Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bobble, bobble, I love toys that wobble

Just for funsies, I thought I would share some of my bobblehead collection with you. This isn't all of them, just a small sample. I'm embarrassed to tell you how many I have. I don't even know what that number is and I'm embarrassed to tell you that as well. Bobbleheads, or nodders, are an old school toy that have become a very popular collectible in that they were toys before people came up with the idea of keeping every trinket ever made and turning it into a collectible. There has been a resurgence in their popularity since the San Francisco Giants gave away a Willie Mays bobblehead back in 1999. Now not only does every sports team in every league at every level do them, but they're available for movie and comic book characters, corporate mascots and even personalized keepsakes for average, ordinary folks. Believe it or not, and most people don't, I didn't plan on amassing a huge stockpile of these crazy things. Sure, I liked them and had a couple. What wound up happening was people would see them and assume I was a collector and they'd give them to me as gifts. I think I've only ever paid for two or three of them. The rest were all presents. So now I have a ton of the crazy things. Here are some of my favorites...
One thing people always say is how a bobblehead looks nothing like what it's supposed to represent. I don't think the bobblehead people are even trying for a Madame Tussauds level of accuracy in their portrayal so I don't know why people think it's necessary to point that out. But some of them come pretty close and since it's something that is always pointed out, I'm including pictures of the subjects so you can decide for yourself.
This is one of the few I bought. I like old time, retro baseball stuff and I grew up liking the Cincinnati Reds because Pete Rose was my favorite player. And I like non-human mascots (I also bought a Detroit Tiger that's a...well, a tiger) and you can't get much more non-human than having a huge baseball for a head. If anybody is looking to get me a gift, I'd love to have a bobblehead of Mr. Met, who is probably this guy's cousin if not brother.
Resemblance: I gotta give this one a solid A. Different uniform but check out that 'stache.

This is former Rays outfielder Jason Tyner and this bobblehead is semi-legendary. The short version of the story is the Rays were all set to honor Tyner with a giveaway of this bobblehead in 2002, but he was sent to the minors before the night rolled around so the promotion was postponed and never re-scheduled while Tyner was a member of the organization. He has since had some success with the Minnesota Twins but very few of his Rays bobbleheads ever got their moment of glory. I wish I could tell you how I got mine but I can't. Somebody almost got in trouble for it then and could get in trouble all over again now. So, sorry.
Resemblance: Well done. B+.

In 2003, they had artists do giant bobbleheads for each major league franchise and scattered them around the city of Chicago to promote the all star game. They also did miniature versions for collectors and this is one of those. I think this is what might have happened if the Rays had been around in 1967 and commissioned the Beatles to design their uniforms.
Resemblance: I take it back. It doesn't look like anything I've ever seen. F. But I still like it.

I have a soft spot for Josh Hamilton. So sue me. I pulled for him to make it to the big leagues with the Rays and I pull for him even more now, even though this bobblehead (and a handful of baseball cards) is as close as that ever came to happening. This was actually a giveaway item done by the Durham Bulls, the Rays AAA affiliate.
Resemblance: No tats, and the ears don't really stick out the right way, but the face is dead on. A-

Of course, this is Dwight Schrute of NBC's "The Office". This bobblehead (well, not this exact one) has been featured prominently on the show. You can get them from the NBC store, in person in New York or online. Mine was a gift from a good friend who enjoys the show as much as I do.
Resemblance: C-. It looks like him but doesn't look like him, but I think that's intentional. This looks more like Dwight as a cartoon. They now make bobbleheads of almost all the characters on the show and Dwight's looks the least like the character it's supposed to represent.
Rainn Wilson could probably sue somebody but I'll bet he thinks it's funny.

This is former Tampa Tarpons general manager, minor league baseball czar and all-around legend that too few people have ever heard of, Mike Moore. If you remember how minor league baseball became huge in the 1990s (and if you don't, trust me, it did), then you should take note that Mike was the president of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues during that time. Oh yeah, he was also the best man at my wedding in 1988. And I have his bobblehead on my tv set. Yeah, you're right, that is a little weird.
Resemblance: That's pretty damn good. Especially the sneakers. A+

When I worked in sports, I worked on a few events with the Gramatica Family Foundation, including PA announcing at a couple of celebrity soccer outings. One day, Martin and his brothers were in my office and they noticed the bobbleheads on the shelf. Martin, who was the placekicker for the Buccaneers at the time said, "All those bobbleheads and you don't have any kickers?" I laughed and said, "They don't make bobbleheads for kickers." I think I actually sneered when I said "kickers". One day a few weeks later, I showed up for work and this autographed Martin Gramatica bobblehead was sitting on my desk.
Resemblance: Weak. D. Hair isn't dark or curly enough and the eyes are too beady and far apart. It's a kicker though, so nobody will notice...until the game is on the line.

This is former Tampa Tarpons manager Marc Bombard, or Bombie (bom-bee). We used to sling beer at the Florida State Fair together, a gig lined up by Mike Moore (see above). Bombie introduced me to my boyhood hero Pete Rose and to my beloved barber shop in West Tampa over 20 years ago.
Resemblance: Hmm, C+. I'd grade it higher if it's lower lip was packed with 'dip' and it was swearing.

Longtime Detroit Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell was at one of Mike Veeck's marketing seminars a few years ago and I was working it as an intern. That's where I got this one and Ernie signed it: Ernie is one of those announcers that has been associated with his team for so long that for fans, he's actually a major part of that team's identity. Think of Harry Carey, only without having to be drunk to be entertaining. Can't visualize that? Me neither.

Resemblance: That's really, really good. Right down to the cap. A+

I like this one of Manny Sanguillen because I like catchers and wearing the shinguards in the on-deck circle is a childhood memory. Plus, I dig the retro '70s era uniform. A friend of mine who works Pirates spring training in Bradenton got me this one.
Resemblance: Not bad, not bad at all. B+. A gap in the teeth would have pushed it to an A-.

I'm a student of Negro league baseball so I love this bobblehead of Josh Gibson. Those who saw him play say he was the best player in the history of the Negro Leagues. Those who saw him and babe Ruth play say he was better than Ruth. This is another one from buddy with the Pirates connection.
Resemblance: I'm not sure the real Gibson was that...svelte. Sure the uniforms were baggier back then but every picture I've ever seen of Gibson makes him look like a really big, hulking dude. I'll give this a C+.

This is the crown jewel of my collection. Why? Well, for one thing, it's a double wobble bobble; the head bobbles and so does the torso! But the main reason is because it is the only one of it's kind on earth. This is actually a prototype for a giveaway the Devil Rays did...but the finished product had the cap on backwards. This is the only one in the whole wide world with the cap on frontwards. And somewhere out there in the whole wide world is a former mascot who would be seriously pissed off if he knew I had this. However, that same former mascot never reimbursed me for $40 worth of Gatorade I bought when I was his official bodyguard. So we're even.
Resemblance: Perfect, except for the position of the cap. is that a flaw? I think not. A+.


jimm said...

Nice collection would be cool to see them all, thats a very cool rare proto you have there!

Brad said...

If you would sell that Raymond I could offer you cash or other rare bobbles including prototypes for it.
Email me at