Beanies Survive Millennium

Beanie babies on a store shelf. Beanie Baby beanbag toy
In a "news flash" on the Official Beanie Babies Web site, the maker of the popular toy relayed the news: "Beanies Win!"

It was democracy in action.

Ty Inc. had stunned collectors by saying it would retire the bean bag critters, but then announced that it would let consumers vote on whether the company should continue to pump them out.

Ninety-one percent of the consumers who took the trouble to surf into Ty's Web site voted in favor of continued production of the little collectibles, the company announced on its Web site Sunday.

Skeptics had suspected that owner Ty Warner planned all along to continue Beanies in some form. Warner has, after all, expanded his factories and has several trademark applications pending for Beanies with new names.

"It's the spirit of P.T. Barnum still alive," toy analyst Chris Byrne said when the vote was announced. "How do you milk even more publicity out of a 4-inch stuffed toy?"

Mary Beth Sobolewski, editor-in-chief of Mary Beth's Bean Bag World Monthly, which has a business relationship with Ty Inc., said the last numbers she knows of on Ty's Web site showed that 211,060 consumers voted shortly after 8:30 a.m. EST on Sunday. Shortly after that, the company took the numbers off the Web site and posted an announcement that 91 percent voted "yes" and 9 percent voted "no".

The announcement made no mention of plans to continue making the toys. It said to "Expect the unexpected."

Representatives of the company, based in Oak Brook, Illinois didn't respond to calls for comment Sunday.

Each vote cost 50 cents, with all the proceeds going to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. According to Sobolewski, because Ty announced it would contribute three times the amount spent to vote, nearly $420,000 was raised for the foundation.

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