Let’s start with a short history of bobbleheads. 2010 : A total of 334 bobbleheads have been given out as promotional items at major league ballparks. The Giants, the organization that resurrected the craze, have done the most promotions since 2010: 34 in that span, 77 total since 1999. An unofficial world’s tallest bobblehead was made by 14 year-old Henry Ermer from Brooklyn, NY standing at 16 feet tall. The Marlins opened their ballpark with a Bobblehead Museum featuring 588 bobbleheads, representing every team in baseball. The display slightly vibrates so the bobbleheads are perpetually bobbing.
How are bobbleheads made? 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.
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.
The first known mentioning of the bobblehead doll is in Nikolai Gogol’s 1842 short story “The Overcoat” where one of the characters is said to looks like one. It is also believed that moder bobblehead dolls originate from 18th century Germany where they were made of ceramic. These dolls in turn originate from Ancient Japanese and Chinese string dolls. Modern bobblehead dolls were first made from paper-mache, ceramic and plastic. 20th century bobblehead dolls were first made in 1920s. New York Knicks basketball player bobblehead was produced trhen but interest in them waned by 1930s and didn’t renew until 1950s.
When it comes to collecting bobbleheads, there are few terms that are important to know when shopping or researching online: SGA/SGB – People interpret the acronyms in a variety of ways, but it basically means the bobblehead is only available as a stadium giveaway. Depending on the team, they might be available to all in attendance, or limited to a pre-announced number, less than the capacity of the stadium. 15,000 to 20,000 is a common amount for these giveaways and they are free with the purchase of a ticket to a specified game. Stadium giveaway bobbleheads are free because they are generally sponsored. This means there will usually be a brand logo somewhere on the bobble.
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