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Bean Bag Plush Toy

Bean Bag Plush Toy

Background

Investors who worry about bull and bear markets should consider the alternatives—the moose, lobster, pink pig, platypus, and dolphin markets, just for starters. These stars in the investment firmament "Chocolate the Moose," "Pinchers the Lobster," "Squealer the Pink Pig," "Raspberry Patti the Platypus," and "Flash the Dolphin" are among the original nine Beanie Babies produced in 1993 by Ty Incorporated. The cute critters are more generically known as bean bag plush toys, and, not only have they shaken kids and the toy domain to its roots, they have forced many adults to rethink their retirement plans, storage space, and sanity.

Is the craze ridiculous? History will tell, but, in March 1999, "Peanut the Royal Blue Elephant" who originally sold for $5.95 in June 1995 was "experiencing a strong secondary market" at the price of $4,500.

History

The bean bag plush toy exploded on the scene in 1993, but its origins are ages old. Bean bags are among the oldest toys and have been made in geometric, animal, and doll shapes and filled with beans, peas, rice, and pebbles for centuries. Rag dolls are another predecessor and are literally as old as fabrics themselves that could be tied in knots or shapes. Rags are the stuffing in many old dolls with cloth bodies and china or bisque porcelain heads. Bears—the most popular bean bag plush toy—are a merging of the bear shape of the classic teddy bear (born in 1903) and the ancient bean bag.

The phenomenon known as Beanie Babies is the brain child of one man. H. Ty Warner worked for Dakin, a major plush toy maker, before founding Ty Incorporated, in Oak Brook, Illinois, in 1986. He designed and manufactured larger plush toys (typically 12-20 in [30.5-51 cm] long) in the United States, England, Germany, Mexico, and Canada before inventing Beanie Babies. Mr. Warner developed Beanie Babies with the idea of creating small plush toys that fit children's hands easily and that also were priced to fit their allowances. He had previously used pellets of polyvinylchloride (PVC) to fill the feet of his larger stuffed animals, so a combination of understuffmg with polyester filler and PVC pellets was used to make the little toys soft.

In November 1993, Mr. Warner debuted the first nine Beanie Babies, modeled after designs used for his larger stuffed toys, at a toy exposition. The first nine Beanie Babies found their way to store shelves in 1994, and Ty Inc., began introducing nine to 12 new designs every six months. By 1995, Beanie Babies had become a phenomenon, and Ty factories were unable to match supply to demand. So-called "beanie baby mania" began in Chicago near Ty's Oak Brook headquarters but was soon experienced as far afield as Canada and England.

Apart from endearing designs, Ty Inc. employed several strategic marketing tactics. When demand began to increase, production was limited to spur on that demand. The toys were and still are not sold in major stores; instead, small shops that sell cards, other types of small toys, candy, and other items attractive to children became the major sellers of beanie babies. The designs themselves included color and clever detailing in eyes, whiskers, feet, tails, and other parts of the small animals.

Each also bears two tags. One printed paper tag is suspended from the ear of each animal and is termed a hang tag, swing tag, or heart tag because of its heart shape. The second tag called a tush or butt tag carries the manufacturing location, toy contents, and company insignia and date and is folded into a seam in the toy's tail area. The hang tag identifies the animal by name, birth date, and after 1996, it is inscribed with a short poem describing the animal's habits or most endearing characteristics.

All of these features attract kids and enhance the collectible value of the toys. In addition, Ty Inc., began retiring the toys routinely; the fact that a particular toy may become an endangered species also adds to its appeal and limited availability. Collectors are pushed to snap them up while they are available. These features and intelligent marketing campaigns have made Beanie Babies a colossal retail success, creating a strong secondary market and numerous offshoots as well.

The success of Beanie Babies can also be attributed to the Internet. In August 1996, Ty Inc., debuted on the Internet and, courtesy of a guest book, Beanie Baby collectors could exchange information and buy and sell toys. A host of web sites followed with every related opportunity from auctions of Beanie Babies to web pages created by children to show off photos of their toys. Another boost to this success came with McDonald's April 11, 1997, launch of its first Teenie Beanie Baby promotion, featuring 10 miniature versions of existing Beanie Baby designs that were sold in McDonald's Happy Meals. The promotion intended to last for five weeks was terminated in less than two weeks when the supply of 100 million toys was exhausted. Two months after the death of Britain's Princess Diana, Ty Inc., released its first special-issue Beanie, a purple bear with a white rose stitched over its heart and named "Princess." All of Ty's profits from sale of this Beanie Baby were dedicated to the Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Fund. Sports teams giveaways, charity auctions, the opening of the Beanie Baby Official Club on January 1, 1998, and other promotions further boosted public interest.

Changes in the hang tags and tush tags produced "generations" of Beanie Babies and again enhanced interest. Inevitably, errors in mass production of the toys were made, and color errors in materials, missing accessories, or incorrect tagging also created rarities among collectors. Some notable mistakes have been made. Spotted dogs have been produced without the right spots, legs are sometimes stitched in place backwards, fabrics have been mismatched to the wrong animals, and hang tags and tush tags don't always match. For collectors, these errors may add to the thrill of the hunt because the faulty animals may be valuable in their own right.

Demand has also caused a significant counterfeiting industry to grow. Legitimate manufacturers fight this with unique fabrics, accessories, and tags. Holograms on tush tags are an example of the manufacturers' attempts to prevent copying. Planet Plush issued its "Windy, the Chicago Bear" designed by famed plush artist Sally Winey in a limited edition of 36,000 with serial numbers, and Limited Treasures also released production figures to increase demand. For retired toys that are commanding high prices on the secondary (resale) market, manufacturers recommend that potential buyers have experts toys authenticate the little animals before investments are made.

Most soft toy makers and many other toy and novelty producers began generating their own designs and pitching unique takes on the plush bean bag. From Meanie Beanies to baseball and NBA bears to remakes of classic bunnies and bears in miniature, the market has responded with something for every taste—all based on small size, small price, plastic pellets, and polyester fiber.

Raw Materials

Bean bag plush toys do not contain beans. Their characteristic soft stuffing consists of two materials, which are plastic pellets and polyester fiber fill. The plastic pellets are made of either polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyethylene (PE), and they are produced by specialty suppliers. The polyester fiber is the filling commonly used for decorative pillows, comforters, some furniture, and many other products.

The bean bag toy's outer fabric skin is made of synthetic plush. Manufacturers try to use unique fabrics to distinguish their products; for example, SWIBCO, which makes the Puffkins Collection, uses high-pile fabric for a fluffy, furry appearance. Ty Inc., recently created its own fabric called Tylon to add shimmer and color variations to its line.

The eyes, noses, and other hard plastic features of bean bag plush toys are designed to suit the animal and are made by specialty subcontractors. All are child-proof parts that became an accepted industry standard in the 1960s because they can't easily be pulled off the toys. The eyes are mounted on plastic stems and fixed to the back side of the fabric with washers, collars, or grommets. Some manufacturers use felt eyes and other features that are prefabricated and stitched securely in place or overstitched features that are made of many layers or wraps of sewing thread by machine. Yarn and thread are used for insect antennae and cat whiskers. Larger appendages like legs, feet, beaks, wings, and ears are made of plush or other fabric and are also stuffed. Ribbons are high-quality double-sided satin.

The toy's other prominent attachments are the tags. Hang tags are printed on paper and bear the manufacturer's identification and information about the character of the animal toy. The hang tag is attached to the toy with a plastic strip fastener; these are made of either red or clear plastic, and each one is 0.5-0.74 in (1.3-1.9 cm) long. On the animals' hindquarters, a fabric safety tag tells the contents of the critter and its place of manufacture (usually China, Korea, Malaysia, or Indonesia), as well as its name, company, and registration and trademark data. Because of counterfeiting, holograms that are more difficult to copy have been added to tush tags.

Design

The process of designing a bean bag plush toy begins with a prototype and may take several years to finalize. For Beanie Babies, Ty Warner himself designs the toys by making several prototypes of the same design. Shapes, colors, materials, features, and accessories are varied on the prototypes. Mr. Warner then polls friends and employees to help select the best design. Further evolutions are involved in the toy design itself but also in its name, tags, and the poem on the tag. Some designs have been reissued with color changes and other variations to improve the products.

Pufflins go through a similar process. These plush toys all have rounded shapes so some types of animals like snakes, worms, long-beaked or -legged birds are not suited to the Puffkins style. Employees often suggest new ideas—an employee contest resulted in the Puffkins name—and public opinion is recorded through e-mail, collectors' input, and suggestions from children. SWIBCO's art department produces up to six designs, and the sketches are reviewed by the firm's owners. The art work is sent to the factory where handmade prototypes are constructed from different fabrics and color combinations. These may be approved for production or new art boards may be requested, and the process repeats. Of the original six, four may be ordered. The two that are not selected may be revised and kept for future use. Filed designs are often studied later and may prompt new ideas.

The Manufacturing
Process

  1. The patterns made for the selected prototype are computer-generated to fit a given length and width of fabric and are laid out for optimal use of the fabric. Cutting dies are also computer-generated from the pattern data, and pieces of the toy are stamped out of multiple layers of plush fabric with the dies. Hand-cutting is also done.
  2. The animal's face and other parts with accessory attachments are assembled first. The grommeted eyes and nose are snapped into place with a special hand tool, and whiskers or other thread and yarn features are stitched into seams.
  3. At long rows of sewing stations, seamstresses stitch segments of the animal together. One station may produce ears only or wings, paws, heads, or bodies. Industrial sewing machines are used, but the machines' access and attachments are specially made for the small pieces to be sewn. At other stations farther along the assembly line, arms and legs and tush tags are attached to bodies until construction of the toy is nearly complete. The whole animal is turned right side out.
  4. Depending on the manufacturer, fiber fill may be added to some pieces like legs before they are stitched to the body. Stuffing is added to the body after careful measuring of both the bean-like pellets and the polyester fiber. Measurements ensure a uniform weight and understuffed feel to each tiger or penguin, and assemblers also subject the creature to a touch and squeeze test to make sure it will sit in the hand, bend at the legs, and otherwise be appropriately cuddly. The last of the stuffing is forced in by hand, and the final opening in the head or side seam is stitched by hand.
  5. Final details like neck ribbons are tied in place, and the hang tags are clipped on with plastic fasteners. The toys are sent to the packaging department where they are bagged and boxed 60 to a carton for shipment.

Quality Control

Seamstresses and assemblers are responsible for the quality of their work. A final quality control review is done prior to packing at the factory, and when the boxed toys reach their distribution centers in the United States or elsewhere, they are inspected again when they are repackaged for shipment to retail stores.

Byproducts/Waste

Makers of bean bag plush toys produce lines of toys with similar design characteristics but no true byproducts. They may use their designs to make other companion products. SWIBCO, for example, has adapted its Puffkins to smaller versions for key rings and magnets. Wastes are minimized to be able to keep the price of the toys within a child's affordability. Polyester fiber fill can be recycled.

The Future

Naysayers claimed that the bean bag plush toy market was about to burst in 1998, but others including the manufacturers themselves say it has at least two to five more years to run its course. The toy market is very volatile, and new fads and interests tempt children and their parents every day. Still, these toys are easy to collect and store, given their small size, and they have something for everyone in color, type of animal, seasonal characters, and charm. Bean bag addicts claim the demand will last for many more years on the secondary market alone. Whether a toy stalwart or a fad, bean bag plush toys have the perennial attraction of bean bags and cloth toys behind them and future generations of kids to enrapture with their names, birth dates, bright eyes, welcoming price tags, and cuddly feel.

Where to Learn More

Books

Collector's Value Guide. Ty Beanie Babies. Meriden, CT: Collectors' Publishing Co., Inc., 1998.

Fox, Les and Sue. The Beanie Baby Handbook. Midland Park, NJ: West Highland Publishing Company, 1998.

King, Constance Eileen. The Encyclopedia of Toys. Crown Publishers Inc., 1978.

Phillips, Becky and Becky Estenssoro. Beanie Mania II: The Complete Collector's Guide. Sun Prairie, WS: Royale Communications Group Inc., 1998.

Periodicals

Bryant, Adam. "Time to Short Beanies? Lessons about Investing from Peanut the Elephant." Newsweek (March 29, 1999): 46.

Chen, Kathy. "Modern Marco Polos head east in search of Peanut and Garcia." The Wall Street Journal (June 19, 1998): B1.

Dunne, Claudia and Mary Beth Sobolewski. "How to Protect Yourself from Counterfeits: Part II." Beanie World Monthly supplement (Fall/Winter 1998).

Other

Beanie Mom's Newsletter. http://beaniemom.com/.

Beanie Nation. http://www.BeanieNation.com/.

Mary Beth's Beanie World Monthly http://www.beanieworld.net/.

Peggy Gallagher Enterprises, Inc. http://www.beaniephenomenon.com/.

Planet Plush http://www.planetplush.com/.

SWIBCO, Inc. http://www.swibco.com/.

Ty Inc. http://www.ty.com/.

GillianS.Holmes

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Some Business Facts about Toys

SOME BUSINESS FACTS ABOUT TOYS

  • In the United States, toy sales amounted to $25 billion dollars in 2001.
  • Wal-Mart was the largest retailer, with toy sales of $7,300 million ($7.3 billion).
  • Toys 'R Us was a close second with sales of $6,933 million ($6.9 billion).
  • Science-related toys were the fastest growing segment of the toy market in the years 1996 through 1999.
  • Science-related toy sales amounted to $90 million in 1999.
  • Science-related toy sales continue to grow at a rate of 12% a year.
  • The Mars Pathfinder Action Pack continues to sell out whenever a shipment is received.
  • In contrast to the $90 million science-related toy market, sales of Star Wars action figures alone amounted to $500 million in 1999.

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Bean Bag Plush Toy

Bean Bag Plush Toy

Bean bag plush toys are not filled with beans. Their soft stuffing consists of small bean-like plastic pellets and polyester fiberfill.

A bean bag plush toy is an soft, stuffed, hand-sized animal toy filled with bean-like plastic pellets and fiberfill (material used for pillow stuffing). The original nine Beanie Babies® created by H. Ty Warner in 1993 started a "fad" that has continued to last and has renewed interest in other bean bag plush toys.

Bean bag ancestors

Bean bags are among the oldest toys and have been made in various shapes and forms. Some have taken on simple geometric shapes, while others are made into animal and doll forms. For centuries, they have been filled with beans, peas, rice, or pebbles.

A cousin to bean bag toys is the rag doll, which has also been around for many years. People have probably made rag dolls for their children since the first fabrics were woven. Like bean bag dolls and animals, they have been toted around by children and brought to bed for comfort and companionship. Rags are the stuffing used in many old dolls with cloth bodies and heads made from china, ceramic, or porcelain.

Bears remain very popular toys in the United States, perhaps because people associate them with the classic teddy bear toy that was created in honor of President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt (1858–1919) in 1903. These stuffed creatures continue to have a sentimental value and have become the most popular bean bag plush toys.

Birth of the Beanie Babies®

H. Ty Warner (1944–) is the genius behind the Beanie Babies®. For eighteen years, Warner worked for Dakin, Inc., a major stuffed toy maker, before forming Ty Inc. in Oakbrook, Illinois, in 1986. He developed Beanie Babies® with the idea of marketing small, cuddly plush toys that children can hold in their hands and that they can afford to buy using their allowance money. He also wanted the toys to be soft and not stiff like the other stuffed animals in the market. Therefore, to make the toys soft and posable, he understuffed them with bean-like plastic pellets and fiberfill.

In November 1993, Warner debuted the first nine Beanie Babies® at the World Toy Fair in New York City. In early 1994, he began selling them in small stores across Illinois. In June 1994, Ty Inc. introduced thirty-six new Beanie Babies®, and soon the hand-sized plush toys had found their way to the southern states. Sales steadily rose as the plush toys attracted not only children but also adults. Before long, Beanie Babies® became collectibles, starting a buying frenzy across the United States. By 1996, over 100 million Beanie Babies® had been sold.

It's all in the marketing

Since the mid-1990s, the Beanie Babies® "fad" has grown. Apart from endearing designs, Ty Inc. employed several clever marketing tactics to increase its sales. Unlike other toys that are mass-produced, varieties of Beanie Babies® have limited production. Once consumers realized a certain number of toys were being "retired" (discontinued) periodically, they would snap up new releases as soon as the products hit the stores.

In 1996, Ty Inc. launched a Web site where, among other things, soon-to-be-retired toys were announced. Collectors would then quickly buy up the potential "retirees," thus creating instant collectibles. By 1997, the company was discontinuing and creating new Beanie Babies® every four to six months. When Ty Inc. announced that it would retire all Beanie Babies® by December 31, 1999, consumers not only protested but went on a buying streak.

As stated before, Beanie Babies® appealed not only to children but also to adults. Adults who shop at specialty stores, such as flower shops and hotel gift shops, became collectors overnight, thus opening up a whole new market. And since the price was reasonable—between $4 and $7—they were more likely to buy several.

Other gimmicks, such as creating "generations" of hang tags and tush tags, further enhanced the toys' appeal, especially to collection hunters. Each toy has two tags. The hang tag, also called a swing tag or a heart tag because of its heart shape, identifies the toy by name and birth date. Those made after 1996 include a poem describing the animal's habits or character. The second tag, called a tush tag, shows the toy contents, the manufacturing location, company trademark and registration.

Corporate America joins the craze

In 1997, McDonald's Corporation added to the Beanie Babies® craze by including miniature versions of existing Beanie Babies® with its Happy Meals. The first Teenie Beanie Babies™ promotion featured ten toys to be released two per week during a five-week period. The promotion lasted just two weeks because the supply of 100 million toys had been exhausted.

Design

Designing a bean bag plush toy begins with a prototype (a standard model) that may take several years to complete. In the case of Beanie Babies®, Ty Warner designs the toys by making several prototypes of the same design. Warner varies the shapes, colors, materials, features, and accessories (additional features) on each prototype, and then asks for friends' and employees' opinions to select the best design. During the design process, changes continue to be made not only to the toy itself but also in its name, tags, and the poem on the hang tag. Even after a toy has been in the market, changes may be made to improve it.

At SWIBCO, another plush toy manufacturer, the Puffkins® Collectibles undergo the same process. These plush toys have rounded shapes; therefore, some types of animals, such as snakes or long-legged birds, are not suited to the design. The design idea may come from employees. (In fact, an employee contest resulted in the Puffkins® name.) Other design ideas may come from children, Puffkins® collectors, or the general public.

SWIBCO's art department creates up to six designs, and the sketches are reviewed by the firm's owners. From the sketches, factory workers produce handmade prototypes, using different fabric and color combinations. The owners may approve the prototypes for manufacture or request new designs. Of the original six designs, four may be manufactured. The two that are not selected may be revised and kept for future use. The art department may review these designs later and get fresh ideas from them.

Raw Materials

Bean bag plush toys are not filled with beans. Their characteristic soft stuffing consists of small bean-like plastic pellets and polyester fiberfill. The plastic pellets are made of either polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyethylene (PE), and are produced by specialty suppliers. The polyester fiberfill is the stuffing commonly used for pillows, comforters, some furniture, and many other products.

The outer fabric of the toy is made of synthetic (artificial) plush. The fabric called plush typically has a soft nap, the term used to describe the short fibers that stick out from the fabric surface to give it a smooth, soft feel.

Manufacturers usually use unique fabrics to distinguish their products from others of almost similar characteristics. For example, SWIBCO uses high-pile fabric for a fluffy, furry appearance. Ty Inc., on the other hand, created its own synthetic fabric called Tylon for use with Beanie Babies®.

The eyes, noses, and other hard plastic features of bean bag plush toys are made by an outside specialty manufacturer. The parts are all childproof, which means that they cannot be easily removed or broken. The eyes are placed onto plastic stems, and the stems are passed through the fabric to be securely attached with fasteners on the fabric back. Some manufacturers use eyes and other features made from felt material. These felt parts may be produced by an outside supplier and then sewn on at the manufacturing factory. Some manufacturers create eyes and noses on the fabric itself by stitching layers of thread by machine to produce the desired look.

Yarn and thread are used for insect antennas and cat whiskers. Large body parts, such as legs, feet, beaks, wings, and ears, are made of plush or other fabric. These body parts are usually stuffed with filling. Ribbons that are used are high-quality, double-sided satin.

Bean bag plush toys generally have one or two tags, or strips of material attached to the finished products. The tags may carry the manufacturer's name, location, and telephone number; toy contents; washing instructions; and the ages of children for whom the toy is intended. For Beanie Babies®, two tags are used. The hang tag is printed on paper and carries the manufacturer's identification and information about the animal character. It is attached to the toy with a plastic strip fastener made of red or white clear plastic. Each fastener is about 0.5 to 0.74 inch (1.3 to 1.9 centimeters) long. The fabric safety tag, also called the tush tag, is attached to the animal's hindquarters. The tush tag shows the contents of the toy, its name, its place of manufacture, and registration and trademark information. To prevent the making of counterfeits (fake products), the tush tag also sports a morphing hologram (a changing three-dimensional image). Ty Inc. periodically changes the design of these tags.

The Manufacturing Process

The large-scale production of bean bag plush toys is done on an assembly line, in which specific parts of the toy are made at different sewing-machine stations, then moved to the end of the line for final assembly and stuffing.

Making the pattern

1 The pattern made from the selected prototype is computer-generated to fit a certain length and width of fabric. The resulting patterns are then laid out on the fabric, making sure that very little fabric is wasted.

Producing the formed animals

2 Cutting dies (molds) are also computer-generated from the pattern information to produce the form for each part of the toy animal. Using the different dies, parts of the toy are stamped out (cut by using high pressure) of multiple layers of plush fabric. Some toy parts may also be hand-cut.

Assembling the face features

3 Each animal's face and body parts with accessory attachments are assembled first. The eyes and nose are fastened into place with a special hand tool. Whiskers, antennas, and other features made of yarn and thread are sewn in place.

Sewing the animal parts

4 At long rows of sewing stations called an assembly line, sewers stitch parts of the toy animal together. Industrial sewing machines, which are powerful machines suited for large-scale production, are used. However, the machine parts are especially made for sewing small pieces of fabric.

The sewing is done on the back sides of two matching fabric pieces. One sewing station may be responsible for sewing just the ears. Another station sews the paws, while still another is responsible for the head. At other stations farther along the assembly line, body parts and the tags are attached to the main body until the whole animal is completely assembled. Manufacturers vary in the placement of the tags on the animal's body. For Beanie Babies®, just the tush tags are attached. Then the animal is turned right-side out.

Stuffing the animal

5 Depending on the manufacturer, fiberfill may be added to certain pieces, such as the legs, before attachment to the body. The plastic pellets and fiberfill are measured before they are machine-stuffed into the animal to ensure a uniform weight and to give the toy an under-stuffed feel. Assemblers also subject the toy to a touch and squeeze test to make sure it will sit on the hand, bend at the legs, and feel cuddly. The last of the filling is stuffed by hand, and the opening in the head or side seam is sewn by hand.

Adding the final accessories and packaging

6 Neck ribbons and other final details are tied in place. At this stage, Beanie Babies® hang tags are clipped on with plastic fasteners. The toys are sent to the packaging department where they are bagged and boxed for shipment.

Quality Control

The sewers and assemblers make sure the toy animals are put together properly and that they are filled with appropriately measured stuffing. Before packaging, the toys are rechecked. When the toys reach the distribution centers in the United States or other parts of the world, they are inspected before they are repackaged for shipment to retail stores.

WHO KNEW WE COULD BE THIS CRAZY?

Beanie Babies® fans and collectors have been known to do wacky things just to get their hands on those bean bag plush toys.

  • Arguing and wrestling with other adults at the mall to secure their first-in-line positions.
  • Asking total strangers to buy more Beanie Babies® for them, in exchange for money, after they have bought their limit of toys in a certain store.
  • Ordering enormous amounts of Happy Meals at a McDonald's restaurant in order to obtain the free Teenie Beanie Babies™ that come with the food.
  • Following UPS (United Parcel Service) trucks known to deliver Beanie Babies® to certain stores.
  • Sending along an inventory list of one's child's Beanie Babies® when he/she visits a friend to ensure the child brings home the same number of toys.

The Future

Although some observers predicted that the market for Beanie Babies® and other bean bag plush toys would soon decline, the popularity of these toys continues. Clubs that have been formed by collectors are as active as ever and have various Internet sites with contents ranging from new products to counterfeit reports and helpful tips. Children are not the only ones buying the toys. Adults of all ages, including men, are collecting them. Many are willing to pay several more times the original price of around $4 to $7 to acquire toys that have been retired (no longer manufactured).

Bean bag toy manufacturers have created elaborate Web sites to fuel the bean bag toy craze. Fans can find out about toys that are soon to be released and discontinued, as well as post their questions and complaints. Some fans have even created their own Internet sites to share their experiences with these toys.

Bean bag toy fans claim the demand will last for many more years. Secondary markets (places other than retail stores or wholesale firms, which ordinarily sell the toys), including Internet auction sites, sports card shops, and florists, now carry these toys. People trying to cash in on the fad have written books from any angle they can think of. Some have published monthly magazines, while other have developed software programs targeting collectors. Also joining the many businesses are individuals offering authentication services to help establish that a certain toy is the real thing.

Many products marketed as beanies have flooded the market, including cartoon characters, sports stars, and entertainment figures. A recent concept of bean bag plush toys is taking advantage of children's interest in computers. The four-inch, plush PuterBabies®, who go by such technology names as Byte the dog and Bandwidth the Raccoon, are designed to sit on computer monitors. It seems as if bean bag plush toys will be here for a while.

assembly line:
A line of factory workers and equipment through which a product that is being put together passes from one operation to another until completion.
collectible:
One of a group of a certain object that is sought after by a collector.
fiberfill:
A synthetic material used for stuffing pillows and other products.
pile:
Loops of yarn that form the surface of some fabrics.
polyvinyl chloride (PVC):
A type of plastic that is resistant to moisture and weathering.

For More Information

Books

Boardman, Doug and Bernadette. Beanie Babies®: Behind the Boom. Nashua, NH: 38th Street Publishing, 1998.

Phillips, Becky, and Becky Estenssoro. Beanie Mania II: The Complete Collector'sGuide. Naperville, IL: Dinomates, Inc., 1998.

Periodicals

Mannix, Margaret, and James M. Pethokoukis. "Beanie Bubble." U.S. News &World Report (August 3, 1998): pp. 53–58.

Morice, Laura. "Still Bonkers Over Beanies." Good Housekeeping (July 1999): p. 104.

Web Sites

aboutbeanies.com.http://www.aboutbeanies.com (accessed July 22, 2002).

Brereton, Erin. "Beanie Babies® Background Information." Beanie Buddy.http://www.beanie-buddy.com/history.html (accessed on July 22, 2002).

Welcome to PuterBabies: Make Your Computer Their Home.http://www.cybergetic.com/~puterbabies/ (accessed July 22, 2002).

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