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Collectors Corner: Wade Figurines, Beanie Babies, and Bolivar

Collectors Corner

It’s spring – Finally! – and in accordance with the season, it’s time to clean out our update folder and bring you up-to-speed with some of your (and our) favorite collectibles. So, without further ado:

Wade Figurines
Breaking with a tradition going back to 1967, Red Rose Tea recently announced that beginning this summer it would no longer be including a Wade miniature figurine (also called a “Wade Whimsy”) in each box of its original blend tea. The supply of promotional boxes on grocers’ shelves was expected to be depleted by this fall, but the company assured its customers that the figurines would continue to be offered for free with all online orders of their various products. Reasons given for the change included the elimination of waste and being able to offer customers the ability to request only the figurines they desired to collect. For more detailed information, please check out:

Red Rose Tea Figurine Announcement – April announcement of move of free whimsies from brick-and-mortar stores to online shopping includes a free-shipping promo code.

Red Rose Tea Figurine FAQ – Explains the transition from market shelves to online orders.

Beanie Babies
We’d never taken a serious look at the Beanie Baby phenomenon, and had, in fact, made several disparaging remarks about the “Beanie Bubble” over the years. So we were somewhat surprised to discover that there appears to be a small secondary market for some of the diminutive plushies.

Introduced in 1994 with a line of nine, plastic-bead-filled animals, Ty Inc.’s plush toys generated a mania that lasted five years during which collectors sought out every new toy, noting the smallest variations in production and tags, and carefully preserving each in its own plastic case. Values exploded, and at the height of the craze, some collections were being insured for thousands of dollars.

We remember when the bubble burst. Entire collections were showing up at yard sales, and it was not unusual to find Beanies priced for just a dollar or two, and still generating little to no interest.

We assumed that collectors had been so badly burned by the implosion that Beanies were finished as collectibles, and we were not far wrong. It appears, however, that some of the little critters are still able to generate a bit of interest in the secondary markets to the tune of several hundred dollars each. This holds true mainly for the very earliest specimens and for certain rarities, so if you happen to have a few old Beanies around, you might want to do a little research. These resources should help:

Love My Beanies – Beanie Baby Information & Checklists (LoveMyBeanies.com) – Comprehensive site includes an up-to-date/2018 price guide.

Beanie Babies, Boos, and other Ty plush families (Ty Collector) – Helpful FAQs and EnTyclopedia.

Sorry, Collectors, Nobody Wants Your Beanie Babies Anymore (Wall Street Journal) – Very close to the truth.

Venezuelan Bolivar
Back in 2012, we wrote about how Zimbabwe’s hyper-inflated currency had lost all credibility, and that some of that nation’s 100-trillion-dollar notes were being promoted as oddball Christmas gifts at about $5 a pop. Well, there’s a new hyper-currency, the Venezuelan Bolivar, on the world stage, and though it hasn’t attained the stratospheric levels of the Zimbabwean hyper-inflation of the first decade of this century, it appears to be gathering steam.

Over the last decade, the Bolivar has undergone several devaluations and design changes, losing some 10,000 times its value. Presently, uncirculated notes in various denominations are garnering steady interest in the secondary markets, with, for example, 100,000 Bolivars selling for up to $15+ each.

Good luck and happy hunting!

Michele Alice
Michele Alice
Michele Alice is EcommerceBytes Update Contributing Editor. Michele is a freelance writer in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts. She collects books, science fiction memorabilia and more!