Tuesday, July 5

Stream or skip it: ‘Beanie Mania’ on HBO Max, a constantly funny documentary about Beanie B fashion

Just as Disney + gives us a Christmas bundle of Beatlemania, HBO Max gives us Beanie Mania, a ’90s nostalgia deep enough in the Beanie Babies craze. Since the great cabbage patch riots of ’84, American consumerism hadn’t been this far out of control, though the difference is that instead of adults trying to guarantee Christmas Day happiness for their picky brats, they were collecting. adorable widdle stuffed animals to themselves. Some were just obsessed with how damn cute they were. A lucky few found a way to make money on the secondary collector’s market. And others thought they could “invest” in a Princess Di bear and pay for their children’s college tuition. There are lessons to be learned here, and this documentary is not afraid to address them.


The essence: It all started with a few white women in Naperville, Illinois, because, of course, it did. In the mid-1990s, in the cul-de-sac of the affluent suburban Midwest, where triple-wide driveways flank brick McMansions, Joni, Becky, and Mary Beth decided they liked the cute plush-sized toys. hand produced by the modest-sized toy company Ty Inc., and I wanted to collect them all. An unfavorable start, yes, but one that would find Ty’s founder, future billionaire and eventual criminal tax evader H. Ty Warner ignoring how Mary Beth helped spark a nationwide consumer frenzy for her products and suing her for infringement. copyright. So this story has its heroes and villains, a couple who are somewhere in between, and a nation of millions that caused a subsequent consumer demand for plastic bags to be able to shove their hundreds of worthless Beanie Babies under the steps. from the basement. (The real winner here? Probably Rubbermaid).

At the time, Ty Inc. had 14 employees, and Warner, characterized here as an elusive guy, Oz / Wonka, seemed like a nice guy with a nimble mind for marketing. Modest! He had no interest in selling his wares at Wal Marts and the like; He preferred Hallmark gift shops, franchises, and gift shops. Noble! He hired Lina as a telemarketer, and after she suggested putting cute little poems inside the Beanie Babies first line labels, he asked her to write them. Aww, sweet! After Ty made billions, Warner still paid Lina $ 12 an hour, so she quit. Typical!

We meet the first Beanie wacko-er, enthusiasts. The 1990s were a “frivolous” time, says Joni, which is easy to declare when you’re an upper-middle-class Caucasian. She was a Beanie collector and a People magazine writer who got the only interview with Warner. Mary Beth quit her corporate job and started a Beanie Babies fan magazine that sold hundreds of thousands of copies (and ultimately inspired the aforementioned lawsuit). We meet Peggy, a 60-year-old woman who has too many pillows on her couch. The congested little ones made her laugh, so she started buying too many, hiding them from her husband, but finally confessed. Your reasoning? He collected Porsche and Mercedes, so his hobby was not that expensive. He eventually reveals that he is still in the business of authenticating Beanie Babies, having qualified and authenticated over 125,000 of the little ones, at $ 20- $ 25 each. Do the math. Or don’t, if you prefer not to receive a purchase order.

These women are key figures in the madness, because they used to compete with each other, calling stores across the country and buying hats. His actions soon sparked collector interest, which Ty took advantage of by launching a website, perhaps one of the first blogs ever! – Allow the company to poke fun at the products and provide a hub for people to chat and feed unhealthy obsessions. We know of a woman who wrote “The Beanie Rap,” which is as inaudible as you might expect. We see a bumper sticker that says “Bankrupt by Beanies”, then we meet a woman who is still paying off her credit card debt related to Beanie Baby today. A ridiculous old television news clip illustrates how the media fueled the shopping frenzy.

The “rare” and “retired” hats began to sell in the hundreds, even thousands, on eBay. The shops were full of mobs who stole hats. The thieves hijacked trucks full of hats. McDonald’s ran a Teenie Beanie promotion and people were buying dozens of Happy Meals at once, putting away the cheeseburgers and putting away the toys. Counterfeit hats were trucked in from China and sold to fools. A box of hats fell from a truck on a five-lane highway and the crazy people stopped their cars to jump into fast-paced traffic and grab them. And finally, the balloon went flat, as all fashions do, and Warner became one of America’s richest jerks. Somewhere in the dark we can hear Furby laughing his ass.

Foto: HBO Max

Which movies will it remind you of ?: Beanie Mania is a more substantive version of the Netflix series The toys they made us, mixed with the loose tone of the crazy HBO documentary Class action park.

Performance worth watching: Harry, aka “Beanie Meanie,” is an expert in the secondary collector’s market with a slightly crunchy personality. Not only did he foresee the accident, debated Mary Beth on TV – Please, please, roll your eyes – on Beanie Babies, probably which was the slowest news day on record.

Diálogo memorable: “Come on folks, it’s just Beanie Babies.” – random elementary school kid gives us the sanest movie commentary via old TV news clip

Sex and skin: None. I’m sure the Beanie Baby porn exists somewhere on the internet, but the movie doesn’t recognize it.

Our Take: Sorry, but your “weird” Squealer hat is not worth scribbling. Goodwill might accept it, but they probably have more than their fair share. Come back under the steps!

Yes, this is all quite entertaining. Beanie Mania is a fast-paced, nostalgic 80-minute documentary packed with people with fun and interesting things to say, although one of them is definitely not Warner, because he is to this film what GM president Roger Smith is to. Roger and me. Director Yemisi Brookes takes an unbiased approach to the subject, keeping it light and fun without bending over to ridicule anyone, or capitalize on any schadenfreude. There is no finger movement here, but there is a lot of laughs.

The documentary is an excellent piece of feature-length-style journalism that is not afraid to tackle some underlying current affairs: how the secondary market works, not as a place for “investment”, but to capitalize on the collector mentality. How to collect has the potential to become a destructive addiction. The role of the media in cultural trends. The groupthink mindset of what we now know as FOMO (you know, fear of losing you). The cynical motives of greedy capitalists like Warner, who kept all his money to himself and treated his employees badly, and whose manipulative marketing sought to exploit collectors (he is the toy collector’s version of Kiss or Cher, who has been on a few “final runs” each).

On the one hand, Beanie Mania it’s a hoot. On the other hand, it’s a featherweight warning. Brookes never talks about how children play with Beanie Babies, and for good reason, they rarely did. The game Beanie Babies was played by adults, so we shouldn’t feel bad when we laugh at Ziggy, the 58-year-old zebra, lying on the shelf, with the tag still on his ear, drowning in his own collection: dust.

Our calling: STREAM IT. Beanie Mania It has the sheen of a guilty pleasure documentary, and it is exactly that. But it also infiltrates some substance into his narrative. It is a fun watch.

John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more of his work at johnserbaatlarge.com.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.