January 7 – National Bobblehead Day

Posted on January 7, 2016

I have never owned one, but I know a bit about bobbleheads.

I know that bobbleheads are collectible toys with oversized heads connected to their bodies with springs. I know that they are especially common in sports, most especially in baseball, with bobblehead give-aways designed to lure people out to the ball park.

What I didn't know – and, frankly, find somewhat hard to believe! – is that there is a National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum due to be opened some time this year in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And that every January 7 is National Bobblehead Day!

Bobbleheads didn't start with Major League Baseball! Way back in the 1840s, a short story talks about plaster cats that wag their heads, and there have been and still are many animal figures with spring-mounted heads. A traditional sort of doll from India is a sort of bobblehead—Tahnjavur dolls, to be specific. 

The first modern bobblehead appeared in the 1950s, and ML Baseball got into the fad with papier-mache bobbleheads in 1960.

The first baseball bobbleheads had young, “cherubic” faces but different colors of hats and uniforms to represent the different teams. The 1960 World Series featured bobbleheads that were supposed to be specific to star players – Roberto Clemente, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and Willie Mays. But the faces were still all the same.

All through the sixties, the bobblehead fad continued. The materials were changed from papier-mache to ceramic, and many more forms were crafted, including cartoon characters, athletes in other sports, and even the Beatles.

Original Beatles bobbleheads are rare--
and valuable!

By the mid-70s, however, the fad was beginning to fade away.

And then the craze got a restart with (of course) plastic becoming the material of choice. Finally, it was possible to make truly variable bobbleheads, with much smaller “runs” of many more different dolls.

The collectibles were suddenly way more collectible!

Mini-bobbleheads were created as well.

And recently personalized bobbleheads have been offered. Just send in a few color photos (front-view and profile-view, for 3-D modeling), make a few color choices, and pay $79 – and voila, in a few days you will own a bobblehead of yourself!

Here are some of the bobbleheads you can find today:

TV personalities such as Mythbuster Jamie Hyneman and Ellen

Fictional characters, including Superman and Rosie the Riveter

Scientists such as Marie Curie

Athletes such as Derek Jeter and LeBron James

Also on this date:

Tempura Day

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