What are Beanie Babies Worth? Whatever Someone Will Pay

beanie babies value

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Collectibles sometimes go through a life cycle like this: extreme popularity, followed by rising values, followed by a bursting bubble, then maybe even a backlash, then a total lack of interest, then a retro-inspired spike in curiosity, then valuable classic status again. In other words, something will often be cool and popular, until it isn’t, until it is again.

We mention this because it’s been almost 20 years since Ty Beanie Babies abruptly ended their original production amidst the hype of being too popular. Wait, what? Well, the stuffed toys started out kind of rare, which sparked great interest. Also, each design was eventually “retired,” meaning the supply was cut off forever. Collectors were willing to pay a premium to complete their collections, and the increased interest convinced Ty to release more and more stuffies faster and faster. The craze looked unstoppable. Observe:

darwin & Co ron ruelle

Yes, it really was like this in the mid to late 1990s.

But eventually, the market became flooded, collectors got tired of the chase, and the market tanked. Beanie Babies were so popular that no one wanted them anymore. And the kids who made up the original target market were getting old enough to not care about stuffed animals as much anymore. Ty abruptly ended the circus with a black bear called “The End” and moved onto other lines of stuffies marketed as toys, not collectors items.

According to some sources, though, Beanie Babies are headed for an uptick in interest. The kids who had them the first time around are now in their late 20s to mid 30s. Which means they have disposable income (possibly) and a sense of nostalgia (maybe). Combined with the fact that the supply of these toys hasn’t grown in two decades, well, they might be worth something again. So let’s look in on some possible values for some of the rarer Beanies. Well, here’s what people are asking, anyway, along with some real world results.

beanie babies for sale

There is a big difference between asking price and actual value… (Screenshot from eBay)

Princess Di BearAsking price: $500,000

This purple bear with a white rose was released in the aftermath of Princess Di’s untimely death, so prices shot up in a wake of instant nostalgia. There are several variants for sale on eBay at very high prices. Actual value: There are several completed auctions for under $15 for these, although there are some rare variants that are supposedly worth more. Not too much more.

beanie babies princess di garcia

Princess Di Bear (left) and Garcia Peace Bear

“Garcia” Peace BearAsking price: $5,000

It’s got a swirly “tie-dyed” pattern, so no two are alike. Again, riding on the wave of Jerry Garcia’s death, kids snapped these up… wait, how many kids in the mid ‘90s were Deadheads? Actually, this wasn’t even an official tie in to the Grateful Dead, it just took on that nickname. Regardless, the price of these tops out well under $100, which isn’t too bad.

Pinchers/Punchers the LobsterAsking price: $1,500

beanie babies pinchers punchersLook at that snuggly wuggly wobster… er lobster. Aside from the fact that he was one of the very first wave of Beanies, and there aren’t a lot of lobster stuffies, the value on this shouldn’t be out of whack. The very first ones had the name “Punchers” on the tag, and everyone seemed to think it was a typo, because it was quickly changed to “Pinchers,” which makes way more sense. So if your tag (you kept the tag, right?!?!) has the original name, it’s worth 10 times the regular one… so $50 versus $5.

Valentino BearAsking price: $38,000

beanie babies valentinoSpeaking of tags, the early Valentino bears have a rare typographical error (“Surface” is misspelled as “suface.” Somebody must have been fired for that one, right?). But the error isn’t on the heart shaped paper tag, it’s on the little tag that’s sewed on to every stuffy. With a later correct later version, it’s a $5 bear. With it… Maybe $25.

Snort the Pig/Bull – Asking price $5,000

snortActually, it’s a cow.  It looks a lot like the Chicago Bulls mascot, but for some reason people mistakenly call it a pig. And for some other reason, people want a lot for these critters. Maybe it was because this was the height of the Bulls’ run in the NBA. In reality, You should be able to find one for around 10 bucks.

The lesson here is, yeah, some of these are worth some decent money, possibly more than they cost when new. But not retire-to-your-own-private-island money. The best advice, really is this:

  • Collect these if you like them, or if they bring back fond memories.
  • Sell them if you have them in your attic but don’t have the interest in them anymore.
  • Don’t think you’re going to retire by taking advantage of the speculation market on Beanie Babies.
  • Don’t take out a second mortgage to buy any of them.

One more thing… if you do collect Beanie Babies, add yours to our database! In fact, we could really use a curator or two to help maintain accurate and complete listings for this subject! And while you’re at it, start buying and selling them too!

Be the first to leave a comment!

Star Wars and the Power of Costume

Matthew Nelson

Matthew is a writer and member of the Data Team at hobbyDB, where he enjoys blogging about the random things he collects.

In honor of the Star Wars: The Last Jedi teaser trailer released today, let’s talk Star Wars!

The Denver Art Museum recently held a first-of-its-kind exhibit called Star Wars and the Power of Costume that featured over 70 costumes from the original trilogy, the prequels, and The Force Awakens. The exhibit offered glimpses into the designers’ creative process supplemented with countless photos, sketches, short videos and other inspirational bric-a-brac that contributed to the Star Wars aesthetic.

Darth Vader’s initial designs, for example, took inspiration from gas masks and German SS helmets from World War II. Darth Maul, too, went through a number of iterations, the earliest of which depicted him as a pre-adolescent demon-like child with red dreadlocks (which you can see below).

This exhibit officially ended Sunday, April 9, after a one week extension to accommodate the large crowds, but you can still see the costumes I snapped below during my tour through that galaxy far, far away.

Be the first to leave a comment!

Steve Volk of Shelby American Collection Joins hobbyDB Advisory Council

Steve Volk Shelby American CollectionThe hobbyDB Advisory Council‘s newest member is an expert on one of our favorite subjects: Carroll Shelby and his legendary cars.

Steve Volk is President of the Shelby American Collection, a museum of everything related to Shelby. The museum, located in Boulder, Colroado, features dozens of Cobras, Shelby Mustangs, and Ford GT-40s as well as other related vehicles. As if that weren’t enough, the collection includes incredibly rare original racing artifacts and probably the biggest gathering of toys and models of these cars.

“I’ve been interested in cars my whole life,” said Steve. “I started building model cars as a kid and started collecting Ferraris and Cobras in my 30s. I read about Shelby Cobras and GT-40s as a kid but never thought I would own one let alone an entire Shelby museum.”

Shelby American Collection museum

Just a few of the GT-40s, Mustang, and Cobras, at Shelby American Collection in Boulder.

The car that started it all was a factory team car that Steve purchased in the 1980s. Rather than hiding in the garages of individual enthusiasts, it made sense to put this and other cars on public display. It helped that Steve was also knew Mr. Shelby and could get his approval and cooperation. “Carroll Shelby was a good friend,” said Steve. “I spoke with him prior to starting the museum in 1996. We wanted his support in the creation of the museum, and he told me he would be there for us for as long as he was vertical. He kept his promise until his passing in 2012.”

With that kind of official involvement, the museum has been able to attract some very rare pieces. “We have a number of original trophies such the 1964 USRRC Championship trophy on display in the museum plus lots of race records and memorabilia from the Shelby American racing years,” said Steve.

As for the cars themselves, the collection includes many permanent fixtures as well as cars that are on temporary loan.The museum or its members own some 70 percent of the vehicles on display. The balance are owned by collectors around the country such as the Larry H. Miller family.

Shelby American Collection pin hood badge doedorantIn addition to the brick and mortar museum, items from the collection are being gathered in an Official Archive on hobbyDB. It’s a monumental undertaking to document the thousands of items on display, but when complete, it will be one of the biggest archives on the site.

“It’s incredible what Carroll Shelby did for the automobile industry,” said Steve, ”and for America having ushered in the muscle car era. He put America on the map by winning the World Manufacturers Championship in 1965, winning Le Mans in the GT40 for Ford in 1966 and 1967 and the SCCA Championship in the Shelby Mustang in 1965, 1966 and 1967.”

It’s incredible what Steve Volk and the Shelby American Collection are doing to preserve that legacy, too. Next time you’re in Boulder, Colorado on a Saturday, you can visit the museum in person.

Be the first to leave a comment!

DKW and VW: Two Lessons in German Economy

Over the past two years, we’ve contributed articles to Die CastX magazine for publication on their website and in their quarterly print edition. We hope you enjoy this comparison of the DKW Junior and the Volkswagen Golf, two different lessons in German microeconomy.


dkw volkswagen

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

It’s hard to believe the two cars seen here were stalwarts of German economy automotive engineering separated by only a decade. The DKW Junior was available until the mid 1960s, while the Volkswagen Golf debuted in 1974. They could hardly be more different vehicles. The same goes for the models.

DKW, (Dampf-Kraft-Wagen) was one of the marques under the Auto Union brand. They first offered this very basic two-door sedan with a two-stroke engine in 1959, just as fins were hitting their peak as an automotive styling trend worldwide. This DKW Junior model from Revell, does not skimp in the way the real car did. Exterior details include elaborate taillights and a separate sunroof piece (designed to allow a version with the hatch open). The very tiny gas cap has the 4 rings of Auto Union (now the Audi logo) engraved on it.

dkw junior modelUnder the hood, there’s not a lot to see, but that’s because it mimics the incredibly simple engine of the real car. There’s a working prop rod to hold the hood open. Another neat detail is the radiator mounted behind the engine. The chassis underneath includes lots of small suspension bits, although none of it functions.

dkw junior modelThe seats are really nice on this model with a tiny checked pattern on the seating areas. The brackets that hold those seats in place are given much more thought than cars this size usually show. There is also a molded roof liner, which includes the lines for that sunroof again. Like under the hood, inside the trunk, is a tiny wire buried near the hinges that can be used to prop the decklid open. What was a cheap solution on a real car becomes a delicate detail on a model.

dkw junior modelBy the late 1960s, DKW was sold off to Volkswagen, and served as the launch point for the rebirth of the Audi name. Speaking of VW, around late 1969, they got serious about developing a replacement for the colossally successful and iconic, but outdated Beetle. The origins of the modern hatchback are apparent in the first generation Golf (or Rabbit, as it was called in the United States), with its efficiently squared space and transverse mounted engine.

volkswagen golf modelThis 1974 Golf LS by Vitesse is actually simpler in construction than the DKW (which makes sense, as It retailed for around $25 new, while the DKW was a higher end model). It represents a very basic, stripped down version of the car, long before VW gave it the GTI treatment and made it into a hot hatch.

volkswagen golf modelOne nice detail about the interior is the number of extra molded bits such as the side and window chrome and the black plastic gas cap. The engine is far simpler, and even though there are wires in place, they look flat and two dimensional. Also from underneath, the chassis is solid around the engine instead of showing some daylight like on the real car.

volkswagen golf modelThe seats aren’t quite as impressive as the DKW, especially the bolsters that hold them in place. Still, if this was a car from your younger days, it’s a decent model to have of it.

Comparing the two, the DKW is the far more detailed model of the far more interesting car. Since you don’t have to put up with the anemic performance of its tiny engine, this would be the choice for your next German economy car.

dkw junior model

Comments (1 Comment)
Karl S

That DKW is very cool!!!!  1/18 with lots o' detail!

Read all comments

Guide to Vintage Carded Star Wars Action Figures

A Guest Blog Post by Mark Griffiths
This article was originally written for Rareburg, who in 2016,  joined forces with hobbyDB to provide an excellent source of collectible knowhow for the community. 

As with most things in life, ‘something’ is only worth what ‘someone’ will pay for it. This is true for most things in life, whether that be a second hand car, property or collectable toys.

Luke Skywalker x-wing

This guide to vintage carded Star Wars action figures will provide you with an insight into how to begin assembling a vintage Star Wars action figure collection (on cards) from the 1977 – 1983 era as working out just where to start can be a bit of a minefield. Return of the Jedi (ROTJ), Empire Strikes Back (ESB), Power of the Force and Tri Logo are just a selection of the different branded cards which exist, produced by Kenner and Palitoy with 65 back, 79 back and ‘Last 17’ (and more!) – the barriers to entry in collecting these treasures can be huge.

Imperial Commander

Not only is gaining a full understanding of the vast range of these 3¾ inch action figure produces a challenge, this is coupled with how ‘rare’ and ‘valuable’ is defined in different countries the world over.

My 30 years experience of collecting Star Wars carded action figures began back in 1984, after the final movie from the original trilogy had been released, when the obsession with the Star Wars franchise was well and truly over with the UK public. Believe it or not, I still remember working in my parents toy store having to re-box thousands of unsold action figures and playsets before shipping them back to the UK distributer as we could just not shift the stock. Just imagine having dozens of boxes of these gems in today’s market! From the crest of a wave 18 months previous we now had to make room for the next ‘fad’ as a range of merchandise from a Saturday morning cartoon called Transformers was on its way!

Romba

Since that time I have had a vested interest in collecting these figures and monitoring their values.

The late 1980’s and early 1990’s brought modest increases to most figures, but 1999 was a game changer. Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, produced 16 years after Return of the Jedi brought a great deal of attention back to the original action figure collection, just as The Force Awakens will in December 2015.

Although there had always been ‘hard to find’ figures such as Yak Face, Boba Fett with firing cannon and the elusive Jawa with plastic cape, the focus now began to move to a much broader range and the immense number of variations of each figure.

Darth MaulBut apart from Episode 1 bringing Star Wars back to the forefront of the public’s hearts and minds, why this increase in prices for the original ’77 – ’83 merchandise? Obviously, the rareness of some of these original figures but it was more than that, it was the newly produced Power of the Force range brought out for the Phantom Menace movie. The figures were not well received by the public, confusing ‘Comm Tech’, massive quantities – hundreds upon hundreds in the range and of course Jar Jar Binks! Kenner also seemed wise to the marketing of the so called ‘rare’ figures in the range. Back in the 80’s these ‘hard to find’ figures almost came about by chance, this time it all seemed a little too well planned.

Yak Face

These figures, now 16 years old themselves struggle to break $10 each, with many exchanging hands for as little as $4 – Mint on Card (MOC). The remaining parts of the prequel trilogy, Episodes 2 and 3 did little to change the collector’s appetite for the updated range and instead, once again the focus reverted back to the vintage collection.

But which figures I hear you ask, which particular figures from the original series are still increasing in value? Well as I am sure you will agree, certain figures which were rare 10 years ago are now even more sought after with onset of time but there are still some figures which are financially accessible. The Rancor Keeper for example on a ROTJ card can be purchased quite easily on another marketplace for as little as $30. That same figure on a Tri Logo card however can be valued as high as 5 times that amount, approaching $200. Yes, thats right, $200 for one 3¾ inch action figure, and not a particularly rare one at that!

The reason for this huge range in valuation is largely down to the quality and type of card which houses the character. A ROTJ card is less rare, whereas the ESB and Star Wars increase in value dramatically. In fact figures on a Star Wars card can cost thousands of dollars, particularly key characters like Han Solo and Princess Leia.

Rancor KeeperSo what of Tri Logo cards, where do they fit into the equation? So the story goes, these figures were run off by Palitoy at the very end of the production of Star Wars figures – a combination of overproduced characters backed on cards for the European market and new characters never released in the USA, once again limited to European stores. This is why the value of these cards holds strong in the US market.

So, where would I begin, what advice would I provide to collectors hoping to move into the vintage Star Wars carded action figure market?

Begin at the end! There are so many variations of just 1 action figure, it would be extremely (financially) challenging to collect every figure from that era as there are literally hundreds and hundreds – just one selling for $18,000 at a recent auction in the North East. Therefore, decide on your target collection, whether that be a full set of 1 character on different cards or a full set of figures on 1 card e.g. a full set of ROTJ backed figures.

BaradaDo your research! Before you begin, consider how many figures there are in a particular collection, which are more common and identify those which are rare – how much are you willing to pay and how are you going to acquire them, there are more avenues than just another marketplace…?

Understand your Cards! Which logo – ROTJ, Star Wars, Tri Logo…how many figures on the back of the card e.g. a 65 back is sometimes worth more than a 79 back, is the card ‘punched’ or ‘unpunched’ and is the card flat and free from sun damage and tears?

Be the first to leave a comment!