WASHINGTON, D.C. — In the world of business, sometimes the trinitarian formula isn’t followed precisely.
In this instance, it’s not one God in three persons, but one person in four versions — including an ornament.
In bobblehead form.
The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum has introduced a quartet of Jesus bobbleheads — in time, as they say, for holiday gift-giving.
One is an ornament. Another, roughly the size of the ornament, is meant for automobile dashboards. There’s the traditional bobblehead. There’s also a version with bended knees — not for praying but to allow the legs to hang over the edge of one’s desk or mantel.
“There have been Jesus bobbleheads dating back quite some time,” back to when bobbleheads were first introduced in the 1960s, said Phil Sklar, co-founder and CEO of the Milwaukee-based hall and museum. “There have been many over the years, but we wanted to do a more modern take on him. There have been some cartoonish ones.”
In a Dec. 9 phone interview with Catholic News Service, Sklar said, “We’ve done some other (ornaments) but people really enjoy the bobblehead ornaments. so we thought we really should do one for Jesus.”
And yes, all four Jesus bobbleheads’ heads bobble — even the ornament. “You have to take it off the tree to have the maximum bobbling,” Sklar told CNS.
While there’s no telling just how popular a Jesus bobblehead will be, the Son of God will have to beat out two Catholics for the honor of top seller.
Until 2020, the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame’s best seller was Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, the Sister of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary who has served as chaplain for the men’s basketball team at Loyola University in nearby Chicago. When the Ramblers made it to the Final Four of the 2018 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the beaming face of Sister Jean, now 102 years old, was seen on TV by hoops fans everywhere.
But even her popularity, for what was supposed to have been a limited-edition bobblehead, was topped by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical adviser to the president; he is considered the country’s leading immunologist.
“It did have a good cause connected to it,” Sklar said.
The Bobblehead Hall of Fame gave $5 from each sale to the Protect the Heroes Foundation to purchase masks and personal protective equipment for first responders and others on the front lines during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with $300,000 contributed thus far.
The hall of fame has, at Sklar’s last count, more than 11,000 of the figurines, and 7,000 are on display at any one time.
“Most people come to the museum thinking we’re going so see a bunch of sports bobbleheads,” Sklar said, but 30 percent of those on display aren’t sports but an amalgam of other genres — “everything from animals to political, religious, movies.”
Bobbleheads are mailed to the museum daily. Some are already in the museum’s holdings, but some are not and are cataloged, indexed and spruced up for display. Some are relatively rare. Sklar said the typical rare bobblehead might have been a small batch commissioned by a minor league baseball team as a game-night giveaway to honor a current or former player.
Since Christmas is indeed drawing nigh, the question remains of how fast an order can be shipped. “We have the best-in-class fulfillment center in Milwaukee,” Sklar said. “Order today, ship tomorrow. Either they ship the same day or the next day. There’s lots of little elves getting orders out.”