Beanie Babies are a unique collectible. As a piece of nostalgia whose popularity was at its height in the 90s, the animal-shaped bean bags are still collected by numerous people. What each one is worth can be difficult to ascertain, however. Media accounts will sometimes make claims that are unbelievable. Princess, for example, is not worth $250,000. No Beanie is. Claude the crab is not rare. Valentino is worth $2 unless it has an older tag, then it might be worth a bit more. And its nose has always been brown.
This is a running list of sales that have happened recently. Given that many of these pieces only sell a few times a year, there is no simple way to know what the price of the next sale of the item will be. So, take the prices below with a grain of salt.
Some Beanie Babies are worth quite a bit of money. Most are worth almost nothing. After the Beanie Baby craze collapsed, prices fell to earth. At the height of the craze, Tabasco the Bull was selling for $500. Today, you can purchase one on Ebay for around $19 for a 4th generation Tabasco and as much as $100 for a 3rd generation Tabasco.
Before I write this, I have to mention that most of the lists online are complete bunk. Declaring Valentino, Claude, or Princess the Bear valuable is just not true. These were, for the most part, common Beanie Babies sold. They are extremely common pieces, and usually worth less than $10. The valuable Beanie Babies are older. They are the ones that were sold before the craze began. Most of the more expensive Beanie Babies will have 1st and 2nd generation hang tags.
Some of them were beanies that were not retired until mid-craze. So what makes them valuable is the tag that indicates they were from that first set of Beanies. I’m leaving off exclusive Beanie Babies here and going for the generally collectible units. There were many, for example, that were given out at company parties. These toys are valuable, but they didn’t appear in stores. Daily, Beanies are also sold as prototypes. These are neat collectibles, but, again, not the sort of thing that collectors could simply find in their collections. I’m also not including errors in this list. Most errors do not do much for you. Some do a lot. A princess that is missing the thistel, for example, is pretty valuable. An Iggy with a Rainbow hang tag is not. This list is accurate as of April 1, 2019. And it could change. But it will be the most accurate list you can find online regarding real prices of these beanies.
1. Peanut the Royal Blue Elephant Beanie Baby ($800-$1200): Sells Between $800-$1200. This might be the holy grail of Beanie Babies. While Peanut the elephant is relatively common, its light blue form is the one most often seen in the wild. The royal blue version was released for a very short time only. Many estimate around 2,000 total were made. And while there are rarer Beanie Babies, this is the one that started the craze.
2. Inky the Gray Octopus with no mouth and 1st or 2nd Generation Hang Tags ($260-$700): Sells for beween $260-$700. This was a popular Beanie Baby that lasted long into the craze. But most collectors know it by its distinct pink fabric. The happy octopus also is usually smiling. But originally, Inky was a drab gray. It had no smiling mouth. Depending on the generation of the hang tag (1st or 2nd) this Beanie Baby is highly sought after.
3. Punchers the Lobster Beanie Baby ($600-$700): Punchers was disappeared very early on and replaced by Pinchers the Lobster. They are the exact same animals, exact same body, exact same fabric. But Punchers was only produced with first generation hang tags. Similar to Inky the Octopus, a first generation hang tag punchers will sell for upwards of $600 to $700.
4. Patti the Magenta Platypus Beanie Baby ($535-$595): Sells for $535-$595. This is one of the original 9 Beanie Babies that came out. When introduced it was a magenta platypus… you know… like real platypuses. The later versions were more fuchsia. They are common and sell for very little.
5. Any of the Old Faced Teddy Bear Beanie Babies ($502-$549): The bears were and are some of the most popular Beanies ever to exist. The colored bears come in two varieties: “old face” and “new face.” These are easy to distinguish between. The old face does not have stitching right beneath the eyes that give them a rounded face. The old-faced bear beanie babies have pointy faces. These are all worth between $500 and $550 depending on their tag.
6. Wingless Quacker the Duck ($497-$449): If you’ve never heard of a duck with no wings, then you are right in line with Ty who quickly added some wings to the sad looking duck as well as an “S” to the end of the duck’s name. Generally wingless Quacker tilts to one side in a depressing sort of way. Highly counterfeited, Quacker is a valuable little animal if you have one.
7. Trap the Mouse ($90-$390): This little mouse is an oft forgot addition to the Beanie Baby collection. One of the earliest beanie babies, this cheese-loving critter is small, round, and worth a little less than $400. Crucially, it must have the first generation swing tag to fetch that incredible price tag. Its 2nd and 3rd generation hang tag generation will go for considerably less. A 2nd generation Trap recently sold for just over $200, and a 3rd generation goes for something south of $180.
8. Digger the orange crab ($60-$408): Orange is an odd choice for a crab, since that’s kind of the color that they turn when they’re cooked. Crabs and lobsters. Ty had the foresight when it came to Punchers. But not so much when it came to Digger. While more commonly known by its bright red fabric, Digger the crab originally was released as an orange critter. It was later changed to its more famous red color many years later. To date, the orange version of Digger, however, is sought after, and hard to find. A first generation hang tag Digger can sometimes sell for just north of $400. The price of the orange crab with later generation hang tags drops precipitously. A second generation might go for under $100, while a third generation Digger Beanie Baby will sell for under $60.
9. Humphrey the Camel ($358): This adorable camel is one of the oldest, rarest Beanie Babies on the books. Cute, yes, cheap, no. If you’re looking for a good quality Humphrey with a first edition hang tag, it will set you back a little over $350.
10. Slither the snake ($330). If Beanie Baby prices were sold based on length, Slither would win. Longer than 3 feet (46 inches), Slither is one of the most desirable pieces one can have in their collection. A Slither sporting a 3rd generation swing tag in mint condition recently went for $330. What Slither would fetch with a 2nd or 1st generation swing tag is anyone’s guess.
When Ty’s Beanie Babies began appearing on store shelves 1994, he released 9 original animals:
Legs the Frog
Squealer the Pig
Spot the Dog
Flash the Orca
Splash the Whale
Chocolate the Moose
Patti the Platypus
Brownie the Bear (later renamed “Cubbie”)
Punchers the Lobster (later renamed “Pinchers”)
These Beanie Babies came with 1st generation hang tags and 1st generation tush tags. While most of these Beanie Babies were not retired until after the craze began, the originals with 1st generation hang tags are worth lots of money. While a 4th generation or later Pinchers the lobster might sell for $5 to $10, recently, a 1st generation Punchers sold for $899.99.
Beanie Babies without tags are worth a lot less than Beanie Babies with tags. For collectors, while the condition of the Beanie Baby is paramount, the tag, itself, is an important factor in whether someone selling their collection will get full value. Often Beanie Babies without tags will fetch less than 30% of their tagged counterparts.
Beanie Babies without tags are worth a lot less than Beanie Babies with tags. For collectors, the condition of the Beanie Baby, itself, is paramount. But part of that condition is the tag. Keeping the tags in good condition is the only way a Beanie will sell for its full value.
Tags communicate a lot of information to Beanie Baby buyers. An old, 1st generation hang tag, is rare. Beanie Babies with these tags are old. They are uncommon by virtue of their age. They existed long before Beanie Babies became popular. For the collector, this means one thing: scarcity. 1st generation Beanies of all sorts are expensive. 2nd generation Beanies are expensive as well. But age isn’t the only thing that these tags can communicate. The tags are often used in authentication. While many counterfeiters will sometimes replicate Beanie Babies, counterfeiters get things wrong. Both the hang tag and the tush tag are often used to identify whether a Beanie Baby is legitimate.
It’s the 3rd generation where things start to overlap with the craze in the 90s. Collectors who purchased Beanie Babies early in the craze may have purchased 3rd generation animals. Some of these can be worth quite a bit. But most 3rd generation Beanie Babies with are nowhere near the price of Ty’s earliest animals.
It’s worth noting that the many of the earliest Beanie Babies were different than the later Beanies. Patty the Platypus, for example, was originally a magenta color. By the time of the craze, Ty had changed the color of the Platypus to a deep fuchsia. The difference is subtle. But the prices of the two Beanie Babies is very different. Likewise, Spot was originally released without a spot. The Spot with spot is worth quite a bit less than the original, ironically named dog.
I started this blog because I have a strange, unfortunate, esoteric knowledge that I feel is going wasted. I know way too much about Beanie Babies. And now, 20-some years after the popularity of those adorable bundles of beans went parabolic, I am seeing reporting by outlets that would otherwise be considered reputable.
Another confession: I still collect these things. It’s a nostalgic outlet for me. There are a lot of Beanie Babies that I could only ever dream of having as a child. Now that I’m an adult, and in the wake of the devastation of prices, those dream lots are now affordable to me. Rex the tyrannosaurus? Steg the Stegosaurus? Bronty the Brontosaurus? Spot without a spot? All of these are Beanie Babies that once made casual collectors froth at the mouth. They were retired, removed from the supply, before the average person entered the market.
So I needed a place to do two thing. 1) As I research prices for Beanie Babies, I am creating a bit of a repository wherein I track what people have paid. It affects what I, myself am willing to pay as well. And the analysis here will be reasoned and simple. Perhaps it will help fight back against these stupid stories about Princess Diana Beanies being sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It’s an important exercise for me in some sense because I think that the sort of casual reporting that occurs in the world of esoteric products like this is indicative of the rest of news. If the news can’t get their reporting right on news about Beanie Babies or they can’t get their facts right about Ebay listings, how can you possibly trust them to report politics? How can you trust them to report science? How can you trust them at all? This is my small contribution to correcting the record about something stupid so that you can know what kind of fact checking is needed to stave off a case of the conspiracies for something more important.
Looking at Beanie Baby Search Volume
Since 2004, search volume has remained fairly consistent. Just take a look:
Suddenly in January 2014, we see an enormous spike. And every few months thereafter, spikes in search show up. So what happened in January 2014? Returning to search volume charts, we can see that something happened between January 13 and 17 of that year.
In going back, I have tried to trace what exactly happened. It appears that the event that sparked the renewed interest during this time period may have been what was happening to Ty Warner himself. He was convicted of tax evasion for hiding a tiny portion of his fortune overseas.
As best I can tell, this is the beginning of the idiocy. The article that sparked the interest here is a Daily Mail article that claims a couple bought a Princess Diana Beanie Baby only to realize that the item was worth £62,500. Bullshit! It was never worth that, and this news story is a great example of some of the crappiest reporting you’ll find. But the reporter, Steph Cockroft, will have absolutely no consequences because the subject matter is non-consequential. You want to understand how we got here with media, this is it. Reporters cut their teeth on inconsequential crap, and they get promoted to higher level positions.
In this case, the report basically explains that a couple bought a Princess Diana Beanie Baby at a store. When they got home they saw that there were some listed at over £60k. So the Daily Mail reports that that is what it’s worth. It’s literally a news story about an arbitrary number that some person put on an ebay listing. It might seem innocuous, but there is a less than small chance that people may even move to buy these products on this news story. Alas… I digress.