Bobbleheads have been around sports for years, especially for baseball players. For a long time, though, the overwhelming majority of bobbleheads were your run-of-the-mill player facing forward, his head is bobbling -- and it's not a specific event.
Nowadays, we're seeing more and more creativity on the bobblehead front, especially in looking to capture memorable moments or events.
BDA, Inc. is on the cutting edge, as they're producing some excellent bobbleheads, including two we've touted in recent weeks here in our Eye on Baseball blog: Coco Crisp's "Bernie Lean" and Albert Belle pointing to his bicep. BDA, Inc. delivered 1.5 million bobbles in 2012 and is projecting 1.7 million this year.
I recently caught up with Jay Deutsch, the co-founder and CEO of BDA, Inc. That interview appears below, but first, an offering of a few items BDA, Inc. has recently produced.
Click on each image to view the full-size image in a new window. Below is the key:
1. Felix Hernandez, "Felixing bobble" after throwing the Mariners' first perfect game.
2. Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen, Phillies broadcasting team, dueling bobbles.
3. Reggie Jackson, 1973 Game 7 home run bobble.
4. Wade Miley of the Diamondbacks, garden gnome.
| Number One: King Felix|| Number Two: Franzke, Andersen|
| Number Three: Jackson Game 7 HR|| Number Four: Miley garden gnome|
And now, onto the quick Q&A with Deutsch, the co-founder and CEO of BDA, Inc.
Matt Snyder: Jay, what is your favorite bobble of all time, either that you've come up with or seen on your own?
Jay Deutsch: It's partly the homer in me, but my favorites are the set of four bobbles we did with the Mariners for the 2007 season that fit together to form the Safeco Field roof in the background. I'm also excited to see the fan reaction to this year's Felix Hernandez perfect game bobble, depicting the King's now-famous ‘Felixing' pose.
MS: Any innovative/creative bobbles on the horizon that you can reveal?
JD: Truly creative bobblehead giveaways don't just generate lines at the ballpark; they provide lasting brand equity for clubs and sponsors. Where we take the bobblehead from here is limited only by our imagination. Clubs are requesting more creative ways to present players and capture their personalities. We're always experimenting with new poses and improving our process to perfect the little details -- tattoos, facial hair, shoes, necklaces and other accessories.
A few of the more notable designs we're a part of this season include an Albert Belle bobble for the Indians where he's pointing to his bicep; a Yu Darvish "K Counter" Rangers bobble and a figurine of the Astros' mascot, Orbit, that bobbles at the belly. As an alternative to bobbles, we're receiving more interest in player garden gnomes. For this year's Wade Miley gnomes, the Diamondbacks gave the pitcher camouflage waders and a fishing rod along with a pointy red cap.
MS: Is there any thought to going back through history and finding certain events to commemorate with a bobble, such as Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round the World?"
JD: There are moments and milestones in baseball history that certainly lend themselves to being commemorated in bobble form, like Babe Ruth's called shot and Don Larsen's World Series perfect game. Clubs are beginning to embrace this idea. The A's produced a Rickey Henderson record-setting stolen bases bobble. The Twins gave out a dual bobble immortalizing the Kent Hrbek/Ron Gant dust-up from the 1991 World Series. And the Mariners treated fans to a bobble version of what's become known locally as "The Slide," when Ken Griffey Jr. crossed home plate in the bottom of the 11th inning of Game 5 of the 1995 AL Division Series.
Throwback bobbleheads are a definite trend this season. As part of their 20th anniversary, celebration the Rockies are giving out nine bobbles of former players. Half of the Brewers' 10 bobblehead dates are a nod to the past, including Hank Aaron and Gorman Thomas giveaways. The A's are recognizing the 40th anniversary of their 1973 World Series title with a retro Reggie Jackson at-bat bobble, complete with his trademark shades.
MS: What is a typical timeline like in creating a bobble? That is, from the time that an idea is set in stone to seeing the final product completed?
JD: On average, bobbleheads require 135 days from design to delivery. We budget at least 40 days for development and approvals, two months for production and another month for overseas shipping. We've been able to trim the timeline and deliver more lifelike collectibles by using 3D digital rendering. But the production process remains very labor intensive. Molds are hand-poured, and each bobble is hand-painted.
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