In the mid 1990s, Ty Warner started creating Beanie Babies, which were plush toy animals filled with beans, in his suburban Chicago condo. As a seasoned toy salesman, Warner recognized the potential to generate profits and produce something unique.
When the first Beanie Babies were released, the creator only sold a small amount before retiring them. However, a group of soccer moms in the Chicago area caught on to the idea that their $5 investment could turn into a significant profit. One of the original Beanie Babies, the royal blue first edition Peanut the Elephant, is now worth up to $7,000. So, how did this happen?
Know About Ty Warner
In 1944, H. Ty Warner was born and raised with his parents and sister in a Chicago suburb. Following his graduation from college, Warner, who had a passion for acting, made his way to Hollywood.
After his aspirations failed to materialize, he came back to Chicago and teamed up with his father to work as a sales representative for the toy manufacturer Dakin. For eighteen years, Warner worked with the company and was frequently regarded as an oddball. He did this intentionally to make himself stand out during sales pitches, allowing him to gain access to the buyers.
Back in 1980, Dakin’s former employee, Warner, embarked on a trip to Italy, where he discovered an array of plush toys that were popular among kids. Inspired by this observation, Warner returned to his suburban Chicago condo and set out to establish his own stuffed toy company.
Back in the early 1990s, Warner had the idea of creating Beanie Babies, a line of collectible stuffed bears that would be released annually. To make his toy animals unique, he decided to use beans instead of traditional stuffing.
The toys were intentionally under stuffed in order to make them more flexible and lifelike. Additionally, unique swing and tush tags were incorporated to enhance their appeal. Selected tags were adorned with charming poems, which added to the toys’ charm and lovable nature.
Ty Warner saw the potential in appealing to collectors and therefore, he sold the toys to small, independent toy companies. Interestingly, some of the original Beanie Babies, including Peanut the Elephant, were retired early. It is speculated that this was a strategic decision by Warner. As the Beanie Baby craze took hold, the limited supply of these toys caused their value to skyrocket. In fact, Ty, Inc. had sold more than $1.4 billion worth of Beanie Babies by 1998.
The original Peanut the Elephant
In June of 1995, Ty, Inc. released the first generation of Peanut the Elephant Beanie Baby. Peanut was among the original nine Beanie Babies sold in the company’s first year. This plush elephant is royal blue in color with white on its ears. The production of Peanut was limited to approximately 2,000 units. The first-generation swing tag, featuring a red and white heart, hangs from Peanut’s right ear and includes a special poem dedicated to the beloved elephant.
- Peanut the elephant walks on tip-toes
- Quietly sneaking wherever she goes
- She’ll sneak up on you and a hug
- You will get
- Peanut is a friend you won’t soon forget!
- Peanut’s tush tag is black and white as all of the original Beanie Babies had.
According to some theories, Peanut the Elephant’s royal blue color was not intentional and may have been a result of a factory mistake. However, others speculate that the creator of Peanut, Ty Warner, was dissatisfied with the sales of the original royal blue Elephant. In fact, Warner’s former partner and girlfriend, Patricia Roche, suggested that a baby blue version of Peanut would be more popular. As a result, the original Peanut the Elephant was retired on October 2, 1995, and replaced with the baby blue version that became a popular collectible item.
Peanut the Elephant is one of the most coveted Beanie Babies among collectors due to its unique color and quick retirement. This makes it a rare find and highly sought after by those hoping to sell it for a profit. In 1998, the famous royal blue elephant was even released as a “Teenie Baby” with McDonald’s Happy Meals. The Gigglebellies even released a song named after Peanut, further adding to its popularity.
The Beanie Baby Craze
Peanut the Elephant is often credited with starting the “Beanie Craze,” which turned collecting Beanie Babies into a nationwide obsession. Originally, the original Beanie Babies were sold exclusively in small independent toy stores, with only six available at a time, and were quickly retired. This caught the attention of four suburban Chicago soccer moms, who recognized the potential value of these limited-edition collections.
As Beanie Babies gained popularity, women began calling toy shops across the country in search of the coveted stuffed animals. This sparked a nationwide frenzy as people scrambled to acquire rare Beanie Babies to add to their collections or sell for a profit.
Advertising was not necessary for Beanie Babies as word of mouth was enough to make them a trend. Collecting magazines started publishing articles on them soon after. In 1996, Peggy Gallagher, one of the initial collectors, wrote an article for “Rosie’s Collectors’ Bulletin” highlighting Peanut the Elephant as the rarest Beanie Baby.
Back in the day, Gallagher was so confident about the value of the original Beanie Babies that he even offered a price guide. The news of these stuffed toys quickly spread, and in 1997, a father from New Jersey published a price guide called “The Beanie Baby Handbook.” This guide sold over a million copies and listed the value of Peanut the Elephant at a staggering $4,000. The author even predicted that within ten years, Peanut the Elephant would be worth $7,000.
It has been more than twenty years since Peanut the Elephant was released and retired, and the prediction of the New Jersey dad has proven to be accurate. Currently, an authentic Peanut the Elephant can be valued from $2,000 to $7,000, making it a highly profitable investment for the original owner who only spent $5 in 1995.
It is essential for Peanut the Elephant collectors to exercise caution and ensure that the elephant they possess is an authentic one and not a counterfeit. The Beanie Baby craze led to the production of numerous counterfeits, which are relatively smaller in size, have a shorter trunk and a longer nape. Therefore, collectors should be vigilant to avoid falling prey to counterfeiters.
If you’re trying to spot a fake Peanut Beanie Baby, pay attention to the details. The fabric should feel rough and the ears should not be smoothly sewn on. Additionally, the tush tag should be printed in black and white, just like all of the original Beanie Babies from 1995. Keep an eye out for these small details to ensure you’re getting the real deal.
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