For years, the Robinson family was “consumed” by the hunt for Beanie Babies. With a collection for each of the five sons, Robinson’s father would spend weekends recruiting anyone he could—his kids, neighborhood kids, and even friends of his wife—to buy new releases for him. Since shops often limited each family to one purchase, he would warn his sons to pretend not to know one another in the store. Once they were home, days were spent cataloguing and packaging the Beanie Babies, which he organized by species and color in plastic cases. “He described it as kind of like a drug addiction,” Robinson told Marketplace.

In his documentary, Robinson’s mother says that the idea wasn’t a bad one—but that like those Dutch tulip merchants, the Robinsons failed to cash out in time. For about the first six months, she says, they could have made a nice profit. But they missed that window. “When we first started collecting them,” She said, “we knew that they were valuable, because they were kind of at their peak—but we didn’t know that part.”

Now, even though the children who actually played with Beanie Babies are now young adults ready to drop some cash on nostalgic memorabilia, prices are still low—many of the plushies sell for less than their original price, and only very few sell for anything close to the thousands that were expected. Baldy the Eagle, a plush that was supposed to be extremely rare, is selling on eBay for only a few dollars—and the Robinsons have 50 of them.

Robinson’s father is still holding onto his collections in case they come back around, and plans to pass them on to his sons either way. Maybe the market will pick back up again—but it’s more likely that his grandchildren will each get a couple thousand Beanie Babies for their first birthdays.

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