While the Beanie Baby blitz ended in 1999, the small plush toys are still collectible. Identifying which generation your Beanie Baby belongs to requires an examination of its tags; the "hang tag" attached to the toy's head and the "tush tag" attached to its bottom. The tush tag is easy, as it has a printed year that can be used to match a generation. The hang tag, however, has more nuanced details that can verify the toy's exact generation.
Flat or Open
Regardless of other details, there are two distinct types of hang tags: flat tags and pocket-book-style tags. Only the first generation of Beanie Babies have the flat tag; all subsequent generations feature the folding, book-style tags. This is the only way to confirm a first generation Beanie Baby, as the tush tag for the first three generations remained unchanged.
Ty Text Font
The "Ty" name on the hang tag is another indication of a Beanie Baby's generation. First and second generation hang tags use a thinner font than all generations afterward, making them instantly identifiable. From the third generation onward, the text is thicker and more balloon-like, meaning you must rely on the other details of the tag to differentiate generations.
"Beanie Baby" Stars
Almost all hang tags have a star on them. The location and color of the star and accompanying text are the primary indicators of a Beanie Baby's generation. First, second and third generations don't have any star on the hang tag, while all subsequent generations except the 12th feature a star and some text over the "Y." The stars alternate over the generations between yellow, white and holographic coloration and vary in size, and the text usually proclaims "Beanie Baby," "Beanie Babies" or "Original Beanie Baby." The only exceptions to this rule are the sixth generation, where the text proclaims "2000" instead, and the starless 12th generation.
Tush Tag Issue Date
The tush tag is also a good way to determine the generation of a Beanie Baby, although the hang tag is required for ultimate confirmation. All tush tags feature the date on which the toy was manufactured and distributed, with certain dates corresponding to certain generations. For example, dates of 1993 or 1995 correspond to the first three generations, while subsequent generations add 1996, 1997 and 1998. From the seventh generation on, the only date indicated is the year that the toy was made.
Tush Tag Details
The details of the tush tag itself also reveal the generation. Older generations have plain black and white text tags, while later generations gained red text, Ty logos and eventually holographic logos. Tags from the third generation on bear the Beanie Baby brand name. Up until the seventh generation, the tush tags also indicated that Beanie Babies were made in China or Korea.