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From Beanie Babies to Squishmallows: The Future Remains Plushy

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By A.Jade Munsie

Over two decades have passed since the Ty Beanie Baby craze rocked the market. Almost 30 years later, the interest in cute, cuddly, collectible toys is revived with a new yet similar fad: Squishmallows. Though culture may change, plush toys remain, and the demand is high.  

When Ty Beanie Babies hit the market in 1993, they were unlike other toys. Filled with plasticized pellets instead of the common stuffing material and characterized with a limp body for realism, Ty Warner designed a toy with children and affordability in mind. 

However, adults soon took note of the variety and collectable quality of Beanie Babies. They became marketed as prized possessions with the hope that their rarity would produce a pretty penny in time – especially as the company started to “retire” certain characters, creating a finding frenzy. 

The childhood toy created as an innocent piece of enjoyment had then become a craze that led to mass resale values and forgeries. 

Flash forward to the release of Kellytoy’s Squishmallows in 2017. Squishmallows have similar qualities to the beanies, such as the personalized name and personality description (a unique feat Ty had created for their beanies). They are also in a market of their own when it comes to popularity and individuality. 

With their round shape, variety of sizes, and cushioned body designed for optimum cuddling, Squishmallows are distinct in design and have become a product for every age. Squishmallows have taken over the toy market and social media with their unique quality, familiar to that of the classic Ty Beanie Babies. Squishmallow plushies range from fantasy, wildlife, and domestic animals to popular licensed characters. 

Ty played with sizes and styles, too, with the release of Teenie Beanies. These are miniature versions of the originals that McDonald’s gave out in McHappy meals. Years later, Ty came out with larger-sized versions of original characters. Beanie Kids (a human-inspired version of the toy) and Beanie Boppers (another human-inspired version but targeted for a pre-teen audience) also came out. 

Today, Squishmallows are what Beanie Babies were 27 years ago, with an emphasis on collection. Squishmallows also have forgery issues and the depth of variety in characters creates a finding frenzy of its own kind. 

However, for a fad that many believed would set them up for life, Ty Beanie Babies, except for a specific few originals, never quite lived up to the monetary hype. Most today aren’t worth much more than their original selling point years ago. But that doesn’t take away from the impact they had on society in the ‘90s. 

Beanies were affordable to buy, which made them easy to collect. They were the staple of many recesses on the playground and the most honourable guests at sleepover tea parties. Beanie Babies were a true original fad that brought people together to compare, collect, play, and imagine.

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