When Stumptown Footy Managing Editor Zach Kay asked if anyone wanted to review a Timbers-themed bobblehead—in other words, if someone wanted to bring a weird-looking plastic doll into their home and examine it in detail—my answer was immediate:
Of course I do.
Let’s go over the basics. This is a sample in an upcoming line of retro-themed MLS bobbleheads made for the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame, a bobblehead purveyor and yet-to-open museum. There’s one for each MLS team and rather than modeling them after specific players, they’ve gone with a generic vintage look that harkens back to the days when men were men, the Cold War was raging, and soccer was still a fringe sport in the States.
I’ve decided to review my new friend based on three categories: authenticity, craftsmanship, and functionality.
At a first pass, this bobble boy is wearing what looks pretty faithful to a real Timbers kit. It’s got the crest, complete with miniature star, the Alaska Airlines logo, and, impressively, the Portland flag jock tag. The MLS logo appears on each shoulder, with the crossed axes on the back of the neck.
The only thing missing from the shirt is the Adidas logo on the right breast—along with the trademarked triple shoulder stripe. I’d assume that’s because the manufacturer couldn’t get permission from Adidas. Except, for some reason, the three stripes do appear on the bobblehead’s shorts and socks. Curiously, the right sock, but not the left one, reads “Timbers” in tiny letters.
Color- and texture-wise, the uniform is a little off. I don’t have a 2017 kit in front of me, but based on photographic evidence, the bobblehead’s kit is closer to olive than the real one, which has a somewhat bluer tint—perhaps the manufacturer thought that shade of green looked more “vintage,” like a sepia-tinted photo? The front of the shirt also has a bunch of horizontal lines etched into it, perhaps to try to emulate the plaid texture of the real kit, but it doesn’t really work.
This is the weirdest part of the uniform: on the back, right above the crossed-axes emblem, there’s an absolutely minuscule line of gold text. It’s f**king tiny. Like, probably about a quarter of a millimeter in height. When I first looked at the doll, it was dark outside, and I couldn’t even tell for sure by the light in my kitchen that it was text at all and not just a random yellow smudge.
Alas, text it is, and as far as I can tell, it reads, “There’s a party in Portland - No one is sleeping tonight”. The real kit has those words on the inside of the collar.
If this is an attempt at an extra layer of authenticity, it’s a misguided one. For one, those words aren’t even visible when a player wears the actual uniform. For another, it’s so god damned small I’m not even sure that’s what it says. Finally, although we all know those words as a line from a beloved Timbers Army chant, the words “no one is sleeping tonight” start to take on a new, sinister tone applied to a normally-out-of-sight surface of what is—and I think it’s time to acknowledge what we’re all thinking—a fairly creepy-looking doll.
The bobblehead has, at his feet (clad in vaguely old-timey-looking boots), a lazy facsimile of an MLS ball with a single x-shaped American flag decal applied to the ball’s outside-facing side, alongside the MLS crest.
This is where I feel our boy starts to fall a little short. No pun intended there; it is, in fact, an almost upsettingly large collectible toy. Here’s the doll with a banana for scale:
The doll’s construction, unfortunately, leaves something to be desired. For being so big, it’s surprisingly light. I’d estimate it weighs roughly the same as my equally-collectible Wesley Matthews bobblehead, despite being bigger in all dimensions.
The paint job is fine, for the most part, but gets a little sloppy around the eyes. As you can see in the photo above, if you look closely, the bobblehead’s pupils bleed slightly onto his face, giving the impression that despite his boyish smile, he’s filled with a long-suppressed, barely-contained rage.
The other slightly off feature of the eyes is that the little white dots representing reflected light on the irises are painted on the opposite side of each eye, which is simply not how light works.
The skin seems to have been painted in multiple layers, with a sprayed-on brown color applied on top of the lighter base color. Around the arms, this was done unevenly, looking like a spray tan that’s beginning to rub off. On the face, the coloration is well-applied, but the resulting skin tone—and unfortunately, none of these photos quite capture how it looks in person—is a faintly grayish-yellowish one. I suspect this is also another attempt at making the doll look “vintage,” but it can really only be described as “sallow.”
Okay, enough about looks. Time to take this baby for a test bobble:
As you can see, a gentle bobble works just fine, but anything firmer reveals an issue with the doll’s construction: the body is too light, relative to the head, leading to a precarious full-body wobble.
If, in spite of yourself, you find this wobbly lad endearing and cute rather than faintly menacing and/or possibly cursed, you can buy one for yourself direct from the Hall of Fame for $25. While you’re there, you can also pick up this limited-edition depiction of Jordan Morris about to swallow the MLS Cup whole: