Q: Carol House Furniture in St. Louis has a TV commercial with Amy Dubman taking over while Brook Dubman is away and she uses a bobblehead of brother Brook to nod his assent to her sales ideas. There also are TV commercials by Good2Go.com auto insurance featuring MiniMo bobbleheads in various poses and with various expressions. My question: Obviously someone makes these, so can an average Joe like myself get his own custom bobblehead?
A.J., of Millstadt
A: You bet you can, although the prices might make your own head bobble a little, especially if you want it done in a hurry.
At (where else?) www.bobbleheads.com, you can find an array of popular subjects to add to your collection, including Hollywood (Pee-wee Herman, John Wayne, the Staypuft Marshmallow Man), sports (Joe Louis, Knute Rockne, etc.), pop culture (Smokey Bear) and a host of others (Jesus Christ, Albert Einstein or be the first on your block to own a Donald Trump bobblehead, no hairspray needed). Prices are generally $5-$20.
That’s just a teaser. If you’d like to surprise someone with a bobblehead of himself or herself just like the ones you get at Busch Stadium, you can do it with ease. At bobbleheads.com, you can choose your theme from among hundreds of customizable bobbleheads, including business, sports, wedding, occupation or hobby.
Then, the company’s artists will go to work sculpting the likeness of the person on the doll, which the company says is made from a high-quality, durable polyresin material that makes it more durable than the polymer clay some use. On its website, you pick the hair, eye and skin color. Then, you send them the best head shot of the person you want sculpted. These standard bobbleheads generally run $99-$129.
But why stop there? Instead of just the head, the company also offers to design custom bobbleheads of your loved ones from head to toe for a base price of $144.95. Now you can add body type along with accessories such as hats, handheld objects, custom clothes (in case Aunt Hilda has a favorite Christmas sweater) — even tattoos. Finally put it on a custom base that can be personalized.
Of course, many of these extras come at additional cost so as your demands grow, so will the price. But they say they keep you apprised of the progress through “proofing,” and you’re always able to give your yea or nay. Make sure you like it, because there are no refunds or cancellations of customized orders. However, you can order duplicates starting at $50 each in case you want to give one to the entire family or high school class.
For no extra charge, they promise to do their standard sculpting in 16 to 30 business days, but if you need it superquick, they’ll be glad to accommodate you. For an extra $99, they’ll sculpt in two to four days and for another $30 they’ll ship it to you in another two, so your wallet could start to wobble, too. But, of course, they’re not the only game in town. Search for “custom bobbleheads” and you’ll find a raft of offers, including www.amazingbobbleheads.com, www.bobblemaker.com, etc. Just read all the terms carefully so you know what you’re getting into. I absolutely am making no recommendations.
By the way, if you think this is a modern fad, prepare to be astounded. According to www.bobbleheads.com, the earliest known reference is from the 1842 short story “The Overcoat” by Russian writer Nikolai Gogol. He described a character as having a neck which was “like the neck of plaster cats which wag their heads.”
Later, larger ceramic figures of animals, ranging in size from 6 to 8 inches, were produced in Germany. These had spring-connected heads and were called “nodders” or “bobbers.”
Sports teams jumped on the bandwagon already in the 1920s, when a New York Knicks’ basketball player bobblehead was released. But with the Depression and many people needing every cent to buy bread and keep a roof over their heads, interest waned for the next 20-30 years.
By 1960, Major League Baseball had revived the phenomenon, producing dolls for Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Roger Maris and Roberto Clemente for the 1960 World Series. These, however, didn’t hold a candle to today’s dolls. Although their uniforms were different, their faces were similar and few if any likely have survived because of their papier-mache construction.
Seeing their popularity, however, the industry eventually began using sturdier materials, moving from ceramics in the 1970s to plastic and resins in the 1990s. A Beatles bobblehead collection remains one of the most famous — and now rarest — of all time, and when the San Francisco Giants handed out 35,000 Willie Mays bobbleheads in 1999, baseball knew that like the Say Hey Kid it had hit another one out of the ballpark.
Who is the only man in history to have won the presidency without winning the vote in either his home state or his state of residence?
Answer to April 17 trivia: Here’s another reason to love Abraham Lincoln (for us ailurophiles, at least): He adored cats, according to the National Park Service. When asked if her husband had a hobby, Mary Todd Lincoln once replied, “Cats.”
According to one anecdote, Lincoln was visiting General Ulysses S. Grant in March 1865, just as the Civil War was ending and Honest Abe was facing the massive headache of reuniting the country. Yet Lincoln, who could play with the furry creatures for hours, seemed equally concerned for three orphaned kittens he found in a telegraph hut.
“Picking them up and placing them in his lap, he asked about their mother,” the Park Service says. “When the president learned that the kittens’ mother was dead, he made sure they would be fed and a good home found for them.”
To be fair, Lincoln apparently loved most creatures. On Oct. 3, 1863, he issued a proclamation setting aside the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.” But when a turkey was sent to the White House for the Lincolns’ dinner, his son Tad started calling it Tom and turned it into a pet, so Lincoln issued “an order of reprieve” from the chopping block.
The family also had rabbits, two goats, Nanny and Nanko (which pulled the Lincoln children through the White House in a cart), and a horse, Old Bob, who was led riderless in Lincoln’s funeral procession. But don’t fret — they also had a dog, Fido. When the Lincolns left for Washington, D.C., after the 1860 election, Lincoln made their neighbors promise to take good care of the dog and even gave them an old family sofa so Fido would feel right at home.
If you were wondering, “ailurophile” means a lover of “ailouros” — the Greek word for “cat.”