Bye Bye Teletubbies - and Eh Oh, Beanie Babies! The latest toy cult has arrived in Bradford and is already holding Mums and Dads across the district to ransom.

Youngsters, and adults, are already going mad for Beanie Babies, the latest phenomenon to cross the Atlantic from the US and create a frenzy among fanatical collectors.

The six-inch tall furry animals, named after their beanie fillings, retail at £4.99 but some of the rarer characters change hands for up to $5,000 (£3,150) in the USA.

Cute creatures in the 260-strong range, which all have a name and their own winsome poem, include everything from rabbits and squirrels to crabs and even sharks.

Shops in Bradford have been forced to impose rationing restrictions on the most desirable of the toys (Britannia Bear, Peace Bear and Princess Bear) after being plagued by collectors and dealers who have been stocking up and selling them over the Internet to fanatical American clients - at vastly inflated prices.

But any discovered by US customs officials are seized.

Collector Paul Steen, 23, a student from Thornton, is the proud owner of some 50 Beanie Babies.

"I have heard of a shop in Leeds with 2,000 people on a waiting list," he said. "Other shops have told me about people bursting into tears when they finally got hold of them."

His housemate Lena Reynolds, 25, a student at Bradford University, who has 27 of the creatures, added: "My grandmother in New Mexico wrote to me to see if I could get hold of some of the rare Beanie Babies and that's how I got interested.

"The interest in them has not peaked yet. I think it could go on for three or four years."

A spokesman for the Toy Store in Saltaire said Peace Bears, Britannia Bears and Erin Bears were rationed to one per family to beat the dealers.

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