Over the course of baseball history, no promotion has stood the test of time the way bobbleheads have. Their oversized, wobbly noggins have won fans over since the 1960s when Major League Baseball started producing them en masse, and today, they are practically synonymous with the sport. And as any MLB front office can attest, no promotional night brings fans out in droves quite like a bobblehead night. But where do these ceramic, seven-inch figurines come from?
The process begins when a person (or mascot) is selected for a bobblehead, and photos of them are sent over to the production company. Both action shots and headshots are provided in order to create the head and body of the figurine.
From here, a skilled sculptor freehands a wax mold based off of the photos. No computer, no measurements, the sculptor goes strictly off of the pictures. It's in this wax mold stage that the intricacies of the face are defined, and signature details are added to make the bobblehead as realistic as possible. David Justice's gloves in the back pocket? Andrelton Simmons' goatee? This is when they are added.
Once the wax mold is perfected, the pieces are put into a machine for mass production and cast into hundreds of thousands of white resin heads and bodies. And then the fun really starts. Every aspect of the bobbleheads are hand-painted. Skin, uniforms, eyes, hat, shoes, everything goes on by hand. That means each piece of the bobblehead has to be done one by one, and no two will be identical. To put the scope of this project into perspective, the typical bobblehead order is somewhere around the 20,000 mark.
Once the bobbleheads dry, they are assembled, packaged and shipped. From selecting the person to receiving the shipment, the entire process takes about 60 days and at every stage there are many rounds of changes and approvals.
Kelly Barnes is the public relations manager for the Atlanta Braves. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.