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”!
LIST OF TOPICS =
ORIGIN & DISTRIBUTORS
27 TEAMS THAT HAD DOLLS (updated May 2013)(added TIMRA)
MOLD STYLES & SPRING INFORMATION
CHEST & BASE DECALS
DECAL & BODY FLAWS (3 parts)
"ERROR" DOLLS or VARIATIONS
PROPER CARE OF DOLLS
CLEANING OF DOLLS
5 HELPFUL HINTS FOR THE NOVICE BOBBING HEAD COLLECTOR
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
THE 27 TEAMS THAT HAD DOLLS =
* Number in parenthesis is amount of dolls for that team during the 1960's
* The letter in the 2nd column represents which series the dolls were made
* The league listed indicates where the team played in when the doll was
TEAM NAME SERIES LEAGUE TEAM PLAYED YEARS PLAYED
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
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
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
BOTTOM OF BASE = Paper over hole punched out or removed. No price
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
5 HELPFUL HINTS FOR THE NOVICE
BOBBING HEAD COLLECTOR =
#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
Other unique dolls are:
--------------- unique body and head
San Diego Gulls (2) --------------- gold base body with 2 different head
-------------- -------------------------------- (see Goldbase section for photos)
Baltimore Clippers ----------------- unique body and "Captain"
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)