How Many Beanie Kids are there??
NOTE: This a first draft so come back to see if it's finished, but read on as it's close to finished
When someone sees my display of spare retired Beanie Kids for sale, the first utterance is usually WOOOWWWWW! Then they usually ask … how many are there to collect? Well I don’t really know the answer to that ... Yet! Let us see if we can’t work it out right now.
The answer to how many BK’s there are to collect stems from a collectors personal mantra and dedication to detail. A coin collector may collect one of each coin, 1¢, 2¢, 5¢, 10¢, 20¢, 50¢, $1, $2 & $5 and one of each note $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 & $100 and be done. Another may collect the same coins and notes and any special pressing/printing like commemorative 50¢ pieces. Another may collect the same each year having all the different mint dates. Another may collect the same each mint date and if the Governor of the Reserve Bank changes each note where his/her signature changes. Another may collect all that and the pre decimal coins. Another may collect … well you get the picture. The depth of detail and width of scope will continue to increase until the collector is happy.
This psyche is common to all collectors and will determine how many Beanie Kids there are collect. To make it clear I’ll explain how many there are in similar terms to the example of the coins above.
The first step is to set a ground rule that limits a collection at some point. Collecting can mean many things to many people. A person has 2 Beanie Kids and claim they have a collection and to them they are correct. Another can buy 50 or 100 of each release and claim 1000’s of items in their collection. Again they are correct in their own mind. But what we need is a limit that conforms to a majority of people. For convenience I’ll use my definition and in the course of the article you can reach your own limit and there by work out how many BK you think there are to collect.
To determine if a particular Beanie Kid is eligible to be collected;
There has to be more than one made with the exception of one off Special editions.
It must be deliberately produced even with an error, i.e. someone made the decision to do something that made the Beanie Kid that way, rightly or wrongly.
And that more than one collector can collect it so that collectors can compare collections and corroborate authenticity.
The first answer to the number of BK’s there are to collect is the number of BK’s that have been released by BK number. As of the 01/01/07 releases the highest number BK was BK565. Even though in the early days they released several at a time and gave them all the same number the BK number is quite accurate. Over the 9 years since their release, several numbers were not used or they were allocated to designs but for un-disclosed reasons the design was never made. In those years this has evened out the number to match the current BK number on the tag.
That makes 565 to start with.
On top of that there have been 21 designs that have been mutated. A mutation is where a design is released in a common and a subtly different version which has a colour change or a size difference. That makes 565 + 21. Of those 21 designs two were made in 3 versions where the 3rd version is ultra rare. That makes 565 + 21 + 2. Six of those designs were released in “Chippy Bags”, a sealed foil bag which holds the BK so you cannot see what is inside the bag. The Chippy Bag was introduced so that everyone had an even chance of getting a mutation instead of some collectors going from store to store just picking the mutations and hording them. For the purist collectors it has meant that they add an un-opened bag to their collection, an absolutely mint version if you will.
That makes 565 + 21 + 2 + 6 = 594.
Over the release life of a BK there may be a production variation that makes a batch of one design different to other batches of that design. For example for a few months Skansen experimented with making all BK’s smile. This was not popular so they switched back to frowning after a few months. But the designs that were still current and had new batches made were made frowning. This made 6 designs appear in both smiling and frowning versions.
This difference is known as a production variation or sometimes an un-official mutation. A term I avoid to save confusion with genuine Mutations. Over the years there have been other variations like Small “Eyes & Nose”, Large “Eyes & Nose”. Sometimes the Dye lot of material is significantly different so there is colour variation and sometimes the pattern is remade and the size changes ans sometimes the dye lot of accessories changes. At this stage in my collecting I have documented 28 but as more are discovered with collectors comparing collections and swapping information and selling collections more production variations may be discovered.
That now makes 594 + 28 = 622
Over the years as new batches of BK’s are made new sets of tags need to be printed. Often these new sets have errors like, the wrong name, the wrong star sign, the wrong date of birth, the wrong bar code, and the wrong BK number and in one case the tag fed into the printer upside down resulting in the barcode being printed upside down. I have managed to document a total of 14 of these errors.
Along with tags that have errors on them appearing over the years, the tags that appear on every BK’s have changed designs several times. These are known as Tag Versions. Such changes are switching from a single flat card tag to a book style tag, adding the BK number, the removal of the RRP stub, changes of phone numbers, logos and phrases, the positioning of the BK number relative to the bar code.
In the 9 and a bit years that BK’s have been around there have been 7 generations (Major Versions) with from 1 to 5 Minor Versions in each Generation of the General Release BK’s. At the same time there have been some Special Series Releases and as the General Release tags change the same changes are applied to the Special Series Releases. A detailed web page of all the releases of Beanie Kids, Local and International, can be found at my tag history found from ME page. With all the tag versions I have found, and seen in other collections I think there is at least 273 more.
That now makes 622 + 14 + 273 = 909
Each year at the Card Expo, (a collector fair), and at several Royal and Regional Shows around the country there is a BK given away with special sequentially numbered commemorative tag attached. Usually the number released is between 150 and 300. There have been 25 of these releases.
That now makes 909 + 25 = 934
Over the 9 plus years of release BK’s have been exported to 5 counties. In New Zealand they use the same tags but the other countries have had their own tags. In a couple of cases these countries have even had exclusive releases. In the USA they were called Bean Bag Mates as they were also called in Germany, except the tags were in German. In England they are called Bean Bag Bears and in South Africa they were called BK but had what is known as the Presence tag as they were were imported by the Presence Company. I estimate that adds about 200.
That now makes 934 + 200 = 1134
Over and above these BK’s there are 5 other sizes that they come in. A full explanation will appear in the article Genealogy of BK’s, but simply put there are 24 Tiny Kids, 24 Mini Kids, all the above BK’s, 103 Cuddly Kids, 21 Great Big Kids and 2 Giant Kids. And by the time this article is printed there will be 5 or 10 more BK’s, 1 or 2 CK’s and 1 GBK and I may have documented another 10 to 100 Errors, Versions and international BK’s
That now makes 1134 + 24 + 24 +103 + 21 + 2 = 1308
From here on the number becomes vague as the only things left to collect are errors that may only occur once. I know a lot of people who look out for various types of errors and add them to their collections with a great passion. However I don’t count them as they may unique, accidental and therefore don’t meet the criteria I set above.
Then there are the accessories like Trading Cards, Hand Puppets, Collector Guides, Key Rings etc, that number in the 100’s more items and then there is strange stuff like newsletters and redemption book rubber stamps. There is a lot of memorabilia that can add interest to a collection, but I have just concentrated on the Plush items.
Personally I have at the time I wrote this, 815 BK’s in my collection, plus a number of other size versions (Tiny, Mini & Giant etc) and accessories, collected by me just for interest. That means I have about 334 more BK’s to collect while new ones continue to be released and others are discovered. By the time I get those 334 another 200 may have been released and then my collection will be complete at about 1334 to 1400 BK’s.
Just a footnote: These numbers are indicative at this time. Until I have collected every one that I plan to, then the exact number will not be known. Once I have them then the final answer will naturally also be known. But who knows, a week later I may find a previously un-known tag version to add.