Posted by: Kate | July 8, 2018

Book Review: The Great Beanie Baby Bubble

Ah, the Beanie Baby. A cute little stuffed critter that I vaguely remembered as being quite collectible and popular. I was at the wrong age for the craze – out of highschool and not a mother yet, so while I was aware of it I didn’t follow it. But somewhere along the line this book title caught my eye, and I finally found time to read it this spring.

I know a non-fiction book is a good read if I can’t stop reading parts out loud to anyone around me. This book was absolutely one of those – I was reading while on our May camping trip and kept snorting in disbelief or laughing out loud, and then reading pieces to my fellow campers. And while the material was fascinating, that really is a compliment to the author, Zac Bisonette.

The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute, is a fascinating tale. Bisonette tries to make sense of how this little stuffie could have become such a sought-after commodity that people were bankrolling their collections with their mortgages. And how people didn’t see that it would come to an end. The fact that I am left still a little baffled by it is not due to Bisonette’s work. He does an excellent job of telling the story both of the Beanie Babies’ creation and marketing and of the collectors who became obsessed with the stuffed animals. I just can’t wrap my head around it.

Perhaps it is too American for me. I was brought up my English-based immigrants, pre-war babies from England and South Africa who didn’t move to Canada until they were adults and never bought into ‘the American dream’ nor followed North American fads. Or perhaps I am just not the person who would ever be swept up into that mania – which Bisonette, as others have done, compares to the tulip mania that swept Holland in the 1630s.

Beanie Babies made Ty Warner – their creator – a billionaire. They launched through small gift shops and right before the advent of easy-access internet. It was a perfect collusion of things that created the craze, and Bisonette does an admirable job of investigating all the angles.

At turns financial analysis, human-interest story and Beanie Baby history – The Great Beanie Baby Bubble both entertains and informs. While I may not understand the people who were swept up into the collecting, I do have a better understanding of the circumstances that lead one of the greatest consumer crazes of all time. I enjoyed the read very much.


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