The Beanie Baby craze of the '90s was a strange and ferocious phenomenon. Created by Ty Warner, his intention was to manufacture a toy that a child could buy with one week’s allowance. At first, they were considered an amazing investment and highly sought-after. Their popularity reached the point where people were smuggling Beanie Babies into the country.
EBay’s creation and rising popularity contributed to the fad, with adults bidding and buying the toys for hundreds and even thousands of dollars for a $5 stuffed animal. But that couldn't last forever.
Right before Y2K fully hit, Beanie Babies were going to retire the line as the hype was dying down. Though the company left the decision up to the people and Beanie Babies didn’t completely die out, they’re nowhere near as valuable or coveted as they were in the '90s. While the majority of Beanie Babies remain worthless, there are a select few that hold some real value.
Here are the 5 most expensive Beanie Babies and 5 that are completely worthless.
10 (Worthless) Millennium Bear - $25
For the most part, the Millennium Bear isn’t worth much. Released in January 1999 to celebrate the new millennium, the bear is pretty common on the marketplace. A very select few have sold on eBay for upwards of $600, but those either had multiple errors, a January 1st birthday, or a new in package Ronald McDonald House edition.
Otherwise, any run of the mill Millennium Bear usually sells for about $10, $25 max.
9 (Valuable) Peanut The Elephant - $1,500
Typically, this little guy goes for $200-300 if it’s not mint condition. But even for good condition, a couple hundred dollars is great for a $5 investment. Peanut the Elephant is credited with being the Beanie Baby that started it all.
The royal blue version of Peanut is seen as more valuable. His first release was in 1995 and after a slow, shaky start, Ty Warner re-released Peanut in baby blue. Because of this, a limited amount of the royal blue ones are in circulation.
He held more value immediately following the Beanie Baby craze, but due to counterfeits and age, Peanut’s among the least valuable of the most valuable.
8 (Worthless) Bongo The Monkey - $20
There’s nothing particularly flashy or special about Bongo the Monkey. He’s just a cute little monkey who likes bananas and actually had different “generations” of toys. He was redesigned and redistributed among the Beanie Boos line and lives on today.
7 (Valuable) Patti The Platypus - $8,500
The magenta platypus was one of the original nine Beanie Babies launched in 1993. The other eight are Chocolate the Moose, Cubbie the Bear, Flash the Dolphin, Legs the Frog, Pinchers the Lobster, Splash the Orca Whale, Spot the Dog, and Squealer the Pig. Before retiring, Patti was made in magenta, purple, maroon, and raspberry.
Color is important because while any Patti can fetch a pretty price, the magenta version is the oldest in circulation and has a higher chance of being made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pellets. Keep those in mind when you reach Princess Bear.
Magenta Patti beanies can rack up a $6,000 asking price.
6 (Worthless) 2K Confetti Bear $1+
The punderful TY2K Confetti Bear, while adorable and cheerful, really isn’t worth a lot. Released in celebration of the impending New Year in which all computers and technology were predicted to crash spectacularly, this little bear brings the “happy” back to Happy New Year. Admittedly, why there’s a 2K and a Millennium bear is beyond our power of reasoning. Money? Probably money.
Most Confetti bears are listed and sold for around $1 to $7.
5 (Valuable) Claude The Crab - $30,000
TY somehow made a crab look absolutely adorable, beady little eyes and all. Seriously, it’s kind of hard to make a crab look THAT cute.
Released in 1997, Claude the Crab is the only Beanie Baby with a poem dedicated to his name rather than a general description of what he likes to do and how it relates to him. He’s a blend of different colors, kind of like a tie-dye but without the swirls and the unfortunate dye blending that happens at summer camp. Such a weird brown on a stuffed animal shouldn’t work and yet, here we are.
Claude's estimated value is at $10,000.
4 (Worthless) Bruno The Dog - $1+
Bruno the Dog is a delightful little terrier with a long snout and a floppy body. Despite being released in the late 1990s, Bruno is one of the retired Beanie Baby characters. By then, people were kind of catching on to the whole market manipulation and Bruno actually sat in stores for a while.
Despite being a bundle of adorable and being possibly the cutest of the Beanie Baby dogs, you’re lucky to get $5 for him. It’s not worth it, just love the puppy.
3 (Valuable) Valentino The Bear - $42,299
Valentino the Bear was a popular choice around Valentine’s Day. All white with a heart patch and tied up with a little red bow, he’s the epitome of cute and affordable. Since there’s so many in circulation, most Valentinos are only worth a few dollars, even in good condition.
But Valentino is one of the lucky few where manufacturing errors (along with condition) matter. These mistakes include a misspelled name, typos on the tag, and a brown nose instead of black. If your Valentino is from the first batch of toys, contains all errors, and is in mint condition, you could make some moolah. One such bear was sold for just shy of $43,000.
2 (Worthless) McDonald’s Teenie Beanies - $0.01+
When Beanie Babies announced its promotion with McDonald’s, collectors went nuts. Named Teenie Beanies, these toys were a limited run Happy Meal promotion. It’s a common practice that’s still in use today and isn’t bound to stop any time soon. Targeted at kids and families, the strategy benefits all parties involved. People are drawn to the restaurant for a toy they want, the restaurant in question profits off of those sales, and the vendor launches a hopefully successful marketing plan.
In the case of Teenie Beanies, the consumer ends up with the short end of the stick. Expecting the value of these itty bitty plushies to soar, most are lucky to get a few dollars for their sets. If the toy is still in the original packaging, maybe you can eke out $20 for your collection?
1 (Valuable) Princess Diana Bear - $75,000
There’s conflicting information about this Beanie Baby in particular. Some say it holds very little value while others say it’s worth a small fortune. In the end, both are true. The Princess Diana Beanie Baby was a special edition bear made after the untimely passing of Princess Diana. Proceeds from the sales went to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.
People will try to sell the bear for more than it’s worth, believing that the limited run alone is enough to push it into a higher dollar amount. However, the worth of a bear depends on the materials. Most bears purchased were made with polyethylene (PE) pellets. Depending on when the bear was purchased, the degradation of the pellets, and the overall condition of the bear, the PE versions are worth as little as $3 and possibly as much as $100.
The real ticket is the bears made with PVC pellets, which are much rarer and more valuable than the PE variety. This version of the bear is listed for between $6,000 and $32,000.