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The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute

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In the annals of consumer crazes, nothing compares to Beanie Babies. With no advertising or big-box distribution, creator Ty Warner - an eccentric college dropout - become a billionaire in just three years. And it was all thanks to collectors.

The end of the craze was just as swift and extremely devastating, with "rare" Beanie Babies deemed worthless as quickly as they'd once been deemed priceless.

Bissonnette draws on hundreds of interviews (including a visit to a man who lives with his 40,000 Ty products and an in-prison interview with a guy who killed a coworker over a Beanie Baby debt) for the first book on the most extraordinary craze of the 1990s.

260 pages, Hardcover

First published November 4, 2014

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About the author

Zac Bissonnette

6 books85 followers
New York Times bestselling author Zac Bissonnette's most recent book is 2015’s The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute. He is an equity analyst at a hedge fund, and lives in New York City with his partner and a tuxedo cat named Perry Como.

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5 stars
529 (23%)
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561 (25%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 428 reviews
Profile Image for Justin Tate.
Author 7 books861 followers
May 22, 2020
Business buffs, pop culture fanatics, Beanie Baby collectors, historians, and anyone looking for a good read will find plenty to enjoy in this exposé!

As someone who specifically remembers the long McDonald’s lines and aggressive sleuthing of new shipments to Hallmark stores, the story behind Ty Warner’s billion-dollar empire and how Beanie Babies became a cultural phenomenon is one that glued me to the page. Even now Ty, Inc. remains a secretive operation. This book is the only trustworthy journalism I’ve come across to find reliable sources willing to speak about internal Beanie shenanigans.

Many burning questions get answered, such as how it all started, how prices became inflated, and how it all suddenly burst. We also get a clear image of Ty, the brain behind the machine, how he manipulated the frenzy, and how the frenzy manipulated itself.

What I love most is that this book doesn’t ridicule Beanie obsession. Bissonnette and I are the same age, and it’s clear we share similar fond memories of Beanie mania. I suspect many collectors were secretly glad after the bubble popped and prices fell to nothing. It provided an excuse to hang on to their collection for a while longer, until, maybe, there is a resurgence.

The way I see it, collecting Beanie Babies was never just about making a profit. It wasn’t an impersonal business investment, such as playing the stock market. Those plushies were damn cute and snuck into your heart, whether you liked it or not.

Ty himself was unusually devoted to his craft. Among the book’s many highlights are lengthy chapters describing the artistic endeavors that went into each toy. We see Ty as a kind of mad scientist, mixing fabrics and level of PVC pellets insanely, until the perfect creation is discovered. Sometimes many drafts of a Beanie were produced, unintentionally resulting rare variations for collectors to obsess over.

And like a mad scientist, Ty burnt many bridges with those closest to him. Obsession, greed, artistic disagreements, and other drama all resulted in lost relationships as he delved deeper and deeper into his work.

All in all, the book is a great escape back into the '90s and a fascinating portrait of one of the most unique and successful business operations in history. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Lex Kent.
1,682 reviews8,529 followers
May 28, 2020
3.50 Stars. For some reason I get random cravings for nonfiction books every once in a while. When this book popped up on my feed, I kept thinking about it. While I was aware of the Beanie craze, I was more of the sidelines when it happened and I never truly understood why? So I figured this might be an interesting read.

I had recently turned 14 and had just started at a new school. Suddenly I was around all these new kids and I quickly developed my first girl crush (at least my first girl crush that wasn’t on Sarah Michelle Geller or another celebrity) on a girl named Jennifer. I remember being so excited the first time I got invited to Jennifer’s house. I walked into a formal dining room with a giant table that was covered with Beanie Babies, so many with no room to spare. I remember asking Jen just what is all this? Well, I soon found out, after Jen’s mother entered the room, that this collection of plush toys was much more Jen’s mother’s collection than her own. What are these animals that had mom’s going crazy? Well let’s just say I learned a lot about Beanies being Jennifer’s friend, and wanting to make a good impression on her mother of course. But even being Jennifer’s friend, and even getting a few Beanies as gifts, I still never truly understood the obsession.

This book was very informative. While Ty himself only spoke a few words to the author, he was able to talk to the people closest to Ty, many of his employees, and the biggest of collectors. Bissonnette was really able to lay out just how the craze happened, how people got carried away, how it became all about the money and not the kids, and finally how and when the bubble burst. I feel like now I finally understand, at least more than I ever did, and that’s what I wanted out of reading this book.

The biggest thing to take away from this book, is that Ty Warner is a flaming asshole. I felt so badly for exes, family members, ex-employees and even children he should have been a second father too. He treated people like crap and got away with it. This book is definitely frustrating in parts. While this book is well reported and well written, the 3.50 rating is more about my enjoyment and it’s hard at times to enjoy a book about an asshole. There were also a few times that I thought the book dragged and I did think it ran a little long in the end, but I would say it’s a slightly above average non-fiction read.

If you were like me and didn’t understand the Beanie craze, or even if you got a bit wrapped up into it, I think you would find this interesting. This book really portrays the craze well including the biggest players and behind the scenes of what really went on.
Profile Image for Alicia.
235 reviews
March 7, 2015
The mom and pop shop that sold these things in my hometown was staffed by two ugly old bitches who hoarded them and only sold to their hag friends, breaking my brothers heart as he fumbled to build a collection. I take solace in the fact that they probably lost a fortune by jumping on that bandwagon when it reached Medicine Hat, Alberta - long after the Chicago soccer mums made it big. To those twats, I say "See you next Tuesday, you twisted trolls! I hope that ratchet Diana bear was worth the tears of my sweet brown eyed brother who only wanted to buy something special with his birthday money." If I had an icepick....

So good book.
Profile Image for Gavin.
Author 1 book281 followers
May 6, 2016
Recipe for Fascinating Sadness:

1 mistreated child
2 misguided women
1,000,000 acres of plush
50,000,000 innocent suburban children
50,000,000 obsessive suburban parents
10,000,000,000 dollars
infinite financial optimism

Let child stew in his own thoughts until he reaches entrepreneurial adulthood. Add women one by one, taking care to make sure they do not mix. With great attention fold in the plush, slowly at first but more quickly as the p(l)ot comes to a boil. Add innocent children and instantly remove; vigorously stir in suburban parents and dollars. Liberally heap on financial optimism.

Look away until mixture thickens and bubbles. Pop the bubble, remove from heat, and throw away.

Serves: 0

This story is crazed; this story is real. Born in 1988 I am unfortunately old enough to remember the Beanie Baby hysteria. I was also just old enough at the time to understand the concept of money, and the money involved in this speculative nightmare is almost too outrageous to be believed. The first TV news I ever remember watching was about maniacal pajama-clad women throwing away uneaten Happy Meals at McDonalds to get the Teenie Beanie prize. Absolute unadulterated chaos. This is the world we live in.

Bissonnette's prose is unadorned but descriptive, and every once in a while chuckle-inducingly wry. I'm impressed he wasn't even more tongue-in-cheek with such an inane topic. He deftly weaves the personal backstories of Ty Warner and his peripheral cast with the events of the Beanie Baby boom and eventual bust (words which I still feel stupid typing in reference to stuffed animals). He interviews family members, ephemeral employees, and a score of collectors. He frames the craze within the context of other famous bubbles including Dutch tulip mania in the 1630s, the Franklin Mint, and the Internet stock fallout. I believe more firmly than ever that there truly is nothing new under the sun, and I am strangely comforted. I was transfixed from the first page, and I thank the author for writing a book that needed to be written not necessarily for the history but for the philosophical questions it raises.

Profile Image for Jessica Woodbury.
1,563 reviews1,933 followers
January 24, 2022
These days when a new tv documentary shows up, I've learned that it's usually better to just find the book. Especially if there's a good one out there, it'll answer more of my questions and give me a fuller picture. So that's just what I did when I heard about the Beanie Baby documentary, since I knew this was a recommended look at the phenomenon.

This book does a great job at putting the BB craze in context of other panics, booms and busts throughout history. It zeroes in on how things started and gives you a good idea of how people started collecting and how people got rich or lost it all.

It is also a detailed look at Ty Warner, whose eccentricities created several of the elements that made the phenomenon happen in the first place. It's not a very sympathetic portrait, but that happens when no one really has much nice to say about you and you won't comment on the record.

This is just about right in terms of length and detail. I did the audiobook which I breezed right through.
Profile Image for Lauren.
579 reviews76 followers
January 29, 2018
Well, this was a dark horse. I wasn't sure I would want to listen to an entire audiobook on this topic, but it turns out I would have listened to eight more hours if available.

This book takes us through the origin story, madness, and decline of the Beanie Baby fad. I never knew anything about the enigmatic founder Ty Warner but he might be the most interesting person in the world!? Eccentric, insane, ruthless, genius... NEED a biopic immediately.

I loved hearing about his vision for the Beanies and why he knew he had the key to success (it was all about the under-stuffing). I loved hearing about his laughable techniques (randomly retiring Beanies for no reason but to drive sales) that resonated so deeply with consumers that he laughed all the way to the bank. Although I admired him, he was movie villain awful. The shady levels he went to to claim ideas, including 100s of hang tag poems... again, need that biopic. The amount of money grossed is shocked. The influence on ebay and eCommerce was even more shocking.

I also loved reliving that era. I unearthed so many memories including McDonald's Teeny Beanies (pretty sure my parents drove me to multiple locations so that I could get them all, I should call them to thank them), the Les and Sue Fox Beanie Baby guidebooks (haven't thought of these in 20 years but they are crystal clear now), and the specific names and identities of so many of the early animals.

A trip down memory lane and a juicy Soap Opera all in one.
Profile Image for Deborah.
Author 10 books57 followers
January 2, 2015
Ostensibly, this is the story of the strange period of time between 1996 and 1999 when adults turned a child's toy into currency, but it is just as much an examination of the nature of a fad and the people who create them.

Beanie Babies were plush stuffed animals which had the then-unique characteristic of being understuffed and filled in key places with pellets which made them easy to pose. Available in a variety of colors and animal characters, the toys were slow to pick up interest. That lag time gave the toy company's founder, Ty Warner, time to tweak his models, which resulted in certain toys changing color or other attributes (e.g., spots and mouths). The fact that Warner insisted on his products being sold in small venues like gift shops and specialty toy shops and eschewed big box retailers like Toys 'R Us and Wal-Mart meant that when his toys did become popular there was a built-in scarcity. That made it a logical fit as a secondary market collectible (as much as anyone can apply the word "logic" to collectibles).

Ty Warner was (is?) a highly-focused businessman who obsessed over the tiniest details of his creations. He, like many other successful entrepreneurs, also had a finely honed gut feel for what worked for his audience. It's not a surprise that someone with his skills could create a high-quality toy that would appeal to children and adults alike. But Warner's story is only part of what made Beanie Babies a cultural phenomenon; the "early adopters" in the Chicago-area were the ones who not only evangelized the toys but also created and then reinforced the idea of "rare editions" and first started treating the toys like a kind of currency. However, it might be fair to say that Beanie Babies didn't really take off as a fad until they authors, both traditional and self-published, started producing guides that listed the current and projected values of the toys.

While this wasn't the first bubble, the sudden popularity of the internet and the World Wide Web made it possible for this to reach peak popularity much more quickly. Not only did Ty, Inc. use its website in ways its much larger competitors hadn't thought of yet to reinforce the "personality" of the brand, it also benefited from the second market trading that was taking place on eBay.

Bissonnette does an impressive job of putting together the history of the toy, the ensuing craze and the not-always-stable people involved, but it's his discussion of overall market behavior that makes this a worthwhile read. (Hint: if you think this story is reminiscent of the housing or Dot Com bubbles, you might be onto something.) Even if you walk away without a clear understanding of the economics behind a craze, you'll get a glimpse into a surprisingly fascinating moment in American history.
Profile Image for Bon Tom.
846 reviews56 followers
September 20, 2019
Well this was some education. I wasn't aware of existence of these things, even though I couldn't fake Karate move without hitting one of them around the house. I mean, I know, they're pretty eye catching plush toys and also seem to work like huge dopamine enhancer for my daughter, but I didn't know they were The Entity.

Never heard the background story, never even thought there was a big company with history, never knew there was unique Man running the spectacular show of thousands people going crazy about what should have been a child toy, but turned to "investment" for so many, until the bubble burst.

Some say, The Man had it coming and he did one critical move that caused the air to blow out. (won't spoil) The Some forget everything is ephemeral and it's only a matter of time when your certainty about state of things will prove an illusion. Only rare will have bag of money to show for all the hurt that remains.

The others? They paid premium for quality education, hopefully.

In short, this book is great. You probably won't love The Man, but story is incredible.
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 6 books1,205 followers
June 23, 2015
A totally fascinating look at the man behind Beanie Babies and the cultural phenomenon more greatly. I didn't realize how terrible Ty Warner was so seeing how he played all of the strings here to make Beanie Babies what they were was at once fascinating and kind of appalling. Totally worth a read for those who remember this era or who are interested in stories behind the stories of popular phenomenon.
Profile Image for Sharon.
990 reviews82 followers
May 29, 2016
"Beanie Babies were originally intended as fun playthings for children, but as the old saying goes, 'Whenever you have something intended as innocent fun for children, you can count on adults to turn it into an obsessive, grotesquely over-commercialised hobby with the same whimsy content as the Bataan Death March'."

This is the story of the Beanie Baby craze - small, understuffed plush animals that were produced largely throughout the 1990s. When author Zac Bissonnette approached creator Ty Warner at a Toy Fair a few years ago about getting his side of the story for this book, the notoriously private Warner told him that he'd only give a one-sided story, so he should go elsewhere. Well go elsewhere he did - Zac talked to Ty's ex-girlfriends, his sister, employees, "friends", and even high school classmates.

The product of Zac's research is a book I couldn't put down - a tale of two women named Becky, who became rich beyond their wildest dreams after bulk buying $5 toys; of the people whose obsession bankrupted them; of the 64 year old man who shares his house with his equally obsessed daughter and thousands of Beanies; of the soap star who spent over $100,000 on a collection that's now worthless; of the women who loved Ty but really got nothing in return; of the upper level employees he treated with disdain; of the warehouse workers he treated like royalty; of the man who went to prison over a Beanie deal gone wrong; of perfection, obsession, bankruptcy, death - but mostly of an exceptionally eccentric Willy Wonka-esque man who wanted to be the owner of the "biggest, smartest, most successful toy company out there".

I loved this book. It's one of the most captivating things I've read in years.
Profile Image for Becky.
827 reviews157 followers
February 24, 2022
Every sentence is more "wtf" than the last. I couldn't put it down.
Profile Image for Sarah.
783 reviews
March 13, 2018
This was a fascinating, and at times rather sad, look at the Beanie Baby obsession of the late 90s and the man behind their creation. I found it super interesting to learn about the rise and fall of the craze and the personalities involved!

*Used for PopSugar 2018 Reading Challenge prompt "A microhistory."
Profile Image for Rachel Kulik.
410 reviews67 followers
February 4, 2018
I originally posted this review on Rachel Reading. For 100+ more reviews like this, check it out!

I vividly remember the Beanie Baby craze. I was in first or second grade, and I remember someone telling my beanie babies would only be worth money with their tags on. I also remember my brother pulling off the tag on my little grey kitty and attacking him for doing so. (oops). So, when I found out there was a book about Beanie Babies, and examining the craze I knew I had to get it. This book was gifted to me from my Reading Glasses Exchange partner and I'm so glad they sent it because I couldn't get my hands on it anywhere.

I absolutely loved this book. I loved how it was written like a story and less like a bunch of facts and prices and economic terms. It really broke down how these kinds of collecting bubbles happen, and it was fascinating to learn about the women who got into collecting beanie babies early and were actually successful in making a ton of money. But even more, Bissonnette delves into who "Ty" himself is, how he came up with Beanie Babies, what kind of person he is, and his marketing strategies for the cute plush animals.

Honestly, I couldn't recommend this book more to people. If you remember the craze, I would highly recommend picking up this book. It's not very long, but it's full of interesting things. For example, TY was the first brand to actively use a website to interact with their consumers and encourage them to purchase more. In fact, TY had an active website before Mattel did. I devoured this book, and it was pretty easy to fly through. I am confident it will make my best books list for this year already.
Profile Image for Noah Eigenfeld.
55 reviews1 follower
December 16, 2018
I have to round down on this one, because it’s a really interesting book about a really narrow topic. It grabbed me right away, and held my attention the whole way through. As someone who knew absolutely nothing about the beanie baby craze, I soaked up every detail about the toys’ rise and fall. The book is one half analysis of Ty Warner and his life; the other half is focused on the speculative bubble and the seeks to answer the question, “Why beanie babies?” Overall, I think the book succeeds in presenting both. Ty Warner comes off as a sad, but ruthless person. His need to control everyone and everything around him, as well as a fear of serious commitment, bring him success, but at the cost of anyone to share it with. The only looks at his life are presented by the people who got closest to him. Without his own perspective, it’s hard to get a full portrait of what was going on in his head. Meanwhile, the author breaks down how a culture convinced itself that stuffed animals were worth thousands of dollars in investments. Even though I knew how it would end, I nonetheless found myself rooting for the investors against history. Overall, I think pretty much anyone could enjoy this book. It changed the way I looked at stuffed animals on bookstore shelves.
Profile Image for Book Riot Community.
953 reviews95k followers
April 16, 2015
I am a woman of a certain age who was, in my middle school years, obsessed with Beanie Babies. I particularly loved this little brown monkey, Bongo, and forced my mom to go to great lengths to find me one during what, I think, was the height of Beanie Baby madness. In The Great Beanie Baby Bubble, journalist Zan Bissonnette goes behind the Beanie Baby madness to look at both the enigmatic (and, to be honest, truly strange) creator of Beanie Babies, Ty Warner, and some of the economic forces that let to the rise and fall of Beanie Babies as valuable collectors items. I devoured this book in a single day and absolutely adored it, both for the nostalgia factor and for the smart, curious reporting that went into writing it. It’s entirely delightful. — Kim Ukura

From The Best Books We Read in March: https://bookriot.com/2015/04/01/riot-...
Profile Image for Regina.
1,136 reviews2,683 followers
October 3, 2015
I was instantly drawn to this book when I saw it on the library shelf given my professional background in toy production, annual attendance at Toy Fair, and my Happy Meal work with McDonalds during the Teenie Beanie promotions. Unfortunately it just isn't well written. The structure is odd, and there is way too much time spent discussing Ty Warner's personal life. I was also frustrated by the anemic photo section. If you're reading about a popular toy from the past, you want to see it!
Profile Image for Laura.
270 reviews22 followers
May 21, 2018
I am so disappointed in all of you on my friends list and everywhere who have marked this as to-read and haven't read it. How could you not be intrigued?? Just skim the parts that don't interest you!
Profile Image for J.S..
Author 1 book48 followers
January 16, 2015
A time when people abandoned their senses
Market bubbles are nothing new. A few people make a ton of money and everyone else loses. At the time of the Internet Bubble in the 1990s there was another bubble: the Beanie Baby Bubble. People lost all reason speculating on small stuffed animals, thinking they would become rich. Ty Inc., the toy company of Ty Warner, became familiar to all of America as normally rational adults - even though we're talking about toys this story has little to do with children - lost all sense trying to collect their line of under-stuffed toys with PVC beads in them.

The story of Beanie Babies has to be the finest example of fact being stranger than fiction, and this is the most bizarre story I can remember reading. Warner had a knack for creating toys - he was obsessive about things like quality and materials and display. He frequently sought opinions from those around him on fabric color, eyes, or names. He preferred to sell his creations through small 'mom and pop' gift stores instead of big-box retailers, and many of his employees liked him. In fact, he did many things right and ended up a billionaire - but there was just as much luck involved. Especially since he was an obsessive micro-manager who felt threatened by not being able to control the markets his toys created. He once screamed at his sales staff, "I didn't start my own business to make other people rich!", and boasted he could put his trademark Ty heart on manure and sell it. He alienated pretty much everyone in his life and is known more for his selfishness and stinginess than anything.

This is a darkly absorbing read. I laughed out loud, I scoffed in disbelief, and I shook my head too many times to count - but I really had a hard time putting this short book down. I sort-of remember hearing about the craze - which began in Chicago - but even at the time it just sounded too ridiculous. The only Beanie Babies we ever owned (that I know of) were the "teeny" ones my kids got with McDonald's Happy Meals near the time the bubble burst - and those didn't stay in their plastic bags long, unlike the ones most collectors stored in lucite bins with custom tag protectors. The book covers as much history of Ty Warner and Beanie Babies as the author could dig up, as well as a number of brief but interesting tidbits about other toy fads - I only wish it had more information the seventeenth-century "Tulip Mania" that is mentioned on the back. But this is an interesting and easy read about the most ebarrassing market bubble. (I rec'd an advance copy from Amazon Vine.)
Profile Image for Cynthia.
101 reviews3 followers
March 6, 2016
The events described in this book are stranger than fiction. A soap opera star spending his kids' college money on thousands of Beanie Babies? Families using disguises to circumnavigate per-customer limits during the Teenie Beanie promotion? An eccentric New Jersey couple becoming millionaires by self-publishing a devastatingly inaccurate Beanie Baby Handbook?

Part of the reason I found this book so fascinating is I remember this craze so well. (I even had the infamous handbook.) I was five or six when I was introduced to beanies, and I loved the whole thing. They were cute! And for me, they were primarily toys. I brought them to school, threw them up in the air, and sometimes (gasp!) the tags fell off. And yet, there was a tiny part of me that thought, hey, maybe these will be worth something someday. Of course, I was just a dumb kid, and in retrospect, it's amazing just how many adults bought into this whole thing. As this book points out, many people, thinking they were making an investment, were brought to financial ruin over stuffed toys.

Unfortunately, Ty Warner declined to be interviewed. Through interviews with former acquaintances and business associates, Bissonnette presents Ty as a controlling perfectionist, difficult to work with and even more difficult to live with. Bissonnette also profiles the earliest collectors, some of whom, leading up to the peak of the craze, really were able to resell beanies at a remarkable profit. (Of course, most people chose to hoard the beanies, thinking by now they'd be worth thousands. A quick trip to the "Bean Bag Plush" section of ebay proves just how wrong they were.)

It's a quick, fun (and yet rather depressing) read. It's also a cautionary tale. "Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute" sums it all up pretty nicely.
Profile Image for Alisa.
237 reviews19 followers
December 31, 2022
I will never look at beanie babies the same way - in fact, I cringed the other day when I saw the Ty logo in CVS.

The author points out that, interestingly enough, many successful toy moguls came from broken and unhappy homes. Ty Warner (who refused to grant an interview for the book) is no different. If I took anything away from this book - besides Ty's arrogance and conceit - it was the glimpse we were given into his personal life, especially his efforts to "win" his emotionally detached mother's love. It did make me sad for him, though for the most part the presented information made me dislike him as a person.

Also: did you know that someone got murdered over a beanie deal gone wrong? The beanie baby craze is a fascinating - and at times wild - look into the human condition.
Profile Image for Biblio Files (takingadayoff).
570 reviews291 followers
January 16, 2015
The late 1990s brought a perfect storm of the introduction of internet auction site eBay, stock market and housing booms, and a slew of people who wanted to participate but couldn't afford to leverage either real estate or a stock portfolio. You could argue that it was just dumb luck that made Beanie Babies the target of the inevitable bubble that ensued. Or maybe there was really something unique and special about those little bean bag animals.

Zac Bissonnette had a pretty compelling story to tell about the Beanie Bubble. How did so many adults become obsessed with collecting and trading children's plush toys? He interviewed many of the participants and even they seem perplexed by the memory.

As fascinating as the story of the mania and fortunes made and lost is, the real star of The Great Beanie Baby Bubble is the head of the toy company that makes Beanie Babies, Ty Warner. Decidedly eccentric, Warner provides the author with a case study in family dysfunction, egotism, and hard work. Warner also values his privacy and does not grant interviews or answer questions. He gave one journalist an interview some twenty years ago and that was the only one. So Bissonnette relied heavily on Warner's two ex-girlfriends and those who worked for Warner over the years. No one spoke well of Warner, so the account we have is of a twisted and lonely man.

The combination of life profile and snapshot of the beanie bubble make for irresistible reading. I plowed through the book and can't wait to see what Bissonnette writes about next.
Profile Image for Ian.
229 reviews18 followers
April 5, 2015
Oh this one was good. Real good. Fascinating subject. Blast from the past. Nostalgia. And cute kitties. What more do you need?

Behind the obvious rise and fall lies a most interesting story of a strangely broken man, Ty himself, who launched his mercurial line of plush and briefly captivated America.

There's two main takeaways from this book at least for me. One, it's a fascinating portrait of a grotesquely broken man. Gripping stuff. Two, there's plenty of nuggets of wisdom for investors. How ideas go viral. How the public gets roped into popular delusions. How a small group of manipulators can upend the entire market. Anyone investing in IPOs, in particular, should consider carefully the lessons gleaned from the "retiring" of old beanies and the debuts of new ones. It draws a strangely close arc to the current biotech stock bubble of 2015.

I ding one star as some of the book feels "guessy" and not entirely substantiated -- though admittedly it was hard to gather research for the book. Ty obviously refuses all interviews and many of the folks don't want to be quoted nowadays, wishing to avoid having this dark era forever memorialized -- just as investors don't wish to recall paying $300/share for Lycos in 1999 either.
Profile Image for Corinne Edwards.
1,413 reviews209 followers
June 22, 2019
As the sibling of a former Beanie Baby collector (back in the day), I was intrigued by this book when a friend reviewed it online. Both history and biography, this book tells the story of Beanie Baby creator Ty Warner as well as what happened in our country that such a thing as $5,000 stuffed animals came to be. And it’s fascinating.

It reads like a novel, sometimes almost like an expose or soap opera, Ty is such a bizarre character. I really found myself wondering about how human nature and crowd pressures can influence business. And especially how rational people can loose their minds when it seems like there really is an easy way to get rich quick, even if it means investing all your REAL money in STUFFED ANIMALS. FASCINATING stuff, right? The whole idea of “bubbles” has affected my own life, as we entered the housing market as a bubble was on its way to the bursting point - my own friends and neighbors were truly financially hit, while others made out like bandits. It’s certainly a wake up call to the average consumer of both goods and debt that we need to pay attention to the greater economy before we make huge financial decisions.

Quirky idea for a business book but I liked it.
Profile Image for Chelsea.
1,685 reviews44 followers
March 25, 2016
Any kid who grew up in the 90's know the Beanie Babies. Perhaps your own room was flooded with the fluffy animals. Personally, I had a "Beanie Tree" with my favorite animals. Beanie Babies, to some, were more than just stuffed animals. The Beanie Babies Craze is what made these creatures so memorable. Stores sold out faster than they could stock and the $5 toys were selling for over $1000 on ebay. Promised to someday pay for college, parents bought these things in bulk. "The Great Beanie Baby Bubble" chronicles the life of the Beanie creator, Ty Werner. An elusive man even at the peak of success, Zac Bissonnette finally tells the story of the man behind the felt. An interesting look at such an important impact on our culture, Bissonnette reveals the cause of the rise and the fall of the craze. Definitely worth a read for anyone who lived through the madness.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
271 reviews9 followers
December 7, 2017
And let the nostalgia begin!

I have no idea why I read this, but I'm glad I did. I was about 9 when the "Beanie Baby Bubble" blew up, so I have no idea of the impact it had on modern consumerism (ie. explosion of eBay, and counteractively, the demise of teddy bears).

I knocked it down a few stars because I don't think the author had a clear vision of this book. Is it a Ty Warner autobiography? Or a history of the beanie baby? The author needed a better thesis or overall idea of what story the book was telling. Instead, it read like he sorta just jumped into it and ran with the information as it was coming in.
Profile Image for Kitty.
Author 1 book41 followers
October 15, 2019
I wish this was written by someone else but the details are simply too juicy for it to matter that much. Awesome ride, mediocre writing. What a world.
Profile Image for Jonathan.
506 reviews30 followers
January 19, 2022
An interesting and fun read, but really depressing. I mean, no one comes out well in this story of the Beanie Baby craze of the early 1990s. Not the ridiculous collectors, the frenzied marketing or, most especially, anyone associated with Ty Inc, including (or most especially) Ty Warner, the crazy eccentric who started the whole thing.

It was an interesting view of a mania. I didn't have much to do with it, as I didn't have kids at the time, although we were part of the earlier baseball card craze, which was nowhere near as inflamed but still got pretty crazy. But there isn't a single person to root for in this story and, like the other bubbles we have seen (Internet bubble anyone?), everyone thinks "this one will be different" and they never are.

Still, a good read, with some crazy personalities. He covers the start of eBay and a few other near crazes. Worth a read.
Profile Image for ButIDigress.
30 reviews3 followers
February 16, 2020
Admittedly, I picked this book up for stories of bad beanie baby related behavior and fortunes lost in the bubble. I was a young adult during the height of the craze and could never understand how otherwise reasonable people thought their pile of beanies was an investment. Turns out the story of Ty Warner, a deeply troubled man that made it big despite himself, was just as riveting. This is one of those books that’s better than you expect just looking at the cover. I laughed out loud many times.
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