The Beanie Babies craze of the late ’90s wasn’t exactly a scam, but there were surely scam-adjacent elements. The community of collectors buying and selling and hoarding the lovable plush creations wasn’t exactly a cult, but there were surely cult-adjacent elements. The entire phenomenon wasn’t exactly birthed around the Internet, but it surely thrived thanks to adjacency to the earliest offshoots of online commerce.
Yemisi Brookes’ new HBO feature Beanie Mania isn’t, therefore, exactly like seemingly every other TV documentary released in 2021, but it’s adjacent to every cult, scam and cyber-curiosity portrait that we’ve collectively fixated on. At only 80 minutes, Beanie Mania offers only limited depth and it’s hard to imagine any viewer not being left with serious questions throughout, but as a superficial, hastily glossed nostalgic oddity, it’s a tidy way to wrap your 2021 viewing.
The Bottom Line
Limited context or depth, but an amusing look at a silly moment.
For those who have forgotten, toy manufacturer Ty Warner and Ty Inc. launched the Beanie Baby line in 1993 and around 1995 and 1996, they became a sensation. Floppy, poseable and indisputably cute, what began as a Chicago-area fad went global with the help of the fairly newfangled Internet, and…