After the Kyrie Irving bobblehead craze that swept the Q this Cavs’ season — the limited edition Uncle Drew doll has been fetching upwards of $500 on eBay — the Indians are following up with an impressive roster.
This year, it’s Albert Belle and Omar Vizquel.
Jason Kidik, the Indians manager of promotions says that every bobblehead you get at Progressive Field is a collector’s item:
“Our giveaways are already ‘limited edition,’” he wrote in an email. “They are each unique to the Indians and progressive field.”
When you see the first 10,000 fans caveat on your ticket stub or coupon pamphlet, it’s because that’s close to the total number they have on hand. Kidik said that they tend to keep some for corporate partners and ‘historical record,’ but that the team’s orders are extremely close to final giveaway quantity. It’s not like there’s a warehouse of extra bobbleheads out in Strongsville.
Kidik said that it’s roughly an 8-month process from conception to delivery. After budget approval, the bobblehead order is placed with the vendor. The Indians work with a company called BDA, a merchandise consultancy out in Washington State, and they coordinate the design of the plastic figurines at a workshop outside Seattle.
The conceptual art design process can take up to two months. Spec models are created and revised. The sample mold is constructed and reviewed for accuracy in body shape, facial expression, pose, etc.
At that point, the corporate partner gets to sign off. Medical Mutual and KeyBank are the sponsors this year, and they get a say. It’s easy to think that the corporate logo at the statuette’s base somehow cheapens or delegitimizes it as a collector’s item, but these are limited edition folks. After the final art signoff, the bobbleheads are mass manufactured and packaged in China.
They’re shipped by sea to Seattle and then conveyed by truck or train to Cleveland 10-14 days before gameday.
Albert Belle and Omar Vizquel were legends of the 90s, and the Indians promotions folks are just as thrilled to be memorializing them as fans are to be selling them on the internet.