In 1995-1996 I was in 6th grade. This was the year I remember the Beanie Baby craze really hitting hard!
I forget how it started, but I'd like to say I remember a friend of mine started getting them, as her parents had got into the craze and were buying them up like crazy and reselling them. She had a few. I wasn't too big on the basic teddy bear ones, but I did think some of the animal ones were pretty cute and I remember I started buying them too.
I only had a few to start with but ended up collecting a handful of them that filled up a shelf in my old bedroom closet at my parents house -I had many dogs, cats and an assortment of others. By now I think all the ones I have are retired.
Looking at the official Ty Beanie Babies site, it's fun scrolling down the list on the side and looking through all the retired ones - I see many of mine, and many of the hard to get ones that I remember hearing about back then.
I had Sly the Fox, Bernie the St. Bernard, Cubbie the Bear (Blackie was the original bear but was retired by this time), Doby the Doberman, Nanook the Huskie, Patti the Platypus, Pounce and Snip (both cats), Squealer the Pig, Tiny the Chihuahua, Ally the Alligator and Weenie the Dachshund among others. 2 that I still have with me here at our apartment are Smarter the Owl, which I got for my high school graduation (he has my high school graduation tassel attached to him and resides inside a mug with the names of the people in my graduating class on the outside of it) and Hope the Praying Bear. I also have 1 of the 2 bulls (Snort and Tabasco) that were big back then - I forget which was retired first, but I had the later one
I also have Speedy the Turtle, which is a special one to me, as I have a neat story as to how I got him. Back then, I listened to a lot to a nearby "we play anything" station that played everything from current top 40 songs to classic rock and metal with Dr. Demento on Sunday nights - probably one of the best radio stations (and it was run out of the town where I went to college) and I was thrilled when it was brought back for a few years while I was in college. Anyways, during the height of the Beanie Baby craze near the beginning of 7th grade, they had a week/weekend where they were giving away some of the harder to get Beanie Babies. I think you had to hear a particular song or soundbite played and then be a certain caller to win. I had been trying all week and eventually I finally got through and won! They only had 3 left to give away and gave me my option of which one I wanted and I picked Speedy. He arrived in a padded manila envelope about a week or 2 later with a letter from the radio station congratulating me again on winning. It was really neat and was a special moment for me.
I remember my friend had a handful of retired ones - like I said, her parents would buy multiple of one at a time and then once they became retired they'd sell the extras for some extra cash. Considering how crazy got over the things, it wasn't a bad way to turn a profit!
Looking at the Wiki, it's no surprise why people went nuts over these things - not only were they cute and collectible but each one had it's own name, birthdate and little poem/story on the tag. The whole "retiring" aspect of them after so much time only added to their collectible-ness. They were also reasonably priced - I remember the average price was something like $5.99-$7.99 so a kid could easily save their allowance and get one fairly often. They were also sold at smaller, specialty stores rather than big places like Walmart, Target, etc. - out here, the gift shop inside Cracker Barrel was the place to get to them. They usually got a shipment once a week or so and had at least 10 different Beanie Babies you could choose from. At the height of the craze I believe they started limiting how many you could purchase at time (I think it was 5 per person per day) just so buyers like my friend's parents didn't buy them all up the second a shipment came in. I remember though, someone's parent at school would leak when the new shipment came in and which ones the store was supposed to be getting in and we'd rush over to try and get at least one of the newer ones.
I noticed while over at my friend's, they've placed some of her old Beanie Babies throughout her son's room for decoration - that's actually not a bad idea and pretty cute, I might have to do that with Jay - put them somewhere where he can enjoy them too (although maybe when he's a little older so he doesn't rip off the tags, making them worthless, lol).
Did you get into the Beanie Baby craze? Which Beanies did you have or which ones were your most memorable?