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While bobbleheads are hot collectibles now, they are not a new phenomenon. Nodders, as bobbleheads are sometimes called, originated from Germany. Many collectible authorities believe that doll makers began creating nodders toward the end of the 1800s, and that they named the ceramic dolls, nodders, because of the spring that joins the body with the head, which generates the nodding or bobbing motion.
For a time the interest in nodders waned, and then in 1920, the interest in nodders was rekindled due to a replica of a New York Knicks basketball player. While its popularity was short-lived, and nodders virtually disappeared after 1930, some manufacturers continued making nodders in limited numbers as purely novelty items. Then, in the early 1960s, the charm of nodders once again caught the fancy of the populace when sports gear companies began to produce team-related nodders. To freshen the image of nodders, the companies relabeled their products, bobbleheads.
Since then bobbleheads, which are normally made of plastic and stand about 6" (15cm) tall, have become a hot commodity for collectors. Today's bobbleheads are primarily replicas of individual sports personalities, not the team mascot type of bobblehead that were produced during the 1960s craze. The advanced techniques in transferring likenesses from digital photographs, and in some cases video footage, first to sketches and then to plastic molds have created uncanny resemblances to the real sports figure.
But, not just sports figures are made into bobbleheads. The popularity of the sports bobblehead has extended to the manufacture of bobbleheads of every imaginable ilk. The likenesses of politicians, celebrities, cartoon characters and historical figures have all been made into bobbleheads.
Prices of bobbleheads vary dramatically - from just a few dollars for a local sports hero or personality to several hundreds of dollars for antique or extremely rare bobbleheads. The tremendous popularity of bobbleheads with collectors has even spawned new businesses. Today, auction sites, magazines, books and price guides, web sites and clubs solely devoted to bobbleheads are flourishing.
The time may come again when the popularity of bobbleheads or nodders falls out of favor, but for the unforeseen future, collecting bobbleheads will continue to be a favorite pastime of the buying public.