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All about bobblehead dolls

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Ever wonder all about bobblehead dolls and how the first became popular?

Ever wonder all about bobblehead dolls and how the first became popular?

When exploring the history of Bobblehead dolls, you need to go back a ways. The bobblehead is probably thought of as something that is uniquely American and that is an item that has always been closely tied to sports. The truth is that they are much older than most think.

The first thing you need to know is that the original figure of this type is thought to be more than 150 years old. The short story “The Overcoat,” by Nickolai Gogolis is the first recorded instance and mention of a man who has a neck “like the neck of plaster cats which wag their heads.”

Larger ceramic dolls that could be made to be as big as 6 to 8 inches tall were made that attached the head to the body using a large spring. These dolls were often referred to as “nodders” or “bobbers” because of the way the head would move on the spring.

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The first real reported instance of the “bobble head” doll being sports related happened in the 1920’s. Back then, the bobblehead was produced to look like a New York Knicks basketball player. While there was some interest in the toy as a novelty, that interest actually waned rather quickly.

When talking about things all about bobblehead dolls and the sports world, it wasn’t until the late 1950’s and into the 1960’s that the toy became something that gained real popularity. It was then that Major League Baseball produced a series of bobbles that were made to represent every team in the league. These dolls were produced so that they all had the same “angelic” face, but wore a different uniform for each team.

The 1960 World Series was the first time that a bobble head was made for a specific baseball player. During the series, bobbleheads depicting Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Roger Maris, and Roberto Clemente were produced. These particular dolls were made with paper mache and because of this broke down rather quickly. There are few of these that exist today considering the materials they were created with.

The 1970’s is when this particular kind of doll was made of ceramics. That made them quite a bit more durable and the dolls really started to catch on. It was about this time that the bobbleheads actually journeyed outside the sports world for the first time. Other stars of stage and screen started to be depicted using the dolls. 

As the decades churned on, the dolls became even more durable and the techniques that are used to produce them made it easier to depict certain people to a tee. These days, the dolls are mass produced and there are very few athletes, actors or other famous people who don’t have a bobblehead doll to call their very own.
The process is actually so easy these days, that there are companies that will actually make custom bobbleheads for anyone who wants one. These bobbleheads can be as detailed as someone wants them to be, or they can be rather simple, with the body already done and the face being the last part that a company works on. 

All in all, when wondering what bobbleheads are, the answer is really that they are quite a bit like plastic caricatures that are three dimensional, rather than just drawings. These can be rather fun little gifts for that special someone, or a way to commemorate an event. Obviously the most popular use for these dolls is still to be collected by people who are fans of a particular team or athlete. Sports collectibles are still the biggest market for these dolls these days, but they certainly are not limited to only that genre.


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