History of Hockey Bobbing Head Dolls
"The Bobbing Boys of Winter"

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Varieties of Hockey Bobbing Heads

Regular Size |  Mini |   High Skate |  Int. High skate | Gold Base |  Blue Base

I started collecting bobbing head dolls around 1991 when it became obvious to me and my 11-year-old son, that collecting sports cards was getting out of hand. Between all the new card companies, the “rookie” and “insert set” craze, my son and I could not keep up with all the new cards.

I had collected hockey cards since the late sixties. On one of my card searching trips at a show in Cleveland in the early 1990’s, I bought a Chicago Black Hawks Hockey Mini from a dealer friend of mine. It had been autographed by the great Bobby Hull with a gold colored Sharpie pen. I thought it was an interesting item. It also seemed like a perfect item to add to my hockey collection.

Collecting the dolls has been more challenging as collecting sports cards because the dolls are not as plentiful. What I really like is that the dolls can be displayed and appreciated a lot easier than sports cards. Cards are nice but there is something to be said for collecting things that “bobs” their heads and acknowledges me when I walk in the room! My collection has now grown to over 200 dolls between my hockey, football, baseball & basketball pieces. I have taken a lot of kidding from friends over the years who say, “You collect dolls?” It seems crazy but even my wife has gotten to like them. Matter of fact, she is the reason why I have this informational website just for the 60’s hockey dolls. A few years ago, my wife Barb was working on her Master’s degree. She needed a project for her “Introduction to Web design” class for school, so she decided to create an informational web site discussing my hockey bobbing head dolls. I supplied a few pictures and gave her information about the dolls; she wrote the software code and structured the site per her class instructions. She taught me a little code writing along the way, and I took the web site project over after she submitted it for her final grade. It was an interesting experience for me and a successful project for her. In case you are wondering, she got an “A”!


27 TEAMS THAT HAD DOLLS (updated May 2013)(added TIMRA)
DECAL & BODY FLAWS (3 parts)

ORIGIN & DISTRIBUTORS = These dolls were created in Japan from 1961 through the mid 1970's. They were manufactured by Lego, a Japanese company, which created the molds for the dolls and then painted and assembled them. These dolls were made from Papier Mâché. The term papier mâché (pronounced póp-ee-ay mash-áy) comes from the French phrase meaning "chewed paper.". Papier mâché is made from newspapers and paste. Lego originally made an agreement with the souvenir and concession giants - Sportservice Corporation and Bobbie Enterprises Inc. (Buffalo, N.Y.). Later, Sports Specialties (Los Angeles, Ca.), T.J.B. ENT. INC. (Boston, Ma.), Tex Coulter Enterprises (Montreal, Canada), CPSE LTD. (Cleveland, Ohio), The Pro Market (Chicago, Ill.), NANCO-Nancy Sales Co. (Boston, Mass.) and Mascot Sales (Montreal, Canada) were also added to the list of companies that either imported or distributed the dolls in North America. The Sportservice Corp. bought out the Bobbie Enterprises Co. ; which was owned by the L.A. Rams football team in 1962-63. Dolls were retailed for $1.00 to $1.75 each. The "Lego" name was not put on hockey dolls. The "Lego" decal or name was used on the Baltimore Orioles GREEN base baseball dolls & all of the Peanuts cartoon dolls. (See picture at end of page for an example of a "Lego" sticker.)

As of May 2013, I am aware of 64 different hockey dolls were made from 1961 through 1976. I own 61 of the 64. I feel that there are 6 dolls in the "BLINKER" series: 1 for each of the "original 6" NHL teams. I am now aware of 5 of the 6 teams that exist.  I purchased a NY Rangers & and Detroit Redwings Blinker dolls in Jan. 2004 & a Montreal in 2012 which gives me 4 of the 6 teams in my collection. See my odd-ball section on more info on the "BLINKER" series. In regards to the generic mini's, I don't know how many color combinations that were made, who made them or who distributed them. I have 5 generic mini's with different colored uniforms. ( See "ODD-BALL" section for pictures)

* Number in parenthesis is amount of dolls for that team during the 1960's & 70's.
* The letter in the 2nd column represents which series the dolls were made from.
* The league listed indicates where the team played in when the doll was introduced.

AIK [Rats] (1)         I                 Swedish Elit-League      (since 1922)    
Baltimore Clippers (1) O                 American hockey League   (1962-76)
Boston Braves (1)      B                 American hockey League   (1971-74)
Boston Bruins (6)      R,M,H,I,G,B       National Hockey League   (since 1924)
Brynas IF [Tigers] (1) I                 Swedish Elit-League      (late 1950's)
Chicago Blackhawks (6) R,M,H,I,G,BK      National Hockey League   (since 1926)
Cleveland Crusaders(1) B                 World Hockey Association (1972-76)
Detroit Red Wings (6)  R,M,H,I,G,BK      National Hockey League   (since 1932)
DIF [Iron Stoves] (1)  I                 Swedish Elit-League      (since 1922)
FBK [Wolves] (1)       I                 Swedish Elit-League      (since 1932)
Hershey Bears (1)      R                 American hockey League   (since 1938)
Johnstown Jets  (1)    R                 Eastern Hockey League    (1955-73)
Los Angeles Blades (1) R                 Western Hockey League    (1961-67)
Los Angeles Kings (1)  G                 National Hockey League   (since 1967)
Montreal Canadiens (6) R,M,H,I,G,BK      National Hockey League   (since 1917)
New England Whalers(1) B                 World Hockey Association (1972-79)
New York Rangers (8)   R(2),M,H,I,G,O,BK National Hockey League   (since 1926)
Port Huron Flags (1)   R                 International Hockey Lg  (1962-71)
Portland Buckaroos (1) O                 Western Hockey League    (1960-74)
Saint Paul Rangers (1) R                 Central Hockey League    (1963-66)
Salt Lake Cy Eagles(1) G-O               Western Hockey League    (1969-74)
San Diego Gulls (2)    G(2)-O            Western Hockey League    (1966-74)
St. Louis Blues (2)    G(2)              National Hockey League   (since 1967)
TIMRA [Red Eagles] (1) I                 Swedish Elit-League      (since 1938)
Toronto Maple Leafs(7) R,M(2),H,I,G,BK   National Hockey League   (since 1926)
Tre Kronor"3 Crowns"(1)I                 Swedish National Team    (since 1938)
VIK [Black Eagles] (1) I                 Swedish Elit-League      (Since 1913)
Abbreviations = R -- Regular Size series mold  
               M -- Mini series mold          
               H -- High Skate series mold
               I -- Intermediate High skate series mold
               G -- Gold base series mold
               B -- Blue base series mold
               O -- Oddball mold designs
               BK - "Blinking eyes" design

MOLD STYLES & SPRING INFORMATION = There are 6 basic mold designs: Regular Size, Mini, High Skate, Intermediate High Skate, Gold Base, and Blue Base. They are made from paper-Mache: a composition material similar to dry wall cement. Bobbing head dolls have a compression spring glued to the head and attached to the neck post, which allows the heads to bounce up and down. Thus the term "bobbin', "bobbing", or "bobber". Although they are also called Nodders, technically they are not. The pre 1960's "Nodder" dolls had a pin in the neck area, which would allow the head to nod or pivot forward and backwards. In regards to the springs, there were 2 different types of compression springs used; COIL WITH STEM & STRAIGHT COIL . The Regular, High Skate & Intermediate dolls used a unique spring that had 4 large coils (at the head area) with a 1" long stem that attaches to the neck post with 2 small coils. The Mini, Blue Base & Gold Base dolls used a "STRAIGHT COIL" spring design that had 7 - 10 coils. There is a small and large version of both types to accommodate the different size heads. Most of the odd-ball dolls used the "STEM" type spring. The Blinking Eye dolls and the NY Ranger variation (black base decal) used a "STRAIGHT COIL" type spring. See the pictures at bottom of this page for 3 different styles of springs.

CHEST & BASE DECALS = Most dolls have decals on the base and chest that designate the city and team name. Majority of the dolls did not have numbers on their shoulders or backs like some of the football and baseball dolls made in the 60's. There are two exceptions to my knowledge: The Salt Lake City Golden Eagle doll has "#7" decals on his back and shoulders and the "Blinking Eyes" doll series have decals on their backs & on 1 of the shoulders. The Detroit Blinker that I have has a "A" on the chest. There were 2 different size chest decals used on the dolls. For ease of comparison (because it is round), the Boston Bruins chest decal for the Regular, High Skate & Gold base dolls is 13/16" in diameter. The chest decal for the Mini and Intermediate dolls is 9/16' in diameter. (1/4" smaller!) The base decals were also scaled down in size between the Regular & Intermediate dolls. The Mini's had the team name stenciled on the base and the bases for the High Skate & Blue Base dolls were plain. The Gold Base series =The dolls from this series appeared to use the same, black colored, base decals that were used on 1963-72 baseball & 1961-67 football dolls. Some were block letters and some were script. Chicago (script), Detroit (block), St. Louis (script) , & Los Angeles (block) are good examples.

DECAL & BODY FLAWS = (from the factory)

Decal that was put on skewed or on an angle = This may not look very attractive but as long as it is legible and complete, the doll should be considered for your collection. No price discount.
Twisted decals = If decal is turned onto itself, shows backward lettering, or is impossible to read. Avoid this doll unless it doesn't bother you.
Decal put on straight but upside down = If you can live with it, it is ok to consider it for your collection. No price discount.
Missing decal = This flaw seriously effects the cost of the doll. Avoid this doll.
Wrong decal on doll = The decal has the wrong name for the team. The Toronto Maple Leafs doll with a Detroit Redwings logo on the chest is the only example. The doll should be considered for your collection. No price discount or premium.
Bottom of base = Missing Foil sticker ("Sports Specialties") or paper label over the hole. Missing the "JAPAN" stamp on the bottom. MINI'S = some of the bottoms were painted & some were not. No price discount for any of these.
Paint Blobs or Overruns = Some dolls were given too heavy of a clear coat spray after they were painted which ran & turned brown or golden in color over time. Subtract 20% off mint price.

DECAL FLAWS = (from mishandling)

1 OR 2 IMPERFECTIONS = small chip in decal or partial letter(s), scratch through decal --- Subtract 10-15% off mint price.
3 OR MORE IMPERFECTIONS = Major section of decal missing, multiple scratches through decal, cracking or fading of decal(sun damage), dirt or stained (smoky environment) --- Subtract 30-60% off mint price

BODY FLAWS = (from mishandling)

1 OR 2 IMPERFECTIONS = small paint chips, thin hairline crack in face, stained (smoke) or faded (sunlight) --- Subtract 30-35% off mint price.
3 OR MORE IMPERFECTIONS = larger paint chips or cracks, cracking or fading of paint(sun damage), dirty or stained (smoky environment) --- Subtract 50-65% off mint price
MISSING PIECE = subtract 80-85% off mint price.
REPAIRED DOLL = subtract 90% off mint price. (Look inside the head ,around ankles and neck post)
SPRING TWISTED OR EXTENDED = If spring has been extended or bent, the head may not be facing straight, raised high above neck post or may be tilted to one side. subtract 20-25% off mint price.
BOTTOM OF BASE = chipped or scratched is acceptable. No price discount.
BOTTOM OF BASE = Paper over hole punched out or removed. No price discount.
BOTTOM OF BASE = Foil sticker missing. No price discount.

HAIR INFORMATION = The hair on most of the dolls was painted in 3 basic colors = black, brown and a yellowish orange. But there were many combinations on these colors such as tan, reddish orange & an orange-ish brown. As there were no set colors for the hair, there also was no defined hair color for any certain team. I have seen all kinds of combinations. The paint for the hair usually wasn't very dark. It appears to me that the dolls were painted with flesh colored paint first and then a single, light coat of paint was added for the hair. Of course, some appear to have nice deep hair color and must have been given 2 coats of paint or a thicker paint was used.

FACE INFORMATION = The faces of some of the dolls in the Regular, the 2 High Skate series & the Gold Base series had a reddish rouge on their cheeks. The Mini's and the Blue Base series dolls did not. Also, the 5 Swedish dolls and a few of the odd-ball dolls did not have rouge. Some were sprayed very lightly and some very heavy. (See my Chicago Blackhawks Intermediate doll for example). It seems that painting the cheeks was a common practice by the Japanese. It can also be seen on some of the baseball and football bobbing head dolls from the 60's. As stated earlier, some doll faces had the rouge and some didn't. It should not change the price of the doll.

BOX INFORMATION = The dolls were packaged in plain brown or white corrugated cardboard boxes. Some had the team name and "Japan" stamped on the end of the box. Some just had "MADE IN JAPAN" on the end. The mini boxes had a small white sticker, which had the team name abbreviated and "Made In Japan" on it. The box for the Intermediate High skate, Blue Base and some High Skate series dolls had a colored sticker that showed a hockey "Mascot", team name and distributor's information. Is there a premium for having the boxes? A box for the Regular, Mini & High Skate series dolls could add $5.00 - $15.00 . They were plain and had limited markings. A box for the Intermediate High skate and Blue Base series dolls could add 5% - 15% of the doll's value. They had a color-printed sticker on the top of the box and usually a white sticker on the side of the box listing the team. Tim Hunter told me that the Gold Base dolls were shipped in a large crate style cardboard box that held 12 dolls at a time. This may similar to the way the 1967-68 football merger series dolls were sent to the stadiums or distributors. This may also explain why I have never seen or found anyone who owns a Gold Base hockey doll with the original box. (See the individual series for examples of some boxes.) Also, If anyone has a box from the Gold Base series dolls or any of the odd ball hockey dolls, I would appreciate a picture for the site.

"ERROR" DOLLS OR VARIATIONS = If you ever collected sports cards in the early 1990's, you will understand the phase "Error card". I am aware of only 2 hockey "ERROR" dolls " or variations =
*** Toronto Maple Leafs MINI doll with a Detroit Redwings chest decal. It is a common doll so no premium is added to cost. It should sell for the same as a regular Toronto mini doll. (see Mini series dolls for photo)
*** New York Rangers REGULAR series doll with a black colored base decal. They normally have a white block lettered base decal. It appears to be the same "New York" decal as used on the 1963-65 N.Y. Mets green base dolls. The same base decal was later used on the 1967 NY Rangers Gold Base doll. The doll has a straight spring that had 8 - 10 coils instead of the typical 1" stemmed design. I have only seen 4-5 of these dolls with the "BLACK" base sticker in the past 12 years or so. I would probably add a 25-35% cost premium because of its rarity. Last one sold on Ebay for $256 (3/08) (see "REGULAR SERIES" page for photo)

PROPER CARE OF DOLLS = To keep dolls from deteriorating, they should be stored in a glass or Plexiglas enclosed cabinet. The 2 worst enemies of bobbing head dolls are SUNLIGHT and SMOKE (cigarettes/cigars/pipes). The smoke will turn the dolls yellow or brown in color with long term exposure. The sun on the other hand, will fade the colors or dry out the decals and paints causing cracking in the finish. The glass enclosures will also keep the dust, bugs and everything else that floats around in the air; off the dolls. Also, touching or handling the dolls too often is not recommended. Dirt, grime or oils from our skin can go into the finish of the dolls very easily. If you like to handle or show off your dolls, some collectors place large cotton balls or tissue inside the head so the head doesn't hit the neck post.

CLEANING OF DOLLS = I have found that using a cleaner called "Simple Green", works great. It cleans, degreases, doesn't use solvents or bleaches, and is non-toxic . It cuts through the yellow stains caused by years of smoky conditions and the best thing is that it does not attack the decals. Obviously, you are not going to soak the doll in the solution. I usually spray it on a clean white rag and gently wipe the doll. Afterward, I dampen another rag with plain water and give it a once over. Be gentle as you apply pressure to the doll. To eliminate the possibility of rubbing off the paint, I have also just sprayed the doll with the Simple Green and then just rinsed it quickly with warm water. Just let it air dry. Simple Green works great on white areas. Don't forget, Q-tips are best way of getting in the tight areas. (Another Hint-- "Simple Green" works great on getting bugs off the front end of your car!)


#1. Know how to grade and inspect dolls. You should know if a doll has been restored or touched up. Always look inside of the head for cracks and for color mismatches in the paint.
#2. Buy from a reputable dealer or source. Ebay and the Internet can be both good and bad places to buy dolls. If the descriptions and pictures are poor, you do not know what you will be getting. Don't be afraid to ask for more pictures or for additional descriptions of the doll. There are a lot of people that are selling dolls on auctions sites that just don't understand that small defects in dolls such as hairline cracks in the face or head, or decal damage can depreciate the value of a doll.
#3. Condition of the decals is critical. If decals are missing, scratched, or damaged, it greatly depreciates the doll.
#4. Store the dolls in a safe place. Keep the dolls out of the sun and away from dirty conditions or tobacco smoke. Try to keep the dolls enclosed in a plexi-glass or glass case. This will keep dust off the dolls. Do not handle the dolls more than they need to be! I have a few friends that stuff the head full of cotton balls or tissue paper so the head cannot hit the neck post. I personally would like to see the heads move if I shake or touch the cabinet. REMEMBER - any time the doll is handled, you put the head at risk of being damaged.
#5. Shipping instructions I use the following instructions for whenever I purchase a doll: (1) the neck post MUST be wrapped 4 - 5 times with tissue paper. The goal is to prevent the brim of the head from touching the shoulders (impact damage). (2) After neck has been wrapped, the entire doll should be wrapped in bubble wrap and taped so the head does not move around; (3) lastly, specify that they use a large enough box so the doll can be surrounded by paper or other cushioning material during shipment.

MISCELLANEOUS = There are several "odd ball" mold designs that make up the rest of my Hockey Bobbing Head collection. There are 16 dolls that have unique bodies, color combinations or mascot heads. For pictures of the variations , select this page: Odd Ball Dolls

Other unique dolls are:

Portland Buckaroos --------------- unique body and head
San Diego Gulls (2) --------------- gold base body with 2 different head designs
-------------- -------------------------------- (see Goldbase section for photos)
Baltimore Clippers ----------------- unique body and "Captain" head
Salt Lake City Golden Eagles -- gold base body & unique head
----------------------------------------------- (see Goldbase section for photos)
New York Rangers bank --------- body is paper mache and head is porcelain **
Chicago Blackhawks Blinker ---- unique body and head (Players body)
Detroit Redwings Blinker --------- unique body and head (Players body)

Montreal Canadiens Blinker ------unique body and head (Players body)
New York Rangers Blinker ------- unique body and head (Players body)
Toronto Maple leafs Blinker ----- unique body and head (Goalie body)
Generic mini's (5-?) ----------------- unique body and head. (various colors)

"MYSTERY DOLLS" I read an article by Tim Hunter in Collecting Figures Magazine - (Dec 96) that there is supposed to be a ** New York Islander's Bank (NHL since 1972) similar to the NY Ranger's and a Minnesota North Stars doll (NHL since 1967). I would assume that if it existed, it was a Gold Base Series doll. If anyone owns or has seen these dolls, please send picture or owner's name!

ADVERTISEMENTS = From my research, it appears that the Toronto Maple Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks & the New York Rangers were the only teams to advertise their hockey dolls in their game programs. In regards to hockey magazines, see pictures below for ads found in "Hockey Pictorial" magazines. I recently found a 3 1/2" x 6 1/4" advertisement card that was placed in Toronto Maple Leafs programs in the mid 60's. (see pictures below) I also found a full-page ad in a 1963 Toronto Maple Leafs program featuring a Toronto Maple Leafs high skate doll. (see High Skate doll section). UPDATE= (sept/04) Thanks to a very helpful magazine dealer on Ebay who took the time to look through some of his old hockey magazines, he found an ad that shows a Gold Base Boston Bruins doll in a May 1971 Hockey pictorial magazine. UPDATE= (Jan/05) My thanks to Karen Becker who sent me an ad for a local sporting goods shop that had a Chicago Blackhawks doll in the picture. She found it in a 1971 Chicago Blackhawks hockey program. (see pictures below)

magazine ad for Hockey Bobbing Heads

This advertisement was in a February 1964 & April 1965 "Hockey Pictorial Magazine"
(Notice the CHICAGO High Skate doll on the left and the TORONTO High Skate doll on the right)

magazine ad for Hockey Bobbing Heads

This advertisement was in a January 1965 "Hockey Pictorial Magazine" (Notice the CHICAGO & the TORONTO High Skate dolls are BOTH on the left)


magazine ad for Hockey Bobbing Heads

This 3 1/2" x 6 1/4" advertisement card was in a Toronto Maple Leafs program showing a High Skate series doll.

magazine ad for Hockey Bobbing Heads

program ad for Hockey Bobbing Heads

This advertisement was in a New York Rangers program Oct 17,1971. Notice the "MASCOT DOLL" sold for $1.25. This ad was sent to me by Stephan Santero.

LEGO decal

This is an example of a "Lego" decal and stamping on a 60's Lucy (Peanuts) character doll. Hockey dolls did not have a "Lego" decal or stamp on their bases. Decal reads =
                                                      FINE QUALITY

boston bruins doll

This is first example of an ad for a Gold Base series doll that I have ever seen. This was in a May 1971 "Hockey Pictorial Magazine". Notice that the doll sold for $1.75 and that the listing only mentioned six NHL hockey teams although there were 8 NHL teams that had dolls by 1971.

chicago blackhawks doll
This is a 1971 ad for Chicago Blackhawks merchandise by a store called "ALL SPORTS" in Chicago. It shows a Chicago Blackhawks Gold Base series doll. see "RED" circle!      (Picture sent to me by Karen Becker)