From holiday suits to superheroes, Sharks bobblehead series continues creative legacy By LachInTheCrease

If there’s one thing that sets the San Jose Sharks game experience apart from the rest of the National Hockey League, it’s their arena promotions. Every summer, the Sharks announce a number of promotional nights on their schedule, with giveaways ranging from replica jerseys to posters — even a Chia Pet in the shape of Joe Thornton’s head.

But there’s one kind of promotion that the Sharks fanbase always looks forward to more than any other: the bobbleheads.

The Sharks have been doing bobblehead nights for years, and today the figures make up the majority of their promotional schedule. With so many miniature versions of players, coaches and even celebrity fans, the bobbleheads have developed a small fanbase of their own, with many Sharks fans highlighting those games on their calendars when they make their ticket choices each year.

With so many bobblehead giveaways every season, the Sharks are expected to up their creativity every season. In 2017, the team partnered with Franklin Group, a promotional products company based out of New York, to help create the next line of collectibles for both the Sharks and the Barracuda.

When I sat down with Daria Fox, Franklin Group’s Chief Marketing Officer, in mid-November she came equipped with three of the 11 bobbleheads the Sharks will showcase in 2018-19, and was able to take me through the process on how these collectors items are brought to life each year.

From Concept to the Bay

The bobblehead process starts in the Sharks marketing department, where the team decides on the concepts, styles and players they want to showcase. Once the ideas and promotion dates have been finalized, the concepts are sent off to Franklin’s main offices in Brooklyn for production.

Franklin begins the design phase using a collection of player photos to create a computerized 3D rendering of the bobblehead. This digital prototype is then sent back to San Jose to be approved by both the team and the individual player, who can request changes to the design such as a different hair style or facial expression.

Once everyone is happy with the design, a clay mold of the bobblehead is made and painted, so Franklin can double-check the finer details that only a physical model can show. After the models are given the approval for mass production, a plastic mold is sent overseas to create the final product.

But the most interesting part of the process might be the painting. Each of the 17,000+ bobbles that arrive at the SAP Center for game night are painted by hand, making each collectors item one-of-a-kind. According to Fox, an entire project takes about 60 days to go from an idea to ready for shipment, most of which is taken up by the delicate painting process.