Beanie Baby fate in hands of fans by gjmpzlaezgx


									PAGE 6A                                                                                               Laredo Morning Times                                                                  Saturday, December 25, 1999


Beanie Baby fate                                                                                                                                            Python not to blame for
in hands of fans                                                                                                                                            owner’s strange death
                                                                                                                                                              PORT ORANGE, Fla. (AP) —          humans or reptiles.
BY BENNIE M. CURRIE                   refused to clarify.                                                                                                   Police found a man slumped            Authorities found Robertson
Associated Press Writer                 ”It‘s the spirit of P.T. Barnum                                                                                     dead over the open cage of his      sitting in a rocking chair with his
                                      still alive,” said toy industry con-                                                                                  pet python with fang marks on       head lying face down in the
  CHICAGO — Just two weeks            sultant Chris Byrne, referring to                                                                                     his forehead. Authorities aren‘t    large cage of the ailing snake. A
after saying it would no longer       the shameless circus promoter.                                                                                        blaming the snake, however:         bottle of medication was found
manufacture Beanie Babies, Ty         ”How do you milk even more                                                                                            The non-venomous breed kills        inside its cage, Cmdr. Mike
Inc. said today that fans of the      publicity out of a 4-inch stuffed                                                                                     its prey by squeezing.              Sheridan said.
toys will have the last word on       toy?”                                                                                                      AP photo     ”We‘re pursuing this at this        ”It‘s the assumption of some
whether production should be            In a message posted on the            WILL THEY STAY, OR WILL THEY GO?: Popular Beanie Baby figures                 point just as if the snake didn‘t   investigators that he was trying
halted.                               company‘s Web site today, Ty            rest on a store shelf at a specialty store in Chicago.                        exist,” said Jim Downing, a med-    to treat the snake,” Sheridan
  The company had said it             Warner, owner of the Oak                Babies in your hands,” the mes-         ing a craze that made it hun-         ical examiner‘s investigator.       said.
would stop production after           Brook, Ill.-based firm, said he         sage said.                              dreds of millions of dollars and        The snake, in fact, is gone: It     The reticulated python was
Dec. 31. That followed a sur-         has been overwhelmed by fans              The     phones       were     not     pushed prices for some of the         had a mouth disease and has         coiled under a nearby table with
prise announcement over the           asking him to reconsider his            answered at the company‘s               collectible toys as high as           been euthanized.                    foam on its mouth. Downing
summer when the company               decision.                               headquarters today.                     $6,000.                                 Toxicology tests will be per-     said the only signs on trauma
said it planned to ”retire” the         ”After much thought, I am will-         The company began making                But sales slowed over the past      formed to determine what killed     on Robertson‘s body were the
dolls by the end of the year, but     ing to put the fate of Beanie           Beanie Babies in 1993, start-           year. While adult collectors still    Robert Robertson, 32, who was       two fang marks, which were
                                                                                                                      buy the stuffed dolls, many chil-     found by investigators at his       encrusted with dried blood.
                                                                                                                      dren are now more interested in       home early Tuesday.                   Police also found four other
‘Spontaneous travel’ booms on Web                                                                                     other toys.
                                                                                                                        The vote is to be held over a
                                                                                                                                                              Police were called by relatives
                                                                                                                                                            who had come by to check on
                                                                                                                                                                                                snakes at Robertson‘s home,
                                                                                                                                                                                                and all were taken to the Halifax
                                                                                                                      48-hour period beginning              him, and say foul play isn‘t sus-   Humane Society.
BY E.N. SMITH                          ”The days of planning a               vacation one year or even Dec. 31.                                             pected in his death — either by
Associated Press Writer
                                      three months out really are gone.”
  ATLANTA — The prospect of                                                              -- Gayle MacIntyre,
piling three children into a car                                             LastMinuteTravel spokeswoman
loaded with Christmas presents
for a 1,000-mile road trip was        isons and links to more than 50          away with little or no advance
more than Sue Delaney could           global travel and leisure providers      notice.”
bear.                                 — including 12 of the world‘s              Travel Industry of America
  She found the solution — a          largest airlines, chief executive        research indicates about 10
plane fare she could live with —      David Miranda said.                      percent of all family vacations
by        logging        on      to     Unlike several other travel sites      were booked within three weeks, which           on the Internet, LastMinuteTravel        from the time of travel. Industry
sometimes offers deep dis-            doesn‘t draw people in by promis-        estimates show more than half
counts for those making last-         ing the best deals.                      of all vacations are booked with-
minute travel arrangements.             ”Sometimes you just have to be         in three months.
  Delaney is among the millions       somewhere the next day. If you             Meanwhile, the online travel
of Americans traveling over the       can get a good deal, that‘s great.       industry is projected to lead all
next week. AAA predicts that          But if you‘ve just got to be some-       Web industries in terms of rev-
44.6 million people will go at        where, you‘re going to take              enue over the next few years.
least 100 miles away from             what‘s available,” Miranda said.         Industry research groups pro-
home during the Christmas-              Travel author and industry ana-        ject more than $12 billion in
New Year‘s period, the majority       lyst Edward Hasbrouck of San             travel sales will be made online
of them by automobile.                Francisco said a service such as         by 2002. That number is
  Travelers planning to make          LastMinuteTravel has a chance            expected to more than double
arrangements through the              to capture that market at a time         to $29 billion by 2003.
Internet have dozens of options       when online travel arrangements            However, the Internet isn‘t likely
available, including Travelocity,     are expected to take off.                to eliminate the premium paid for                  and      Traditionally, business travel-        spur-of-the-moment           travel, which lets cus-        ers made up the vast majority of         arrangements, Hasbrouck said.
tomers bid on what they‘re will-      spontaneous travelers, but that            Airlines in the United States
ing to pay for a ticket.              is changing as a growing num-            still feel they can get more
  Most airlines now sell tickets on   ber of families are waiting until        money by raising prices the
their own Web sites and last          the last minute.                         closer the departure gets, he
month United, Delta, Continental        ”The days of planning a vaca-          said. Rather than dropping
Airlines       and       Northwest    tion one year or even three              prices to fill all the empty seats,
announced plans for a joint site.     months out really are gone,”             the airline gambles that there
  Atlanta-based LastMinuteTravel      said Gayle MacIntyre, a                  will be at least one person who
aims to be a clearinghouse of trav-   LastMinuteTravel           spokes-       has no other choice but to trav-
el sites and more. For about a        woman. ”Often times people               el at the last minute and will pay
year, it has provided price compar-   find themselves wanting to get           more money.

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