When are Ty Collectibles Retired?
On June 15, 1995, Ty announced the official retirement of Humphrey (the Beanie Baby camel). This publicly announced "retired" date for a Beanie Baby triggered a buying and collecting frenzy that lasted more than five years. Official Ty "retired dates" became an essential element of information in the description of any Beanie Baby. Retirement announcements were expanded to include all of the other Ty product lines.
It had always been generally perceived that "retired" products would increase in value on the secondary market as collector demand outstripped supply of the discontinued (retired) items. It was not unusual for an official retirement announcement to send thousands of Ty collectors nationwide into stores to purchase the last of the "retired" items.
On December 27, 2007, Ty officially retired more than two hundred Beanie Babies and abruptly discontinued the official retirement announcements. Even though a large number of Beanie Babies had been officially retired at the end of 2007, Ty continued to sell many of them for years following that announcement. "Retired" no longer meant "extremely limited and hard to find."
Collectors often speculate about reasons for the demise of official retirement dates but logic suggests Ty needed the flexibility to reintroduce successful older products. He did not want the reintroduction of a "retired" item to be perceived as a betrayal by collectors who had paid higher-than-retail prices to purchase the same "retired" item on the secondary market.
The demise of official retirement dates creates a problem for collectors and resellers alike who have a vested interest in knowing which Ty collectibles are discontinued. Until July 2019, the only approximate way to determine the production status of a Ty collectible was to monitor which items disappeared from the periodic Ty Retailer Catalogs or changed to "retired" status at the Ty official Internet site.
Between the end of 2009 and 2016, tycollector.com attempted to assist collectors in determining whether or not a Ty product was still being manufactured by providing "off order dates" when they were made available by various authorized Ty retailers. "Off order" was frequently believed to mean the item had been discontinued because it could no longer be ordered. But that presumption turned out to be flawed.
It turned out that "off order" can also mean a product is late being shipped from China; that Ty has decided to stop accepting orders for seasonal items like current Halloween or Holiday items because they will be made available again next year; or they are taken "off order" for authorized Ty retailers to make them available to other select retailers like supermarket chains or overseas retailers.
"Off order" does not necessarily mean a product will become scarce. Large retailers might still have thousands of them in stock, destined for store shelves. The items could be available for years to come, even though they are "off order." For these reasons, tycollector.com no longer posts new alleged "off order" dates.
In a surprise development on April 29, 2013, Ty made an official retirement announcement for five of the Ty Beanie Boos. This announcement appeared at the official Ty Internet site and also at the Ty Facebook page. Ty intermittently followed that April announcement with more official announcements of Boo retirements. Unfortunately, the Boo retirement notices did not stipulate whether the retirements were for all sizes of each retired Boo, or just the regular size.
Since the surprise Beanie Boos "retirement" announcement in April 2013, Ty has not been consistent with subsequent announcements of individual plush retirements. Tycollector.com will attempt to post any retirement dates that are officially announced by Ty, and will indicated "retired" when items appear on the Ty official site as "retired," even though an official announcement was not made and a specific retirement date is not available.
In late July 2019, Ty launched a major redesign of its official Internet site. All of the rosters showing active and retired listings from the previous site have been removed. The new site appears to be fully focused on sales of new releases and existing stock. This development makes it virtually impossible to determine the active/retired status of Ty products after July 2019.