Thursday, August 27, 2009

Collecting the Sox: Bobbleheads

Bobbleheads are an old collectable that has made quite a resurgence in recent years. With the improvement in manufacturing and materials, they have become an affordable collectable. So much so, in fact, that they are becoming a standard give-away at stadiums across the country. Minor league parks, in particular, can’t seem to get enough of them. What are they, exactly? They are exactly like they sound like they are. They’re a statue of a ball player made out of plastic, or ceramic, or resin, or whatever. The player has an absurdly large head, sort of like Phil Hughes. The head is connected to the neck with a spring. If you nudge the head, it will bob (or bobble) up and down on the spring. It’s really a silly little concept to become so popular. They’re a little campy, and a little different. They look pretty odd with a bunch of head bobbing away. Which is probably their charm.

These days, in the strive to be different, bobbleheads have come out with things other than bobbling heads. Following the 2007 Red Sox playoff run, a bobbleleg came out featuring Jonathan Papelbon. This allowed the collector to reproduce his famous Irish jig. My favorite bobble variation has to be the Grady Little bobblearm. This was a give away from a minor league team (I wish I could remember which one) in the aftermath of the 2003 ALCS. In this case, the bobbling was Grady’s arm signaling for the pitching change he never made. I love its cleverness. The bobblearms created enough of an issue that the team never did give them away. But, apparently Grady calmed down and allowed their release, including his autograph. It one of the things I keep meaning to grab off eBay, but just haven’t.

As a collectable, the bobbleheads are a nice one. They’re generally not very big, about the size of a large soda at Fenway. It wouldn’t take much space to display a decent sized collection. They’re not super-expensive either. If you go to the right ballgames, you might be able to grab some for “free.” For a while the secondary market for the give-aways was crazy, but I think that’s clamed down a bit. There’s also quite a selection. As I said, minor league parks love these. The low level Red Sox affiliates pump out bobbleheads of current Red Sox to draw fans. They’re also available in retail settings for a reasonable price. It’s a nice combination, really, or scarcity and availability. They’re not everywhere to the point of over saturation. You can have some fun trying to track them down. But, they’re not so rare that they’re not worth collecting. That sounds just about perfect to me.

Anyone have a favorite bobblehead?

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