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Bobble Heads - History and Anatomy of Bobble Heads May 24, 2017 13:11
The History and Anatomy of Bobble Head Dolls from PopCultureSpot.com
Updated, May 24, 2017
What is a bobble head doll?
First of all, we need to examine all of the names that bobble heads are known by. They are known as bobble heads, bobble head dolls, bobbing heads, bobbleheads, moving heads, nodders, nodding heads, wobblers, nodding heads, amongst the most popular of terms for bobble heads.
Bobble head dolls were first believed to be referenced in 1842 in the short story "The Overcoat" by writer Nikolai Gogol. The story is also known as "The Cloak" and has been adapted to film and stage. Present day bobble heads originate in Germany. Ancient Japan and China had string dolls, which were the precursor to the German style of bobble head that is prevalent today. The German bobble head dolls were made of ceramic and began production in the late 1700's, early 1800's. The term nodder originates with these early German dolls. In the 20th century, commercialized bobble head dolls were made of paper mache and then switched to the more durable ceramic. In the United Kingdom, it's very common for bobble head dolls do be referred to as nodding dolls.
The modern bobble head doll typically consists of two styles of body mold: A plastic body or ceramic body. The advent of the plastic mold over the past three decades allows for more unique designs and lightweight body styles. The time tested ceramic bobble head doll remains popular, but is more delicate in nature. There are generally two subsets of design of the plastic bobble heads doll. One style is a durable, sturdy plastic mold. The second is not only sturdy, but also covered in a "flocked" material, which is generally a cloth, fuzz material. Our bobble head dolls generally are made of the later design.
(Black Labrador Bobble Head Dog)
When has the bobble head been most popular?
The first mass promotion of the bobbing head doll was done for Major League Baseball's World Series and these bobble heads were imported from Japan and made of paper mache. Shortly thereafter, the switch was made to ceramic for the bobbing head to become more durable and long lasting. Throughout the 1960's, bobble head dolls became very popular. Sports teams made bobbing heads of their most popular players such as Willie Mays and even baseball team mascots like Mr. Met were enshrined in ceramic.
The first bobble head craze ended in the early 1970's. New collecting crazes began and went full steam ahead into the 1980's including lunchboxes, action figures, and video games.
The bobble head doll seemed to be deemed a 20th century relic by the turn of the century, but Major League Baseball again brought back the bobble head doll from pop culture oblivion. The San Francisco Giants presented the Willie Mays bobble head doll on May 9, 1999 to 20,000 visitors to their ballpark celebrating the 40th anniversary of Candlestick Park, which was the last year of the Giants playing at that stadium by the bay. That ushered in a whole new era of bobble head madness. Baseball teams throughout the United States began to offer the bobble head doll as a promotional item for their fans and bobble head dolls were one of the most popular and eagerly sold items in the early days of eBay along with Pez.
In June 2012, the TBS talk show 'Conan' went to film in Chicago and produced one of the largest bobble head dolls ever documented. The Conan O'Brien Bobble Head stood at 16 feet tall!
In 2016, there were many terrific MLB bobble head giveaways that focus on team mascots to legendary Dodgers broadcast Vin Scully. Both major league and minor league baseball heavily use bobble head doll promotions to drive attendance. For 2017, MLB teams plan no let down in the size and scope of bobble heads. Teams from the Mets with their Noah Syndergaard Thor themed bobble head to the Angels with three different Mike Trout bobble heads throughout the season aren't letting up with promotions throughout the league each and every week.
Bobble head dolls hit a new peak in the early to mid 00's as licensed, animal, and sports bobble heads raged. Our company, PopCultureSpot.com, began stocking bobble head dolls in late 1998 and have remained a primary retailer of the products ever since. Amongst the most popular bobble head dolls of the past decade, we carried the now out of production Osbournes Bobble Head Dolls, which were of the then top-rated MTV reality television show based on the family of famous singer and former Black Sabbath front man, Ozzy Osbourne. These bobble heads were amongst a new trend, they incorporated a solid plastic mold and the ability for the bobble head to speak by pressing a button.
Bobble head dolls have remained popular since their reintroduction into pop culture in the late 90s, but over-saturation of the market by some companies have led to the lowering of pricing of older, collectible bobble head dolls. The most popular current styles of bobbleheads are made of solid, durable plastic, poly-resin, and flocked. The flocked style bobble head incorporates a plastic shell covered with a fuzz like flocked layer on the outer shell.
Here is an example of a modern bobble head doll with a demonstration of our Bobble Head Bull Terrier Dog.
Amongst the most popular bobble head dolls continues to be the bobble head dog. The bobble head animals are popular due to the love of various animals, their compact size, and the ability to place the bobble head on the car dashboard or back window. In the United States, the availability of bobble head dogs have been limited greatly over the past several years. As of late 2013, one of the top producers of ceramic bobble head dogs discontinued their product line.
We get customers and visitors that ask questions like these, "How are bobble heads made?" and "What are bobble head made out of?" With so many questions, there's only one thing to do, answer those questions!
What are bobble heads made out of?
There are all types of bobble heads and they're made from several types of materials. Generally, the most common bobble heads are made from resin and plastic. There are also ceramic and wooden bobble heads, but they are in the minority of the products currently produced. The resin bobble head dolls are solid and generally allow for greater details and finer contouring of the body. Plastic bobble heads are cast from a mold, but not all plastic bobbing heads are the same. Some styles rely purely on the mold as the entire product with the appropriate paint colors added. Our most popular bobble heads use a plastic inner shell that are not solid and are covered with felt cloth. The felt adds a layer of detail, a layer of feeling, and an additional layer of strength to the bobble head. With our bobble head animals, you'll find that the eyes are made of plastic and some vary from completely solid colors to an eye complete with color and pupil.
(Above) The Moose Bobble Head Doll shows the rich detail of the resin bobble head
What parts are bobble heads made up of?
We're going to use the Dalmatian Dog Bobble Head Doll as our example product. We begin with the head of the bobble head doll. The body is made of hollow plastic that is covered by felt cloth. On the head, a metal clasp is connected to the downward portion of the head to connect into the bobble head dog's body. At the far end of the body is a bolt that acts as a weight for the head. When attached to the body, this allows for the bobble head to sway and bob around. Without the weighed bolt at the end, the bobble head would simply rise to the top of the body in a fixed position.
Next up is the body of the bobble head doll. The body, which in this case is about 4" (10.16cm) in length, is made of a hollow core like the head, but the mold is not enclosed in order to allow space for the head piece to attach to the body. To attach to the body, a small metal anchor is attached inside the upper portion of the body to allow the clasp from the head to rest in the center of the anchor. When the head is attached to the body, the bobble head bobs and glides with ease. The movement can be endless as long as the bobble head doll is in contact with motion to jostle the parts enough to cause movement.
With many of our bobble head dolls, you'll find that they come with metal decorative necklaces. Lastly, all of our bobble head dolls (and most in general) come with an adhesive double-sided sticker to attach to most surfaces. It's most common for the bobble head to be attached to a car's dashboard or desk.
(Above) Bobble Head with bolt and clasp
(Above) A closer view of the bolt found at the end of the head
(Above) The body of the bobble head doll
(Above) The full bobble head doll with parts attached
PopCultureSpot.com Bobble Head Dolls Include:
- Beagle Dog Bobble Head Doll
- Pug Dog Bobble Head Doll
- Siberian Husky Dog Bobble Head Doll
- Chihuahua Dog Bobble Head Doll
- Canadian Mountain Moose Bobble Head Doll
- Our Complete Line of Bobble Head Dolls
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