Beanie Babies, Naked Barbie, American Pickers and Old Coots

As we begin preparing for our move we’ve been poking thru our various boxes and bins looking for stuff we don’t want to pay to move.  Which, for me, is just about everything.  I love getting rid of stuff.

In one of those plastic bins (the oversized version) is my daughter’s collection of Beanie Babies.  Boy howdy, do I hate these things.

On the off-chance you missed it, or were smart enough to just ignore it, BBs were all the rage in the mid to late 1990s.  They are little bean bags in the shape of various animals and the Ty Company was cranking them out just as fast as they could come up with new versions.

Each had a little tag with the BB’s name.  How cute.

This was perfect timing for my little girl as she was about 4 to 10 while this was going on.  Between those we bought for her and those she got as gifts she wound up with around 100 of the little sacks.

One day at work a woman mentioned that she was “investing” in BBs and that these were going to finance her kids’ college educations beginning in about a decade.  What the….

A little quick research showed that, sure enough, these things had become “collectable” and people were rushing to pay ever-increasing dollars for “discontinued” Babies.


Now I have no crystal ball, but the most rudimentary understanding of supply and demand economics was enough to know this could only end badly.  Most likely sooner rather than later.

After failing to convince my colleague of the flaws in her “investment” plan (hey at least I tried), I rushed home.

“Gather up the Beanie Babies,” I said to my wife and daughter in delight.  “We’re going to make a killing!”

“No Daddy,” said my little girl.  “I love my Beanie Babies.  They are not for sale.”

“Quickly now.  This bubble will be bursting momentarily.”

“You can’t sell our daughter’s toys,” said my wife.

“Sure we can!  By the way, you didn’t take the tags off did you?”


“I don’t,” tears rolling down her cheeks “want them to go.”

“Ah sweetie, we’ll get you some other dolls.  Silly people will pay lots of money for these, but not for long.  Gather them up.  How many do you have?”

It didn’t take long before I realized that this just wasn’t going to happen.  That I was doomed to watch as this asset (and how could I now consider them anything else?) depreciated into nothing.

Now, opening that bin, here the despicable little things were.  Staring up at me.  Mocking.  No longer cherished, no longer wanted and, of course, no longer of value.  Just to be sure, I went to Ebay.  As of today there are 10,649 listings for BBs.  All but a very, very few have zero bids.  Zero.


Yours for only $500,000.00

The most expensive offered is a Princess Diana for $500,000.00.  Nope, that’s no typo.  Half a million dollars.  Really?  Could anyone be stupid enough to pay that kind of money for a bean bag toy?  Can you say “Tulip Bulb?”

This “very rare” BB is one of seven currently offered.  The lowest priced one is $4000.  No, I don’t know what the difference between a 500k and 4k Diana is other than, perhaps, the seller’s assessment of how stupid people can be.

Not surprisingly, they seem not to be selling.  So if you want one, you’ve got time. (And I’ll make you a deal on a bunch more.  Call me.)

Did they ever sell at such levels?  Beats me, but if they did I can guarantee there are lots of counterfeits out there.


The cheapest one with an actual bid is 55 cents.  With free shipping.  So, basically this seller is paying to get rid of it.  I sure hope my old colleague found a better way to pay for her kids to go to college.

The problem with Beanie Babies, or anything else produced as a collectible, is that when people buy them they save them.  They will never be rare and rare equals value.  I know people who each year buy the annual Barbie Collectible Edition and tuck them away in their unopened original box.  Barbies from the early 1960s are valuable, right?  So in a few decades these will be too.  Right?

This Headless Vintage Barbie is on Ebay as I write.

18 bids so far.


Clothes evidentially not included.

Nope.  These old Barbies have value precisely because no one at the time ever dreamed they would be collectible.  Very rare is the Barbie from that time still in its unopened box.   Those produced now by Mattel as “collectables” will never be rare.  ‘Cause, well, everybody is collecting them.

Personally, I’m not a collector.  In fact, I’m just about as far from being a collector as one can be.  I don’t much like owning things. Feels heavy and burdensome to me.

But for some reason I can’t quite explain I have recently become addicted to TV shows about collectors.  American Pickers, Pawn Stars, Storage Wars and the like provide me great entertainment.  Maybe it is just that these people are so alien to me it’s hard not to be fascinated.

Take American Pickers.  If you haven’t seen it, basically these two guys drive around the country in their van looking for “rusty gold.”  They’ll roll up on some old coot’s spread and say “We’re Pickers from Iowa.  Mind if we look around?”

The places they visit are usually out in the country and are surrounded by junk in the yard.  Often as not, there will be several out buildings each crammed to the rafters with crap.  They will rummage about thru these piles and pull out something.


“What a great piece!” they’ll say holding up a rusty piece of crap that, to me, looks like all the other rusty pieces of crap.  “How much would you have to have for this?”


“Well I don’t know.” says the old guy, and it is almost always an old guy.  “I don’t think I could part with that.”

What?!  Until this moment you probalby  haven’t seen this thing in 40 years and you forgot you owned it 30 years ago.  Sell!

“How about $400?”

Sell, Sell, Sell you idiot; and then beg them to buy more!!

“Nope.  Think I’ll just hang on to that there.”

Old signs seem popular and they like old bikes and motorcycles.  Other random stuff, too.  Since their business is reselling this stuff they must know what has value.  I get that.  But they ain’t buying no Beanie Babies.


Old crap is not the only reason to watch this show.

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