A bobblehead, also known as a nodder, wobbler or bobble head, is a type of collectible toy. Its head is often oversized compared to its body. Instead of a solid connection, its head is connected to the body by a spring or hook in such a way that a light tap will cause the head to bobble, hence the name.
During the seventeenth-century, figurines of Buddha and other religious figures called "temple nodders" were produced in Asia. The earliest known Western reference to a bobblehead is thought to be in Nikolai Gogol's 1842 short story "The Overcoat", in which the main character's neck was described as "like the necks of plaster cats which wag their heads". During the nineteenth-century, bisque-based bobbleheads were being made in limited quantities for the US market. Many of the bobbleheads in the US were produced in Germany, with an uptick in imports during the 1920s and 30s. By the 1950s, bobbleheads had a substantial surge in popularity, with items made of either plastic or bisque.
By 1960, Major League Baseball had gotten in on the action and produced a series of Papier-mâché bobblehead dolls, one for each team, all with the same cherubic face, and a few select players over time. The World Series held that year brought the first player-specific baseball bobbleheads, for Roberto Clemente, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and Willie Mays, still all with the same face. Over the next decade bobbleheads were also created with ceramics. Within a few years, they would be produced for other sports, as well as cartoon characters. One of the most famous bobbleheads of all time also hails from this era: The Beatles bobblehead set, which is a valuable collectible today.
The next increase in popularity took place during the late 1990s. Although older bobbleheads like the baseball teams and The Beatles were sought after by collectors during this period, new bobblehead dolls were few and far between. What finally prompted their resurgence was cheaper manufacturing processes, and the main bobblehead material switched, this time from ceramic to plastic. It was now possible to make bobbleheads in the very limited numbers necessary for them to be viable collectibles. On Aug. 2, 1997, the minor league Birmingham Barons gave away Barons Bobblehead Doll bobbleheads at a game. The first major league baseball team to offer a bobblehead giveaway was the San Francisco Giants, which distributed 35,000 Willie Mays head nodders at their May 9, 1999 game.
The variety of bobbleheads has grown to include even relatively obscure popular culture figures and notable people. The new millennium would bring a new type of bobblehead toy, the mini-bobblehead, standing just two or three inches tall and used for cereal prizes and such. Post Cereals in particular packaged 22 million mini-bobble heads of MLB players with its cereal before opening day in 2002. 
On November 18, 2014, it was announced that the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum would open in 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The National Bobblehead HOF and Museum held a preview exhibit at RedLine Milwaukee from January 7th, 2016 through April 30, 2016, which showcased the largest public display of bobbleheads in history. The 2000s also saw the rise of a competitive market for personalized, on-demand bobbleheads, typically 6–7 inches tall, from a number of on-line vendors. In 2015 the Pope Francis bobblehead became so popular that a nationwide shortage was reported.
January 7, 2015 marked the inaugural National Bobblehead Day. In 2016 the Guinness Book of World Records mark for world's largest bobblehead was set at 15 feet tall. Named "Goldie", it was the result of a collaboration between Dino Rentos and BobbleHeads.com.
Thanjavur dolls of India
Thanjavur dolls are a type of Indian bobblehead dolls known as "Thanjavur Thalayatti Bommai" in the Tamil language, meaning "Tanjore Head-Shaking Doll". They are a native art form in the Thanjavur region of Tamil Nadu state in South India. These dolls are usually 6" to 12" tall (15 to 30 cm). They are made of clay or wood and painted over in bright colors, and are often dressed up in fancy clothes. They form a part of an elaborate display of dolls known as "Golu (kolu)", exhibited in Indian houses during the "Dasara (Navaratri)" festival in Sep-Oct.
In pop culture
- Sports teams sometimes give away bobbleheads at their games, for example the Los Angeles Kings gave away some honoring Luc Robitaille on his induction to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
- In the 1986 "Let's Go Mets" music video, there is a scene where Joe Piscopo, standing outside the New York Mets' dugout at Shea Stadium, taps four Mets bobblehead dolls, then goes into the dugout and taps the heads of four actual Mets players (Howard Johnson, Bob Ojeda, Rick Aguilera, Kevin Mitchell) who "bobble" their heads in a similar fashion. Piscopo then attempts to tap a fifth player (Lee Mazzilli) but is rebuffed and subsequently tackled by all of the players.
- In 2001, Audi broadcast commercials in Europe featuring an Elvis impersonator and a prototypical Wackel-Elvis ("Wobble Elvis" or "Wobbly Elvis") dashboard figure with a wobbling left arm and hip. Due to subsequent demand 165,000 Wackel-Elvis dashboard figures were produced. The figure depicts Elvis wearing the jumpsuit he wore in the 1973 Aloha from Hawaii TV broadcast.
- Since 2003, American law journal The Green Bag has issued bobblehead dolls depicting Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, both present and past.
- In 2010, 14-year-old Henry Ermer of Brooklyn, New York, attempted to enter the Guinness Book of World Records by building what is believed to be the world's largest bobblehead, standing 16 feet tall.
- On the 2012 season premiere episode of ABC's The Bachelorette, contestant Chris Bukowski presented bachelorette Emily Maynard with custom bobbleheads of the two of them in an attempt to impress her and further himself in the competition.
Promotional merchandise by American corporations
- Newsies "Broadway" Bobblehead
- Richardson e-learning 5 Year trade show give away.
- Dave Brown (meteorologist) WMC-TV Bobblehead
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bobbleheads.|
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- Frank Hoffmann, Frederick J Augustyn, Jr, and Martin J Manning (2013). Dictionary of Toys and Games in American Popular Culture. Routledge. p. 22.
- Steve Rushin (2013). The 34-Ton Bat: The Story of Baseball as Told Through Bobbleheads, Cracker Jacks, Jockstraps, Eye Black, and 375 Other Strange and Unforgettable Objects. Little Brown. p. 205.
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- Ticket Information, Birmingham News, Apr. 3, 1997.
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- Gary D'Amato (December 13, 2016). "D'Amato: Bobblehead plan gets a nod". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- Barry Adams (January 10, 2016). "On Wisconsin: Sports, history, business and fun with bobbleheads". Wisconsin State Journal.
- Daniel Finney (October 23, 2016). "Man builds personalized bobbleheads as business". Washington Times.
- Paula Jacobs (January 7, 2017). "When National Bobblehead Day Isn't A Laughing Matter". Forward Magazine.
- Trisha Bhattacharya (March 3, 2013). "Elegance in motion". Deccan Herald.
- Lalithaa Krishnan (September 10, 2015). "Heralding Navaratri". The Hindu.
- "Practice Your Bobble!". Retrieved 26 January 2016.
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2N4VIXM1RJk. Bobblehead sequence begins at 2:15.
- Fans Waiting in Line for Release of Wackel-Elvis, 06/11/2001, Die Welt (German)
- Elvis Audi Werbung. 26 May 2008. Retrieved 26 January 2016 – via YouTube.
- Wackel Elvis. 22 July 2007. Retrieved 26 January 2016 – via YouTube.
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Collectible and Custom Bobbleheads