on all fours, or sit up.
  • Heart-shaped tag: These are usually attached towards the top of your toy, and are part of what makes them instantly recognisable. These may also include a design element unique to each line of toys.
  • Design variety: From the classic Ty bears from the original launch to those designed for film and TV franchises, these Beanie toys come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, with a particularly wide selection of colours.