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Beanie Babies are iconic. Even after the mid-1990s craze, these tiny stuffed animals are still considered rare and perfect children’s toys.

But how much do you know about the company that makes them? What about the man who invented them? Turns out he’s a pretty eccentric dude. So here are the top 10 crazy facts about Ty Warner, the father of Beanie Babies.

Related: 10 Toys Proving Your Grandparents Were from a Tougher Generation

10 Making the “Perfect Cat”

After leaving college, Warner spent three years living the good life in Italy. Catching some sun and making new friends, Warner claimed it was a more “enjoyable lifestyle” than the one most Americans were living.

This time in Italy proved fruitful, as it was the place where he came across a plush cat toy, which inspired him to “come back and do something no one has done: Make a good cat.”

These cats started out as life-sized stuffed animals with PVC pellets inside, which made the limbs “posable” and more lifelike. It wasn’t until a few months later the first small version of the toys was introduced at the 1993 World Toy Fair in New York City—and history was made.[1]

9 College Dropout

Okay, maybe this one isn’t necessarily “insane.” But it is another example of how sometimes the most successful people in the world don’t get that diploma.

After attending military school for high school, Warner spent the summer working “menial jobs” in order to save up enough money for higher education. In 1962, he began classes at Kalamazoo College but unfortunately had to leave after just one year due to tuition prices.

This setback was actually quite the blessing in disguise, as Warner’s first job after college was as a salesman for Dakin Toy Company. You can see where it goes from here.[2]

8 Intentional Scarcity Marketing Plan

Ever wonder why, out of all the toys in the world, Beanie Babies made it big? Selling out across the country, driving collectors insane, and even driving thousands of dollars in eBay bids to this very day?

You can thank the creator himself for that. From the very beginning, Warner only sold Beanie Babies in small stores, refusing to supply them in large amounts to chains. In addition, only certain Beanie Babies were produced at any one time. That means if you wanted a Cubbie the Bear, you had to get him while they were still making him. And who knows how long that might be?

Warner was also very specific about his standards, for years personally inspecting each Beanie Baby before it was sent out to the public to ensure it was perfect. [3]

7 A Weird Familial Dating Pattern

Top 10 Insane Facts about the Creator of Beanie Babies - Listverse 1

Because of Warner’s extreme privacy, not much is known about his childhood, but the basic facts remain. Warner’s father, Hal, was a toy salesman. He gave Warner a job at Dakin when he dropped out of college, starting his interest in toys.

According to sources in Zac Bissonnette’s novel The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute, after his parents divorced, Warner became angry at his father. In retaliation, he started to “seduce” and date several of his father’s girlfriends.

Keep it in the family, I guess.[4]

6 Holding Hotels “Hostage”

With investments in properties all over the country, Warner tried his hand at ownership in 2000, purchasing Four Season Hotels in New York and Santa Barbara, California.

All was well until the COVID-19 pandemic, which understably shut the hotel down temporarily. Staff had to be laid off, benefits were withheld, and employees eagerly awaited a reopening date.

Three years later, they still don’t have one. Some former employees believe Warner is purposefully stalling the reopening in order to “avoid paying millions of dollars in unpaid wages and severance.” In August 2022, a group of staff sued Warner in federal court.[5]

5 A Historic Childhood Home

Warner was born and raised in the Chicago area, a part of the Midwest that is abundant with houses designed by the iconic Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright’s prairie-style homes, sharp angles, and use of surrounding scenery make his houses beautiful, architecturally significant, coveted, and, of course, expensive.

Warner’s home in the suburb of La Grange was designed by Wright, a fact which didn’t seem significant until his adulthood. On trial for tax evasion, Warner’s lawyers try to elicit sympathy from the jury by painting his upbringing as impoverished, “humble,” and “almost Dickensian.”

Of course, anyone who knows how much a Wright original goes for these days (or even in those days) knows that while Warner may have had a rough childhood, he probably didn’t lack material goods. It’s evident by looking at the Peter Goan House.[6]

4 To Retire or Not to Retire!

No one takes away America’s toys.

After nearly six years of the Beanie Baby crazy, Warner made an odd decision: To stop it all.

In 1999, Warner announced that by 2000, all Beanie Babies would be retired. No one was sure if new Beanie Babies would be made, but the announcement certainly drove up the price of all remaining Beanie Babies.

Suddenly, the company released a poll asking the public if they would like Beanie Babies to continue to be created. It cost 50 cents to vote. Unsurprisingly, the majority voted to keep the toys in production. Also, unsurprisingly, America wasn’t happy to have essentially been tricked into paying Warner’s company for what was probably a fake retirement.

Some think this was all a ploy on Warner’s part to make an extra buck. Still, all earnings were donated to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Whether this was the original plan or a last-minute move on Warner’s part to avoid criticism is not known. However, he “unretired” Beanie Babies in 2000.[7]

3 Those Iconic Poems

Back when the Beanie Babies company itself was just a baby of a company, its twelfth employee, Lina Trivedi, came up with an idea that would change the course of stuffed animal history.

Pointing out that the tags on the Beanie Babies were kind of boring, she suggested giving each toy its own name and a little poem to go with. After showing Warner a sample poem, he was so blown away that he asked her to write another. And then another. And then another.

Suddenly, Lina was in charge of designing and writing each poem for the first 136 Beanie Babies. At the time, only 19 years old, Trivedi arguably is the reason for Beanie Babies’ success. Not only for the poems, which made each toy unique and increased sales but also for essentially creating and directing the first ever business-to-consumer website, which she got the idea for from watching fellow classmates’ growing interest in the Internet throughout the mid-1990s.

In 2023, The Beanie Bubble was released, a film based on the history of the famous toy. In it, the women of Warner’s life are seen as majorly responsible for the success of the company. When interviewed about the accuracy of the movie, Warner claimed that “Lina was a part-time employee. The movie vastly overstates her role.”

In response, Lina claimed, “The [poems] after I left sucked.”[8]

2 Beanie Inspired by an Ex

The dating history of Ty Warner is an interesting one. Even though he’s never been married and has no children, Warner’s been fairly public about his romantic escapades. Although, that’s probably because two of his longest-lasting girlfriends worked for him.

Patricia Roche was Warner’s girlfriend when he started the company, and eventually ended up running the United Kingdom division of the company. While Warner had help in naming most of the Beanie Babies, he did name one after Roche: “Patti the Platypus.”

Eventually, though, Patricia decided she was done with Warner’s eccentric ways and ended the relationship.[9]

Knowing that she is now his ex gives new meaning to the poem attached to the Beanie Baby: “Ran into Patti one day while walking / Believe me she wouldn’t stop talking / Listened and listened to her speak / That would explain her extra long beak!”


1 From Beanie Craze to Tax Evasion

In 2013, Warner was charged with tax evasion for evading nearly $5.6 million in federal taxes by underreporting his own earnings and (like some kind of cartoon villain) saving money in a secret account in a Swiss bank.

He was faced with up to five years in prison but was only given 500 hours of community service and a $100,000 fine. The leniency is probably due to his known support of and donations to charities such as the Red Cross and the Princess Diana Memorial Fund. He even received the Children’s Champion Award from the Children’s Hunger Fund in 2006 for his philanthropic endeavors.

Warner broke down in tears while pleading guilty, saying he felt “shame and embarrassment.” One reporter described him as “sounding like a child forced to confess that he had driven the family car without permission.” Britain’s Daily Mail called him “a crybaby.”[10]

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