Collectible Stuffed Animals: What’s Really Valuable?

Myths & Legends

We have all heard the stories of the elusive million-dollar Beanie Baby. The unfortunate truth is, the vast majority of Beanie Babies and Stuffed Animals you come across are not terribly valuable. The massed produced frenzy of Ty Beanie Babies created by the manufacturer’s Supply and Demand tactics led to inflated and unrealistic values for almost all Beanie Babies. The massed-produced nature of Stuffed Animals, in general, does not generally lend to them being valuable toys. There are a few exceptions to this rule, however, and we will look at some examples of stuffed animals that have become valuable and continue to hold value over time. Here are some notable manufacturers we will take a look at Steiff, Gund and Ty.

Steiff Manufacture 

Began in 1880 by Margarete Steiff, Steiff Manufacture quickly became a popular maker of Children’s stuffed animals. Renowned today for their Teddy Bears, Steiff Manufacture started out making animals of all shapes and sizes. Margarete’s first creation was a small elephant sewn from a pattern and made with felted fabric. These little elephants were initially made intended to be pincushions; however, it quickly became apparent that children loved playing with these little elephants. After selling over 5,000 elephants, Margarete expanded the line and in the 1882 catalog, Margarette began to include monkeys, camels, donkeys, horses and more.

                                                                                    

The Steiff Teddy Bear

By 1902, Margarete’s brother, Richard Steiff, joined the company and created “Bear 55PB”, the world’s first toy bear with movable arms and legs. Richard chose the iconic mohair fabric for the body of the bear. The bears began their meteoric rise in popularity when an American trader discovered the bears at the Leipzig Toy Fair in 1902 and purchased 3,000 bears to bring back to America. The bears were an unprecedented success, selling under the name “Teddy Bear” after the American President, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt.

Steiff – Button in Ear

“In order to make their own high-quality products unmistakable, and fend off numerous cheap imitations, Franz Steiff developed the brand sign “Steiff – Button in Ear”. At the world exhibition in St. Louis, Margarete was awarded the Grand Prix, and finally in 1906 Margarete Steiff GmbH was founded, the company name which is still used today.”

Notable Steiff Animals

              

GUND

“Founded by German immigrant Adolph Gund in Norwalk, Connecticut in 1898, GUND has been creating teddy bears and other soft toys ever since. Even in the early years, Gund established a tradition of innovative design. Adolph was responsible for several patented mechanisms that brought life to his creations. During WWII, the company produced products promoting the purchase of War Bonds. The unique shape is an example of GUND’s innovative 4 Circle design – a unique huggable shape with contrasting fabrics. The company continued to expand throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Building upon their original line of products, GUND licensed many popular characters from the Hollywood Studios.”

                                                                                                                 

Gund War Bond Doll

Notable Gund Stuffed Animals

                                                                                        

         TY Beanie Babies

Created in 1993, Beanie Babies emerged as a major fad and collectible during the second half of the 1990s. They have been cited as being the world’s first Internet sensation in 1995. They were collected not only as toys but also as a financial investment, due to the high resale value of ones. Nine original Beanie Babies were launched in 1993: Legs the Frog, Squealer the Pig, Spot the Dog, Flash the Dolphin, Splash the Whale, Chocolate the Moose, Patti the Platypus, Brownie the Bear (later renamed “Cubbie”), and Pinchers the Lobster (with some tag errors with “Punchers”). They were not in factory production until 1994. Sales were slow at first, to the point that by 1995 many retailers refused to buy the products in the bundles Ty offered them in while others outright refused to buy them in any form. Their popularity soon grew, however, first starting locally in Chicago before growing into a national craze in the US.

Boom & Bust

Beanie Babies began to emerge as popular collectibles in late 1995 and became a hot toy. The company’s strategy of deliberate scarcity, producing each new design in limited quantity, restricting individual store shipments to limited numbers of each design and regularly retiring designs, created a huge secondary market for the toys and increased their popularity and value as a collectible. Ty systematically retired various designs, and many people assumed that all “retired” designs would rise in value the way that early retirees had. The craze lasted through 1999 and slowly declined after the Ty company announced that they would no longer be making Beanie Babies and made a bear called “The End”. Sometime after the original announcement that the company would stop production, Ty asked the public to vote on whether the product should continue; fans and collectors voted “overwhelmingly” to keep the toys on the market. At its height of popularity, people would flip Beanies for as much as ten-fold on eBay.

Beanie Babies Values 2022

Princess The Bear $500,000

Valentino Bear  $20,000

Peace the Bear  $15,000

Claude the Crab  $10,000

Chef Robuchon  $7,000

Patti the Platypus  $6,000

Employee Bear  $3,000

Weenie The Dog  $2,500

Puff The Magic Dragon  $1,750

Mystic the Unicorn  $1,500

Other Beanies to Look Out For

Royal Blue Peanut the Elephant – Royal Blue Fabric

Mystic the Unicorn – Fine Mane w/ Tan-color Horn

Millennium – Misspelling

Chef Robuchon – Very Limited Production

Patti the Platypus – One of the 9 Originals

Inky – Grey Color

Claude the Crab – Special Edition Tie-dye

Iggy the Iguana – Bright Greens, Pinks & Yellow Tie-dye fabric

Curly the Bear – Misspelling

*See References for Full List