Apple TV+’s ‘The Beanie Bubble‘ is a comedy-drama movie directed by Kristin Gore and Damian Kulash that delves into the unbelievable true story behind the famous 90s soft toys — Beanie Babies. Based on Zac Bissonnette’s 2015 book ‘ The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute,’ it follows toy mogul Ty Warner and the three incredible women in his life who create the Beanie Babies in the 90s and eventually become a part of a massive pop culture phenomenon. Apart from the intriguing protagonists, one character that catches the audience’s attention is Linda Wallace, an avid Beanie Baby collector with an incredible back story. Naturally, it makes one wonder if an actual person inspires Linda and her story. Well, let’s find out!
Is Linda Wallace Based on a Real Person?
While Linda’s character is not based on any one real-life individual, she does seemingly represent the hordes of Beanie Babies collectors in the 90s. Specifically, her story strongly resembles Peggy Gallagher, a Chicago-based Special Education Teacher who started collecting the popular pocket-sized plush toys with her sister, Dr. Paula Benchik-Abrinko. In ‘The Beanie Bubble,’ Linda Wallace is an enthusiastic Beanie Babies collector who approaches Ty to sign her book ‘The Beanie Baby Price Guide’ and to appear on her radio show.
In the book, Linda details how she has earned $300,000 by collecting and reselling various old and new Beanie Babies. Calling it the collectors’ Bible, Maya Kumar (Geraldine Vishwanathan) explains to Ty how the book encourages them to buy Beanie Babies from Ty Inc.’s website and resell them at higher prices, increasing the company’s online sales. Linda then elaborates how she purchased several of the toys across the US and then ordered 200 pieces of rare Beanie Babies from Ty Inc.’s distributor in Liverpool, UK. Eventually, she sold the toys and amassed a vast fortune in just three months.
This angers Ty, as he feels Linda has unjustly benefited from his products’ sale, that too, without his permission or knowledge. Hence, he files a lawsuit against her and all such collectors and even forces eBay to change the Beanie Babies forum name to Beanbag Plush. Returning to Peggy Gallagher, she and her sister were among the first dedicated Beanie Baby collectors, whose stories have been documented in Zac Bissonnette’s book. As Ty Warner started retiring specific models from the market to create artificial scarcity and push demand, Peggy and Paula began sourcing the rare and discontinued models.
While Paula would purchase all the rare Beanie lines she could find from hospital gift shops in the US, Peggy began buying the ones unavailable in Chicago at retail price from Ty Inc.’s German distributor. The sisters would then sell them at much higher prices to other collectors, creating considerable profit. Much like Linda in the movie, Peggy ordered $2000 worth of toys from Germany, and within a few months, she sold them in the US to earn $300,000. She also put an ad in a collectors magazine offering a Beanie price list.
Unknowingly, Peggy and her fellow collectors created a separate and lucrative market for the Beanie Babies in the 90s, contributing significantly to the mass hysteria for the toys that came to be known as Beaniemania. Interestingly, she was pretty unaware of the potential of the toys in the market, but as she began selling them, she saw just how much enthusiasts were willing to pay for a rare collectible. Apart from fulfilling their love for the Beanie Babies, their profits also helped them finance many of their needs. For example, Paula sold several rare Beanie Babies and used the funds to adopt her first child.
Sadly, when Ty Warner learned about women collectors like Peggy and Paula, he was reportedly quite annoyed by their venture, allegedly calling them “totally nuts” and even suing many of them. Yet, despite his discontentment with such collectors, they played a pivotal role in making Beanie Babies a success and skyrocketing the company’s sales so much that he became a billionaire. Though official sources or Peggy Gallagher herself haven’t confirmed if Linda Wallace is based on her, their similarities indicate that she loosely represents her and the many such passionate Beanie Baby collectors in the 90s who created the biggest client base for those toys.
Read More: Where is Ty Warner Now?