by Andy Roe
September 1, 1999, 3 p.m. PT
Heads were spinning yesterday as Beanie Baby fans and collectors contemplated the news that production of the
bean-filled critters would cease at the end of the year.
Oak Brook, Illinois-based Ty Inc., the maker of the plush toys, posted the announcement Tuesday afternoon, shortly
after 3 p.m. The news came in a somewhat cryptic fashion, accompanying a listing of new Beanie Babies the company will
release next month (one of which is appropriately called "The End"). A statement at the end of the listing proclaimed:
"VERY IMPORTANT NOTICE: On December 31, 1999-11:59 p.m. (CST) All Beanies will be retired…including the above!"
Ty Inc. made no other statement yesterday except to confirm the announcement. Today, the page containing the
announcement was no longer accessible on the company's Web site. The reclusive head of the insular company, Ty Warner,
was in Tokyo and could not be reached for comment. Attempts by the New York Times to talk to Warner or other
senior-level executives were unsuccessful. "It's not going to happen at all," was the response from a Ty Inc. manager
identified as Denise.
Not surprisingly, word of the retirement news spread quickly. Yesterday Beanie chat rooms and fan sites were abuzz with
the prospect of a Beanie-less new millennium. In addition to the New York Times story, a number of news organizations
and publications also covered the news, including the Associated Press, CNN, ABCNews.com, and USA Today.
Some of the fallout surrounding the announcement involved speculation that the move was a marketing ploy designed to
spur interest in Beanies, which have decreased in popularity since a frenzied period of buying and selling a few years
ago. Whether or not that's in fact the case remains to be seen. For now, however, Beanie aficionados are wondering what
the ramifications of the retirement announcement will be.
"We don't have the official word from Ty on what it means," cautioned Jennifer Coyle, Webmaster at BeanBagWorld.net, a
Beanie Web site affiliated with Mary Beth's Bean Bag World. "We're handling our coverage on how it's going to affect
According to Brian Dunn, marketing director of Collecting Nation, whose family of sites includes Beanie Nation , the
announcement had an immediate impact, leading to an increase in traffic and activity on Collecting Nation. "There was a
buzz all day," said Dunn, who noted that two weeks ago Ty Inc. made a preannoucement that an important statement would
be released on August 31. "But as soon as the announcement hit, our chat rooms were instantly at record levels of
Dunn said he expects that the announcement should have a positive impact on the Beanie market. He also said that
Beanie Baby bids on Beanie Nation experienced a dramatic 50 percent increase after news of the retirement proclamation
A commentary posted on BeanBagWorld.net by the editor in chief of Mary Beth's Bean Bag World said the announcement came
amid several rumors--everything from a Disney buyout to Ty retiring to an island.
"There is no doubt that Ty Warner has shocked collectors around the globe with this surprise announcement," wrote Mary
Beth Dvorak Sobolewski. "Beanies as we know them will all be officially retired on December 31, 1999…Some Beanie Baby
collectors are grieving [over] the retirement of the much-loved products--but those collectors need to know this
retirement doesn't necessarily mean the Beanie line will end. We are excited and waiting in eager anticipation for Ty's
new Year 2000 releases."
First available in 1993, Beanie Babies continue to be a staple of online auctions. Specialty sites such as Beanie
Nation list a large volume of Beanies and assorted paraphernalia, while eBay currently offers more than 77,000