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The History of Bobble Head Dolls from PopCultureSpot.com

Updated, March 22, 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.

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 are 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. 

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.

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