Beanie Babies maker to stop production Dec. 31

Friday, December 10th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CHICAGO (AP) -- The end really is near -- the maker of Beanie Babies says Dec. 31 will be the last day the popular stuffed critters are made.

A cryptic statement posted on the Web site of Ty Inc. confirmed an announcement it made last summer.

The company wouldn't elaborate on the statement Friday, but analysts and collectors speculated that Beanies are likely to be succeeded by a new line of products that may rekindle memories of the old.

"They may come back as millennium editions. They may come out with special editions 10 years from now," said Chris Byrne, a New York toy consultant. Or a whole new collectible may be born in 2000, he said.

Gone for good or not, toy watchers say, the decision to retire the Beanies was a savvy marketing move that came when sales were slipping.

"It's a great way to clean your inventory out, leave the retailers with a good taste in their mouths and set the stage for something new," said Jim Silver, publisher of The Toy Book.

Ty Inc. spokeswoman Anne Nickels said she had no idea why the cuddly toys will be discontinued, adding that the decision to stop production was made by Ty Warner, owner of the Oak Brook Ill.-based firm.

"We're just as much in the dark here as everybody else," she said.