Collectibles for the gullible

Beanie Babies

Beanie Babies, the tiny stuffed animals with cute names like Legs the Frog and Chocolate the Moose, launched in 1993. Two years later, the plush animals that originally sold for $5 to $7 were considered as much an investment as a toy.

Manufacturer Ty Inc. fed the fervor by "retiring" some of its dolls, which drove demand and fueled price increases on the collectibles market.

"The world has gone Beanie mad," one collector lamented in 1998 to The New York Times.

Some people boasted collections worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. No wonder, as a single rare Beanie could fetch four figures on the resale market.

For example, the royal blue version of Peanut the Elephant — the "Holy Grail of Beanies," according to the Times — sold for as much as $5,200 in the late 1990s.

But the craze quickly waned. And then, predictably, prices cratered.

By some estimates, the rare Beanies have lost as much as 96% of their peak value. Today you can find many of these toys on eBay selling for as little as 99 cents.