Posted by: laughs4dads | March 26, 2010

Collecting Dust

As close as they may be, your average father actually has very little in common with a 10-year-old girl.  Especially one who has as little interest in sports as Dick Cheney has in marksmanship.

But you adore your daughter, and you want to spend time with her, only not necessarily at a fake tea party with an American Girl doll from the 19th century.

Well, I really like collecting, and my daughter, Casey, seemed to like Beanie Babies, so I put them together and came up with something we could share.

Now, in case you had something better to do in the 90’s than pay attention to little, fuzzy, beanbag creatures, Beanie Babies were the collecting fad of that decade.  They were originally intended as a $5 impulse purchase at the cash register (Girl: “Oh, mommy, they’re so cute.”  Mom: “What the heck. it’s only five bucks.”)

When they started, there were about a dozen or so different ones.  But then they started retiring them and coming out with new ones.  And an interesting thing happened.  They started to go up in value.  A lot.  The $5 beanbags started going for hundreds and thousands of dollars.  There was one point where an investment in Beanie Babies brought a bigger return than an investment in the stock market.  And this was during the boom years.

Actual adult people, presumably with some sort of lives, collected them.  And there were clubs, and books, and price lists, and authenticators (because, yes, people were counterfeiting Beanie Babies!).  They were just about the hottest items in the early days of eBay.

So I started collecting them with Casey.  Well, let me rephrase that.  I started collecting them for Casey.  Okay, I just started collecting them and pretending they were for Casey to rationalize the whole thing.

She played along.  She went with me to Beanie Baby shows.  (No, they didn’t perform; these events were gatherings of collectors, usually in the ballrooms of creepy hotels of the type that I would not normally expose my daughter to.)  She pretended to be interested when I got one at below market value.  She looked over my shoulder as I kept track of the collection on the computer.

Casey also exclaimed appropriately when I acquired some really rare Beanie Baby, like one of the original dinosaurs, or Peking Bear, or Humphrey the Camel.  She couldn’t play with them, of course.  Couldn’t take the tags off.  Couldn’t even bend the tags.  That would be like keying a mint 1965 Ford Mustang.

No, these cheap, child’s toys each had their own plastic “protective” cases which resembled small, transparent coffins.  We had more than a hundred of them.  And, I kid you not, the collection was once worth over $10,000.

And then something happened that was even rarer than a mint original Web the Spider: sanity prevailed.

You think your investments went south during the mortgage crisis?  That was nothing compared to the precipitous drop in Beanie Baby values.

But, of course, the real value was in the time my daughter and I spent together, bonding, haggling over prices, and storing our collection in the attic, where they remain until this day, in their clear plastic coffins, unbended tags probably yellowing, mocking me for my folly, incredulous that people once thought a four inch Grunt the Razorback was once worth well over a hundred dollars.

By the way…anybody in the market?




  1. Oh wow, I have so many great memories of the “Beanie days”! It was such a treat getting to go on Sundays with you and Casey to those shows at Holiday Inns in the middle of the sticks – MY parents were never cool enough to pack the car up with two sugar-hyper 10 year olds, their beanies, and beanie guide books (yes, general public, they existed and we had them!) and trek thru the unknowns of Rockland County in search of the dark blue Peanut! You secured your place in the hierarchy of “coolest parent ever” in my eyes!

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