Lessons from a busted Beanie Baby collector

Forget 'investing' in collectibles. That's the takeaway from the story of how one family blew $100,000 on the little plush toys.

By Jonathan Berr Jul 26, 2013 12:48PM
Video Still via YouTubeMeet the Robinsons, a typical all-American family with an atypical financial problem: They blew $100,000 on Beanie Babies.

You remember Beanie Babies, those cute little stuffed animals that everybody had to have in the 1990s. Prices went up to insane levels spurred by the growth of eBay (EBAY). And then, they came crashing down, a fate that anyone who has taken Economics 101 could have predicted. Well, this is a lesson that the Robinsons, namely patriarch Chris Robinson Sr. (pictured), seems never to have learned. 

Robinson, an actor best known to soap opera fans as Dr. Rick Weber from "General Hospital," matter-of-factly tells his story in a short film produced by one of his sons called "Bankrupted by Beanies."

The one flaw in Robinson's financial plan -- and it's a big one -- is that he never sold any Beanie Babies while they were hot commodities. He still has thousands of them. Once that market crashed, odds are that he would have sold them at a loss had he tried to do so. With hindsight, Robinson seems to understand the error of his ways.

Since the Beanie Baby bust, a new crop of collectors has emerged, thanks to the popularity of "Antiques Roadshow," "American Pickers," "Storage Wars" and many others that have people thinking they can turn their trash into treasures. More likely their trash is trash. Many people may not realize that the average appraisal on "The Roadshow" is about $50.

Even if someone has something of value, finding a buyer willing to pay the asking price may not be easy. While some collectibles and antiques increase in value over time, they also can fall because fashions and tastes change. The stuff that holds its value tend to be iconic and extremely expensive.

Anyone who still thinks they want to "invest" in collectibles should lie down until the feeling goes away.

Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.


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156Comments
Jul 26, 2013 1:47PM
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I knew Beanie Babies was just a fad.  He should have gone with Pet Rocks like me.
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Never collect anything unless you love it. 
Jul 26, 2013 2:21PM
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We did the same thing with Barbies. Once we realized that they were no longer worth what we paid, we donated them to a local Ronald McDonald house. Hopefully they were played with and made a child happy.
Jul 26, 2013 2:35PM
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The family should just donate the collection to a charity or a children's hospital so that kids could actually enjoy playing with them.  Take the write-off and move on with their lives.
Jul 26, 2013 1:27PM
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He should hold on the them because the way the economy is going by this time next year he may have $100K worth of beans. 
Jul 26, 2013 1:24PM
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Beanie Babies, I used to laugh at all those people fightin in the store for them, It really got them somwhere !!!
Jul 26, 2013 2:06PM
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Remember Cabbage Patch Kids??

What was it PT Barnum said, again??? LOL

Jul 26, 2013 1:54PM
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what did they expect when you could get them in Mcdonalds happy meals?
Jul 26, 2013 1:31PM
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Stuff like this continues to show the stupidity of the American consumer. You can talk up any item until it's PERCEIVED as valuable, but it's still the same piece of crap it was last year. If people only realized this when it comes to real estate, gold, and stocks. It's all talk. Not worth any more than what is actually is.
Jul 26, 2013 2:16PM
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My mom collected beanie babies during that time.  She often bought doubles so that I would have a collection too.  When my son was born we had a ready made stuffed toy collection for him.  He loves to tear off the tag and toss them like bean bags.  Not a bad investment if you consider the hours of fun he has with them, but it won't pay the bills.
Jul 26, 2013 1:57PM
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My sister is one of these idiots that collected these toys and other things like snow babies.  She never met a "collectible" she didn't like.  No one could ever convince her that anytime an object has the term "collectible" applied to it , it is NOT anything worth collecting.  She still collects some dumb teddy bear figurine and at over 40 buck a pop has thousands sunk into them.  What a dope.
Jul 26, 2013 2:34PM
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With that many Beanies he can get his money back . Open a carnival stand game of chance for a dollar if they win . pick one!
Jul 26, 2013 2:29PM
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I have a collection of 230 plus  miniature alcohol bottles like what's on airplanes.   Not worth a lot but I can have a BIG party.
Jul 26, 2013 1:53PM
Jul 26, 2013 2:41PM
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I'd rather waste a 100k on hookers and blow if I had a choice.He should donate them to childrens hospitals so they can get used for enjoyment instead of sitting on a shelf.

Jul 26, 2013 2:20PM
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There is a fool born every second !! HONESTLY BEENY BABIES ??????
Jul 26, 2013 2:24PM
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go to an estate auction sometime , you know that statement  " a fool and his money are soon parted " you'll see it there. And my all time favorite " its got to be old and valuable my grandparents bought it ". But  most likely bought it a year before they died. You don't have to be a Mensa candidate, just have a little common sense, it goes a long way.
Jul 26, 2013 2:06PM
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He should have put his money in Cabbage Patch dolls, or perhaps Tickle Me Elmos
Jul 26, 2013 2:34PM
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I  remember reading about a guy from US who flew on the SST for around $8,000 RT to Europe to purchase a Cabbage Patch doll, for several hundred (or was it thousands) dollars more, for his 'little princess' during the frenzy in the 80's.  I bought 2 from my neighbor-about a month later-for $26 each. She bought them at a local store. A couple of months later I bought two more at a local Sears Outlet Store for..............$19.99 each.   A 'RICH' fool and his money are soon parted.  My daughters played with those dolls a lot-their 0-3 month new-born dresses fit the dolls perfectly!! LOL We didn't think about 'what they 'may' be worth in several years.'
Jul 26, 2013 2:11PM
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People are so F**king stupid...............
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