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Collectors Item or Toy?

Date Posted: 2001-04-14

Beanie Babies can be found here on Okinawa!!

On April 1st Maria Shah, the proprietor of the only outlet for the renowned Beanie Babies on base in Okinawa, announced that more new beanies would be available by the end of the month; Hero the Teddy Bear for Fathers Day, Dearest the Teddy Bear for Mothers Day, followed by Smart the Owl with the graduation cap of 2001, Jester the Clown Fish, Buzzy the Bee and Dart the Frog later this year. There also were new releases of buddies including India the Tiger, Baldy the Eagle, Trumpet the Elephant, and Inky the Octopus.

Children of all ages just love the adorable little toy stuffed with beans known as the 釘eanie Baby・ Last year Japanese joined the many collectors with their own country exclusive Beanie Baby, named Sakura, which was released as the spring cherry blossoms began to bloom. She was soft and pink with the cherry blossom embroidered on her chest. Now Japan has the exclusive Nipponia, a light blue bear with the Japanese flag sewn on his chest.

More and more people have discovered the fun of collecting Beanie Babies. It is not difficult to be smitten with them after all. Beanie Babies are cute, soft, lovable plush animal beanbags that touch the hearts of adults and children alike. For adults, Beanie Babies might provide a nostalgic remembrance of our youth; for children, the bright and varied designs are contagious. Once considered only a plaything, it has now been given a monetary value (or potential value). How did the fascination start with little stuffed toys meant for children, but now is an adult collectable too? Here is a brief history of this cute and some times hard to find toy.

1986 Ty Warner started his own toy company, TY, Inc. He had gained previous toy experience when he worked as a salesman for Dankin Inc, another manufacturer of plush toys. Soon after starting TY introduced his first line of four plush Himalayan Cats. The cats・names were Smokey, Ginger, Peaches, and Angel. Even then TY was known for its excellent quality, as well as affordability!

Seven years later in 1993, at the World Toy Fair in New York City, TY introduced nine Beanie Babies, what are affectionately called the original nine! They were Brownie (later renamed Cubbie), Chocolate, Flash, Legs, Patti, Pinchers, Splash, Spot, and Squealer.

1996 --- The first Beanie baby exclusively for Canada was launched, Maple! Annual sales of Beanie Babies reportedly top $250 million dollars, and Playthings Magazine names Beanie Babies, the "biggest toy of the year." Depending on what part of the US you are from, the "Beanie Baby" rage officially began to be noticed nationally about November of 1996. Beanie Babies' popularity began in the Midwest America a bit earlier, but it didn't take long for that interest to spread to other parts of the country.

Long lines form outside stores here in Okinawa when shipments of new arrivals show up, some people have been known to spend the night on the streets, just to collect the much sought after Japan exclusive Nipponia.

Maria who owns the Beanie shop on base says ・The quality of the beanies is fantastic, where can you get a wonderfully made stuffed toy with so many choices for only $6.50. There are so many to collect. Collecting beanies is very popular in many countries, before they became available in Japan I got them sent from my home in Ireland for my children, my son collects bears and has a wonderful collection, he has all the international ones as well, my daughter on the other hand likes to collect all the different animals with the cats being her favorite. People of all ages are collectors.

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