There has never been a craze like Beanie Babies. The $5 beanbag animals with names like Seaweed the Otter and Gigi the Poodle drove millions of Americans into a greed-fueled frenzy as they chased the rarest Beanie Babies, whose values escalated weekly in the late 1990s.
A single Beanie Baby sold for $10,000, and on eBay the animals comprised 10 percent of all sales. Suburban moms stalked UPS trucks to get the latest models, a retired soap opera star lost his kids' six-figure college funds investing in them, and a New Jersey father sold three million copies of a self-published price guide that predicted what each animal would be worth in 10 years. More than any other consumer good in history, Beanie Babies were carried to the height of success by a collective belief that their values would always rise.
Just as strange as the mass hysteria was the man behind it. From the day he started in the toy industry, after dropping out of college, Ty Warner devoted all his energy to creating what he hoped would be the most perfect stuffed animals the world had ever seen. Sometimes called the "Steve Jobs of plush" by his employees, he obsessed over every detail of every animal. He had no marketing budget and no connections, but he had something more valuable - an intuitive grasp of human psychology that would make him the richest man in the history of toys.
Through first-ever interviews with former Ty Inc. employees, Warner's sister, and the two ex-girlfriends who were by his side as he achieved the American dream, The Great Beanie Baby Bubble tells the inspiring yet tragic story of one of America's most enigmatic self-made tycoons. Best-selling author Zac Bissonnette uncovers Warner's highly original approach to product development, sales, and marketing that enabled the acquisition of plush animals to activate the same endorphins chased by stock speculators and gamblers.
©2015 Zac Bissonnette (P)2015 Penguin Audio
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"King of Crushed Dreams"
If, like me, you remember this craze well, I think you'll find this book fascinating, appalling, and a bit unnerving. If you're too young to recall the time, then consider it a cautionary tale.
Never a fan or collector, I do remember being shoved around in line at McDonald's during the frenzy for "teenie beanies". I was there for a fish sandwich and quickly gave up in the wake of shrieking people grabbing Happy Meals they would throw into trash bins outside the store.
So, what is the benefit of listening to this sad tale? Well, it does give whatever insight can be given into the brain and motives of a worthless, hollow billionaire. He's a freakish, intriguing case, but of more interest to me, at least, is the story of the "delusion" mentioned in the title. Beanie Babies may have been a particularly intense example of the boom/bust cycle, but the human psychology behind such phenomena remains forever with us.
Those of us not attracted to that particular plush toy (at least not in adulthood) can still recognize the all too human tendency to be swayed by salesmanship, media hype, mass hysteria and general greed. And to the lies and excuses we are prone to use in justifying rash behavior after we come to our senses. The fact that the one undeniable huge fortune accumulated during the Beanie Baby bubble was that of Ty Warner, a man so insensitive and lacking in gratitude or generosity, pretty much sums up the result of most of the not-infrequent financial bubbles in history. Few benefit, most lose, then we start all over again.
We shake our heads and laugh at the folly of the fans of Ty and his babies, but there's a lesson here for all of us! And it's a lesson interestingly presented and very well narrated. Listen and marvel!
Very Enlightening- I study financial bubbles and this one certainly is worthy of learning about- and this audiobook does a thorough job of covering it. In to Psychology or business success or failure? Business that can be successful without knowing why? Leadership failures? Then this book is for you too. Author never makes the diagnosis of "Sociopath" for Ty, but describes many of the telltale behaviors that would leave one to suspect so.
"It was informative."
It was an interesting book. Informative story of the Beanie Baby rise and fall. Warner is an interesting character. Performance was well done.
As a 90's kid, I lived through peak Beanie Baby popularity although neither me nor my family ever got bit by the beanie bug. It's fascinating to see what it was like from both sides - the collectors that poured their life savings investing in plush and the corporation that was gaming the market by retiring beanies to increase demand.
This is an enjoyable listen from start to finish and really sheds lights on the "dark side of cute!"
"Brilliant research, brilliant storytelling"
I learned so much about the human condition from The Great Beanie Baby Bubble. We, as humans, can become emotional and irrational when it comes to putting value on something that has no intrinsic value, yet others have placed a value upon it and we literally buy it! Knowing this about ourselves can save us from making bad investment choices in the future.
"Good Quick Listen"
Narration was great and it's an interesting story, not an especially deep penetration of the bubble phenomenon. The sketch of the man behind the toys is pretty bleak and not really the authors fault.
Thank you so much for the additional info about Ty and the beanies we all love. I still have my very large collection and am always filling in the gaps. I would love to connect with other collectors still collecting. I hope Leon and Sondra open the museum, I would certainly visit!
Sucked me into the crazy world of not just Beanie Babies but Ty Warner's as well. I never knew how much went into plush toys.
"Couldn't put this one down"
I absolutely loved this story, it's been a very long time since a book has pulled me in so strongly. Bissonnette does a great job of explaining the economics of the Beanie craze in an easily accessible way. I feel like I learned just as much about bubble economies as I did about Beanie Babies. The narrator of this book was also fantastic.
"Loved it so much I bought the book so I could quietly read it in bed"
This is not only a wonderful look at the bubble we all remember so well in the 90s it's also a look at the nature of bubbles in general. Ochlam does a wonderful job treating a subject which could so easily be taken to comedy as a study in economics and human nature. The narrator fit the tone perfectly, and it's the only audio book I've listened to multiple times.
"No interest in Beanie Babies but WHAT A BOOK!"
This was a shot in the dark, something I though heck ill give it a go. I'd happily put this as one of the better books iv listened to, it's interesting from beginning to end. Quite quickly paced but descriptive enough you understand the event that happened without being bored to tears.
An audio book that had made me buy the book just to have on my shelf. Highly recommended as an interesting and enjoyable 8 hour listen.
"A very interesting/detailed look at another bubble"
For anyone interested in the psychology of bubbles, behavioural finance or just someone who wants to avoid this sort of thing it is a good and detailed case study. Well written and narrated I would recommend it.
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