The History of Bobble Head Dolls

From Nodders to BobbleHeads

According to my research, the first figures that resembled bobblehead dolls came from Germany and were called "Nodders" - large ceramic figured of animals and such, usually between 6 and 8 inches tall. The name "nodders" or "bobbers" was created based on the way the dolls' spring connected heads would bob on their bodies.

A New York Knick bobblehead was one of the first sports bobble head dolls sold in the 1920s but they largely disappeared after that until 1960. 

Between 1960 and 1972, four important bobblehead dolls were manufactured in Japan, along with several less popular models. Those early bobble head dolls were made of papier-mache, so few survive today without at least a bit of chipping or cracking. Back in those days most of these portly bobbleheads were sports team related, but unlike now - where we have dolls of individual players - those early bobble heads had the same heads but wore different team uniforms.

The popularity of nodders - at least in North America - faded after they first emerged as collectibles in the 1960s and '70s, but the current mania is generally attributed to the San Francisco Giants baseball team. In 1999 that team handed out bobble head dolls during a marketing promotion at one of their games.

Current bobble head dolls actually resemble specific individuals, and since 2001 they have become true three dimensional dolls that resemble the sports or entertainment figure they are portraying.

Many of today’ bobble head dolls come complete with tattoos, headbands, hair styles and even scars that match those of their real life counterpart.



Interested in finding out more about Bobblehead dolls?  Check out "Bobbing Head Dolls: 1960-2000" by Tim Hunter (will open new window)

Bobble head book (will open new window)Book Description: "Collectors are falling head over heels for bobbing head dolls. This first-ever price and identification guide features hundreds of dolls in the following categories: baseball, football, basketball, hockey, TV stars, advertising icons, political figures and cartoon characters." 

"Tim Hunter, nationally recognized bobbing head doll expert, shows collectors how to identify which series their dolls are from, if they have a rare variation, and how much they're worth. Collectors will want to know if they have the common Houston Astros doll worth $80 or the scarce Astros version with the shooting star decal priced at $700! Or discover if their miniature hockey doll is rare and valued at $1,600!"

"Prices are out of this world for bobbing head dolls. The time could not be better for a book like this."