Ty Warner

toy industry executive
Born: 1940
Birthplace: Illinois

Little personal information is available on Warner except through his creations. As creator of the 1990s toy phenomenon Beanie Babies, Warner has built an empire based on inexpensive toys filled with plastic pellets. After several years of working for other toy manufacturers, Warner founded Ty Inc. in 1985 and soon thereafter developed Beanie Babies to fill a perceived gap in the toy market: quality toys small enough to fit in a child's hand, and with a price point low enough to be purchased with allowance money. He boosted the cachet of the toys by making them difficult to buy, distributing only through small outlets and restricting the number of items any one store could buy. The popularity of the toys had to grow through word of mouth, since Warner opted not to advertise, and by the 1995 holiday season they were a nationwide phenomenon. Supply chain problems caused shortages, which only increased demand, and people began collecting them. Collectors--both adults and children--continue to scoop up new characters and trade those they have already to optimize the value of their hoard.