Thursday, May 26, 2022

Dachshund Bobblehead History: 8 Facts About Its Origins

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You see them shaking their heads on the dashboard, but did you know these facts about the dachshund bobblehead history and how they connected to places in the east and the west thanks to their popularity? 

Dachshund Bobblehead History Points To Germany

With every jolt of the road, their head moves! In 1965, the dachshund decorated the rear decks of 404s and other Simca’s, while systematically nodding its head on the bumps in the road. Marketing on a plastic body is the essential recipe for the rear shelf beach dog – oftentimes others have it on the dashboard, but the animal must not hide! These days, you can even buy a Mercedes dachshund bobblehead. But apart from its decorative power, what do we know about these stable bodies with unstable heads? Let’s find out. 

1. What is a bobblehead?

A bobblehead, also known by common goofy nicknames like wobbler, nodder, or that doll that shakes only the head, is a type of small collectible doll. Its head is usually too big compared to its body. Instead of a solid connection, the head is connected to the body by a spring or hook in such a way that a slight bump will cause the head to move, or “turn,” hence the name.

2. Are bobbleheads a new fashion or an old one?

In the East: 

The earliest traces of figures with moving heads date back to reproductions of Buddha and other deities, made in Asia in the 17th century, which featured a nodding head. These figures consist of a hollow body and a head suspended by a hook at the neck. The head receives a weight at its lower part, which causes it to swing back and forth.

Thanjavur dolls from India are also early figurines. 

Thanjavur bobblehead dolls from South India are a type of Indian bobblehead which are typically 6 to 12 inches tall. They originate in Tamilnadu and are a native art form in the Thanjavur region where they are called “Thanjavur Thalayatti Bommai” which means “Tanjore Head-Shaking Doll” in the Tamil language. These dolls are made of clay or wood and painted in bright colors, and they are often dressed in elegant clothing. They are part of an elaborate display of dolls known as “Golu (kolu)”, displayed in Indian homes during the “Dasara (Navaratri)” festival in September-October. 

In the West: 

The earliest known Western reference to a bobblehead is believed to be found in a novel by Nikolai Gogol’s 1842 tale: “The Overcoat” in which the main character’s neck was described as “the necks of cats made of plaster which shake their heads”.

During the 19th century, bisque porcelain heads were manufactured in limited quantities for the US market. Many of the big heads in the United States were produced in Germany, with imports increasing during the 1920s and 1930s. In the 1950s, bobbleheads saw a significant rise in popularity, with items made from cheaper materials like plastic or bisque porcelain. 

3. Dachshund bobblehead history comes from Germany: 

They were a hit in the United States in the fifties: 

The wagging head is called “bobblehead” in the United States; a tradition linked to baseball in the fifties. Many player figures were made from papier-mâché and then ceramic.

They then became the “must have” of the sixties from Germany:

In the sixties, the MLB or Major League Baseball marketed a series of papier-mâché Bobblehead figures, one for each team, all with the same cherub face and a few select players over time. The World Series held that year brought the first player-specific baseball bobbleheads, for Mickey Mantle, Roberto Clemente, Roger Maris, and Willie Mays. 

Over the next decade, the big heads were also made of ceramic. Within a few years, they would be produced for other sports, and the world of the cartoon seized the phenomenon. The craze for this type of decoration also affects the world of music; Beatles figurines were also made. An object of worship and a collectible worth a lot today! 

The “Wackeldackel” was born and its success was spreading: 

“Wackeldackel” is translated as “wobbly dachshund”. 

The dog arrived on the back shelf of western cars in the sixties through a German company, Rakso, which produced a bobble-headed “dachshund” (dachshund). The historic German company that started fashion in the sixties is still active in marketing the Wackeldackel.

The enthusiasm of the dachshund bobblehead was spreading to Europe, to the point that the possession of a dog with the head which moves on its rear shelf is almost an exclusive sign of belonging; until the moment, in the seventies, when it became an expression of “beauty”.

The German company Rakso has continued to produce his Wackeldackel since the sixties under different canine breeds: dachshund, bulldog… etc, and even available in several sizes and even several colors including a superb Fuschia.

A sign of continued recognition, the German manufacturer offers them on its website, just like the major retailers and the craze continued. 

Changes from the late 1990s:

The next surge in popularity was in the late 1990s. 

Although during this period collectors were looking for older bobbleheads, such as baseball teams and the Beatles, newer bobbleheads were coming in through cheaper manufacturing processes which were the driving force behind its resurgence. And what was the material?? Plastic ofcourse! With a change from ceramic to plastic, it was possible for manufacturers to create bobbleheads in whatever quantity was necessary to make them viable collectibles. 

For example, on August 2, 1997, the minor league Birmingham Barons presented the Barons Bobblehead Doll in a game. The San Francisco Giants became the first Major League Baseball team to offer bobbleheads and they distributed 35,000 heads of Willie Mays in their game on May 9, 1999. 

The new millennium brought a new type of bobblehead toy, the mini bobblehead, two or three inches tall and used as a gift in some food packages. Post Cereals (an American breakfast cereal manufacturer) packed 22 million MLB player mini-bobble heads with their cereal before opening day in 2002. The 2000s also saw the emergence of a competitive market for on-demand custom bobbleheads, typically 6 to 7 inches tall, from various online vendors. In 2015, Pope Francis’ bighead became so popular that a shortage was reported across the country. 

4. The Dachshund bobblehead was on Google Doodle: 

Google honored the story of the stubborn dachshund doll who shakes his head with a Google Doodle on the search engine’s home page on September 30, 2020. According to a post, the accessory debuted in Germany as a car accessory in the 1960s. While the dog itself was first mentioned in Johanna Freidrich von’s book. Flemming, “The Complete German Hunter”, the Dachshund was originally bred to help hunt badgers.

David Lu, the Google engineer behind the Doodle said he was intrigued by this moveable-head doll because “the Wackeldackel is not only a celebration of an iconic breed of the German dog but is also an example of German manufacturers.”

He mentioned that his inspiration for the Doodle was the “totally German culture,” which explains the Dachshund bobblehead history. 

5. The Official Museum of the Dachshund, which sells big-headed dolls, was inaugurated in Germany in 2018: 

The National Dachshund Museum which opened its doors in 2018 in the city of Passau, about 120 miles east of Munich in the Bavaria region of Germany, mentions on its website that “no other dog seems to be so famous in all the world. world like the dachshund”.

One magazine reported in 2018 that the museum also sells “dog-shaped bread.” One of the museum’s founders, Josef Küblbeck, mentioned this saying: “We wanted to give this dog a home where people can come and share their joy. The Dachshund bobblehead popularity is increasing because of its appearance which has conquered the hearts of many people.”

Diane Daniel of “The Washington Post” mentioned in her museum review that she bought a pink dachshund doll at the museum’s gift shop.

6. The term ‘Wackeldackel’ is also used in Germany to describe a person who usually agrees with his supervisor: 

The German gas station chain Aral featured the big-headed dachshund doll in one of its ad campaigns in the 1990s, leading to 500,000 pieces of the accessory being sold in less than a year, Deutsche Welle reported.

The same report added that the word ‘Wackeldackel’ is commonly used in Germany to describe a person who regularly agrees with his superior and who “obediently agrees to everything his boss says.”

7. The official mascot for the 1972 Munich Olympics was a dachshund named “Waldi”: 

A 2010 TIME magazine article based on the history of the Olympic mascot details that Waldi was the first officially designed mascot for the games. The design was inspired by a dachshund named Cherie von Birkenhof. The article also notes that the mascot “was never imagined as a creepy human-size version.” 

8. In the US, a National Bobblehead Day is celebrated showing their love for bobbleheads: 

National Bobblehead Day is celebrated on January 7. 

The day was first celebrated in 2015. This was just one year before it was announced ( on November 18, 2014) that the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum would open in 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. 

It seems that according to the museum’s website, this museum is the only bobblehead-specific museum in the world. The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum includes three-foot-tall bobbleheads of NBA stars Lebron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The National Bobblehead HOF and Museum also held a preliminary exhibition at RedLine Milwaukee on January 7 from 2016 to April 30, 2016, which showed the largest public display of bobbleheads in history. 

Long live the craze for these wobbling companions who we take with us everywhere we drive to! 

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