Collector's caveat: Beanie Baby market may turn bearish

October 04, 1998|By NEWSDAY

Sure, the Dow Jones industrial average is falling. World markets are in turmoil. But for the savvy investor, there's still one safe haven: Beanie Babies. Right?

Well, maybe not. Just listen to this prospectus for the future of the sought-after stuffed animals from Harry L. Rinker, author of the "Official Guide to Collectibles":

"A general feeling has developed that prices have reached the ridiculous level. ... A few years from now, their only value will be the ability to look nostalgically back on the craze and think 'If only I had sold then.'"

Rinker knows something about the collectibles market. He is president of Rinker Enterprises, an information service for dealers and collectors. So it means something when he says: "I can assure you that, within a year, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth among the Beanie Baby collectors."

Since their introduction by toy designer Ty Warner in 1994, Beanie Babies have become inescapable, By retiring the plush animals to create scarcity, the $5 retail value of many has been propelled into the hundreds of dollars.

Rinker says the retired Beanie Babies are "losing value rapidly."

Some dealers like Linda DeTray are losing their Beanie bullishness. "Anybody who buys them as an investment," the New Hampshire resident says, "is definitely off the mark."

Says Rinker: "The ship is sinking. If you have Beanie Babies, unload them. There's a three-month window of escape. After that, buy a crying towel."

Pub Date: 10/04/98

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