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Threat of Tantrum at Beanie Baby Event

TIMES STAFF WRITER

For a few tense moments, it appeared Sunday that another near-riot might be added to the growing pattern of mania and mayhem attributed to that plushest of toy treasures, the Beanie Baby.

When more than 5,000 people showed up at the Disneyland Pacific Hotel in Anaheim for a Beanie Baby convention, harried hotel officials and event organizers cited fire codes and began to turn the toy collectors away. Outside, they blocked the driveway with cones and posted signs saying there was no parking space left.

The news did not go over well with faithful who had come from near and far to buy the cuddly commodities that, to the uninitiated, appear to be merely dolls filled with beans. There were shouts and short tempers but, in the end, no beans were spilled.

“I’m just frustrated,” said Lois Ramey of Westminster. She and her grandmother were told to leave the line because it was blocking fire exits, and then lost their spot when the line re-formed. “This is just ridiculous.”

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The crowd that showed up was more than twice the size expected, and the only people who seemed happy about that were the 120 dealers hawking Beanie rabbits, dogs, hippos and monkeys. There were even a few of the most coveted of all Beanies: Peanuts the elephant. Sealed in a plastic tube, the royal blue pachyderm was going for $4,600 on one table.

The big-dollar dolls have brought out the worst in some people.

In April, two Santa Ana shopkeepers were clubbed with lead pipes by robbers who made off with a box of Beanie Babies. A few days earlier, Costa Mesa police squelched a near-riot at the South Coast Plaza, where a rare Princess Diana-inspired Beanie bear was on sale. At a Ventura store in March, that same bear sparked a shoving match that left toddlers crying.

“These are adults, but you get them here and they act like kids again,” said a weary Rudy Franco, a staffer at the Sunday show who was scolded by Ramey and others. “It’s kind of crazy.”

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