In the '80s, it was the Cabbage Patch doll. In the 1990s, Beanie Babies.
What better toy to rule the millennium age than with a social-networking stuffed animal? A relatively Web-savvy concept by gift company Ganz, these plushies hope to usher in elementary-level children into the Web 2.0 realm.
Webkinz--stuffed animals that also live virtually through avatars that interact with others in their own online world--have become increasingly popular since their introduction in 2005. Like Beanie Babies, certain they're available for a only limited time, then retired. On eBay, the retired Webkinz Cheeky Pet Dog and Cat are at a whopping starting bid of $3,000. On Amazon, the seasonal Love Puppy is selling for $99. But if you peruse a card shop in your area that carried Ganz toys, you may be able to score a non-seasonal or retired Webkinz for the relative bargain of just $12.
"Actually, a lady before you came in and purchased nearly 100 of the Webkinz," Jean Amirbagheri, manager of a Carlton Cards store in San Francisco, told us. "They've been really popular for events where a bunch of kids get together, like Easter, church functions and birthday parties."
An eBay search for Beanie Babies turned up an auction for 450-plus retired beanies, buddies and teenies for a starting bid of $2,500. An entire case of Cabbage Patch Dolls (six in all) are going for $150, while two "classic" cabbages selling for $2,000.
Will Webkinz retain their value-ad allure? The answer is as clear as the stock market.