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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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Carole T. on 03-06-15
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!
17 of 17 people found this review helpful
By Cal H on 04-19-15
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.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Adam on 09-21-16
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.
By RCA123 on 03-31-15
A very interesting/detailed look at another bubble
Any additional comments?
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.