Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Birth of a Bobblehead

Giveaway items are always among the most popular attractions at a Cyclones game. We give away something at almost every game, usually to the first 2,500 fans to enter the ballpark.

And in the world of giveaways, bobbleheads are king. The nodding, oversized heads have become synonymous with minor league promotions, and a badge of honor for those whose likenesses are captured. In short, if you have your own bobblehead, you know you've made it big.

This summer, the Cyclones will be giving away five different bobbleheads, immortalizing Dodgers legend Carl Erskine, WFAN's Boomer & Carton, and mascots Sandy, Pee Wee and Maverick (the Wonder Dog).

While it's great to just walk into the ballpark and get a free collectible, the process behind the creation of the items can be extremely interesting, as well.

So how is a bobblehead born? Ceramics with raging hormones? Not quite.

Of course, it all starts with an idea. We try to imagine bobbleheads that will capture people's attention, drum up some excitement, become collector's items, and look good. Usually, we try to target people (or animals) that are specifically popular among our fan base. (although sometimes they become popular because of the bobbleheads...Dave & Carrie anyone?)

After a boring approval/legal process, the fun begins. Our designer, Kevin Jimenez (KJ), usually starts with a sketch, drawn from a picture of the person (or bird, or dog) whose bobble is being created. The sketches are then analyzed, tweaked, edited, changed, re-sketched, and re-analyzed all over again (whatever you do, don't bring up Craig Carton to KJ) until everyone involved is happy with the way they look.

Then it's off to the manufacturer. In a few weeks, we see an unpainted mold of the bobblehead, and the approval process starts all over again. Does it look like the sketch? Is the glove on the right hand? Is the name spelled right on the jersey? Things like that. You have to look at every little detail (twice) in an effort to get it right.

Once the mold is approved, we'll next see a painted version. This is when we really see what the finished product will look like, and how close it is to (or far away it is from) the real thing. (And also when we start to ask questions like: Why is that hat purple? Is John Franco an albino? What color is Joe Smith's hair, anyway?)

Once the colors are approved, we're off to the races. Production begins and we keep our fingers crossed that everything stays on track and we get the items in time for the designated game. From start to finish, it's about a six month process.

Above, you can see some of the stages of the Carl Erskine bobblehead we'll be giving away on August 17th!

So next time you get a bobble you really like, think about the process that went into its creation. And keep your fingers crossed...maybe some day the little ceramic figurine with the giant nodding head will look just like you!

-- Dave

16 comments:

Eric said...

Isn't it amazing that former Cyclone Angel Pagan isn't a bobblehead yet considering his return to the Mets? Why is that? The Cyclones office seems to refuse to comment. Also hopefully they will use a better company to produce these new bobbles since last year's were cheap looking and unattractive.

Dave said...

Amazing? Not really. Mildy interesting? Maybe. You may see a Pagan bobble in the future, but at the time of production, his roster spot was tenuous, so we went in some different directions.

On the "cheap and unattractive" front, I guess it's all a matter of opinion. I've heard from several people who thought the Joe Smith bobble was the best one we've ever done. Don Newcombe loved his. And the Brooklyn Bridge bobble got national acclaim.

Hopefully, you'll like this year's crop of bobbles better than you liked last year's, but, you know, you can't please all the people all the time (even though we still try).

ATC said...

When ruminating about the demise of Brewer Derrek Turnbow, Many Mildew fans cited his bobble head night. Erskine has nothing to fear, but do any current players fear a vodoo like quality to a reproduction? Will their careers tank as the neck springs break? Does the honroed plyer get ribbing from his teammates? Do the teammates worry the honored player will...need I say it? ...get a big head over the attention?

Anonymous said...

I think there should be a King Henry Bobblehead. The Kids in my family Love him. It would be a great collectable.

Anonymous said...

There should definately have been a Applebee's Man bobblehead, he is fast becoming a Brooklyn Legend at Keyspan Park.

Eric said...

What I meant by cheap and unattractive is that it was made by an off brand, not like the Franco and Bridge made by AGP or the Garcia and Bannister both made by BD&A more well known companies. The quality used by success promotions proved its thriftiness by making the Newcombe was a leaner, and the Maz and Randolph looked nothing like its person it was supposed to portray.

True the Smith was a late add on with a Pagan hopefully in the works, but the best Cyclone of all time will never be produced. Can we all say Scott Kazmir?

CYCLONES FAN 08 said...

I TOTALLY AGREE, THEY SHOULD MAKE A BOBBLEHEAD OF APPLEBEE'S MAN. HE IS ALWAYS THROWING T-SHIRTS DOWN TO THE SEATS, I WAS LUCKY TO GET ONE LAST SEASON. IT WOULD BE COOL HAVING A BOBBLEHEAD WITH A MASK AND A CAPE. I HOPE THE GUY WHO PLAYS HIM RETURNS FOR THIS SEASON!
LASTLY IF THEY DO HAVE A KING HENRY BOBBLEHEAD, IT SHOULD INSTEAD BE A BOBBLE BELLY.

CYCLONES FAN 08 said...

I TOTALLY AGREE, THEY SHOULD MAKE A BOBBLEHEAD OF APPLEBEE'S MAN. HE IS ALWAYS THROWING T-SHIRTS DOWN TO THE SEATS, I WAS LUCKY TO GET ONE LAST SEASON. IT WOULD BE COOL HAVING A BOBBLEHEAD WITH A MASK AND A CAPE. I HOPE THE GUY WHO PLAYS HIM RETURNS FOR THIS SEASON!
LASTLY IF THEY DO HAVE A KING HENRY BOBBLEHEAD, IT SHOULD INSTEAD BE A BOBBLE BELLY.

jo jo said...

I agree there should definatly be a king henry bobble belly!!! i would so buy one of those in a heartbeat!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Went to the Cyclones game last year where they were giving out the "Willie Randolph" bobblehead and they told me that they ran out of them but I saw the gate staff giving out multiples to certain people. There were tons of boxes sitting there filled. I was annoyed at the antics of the staff but realized I was there to honor PO Timoshenko and just took my seat. Pretty shady stadium behavior that has changed me from a Cyclone booster to a Cyclone passer.

Brian said...

I still think the Marty Markowitz bobblehead looks like Newt Gingrich. If he's ever elected President of the USA I will change the name. We can say the Cyclones were the first & only to honor a President. It's all in good fun anyway. Let's do something for PAGAN & KAZMIR!

Anonymous said...

King henry? Please. The guy is overweight AND a loser.

John said...

Looks like I need to finally come to a Cyclones game and check eevrything out and get a bobblehead. I have been to lots of stadiums but not the Cyclones yet.

www.bobblebums.com

Season Ticket Holder said...

I think that anonymous who wrote on May 16, 2008 6:58 PM is totally wrong! I am a season ticket holder who knows the staff very well. They are extremely strict on people who try to get extras. It is true that I do see some people carry alot in their hand. But only because they came with their wife and six kids!. If the promotion is for the first 2500 fans, the staff cannot stop somebody from bringing seven other people and then all of group hands it to one person to carry around. I doubt that there were full boxes!

Lisa Gav said...

I gotta agree w/STH - the Beach Bums who usually hand out the giveaways do NOT give out extras. I have a pair of Season Tickets myself, and when I come alone, I only get one, no matter what. They're very careful not to show favoritism. Even though I'll sometimes grumble about it, that's the way it should be - 1 item per 1 person through the gate.

Eric said...

They aren't strict at all,, especially the back gate by the boardwalk. And by the way that "replica gate" was awful.