Tuesday, September 12, 1999
Beanie baby mania enters Phase 2: 'retirement'
By Marcia Pledger
Plain Dealer Reporter
If the announcement
that all Beanie Babies will retire at the end of this year was a
stunt to stir interest, it worked.
been a flurry of phone calls from people asking if we have the new
Beanie Babies," said Michael Ziegenhagen, owner of Playmatters
Creative Toys in Solon, Pepper Pike and Shaker Heights. "We've
also gotten a lot of foot traffic from people checking out our Beanie
Babies. They want to make sure they have everything in stock."
The buzz started
when Ty Inc., an Oakbrook, Ill. Company that makes the beanbag animals
posted an announcement on its Web site Tuesday afternoon. Along
with the usual update of new Beanie Babies to be released next month,
the page said all beanies, including the new ones, would go out
of production Dec. 31.
believes it's a marketing gimmick. Kids today are more attracted
to newer toys, such as Pokemon and Krazy Bones, he said, adding
that most Beanies buyers in the last two years at his stores have
been middle-age women, probably collectors.
Efforts to reach
Ty were in vain yesterday, but the Associated Press reported that
the company declined to say whether it would be making any new Beanie
Babies in 2000.
said a Ty representative told him yesterday that it was true: All
of the newest toys announced on the internet will be retired on
New Year's Eve. But the news hit the internet before retailers could
order the products, so they won't be in some stores for about a
marketing. Honestly, I think that Ty's marketing strategy has people
doing things that they don't even want to do," Ziegenhagen
said. "It's almost like an addiction. From now until the end
of the year, there will be people madly chasing the new styles."
Ty started selling
the toys in 1993 and now has more than 100 characters from teddy
bears and dinosaurs to birds and zoo animals. Within three years
of the Beanie Babies' introduction, the company had a revenue surge
estimated at $250 million.
But the toys
have changed from a children's fad to an adult collectible.
scarcity matters, so discontinued - "retired" - models
have been the hottest sellers.
Some toy industry
experts say Ty had to find a way to build the buzz again, rekindling
interest in its newer toys.
on it is first and foremost, they're generating a lot of discussion
and renewed interest on Beanie Babies at a time when kids right
now are more focused on Pokemon, among other toy products,"
said Sid Good, president of Good Marketing, Inc., a Cleveland-based
children's product development and consulting business.
have been buzzing. That in itself is a major coup for Ty, just to
get people talking about Beanie Babies again," Good said.
translates into additional sales is yet to be seen."
hope one thing the news means is a revived frenzy for older models.
a lot of Beanie Babies that need to be retired because they're sitting
on the shelves too long," said Fern Epstein, co-owner of Fad
Frenzies in Beachwood Place.
to keep selling beanies for a long time. "We're not worried
at all," she said.
a marketing genius. I don't believe that this will be the permanent
end of Beanie Babies (Company founder Ty Warner) will probably start
the new year with a brand new line of Beanie Babies.
of Shaker Heights stopped by fad Frenzies yesterday afternoon to
make sure there were no Beanie Babies at the mall cart that weren't
already in her two daughters' 100-plus collection.
The family began
discussing the possible end of Beanie Babies early yesterday morning.
true that they're retiring, I told my kids we'd put them all in
Ziploc bags and put them away," Krassen said.
one wants to keep a couple of them out to sleep with.
And their father wants to sell them all."