If you're a baby boomer, you remember them from your childhood on store shelves, on dashboards, and at stadiums & special events; the little fellows are called nodders, bobbing heads, & bobbin' head dolls. Whatever you call them, there are literally thousands of sports & non sports Japanese made figures, and all are quite collectible.
Japanese firms produced nodders, or bobbing heads, for sports teams, comic characters, political figures, movie & tv stars from the late 50's until the early 70's. The figures were made of composite materials and beautifully air brushed & hand painted. These bobbin' head dolls were sold in the U.S. at stadiums, novelty outlets, and dime stores (generally for about $1 to $2 each). Increased labor prices in Japan, plus the risk of lead in the paint, signaled the end of the line for these dolls around 1972. Since the dolls were fragile to begin with, and produced as toys and dashboard items (many had magnets in the base to sit on metal dashboards of the era), most old Japanese nodders have been destroyed or damaged.
During the 70's & 80's various sports figures were made in Korea, Hong Kong, & Taiwan. These dolls were plastic or very heavy plaster, but their base colors throw off novice collectors. In 1989 & 1990 Nodders, Inc produced a limited set of six individual sport figures which I think are quite nice and undervalued. S.A.M.S. produced quality dolls in the 90's; my favorites are the non sports figures like the Three Stooges and Marilyn Monroe.
Alexander Global Promotions has issued baseball bobble heads as stadium give aways the past two years. Their dolls are made in China, and are great quality. If you want to start collecting nodders, you may want to collect their "bobble dobbles".
Most of the Japanese bobbing heads were packaged in generic boxes, however some of the more colorful figures had individual labels which are scarce and highly sought after.
Nodders & More Nodders...
If you have figures to sell or trade, please email me at: j.harry