Beanie Babies, small animal plush toys, were first introduced to the world in 1993. They quickly became a hot collectible, and the Ty toy company, maker of the Beanies, kept the flames of Beanie Baby fever alive by regularly retiring characters in an effort to make them more desirable. It worked. Fans lined up for hours to collect new Beanies, and retired Beanie Babies are still sold back and forth on auction sites.
The Original Nine
The first nine Beanie Babies released, the ones who started it all, are often called “The Original Nine.” They consisted of Legs the Frog, Squealer the Pig, Brownie (later changed to Cubbie) the Bear, Splash the Whale, Flash the Dolphin, Patti the Platypus, Pinchers the Lobster, Spot the Dog and Chocolate the Moose. Splash and Flash were the first to be retired, in 1997, and the rest slowly followed suit until all of them were resting in peace by the end of 1998. The original nine are worth a great deal of money to collectors. An early run of Spot the Dog was made without a spot, making them even more valuable.
Christmas Holiday Teddies
Every year since 1997, Ty has produced at least one special Christmas Beanie for each year. The holiday bears come in different colors and with different accessories. For example, the 1997 holiday teddy bear is brown with a red and white Santa cap, while the 2000 holiday bear is white, and comes with a patterned scarf. According to the official Ty company website, all Christmas holiday bears, from the first bear through the 2008 bear, have been retired.
Each year, Ty also produces a "Signature" bear, a bear emblazoned with a red heart with the Ty Warner signature on it. The Signature bears also came in different colors for every year and were regularly retired after their year was up. The 2001 Signature bear was pink, while the 2003 Signature bear was a dark charcoal color. Unlike other Beanie Babies, the Signature Bears did not come complete with their own poem.
Peanut the Royal Blue Elephant
Not only is Peanut the Royal Blue Elephant a retired Beanie Baby, he is thought to be the most valuable of all. A manufacturing mistake led to the first 2,000 Peanuts the Elephant being dyed a much darker shade of blue than they should have been, making them high-priced collector’s items. According to the website Smart Collecting, one Peanut the Royal Blue Elephant was auctioned in 2000 for more than $3,000.