What Are Beanie Babies Really Worth?
(See the special "Princess" page for
Princess Beanie Baby values)
All things considered, a Ty collectible is worth exactly what a willing buyer
will pay for it on the secondary market. That
means the actual value of every beanie can and does change constantly. It is more difficult to pin down a value for
beanies that haven't appeared in a recorded buy-sell transaction for several months.
Supply and demand drives beanie values. The overall direction of the value curve for Ty collectibles in general
has been "down" over the past several years. That trend is likely to continue.
Beanies that sold for hundreds or even thousands of dollars on the secondary
market between 1994 and 1998 barely fetch ten cents on those dollars in today's
Rarity and physical condition of a Beanie and its tags are the most important factors affecting values. A
its swing and/or tush tag is essentially worthless unless the Beanie is extremely
rare. Resellers and investors
generally agree that a Beanie loses 50% or more of its inherent value when the
swing tag is missing.
My observations over the past several years indicate Beanies without swing tags
are almost impossible to sell unless they have 1st or 2nd generation tush tags. Even then, the going price for a Beanie without a swing tag is normally only
5-15% the value of a similar Beanie with a swing tag. The condition of the swing tag is just as important as the condition
of the Beanie. A badly creased or worn swing tag has almost the same negative effect on a
Beanie's value as no swing tag at all. Value also decreases if the swing tag
has dents, ink marks or price tag sticker residue on it.
Until 2008, printed guides were published every few years with suggested values for Ty collectibles.
Those guides are too outdated now to be credible.
The values in the printed guides (applicable to mint Beanies with mint swing & tush tags)
were blatantly inaccurate and
for the most part, highly inflated. It takes so long to have a hard-copy value guide researched, written, proofed, printed and
shipped from the printer, that the values shown in any book are obsolete long before the book ever
reaches a collector's hands.
A good example is the Beanie Baby named Softbank Hawks, released exclusively in Japan, in July
2007. The 2007 Ty Beanies Tracker showed a value of $2,800 for this beanie. The next year (2008) Warman's Bean
Plush Field Guide hit the streets showing Softbank Hawks still valued at $2,800. Near the end of that year, most sellers
couldn't find a buyer for this bear even with an asking price as low as $200. Considering the fact that I acquired my museum quality
Softbank Hawks from a reputable dealer for $280 in August 2008, the
2008 book value of $2,800 seems a bit ludicrous.
Several more Softbank Hawks Beanie Babies sold that year at eBay for between $200 and $300.
I asked a few resellers why Softbank Hawks had such a high "book" value when it was frequently selling for less than 15% of
that value at eBay. The typical reseller explained that some collectors had
actually paid $2,800 for Softbank Hawks when it first came out. Sorry, wrong answer. It doesn't matter what someone paid for a
Beanie when it first appeared on the secondary market. What matters is the price that
Beanie has sold for repeatedly over the past three or four months.
It also appears odd that both of the value guides mentioned above place a minimum value of $7 on every normal-sized
Beanie Baby. The reality of eBay trashes that presumption. It makes no sense for a book to
show a minimum value of $7 for common
retired Beanie Babies that are bought and sold "like new" on eBay
every day for a dollar or less. The majority of the Beanies valued at $7 never
even cost that much at retail when they were new.
Our method for estimating values is to check completed listings at eBay to see
what price items have sold for within the last 60 - 90 days. The actual price
paid for an item is a better indicators of actual value than any other reference we
eBay makes it easy to check recent purchases. Go to "search" field on the eBay homepage and type in a few key words for the Ty
collectible you need to check. Always use the word "Ty" (without the quotation
marks), the product line, and the name of the item, i.e. "Ty Beanie Flash." When
the search results pop up, scroll down the menu on the left side of the page and
click the box for "sold listings." The results you get show prices buyers have paid for
that item during the past 30 - 60 days. The average of the prices being paid is
the approximate value of that particular item.
When there haven't been any recent sales at eBay of a particular item,
we generally appraise a value of roughly 25% of the amount listed for that item in the most recently published hard-copy value
guide (currently the 2008 Warman's Bean Plush Field Guide, 2nd Edition).
Patience pays off. We have acquired
95% of our collection for less than 25% of the values listed in the 2008
Conversely, if a rare and authenticated Ty collectible Beanie Baby gets listed at
eBay for a fixed "buy it now" price and there are no takers, the item is
obviously worth less than the seller is asking.
In some cases a Ty product skyrockets in price without being
documented in any value guide. This happened in January,
2009, when Ty announced and shipped two new Ty Girlz,
Sweet Sasha &
Marvelous Malia. Ty's suggested retail price was $9.99 each.
Coincidentally, they had the same names as President Obama's daughters. Surely that wasn't intentional (wink, wink). On
January 23, 2009, Michelle Obama publicly objected to the commercial exploitation of her daughters' names. On February 2,
2009, Ty announced that
the Malia & Sasha names had been discontinued. The two Girlz dolls were renamed
Sweet Sydney &
Marvelous Mariah. Same dolls, different names. The frenzy to buy
dolls with the original Sasha & Malia swing and tush tags was on. I don't know how many of the original pairs actually
shipped but the number 300 seems to be generally agreed upon by Ty collectors.
These are some of the prices the original pair of Sasha & Malia Girlz sold for on eBay
after their names were retired. I don't
have a record of all sales; I just sampled the transactions periodically:
|February 4, 2009 - $499
||June 30, 2009 - $1200
|February 5, 2009 - $294
||July 26, 2009 - $600
|February 5, 2009 - $799
||August 27, 2009 - $356
|February 6, 2009 - $455
||December 7, 2009 - $600
|February 7, 2009 - $760
||June 5, 2010 - $300
|March 2, 2009 - $1311
||February 16, 2011 - $800
|April 11, 2009 - $800
||September 29, 2011 - $315
|June 8, 2009 - $510
||October 12, 2011 - $357
Looking at these confirmed "sold" prices, what would you determine the value of Sasha & Malia to be today? Keep in mind the general downward trend in the value of Ty collectibles. Fads and
buying frenzies die out.
If you really wanted the Sasha & Malia pair of Girlz for your collection, how much would you have paid for the pair in March 2009? How much would you pay
today? Just something to think about because nobody can credibly predict what they
will be worth tomorrow or any number of years in the future. On February 18,
2012, a seller on eBay declined to sell a pair of authenticated original
Sasha & Malia Girlz because the highest bid submitted was only
$314. As I said; values are declining. In late May 2012, the Malia and Sasha
pair was listed on eBay for a "Buy it now" price of $500. There were no takers.
In September 2012, there were no interested buyers for a set of the Sasha &
Malia Girlz offered for $600. In March and April 2013, two different sellers
were unable to sell Malia and Sasha sets for $700 and $750.
The moral of this story: don't trust the value guides. They are great for checklists and reference but the value estimates are
unrealistic. When a collectible is so new it isn't even listed in a value guide (like the Malia and Sasha Girlz in 2009),
be wary of high values being driven by short-term buying mania on eBay.
So, how do you know what a beanie is worth? We're back to the beginning. Assume a beanie is worthless and then determine just
how much you would pay to have it anyway. Buy it for that price. Now you know what it was worth . . . today.
Last update - July 8, 2013