Beanie Baby® buying and selling remains popular on eBay—but it’s no longer the industry that during the mid-90s accounted for 10% of eBay’s sales. The rarest of Beanie Babies® were valuable financial investments. Even the not-so-in-demand Beanie Babies could be auctioned on eBay for a 10-fold profit.

Like anything of value, it wasn’t long before counterfeiters got into the fake Beanie Babies game. Tens of thousands of fakes were confiscated by authorities. In 1999, a Minnesota man was actually briefly imprisoned for his involvement in smuggling counterfeit Beanie Babies.

The Challenge

How do you know you’ve got the real thing? Every Beanie Baby came with a heart-shaped tag placed on the ear. It identified the Beanie Baby and told its story. Authenticity was hard to prove without the tag. It had to be protected at all costs.

Fast-forward to today. One thing nearly all Beanie Babies share is a clear vinyl cover protecting the heart-shaped tag of authenticity. This protective cover did not come with the Beanie Baby.

Vinyl Art and the TAG Bag®

These were designed and produced by Vinyl Art. They were known as TAG Bags. The owner of TAG Bags came to the Vinyl Art offices one day during the height of the Beanie Babies eBay craze and asked if the company could find a creative way to protect the absolutely essential heart-shaped tag.

Tim Hitchings, now the company’s vice president, created the concept for the heart-shaped vinyl tag, and worked with TAG Bags from the initial design to the final mass production and worldwide distribution of the tags.

Soon, TAG Bags were sold in retail brick and mortar stores wherever Beanie Babies were sold—as well as online. They were available in packages of 10, and TAG Bags were considered as requirements for all collectors.

The sun has set on the popularity of Beanie Babies for the most part. They remain popular only with collectors. Vinyl Art stopped manufacturing these first and original protective covers when TAG Bags closed for business as the popularity of Beanie Babies began to wane in 1999.

We’re proud of the part we played in the history of Beanie Babies. If you’ve got Valentino the Bear (only the ones with the misspelled tag), the royal blue version of Peanut the Elephant, or Princess the Bear, their heart tags are still likely protected with the TAG Bag we developed and produced.

You’ll want to keep it in place. Princess the Bear is now the most expensive Beanie Baby of them all. Produced for the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, the last one auctioned on eBay fetched nearly half a million dollars.

Download a PDF of the case study.