Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Oh, Babies! Grandparents Join Collectors in Beanie Craze

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Oh, Babies! Grandparents Join Collectors in Beanie Craze

Article excerpt

Keeping Beanie Babies out of the reach of their grandchildren is a priority with Bill and Billie Hester of O'Fallon.

"Grandma and Grandpa keep them hidden from the grandchildren," Billie Hester said.

The couple owns 250 Beanie Babies, which are kitten-sized, plush animals stuffed with plastic pellets. The toys are manufactured by Ty Inc. of Oakbrook, Ill. The Hesters' menagerie, which they began a year ago, includes five complete sets of Teenie Beenie Babies - about one-third the size of the ori ginal Beanie Babies - given away in McDonald's Happy Meals in April. Complete sets are worth $50 to $60 to collectors. To gather the 10 toys in each set, "We hit every McDonald's from here to Warrenton," Billie Hester said. One toy was included with each meal. Some restaurants would have a toy that the others in the chain did not. "I was so full," Billie Hester said. "The grandkids were sick of Happy Meals." Her husband, Bill Hester, says he, too, is crazy about Beanie Babies. His favorite is Doodle, a tie-dyed rooster. The Hesters were among about 200 collectors to attend a Beanie Baby swap meet in the Heart of St. Charles Banquet Center in St. Charles on Saturday. The meet was set up by Lisa Young of Spanish Lake and her uncle, Frank Elmore, an actor from New York City. "We had a pretty big crowd this morning," Young said. By noon, about a dozen collectors probed the Beanie Babies crowded in plastic bins or laid out on tables. Collectors brought extra Beanie Babies to trade for ones they wanted. Young has sold collectible toys for years. Early this spring, her customers began asking her to find Beanie Babies, which first appeared on the market in 1993. "The business has grown so fast that now all we carry are Beanie Babies." Young says the Internet is the best place to find supplies of the toys. …

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