Dodger Weirdo Bobbing Head Dolls
We (Inside the Park Collectibles) have been dealing with vintage bobbing head dolls for over 25 years. I started collecting long before these dolls were in vogue. I was obsessed with these colorful figurines and have to admit- they had become an addiction. My collection and spending was so out of control that my wife eventually said to me - “You know you can’t send a bobbing head to the electric company as payment.” With a little bit of her urging (maybe it was a lot) I started to pare off my collection by running small bobbing head auctions in the early 90’s. I started getting into other areas of collectibles and with my friend and fellow collector John Trincellito we established ITPC. We specialized in figural sports memorabilia with nodders being our first love. Business grew to the point that we were doing bigger auctions and setting up at trade shows. ITPC became my full-time job in 1997. In 2004, we were even approached and wrote a Price Guide on Bobbing Head dolls. Yes, we considered ourselves the utmost authority (wow what a legacy) on these adorable little figurines. Of course, we believed we had seen it all and that there wasn’t a doll we didn’t know about. “How wrong we were!”.

Dodger Weirdo Nodders

We had always been fascinated by a series of bobbing head dolls issued by Kreiss in the early 60’s. They are a humorous set of Los Angeles Dodger dolls that are commonly referred to as “Dodger Weirdo’s” because of their unusual facial features (there is a corresponding series of S.F. Giant dolls). For years we had believed that there were only 5 in the series with a couple also made as a black face variation. Each doll came with either a funny base decal or neck tag. The 5 dolls included a goofy character with a bucket and broom, a crybaby, a grouchy looking player, a batter holding a ball with a screw in it and a silly looking character holding a base. The funny sayings all relate to baseball and in one case even made a reference to the long-time Dodgers manager Walt Alston. All are hard to find and all are considered rare with prices ranging from $400 to $750. Advanced bobbing head collectors love them, but they are definitely a challenge to find.

Dodger Weirdo Nodder
Our brush with the famous!

By 2001 and we had become one of the leading sellers of vintage bobbing heads in the country. Our auctions were gaining popularity and we had somewhat cornered the market on figural sports memorabilia. We got a lead on a small collection of dolls owned by now Hall of Fame Baseball star- Andre Dawson. Mr. Dawson had collected with his son while doing card shows and had a small but impressive collection that included all of the rare Major League Baseball Black Face dolls. As his son got older, he lost interest in the dolls and Mr. Dawson decided to downsize. We arranged to meet at his house. We were a little nervous, as we really had never dealt with any celebrities. Mr. Dawson could not have been more hospitable and gracious as we entered his home. We were brought into a hobby room that displayed all of his trophies and memorable bats & balls. The bobbing heads were laid out on a beautiful pool table, all neatly boxed. To our surprise, we opened a box and found a doll that shocked us both- another Dodger Weirdo- one with a grinning player holding a bathing beauty in his arms. We had bought and sold thousands of vintage dolls at that point and had never seen or heard of this doll. We negotiated the deal and flew home with his collection- not knowing what they might fetch in auction. Shortly thereafter we did auction the collection and the Dodger Weirdo doll (to our surprise) realized over $5,000. Since that point, we were able to acquire and sell one other (also sold for over $5,000) and have never seen or heard of another being offered for sale.

Dodger Weirdo Nodders

Okay, now we knew that there are 6 dolls in this marvelous series. At the time, I was writing a column for SCD (Sports Collectors Digest) on figural sports memorabilia. I wrote on this find and our fantastic experience with Andre Dawson. After the article was posted, I got a phone call from one of our long-time collector friend’s who said he had another doll from this series. He sends me pictures of a Dodger Weirdo that holds a fly swatter and nods at the waist. Within a few weeks of finding a new variation another doll pops-up from the same series. The so-called experts had been humbled.

Since that time, we have been stunned by the number of bobbing heads that cropped up in the hobby that had never been cataloged before. As the Internet grew, more and more finds have surfaced. The point of this article is that there is always something unexpected out there. It’s what makes collecting fun and exciting. You never know where your next find will be. It could be at a garage sale, a flea market, tucked away in an attic or sometimes at a famous person's house. When you think you know it all, when you think you’ve seen it all – there’s always something new that you don’t expect. It happens in every genre of collecting.

Happy hunting everyone!

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Lou Criscione
By Lou Criscione