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

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,394 ratings  ·  290 reviews
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 on
Hardcover, 260 pages
Published March 3rd 2015 by Penguin (first published November 4th 2014)
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Zac Bissonnette Awwwwwwww! There is a funny story about the Diana bear in the book . . .

But you must save all your Beanie Babies; they make great gifts for little…more
Awwwwwwww! There is a funny story about the Diana bear in the book . . .

But you must save all your Beanie Babies; they make great gifts for little kids, who will be wowed by their high quality that initially made them a hit--and oblivious to the crazy things people once did for them!(less)

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Mar 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: write-eloquently
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 remo

Mar 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 t ...more
Dec 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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 t
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.
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio-book
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
Apr 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
"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 Warne
Noah Eigenfeld
Dec 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: finished-in-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 ...more
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."
Rachel Kulik
Jan 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 gif
Jan 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
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!
J.S. Green
Jan 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 chil
"Ty Inc.'s 1989 catalog had this on the back cover: "WARNING: If anyone dare copy our creative designs or patents without written permission, ownership of your eternal soul passes to us and we have the right to negotiate the sale of said soul. Furthermore, our attorneys will see to it that life on Earth, as you know it, is not worth living."

OH MY!!! A successful, though bizarrely delusional man, Ty Warner. Truth indeed is stranger than fiction. The insanely rich often do insanely weird things.
Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
Jan 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 t
Apr 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 ide
Book Riot Community
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 ...more
Ellen Gail
Jan 29, 2015 marked it as to-read
Shelves: non-fiction

You know I lost all my money when the bubble burst...The Beanie Baby bubble was real! I was worth $3 million on paper by the time I was in seventh grade. My parents begged me to sell, but I fell in love with every last one of those beanie babies. - Max Bloom, bitchin' 80's limo driver, lead singer, minister, and inventor of the garbage-can stove.

Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
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!
Dec 07, 2017 rated it liked it
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 boo
Dec 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sociology
Only in America …

This book was reviewed as part of Amazon's Vine program which included a free advance copy of the book.

I remember watching two co-workers participate in the Beanie Baby craze of the late 90s and was entertained as well as frustrated by the amount of money they continued to sink into their Beanie “investments” (one had the means to support her “habit” … the other did not). Zac Bissonnette’s THE GREAT BEANIE BABY BUBBLE provides a very detailed understanding of the Beanie Baby man
I received a copy of this book as part of a firstreads give away. In The Great Beanie Baby Bubble Zac Bissonnette follows the craze of Beanie Baby collection and speculation of the late nineties, from its foundation. This book is as close to a biography of Ty founder Ty Warner as it is a chronicle of the strange mania that overtook Beanie collectors.

Ty Warner was as meticulous and micro-managing in the beanies as he is about his own appearance. He would work and re-work the designs until they wo
Alex Aro
Mar 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was ten years old when the Beanie Baby craze first started to explode and like everyone else, I too was sucked in. Unlike others who thought they were going to strike it rich on the secondary market, I was instead interested in collecting as many as I could. I remember going over friend's houses and pulling out our collections, each of us showing off our newest additions and favorite pieces.

When I first heard of this book it immediately brought me back to those times of plastic bins filled wi
May 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 si
Dec 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: from-library

A fascinating case study of a speculative bubble, with a twist.

I was a couple of years too old to really get caught up in the Beanie Chase, but I grew up in the Chicago suburbs not far from the epicenter, so I know a bit about what happened, and was interested to see the stories behind not only Ty Inc. and Ty Warner, but many of the third party promoters and dealers, like Les and Sue Fox, the authors of the self-published bestseller The Beanie Baby Handbook.

The story of Beanie Babies is insepara

Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was such a good book. It gave incredible insight into the man behind the 3-headed beast, the Beanie Baby, and showed the mania that he started in the marketplace. Can you imagine trampling people in line, trading your life savings and even going to prison, all in the hopes of making thousands of dollars?
Ty Warner is without a doubt a smart, obsessive and twisted man and to be brought into the world of Beanies through this easy read was a delight. For anyone who has/had beanie babies or kne
Jul 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm old enough to remember the Beanie Baby craze but young enough to not know just how crazy it really was. I still have the ones my brothers and I bought, for the reasons Ty Warner (Ty Inc., founder) would appreciate, because we liked them. A few sit on the shelf in my room...tags intact because that was THE WAY.

Bissonnette chronicles as much of the life of Ty Inc.,'s semi-elusive founder as well as can be done without direct interviews (Warner doesn't talk to press). He works in history of th
Chelsea Gouin
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
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 Bu ...more
Feb 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I won an ARC of this book through Goodreads.

I was too young to appreciate the mania that happened in the late 90's surrounding the beanie baby empire, but this book really was a fascinating read. From the very start, the flow of his writing drew my attention, and I really appreciate that Mr. Bissonnette made a lot of effort to retell the story of TY Warner from his beginning days to the present. I thought that the book had a nice mix of facts backing it--but not so much that you feel bogged dow
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the first time ty warner brought one of his girlfriends into his room he spent a good amount of time explaining all his pillows to her before even trying to bed her. i have never read or watched american psycho but i imagine he is basically what patrick bateman would be if he had a toy empire.

idrk how i am meant to rate things like this when i had little to no knowledge of the subject matter beforehand. it was as comprehensive as i imagine it could be and was pretty entertaining, so. 5 stars ?
Mar 19, 2015 rated it liked it
Interesting backstory on the rise/fall of Beanie Babies and their flawed creator. Cool to hear about how it became such a craze. It's also more than a little horrifying, mainly because our mom bought SO many of these. And not early on, when they were $5 and their valued increased by 8000%, but later when they were purchased at super inflated prices and became worthless quickly.
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-books
This was a rollercoaster and I loved every weird second of it.
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“It is often said of the gold rush that the people who got rich were the shovel dealers who profited from the greed of the forty-niners. With Beanie Babies, most of the lasting personal fortunes came from selling books and tag protectors, not from speculating in plush.” 1 likes
“Charles Kindleberger explained the self-perpetuating feeding frenzy that develops when speculators start making money: 'There is nothing so disturbing to one’s well-being and judgment as to see a friend get rich'.” 1 likes
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