Bobbleheads are hilarious, good looking and perfect items to collect. 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.
Let’s start with a short history of bobbleheads. Chinese nodding-head figures are documented in England and Continental Europe as early as the 1760’s and 1770’s and Johann Zoffany’s famous portrait depicting Queen Charlotte in her Dressing Room at Buckingham Palace painted in 1765 shows two such figures in the background (see C. Saumarez Smith, Eighteenth Century Decoration, New York, 1993, p. 255, fig. 246). Nodding-head figures were imported into England, Europe and America from Canton in large numbers from the 1780’s. The great interest in these figures in England is derived in large part from the personal tastes of the Prince of Wales (later George IV) during the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. The Prince’s interest in Chinese decoration was first expressed in his Chinese Drawing Room at Carlton House; however his sudden inspiration to achieve an Oriental interior at Brighton Pavilion was prompted in 1802. The final achievement, an ornate palace of fantastical proportions and exotic furnishings, was due to the combined efforts of the Prince himself and his principal designers, John and Frederick Crace, over the next twenty-five years. A number of Chinese figures of this type were prominently displayed in the corridor of the Pavilion (see J. Morley, The Making of the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, Boston, 1984, pp. 169-176). See extra details on personalized bobblehead.
When cheaper materials appeared bobblehead dolls began resurfacing again. In 1990s they were manufactured from plastic and collectability was achieved by limiting of the manufactured series. San Francisco Giants were the first baseball team who reintroduced bobblehead dolls as giveaways at their game on May 9 of 1999. Modern bobbleheads are so-called mini-bobbleheads which are 5 to 8 cm in height and are often used as prizes in cereal boxes. Today bobbleheads are made of solid, durable plastic, poly-resin, and flocked which means that they are made from plastic shell covered with fuzz-like flocked layer. Bobblehead dolls are still much sought collectables.
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.
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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