Sunday, 29 December 2019

Corporate Partnerships Produce Collectible Payoffs - (Volume 1 Additions)

The CFL engages in partnerships with a vast number of advertising and sponsor organizations across a wide range of activities associated with the game, hundreds of corporate products being marketed in conjunction with the league, and corporate community support for Canadian sporting traditions. Luckily for collectors of Canadian football material, these arrangements often result in tangible memorabilia items that are nice unusual acquisitions and are normally fairly limited in distribution. 



2007 Reebok What's Your Colour? 5" X 7" Ricky Ray Autograph Card, front & back


Beginning in either 2003 or 2004 Reebok became the league's official uniform outfitter partner and began producing some marketing display material for use in team stores and athletic shops across Canada. The first of these campaigns that we will examine here was titled What's Your Colour? from 2007 and featured one player from each of the then eight franchises.

Henry Burris (CAL), Ricky Ray (EDM), Matt Dominguez (SSK), Milt Stegall (WPG), Dave Dickenson (BC), Jessie Lumsden (HAM), Anthony Parker (TOR) and Anthony Calvillo (MON) were pictured on two-toned posters and autograph cards.  A colour poster of the group composition was also produced and can be seen in this earlier post.



2007 Reebok What's Your Colour? (unknown size) Henry Burris Display Poster &
 Matt Dominguez and Jessie Lumsden 5" X 7" Autograph Cards, fronts


The following season the slogan became "Your Move, Play by your own rules" and once again large posters and small autograph cards were produced, presumably the autograph cards were occasionally made available at team events where the players were participating. 

Interestingly the Montreal cards are in French and more than one Alouette is known to exist so the total number of players that had items issued in the promotion is unknown. Also curious is the interchangeable usages of either the older (more basic) or the newer (more complex) Pro Players CFL Players Association logos on the items. 



2008 Reebok Your Move 18 1/2" X 26 1/2" Ricky Ray Display Poster &
 Jeremy O'Day, Anwar Stewart and Anthony Calvillo 5" X 7" Autograph Cards, fronts


Some of these marketing ideas overlapped seasons so starting in 2008 and extending into 2009 the "This Is Our League" branding was used. The Stampeder image below is an actual poster so presumably these would have been produced as well for each team as digital advertising featuring other players is known, but no small autograph cards from this season have surfaced.



2009 Reebok This Is Our League (unknown size) Henry Burris and Wes Lysack Display Poster &
 Paris Jackson and Doug Brown digital advertising images


Various other posters and life sized cardboard player standups with the tagline "The Authentic Outfitter" were also produced around this same time period. In 2010 the "Reeinspire", "Reedefine", "Reediscover" competition pitted 16 CFL player's motivational stories against each other via online fan elimination voting.

John Cornish eventually won the final vote versus Darian Durant (whose hard backed poster can be seen at the same earlier post link noted above). Exactly how many of these 16 players were issued as the Reediscover large format posters is not known. 




Late 2000's Reebok The Authentic Outfitter (unknown size) Weston Dressler Standup &
 2010 Reebok Reediscover (unknown size) Jeremy O'Day Standup sized Hard Backed Poster


Besides Cornish (CAL), Durant & O'Day (SSK) other players known to have been part of the promotion were Wes Lysack (CAL), Casey Printers & Anton McKenzie (BC), Ian Logan & Fred Reid (WPG),  Patrick Kabongo & Ricky Ray (EDM), Andre Durie (TOR), Marwan Hage (HAM) and Anthony Calvillo (MON). Three additional players, one each from the last three teams also participated.

The old Reebok CFL site at www.reebokfootball.ca now redirects to somebody's personal non-football blog so the digital history of these sorts of activities is fleeting, here one day and gone the next. 



2014 Reebok CFL Signature Alouettes, Argonauts & Redblacks Digital Artwork


Fast forwards to 2014 and the "CFL Signature Uniform" campaign produced digital artwork to promote the new jersey designs. There is no indication that any actual physical memorabilia was produced for that season but because information on the web is so impermanent it actually makes some sense to "collect" these sorts of images while they are still available in order to preserve this history.

Adidas took over as official CFL outfitter for 2016, 2017 & 2018 and New Era did the same for 2019 and going into 2020.  Probably their digital marketing artifacts are still out there on the internet for some indeterminable period of time.



2016 Shaw (5" X 7") Mike Reilly & Ricky Ray Autograph Cards  


Another of the current partners of the CFL is Shaw Communications based in Calgary who in 2015 became the presenting sponsor of the Grey Cup. Because of the overwhelming trend towards digital and away from physically printed ephemera, it was a pleasant surprise to discover the Team Shaw autograph cards on ebay a few years ago.

The cards were distributed at the Grey Cup festival venue Shaw corporate booth (or tent) which was set up like a simulated locker room. Each of seven different players had scheduled signing windows in the days leading up to the championship game.  



Manny Arceneaux shown signing his
2016 Shaw (5" X 7") Emmanuel Arceneaux Autograph Card 


Players from the two teams playing in the Grey Cup (Calgary & Ottawa for 2016) were not a part of the promotion as they were obviously occupied with preparation for the game. I am only aware of the three cards shown, so that means four more were produced for Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, Montreal and Hamilton.



2019 Shaw (5" X 7") Bo Levi Mitchell Autograph Card, front and back


For the 2019 Grey Cup player caricature cards were made available at the Grey Cup festival in the same manner. From what I could tell only maybe a few hundred of these cards were produced for use during the lead up to the game so unless you are in the Grey Cup city at the right time these are not easy to come by.



2019 Shaw (5" X 7") S.J. Green & Henoc Muamba Autograph Cards


The players on Team Shaw for 2019 besides Mitchell included S.J. Green (TOR), Henoc Muamba (MON), Mike Reilly (BC), Trevor Harris (EDM), Manny Arceneaux (SSK) and Brad Sinopoli (OTT).



2019 Team Shaw simulated locker room at the Shaw tent at the Grey Cup Festival
(with New Era jerseys) 


Whether this promotion only began in 2016 and was also run in 2017 and 2018 is not known, but it seems pretty likely that it probably was so there could very well be another 14 different cards out there distributed in Ottawa in 2017 and Edmonton in 2018.

Since Winnipeg and Hamilton were contesting the 2019 Grey Cup neither Andrew Harris nor Luke Tasker were signing autograph cards at the tent. But they did have caricature illustrations prepared for them so who knows whether or not Shaw might have had cards printed for promotional distribution in each of their own team cities.



2019 Team Shaw informational display regarding Brad Sinopoli's signing schedule &
player caricatures of Andrew Harris and Luke Tasker


As this post illustrates paying attention to who the CFL is partnered with and monitoring their promotional activities can pay dividends for CFL collectors who are looking for obscure, unusual and odd-ball material to augment their collections. Thanks to Mike Smith-Knutsen and Warren Welte for a couple of the images used above.





Friday, 29 November 2019

Canadian Football in Atlantic Canada

There is a lot of interest in the current efforts to (once again) try to get a CFL team up and running in Atlantic Canada, and for the most part it is probably thought that there is no appreciable history of the sport in the region. But a look at some of the memorabilia that exists related to teams from the maritime provinces will show that during some time periods there was (and still is) plenty of Canadian football activity going on, just not at the professional level.

Below are two (of many known examples) of organized football teams playing for educational institutions from the east coast during the early decades of the 20th century. The Mount Allison team is probably high-school equivalent at the time. The Acadia card indicates that the team was the Intercollegiate and Eastern Canadian Champions.


1907 Mount Allison Academy Football Team Postcard &
1913 Acadia Football Team Championship Postcard


Now as far as I know the standardized historical timeline of Canadian Football does not make any reference to teams or competitions from the Atlantic regions at all during this time period. The logical presumption would then be to consider these British Rugby football teams, and that is likely how their history has been recorded (if it has been recorded at all).

But note that in both images the players are wearing heavily padded portions of their uniforms, and strictly speaking British Rugby players did not, nor still do not, wear padded uniforms. It seems reasonable to suppose that this might have been an example of the incremental modifications to the original game of British Rugby, that collectively over time would eventually result in the different sport of Canadian Football in the provinces further to the west.           



Two circa 1907 Postcards showing football matches at Mount Allison
in Sackville, New Brunswick 


The two cards above show teams in action on the field in New Brunswick and while that is obviously a rugby scrum on the postcard on the left, it is important to note that as late as 1905 teams in the Quebec Rugby Football Union and the main Canadian Intercollegiate Rugby Football Union (of Quebec & Ontario) were still not using Burnside Rules either.

That is to say they had 14 men per side on the field and were heeling the ball back into play as per British Rugby. Yet those teams and unions are clearly delineated as some of the historical antecedents of Canadian Football. Just a couple of years later the first Grey Cup game would still look an awful lot like British Rugby to a modern observer's eyes.

Apparently the game (whichever flavor it was) was suspended after World War I until municipalities in the Atlantic provinces became stations for World War II activity. Armed forces personnel with Canadian Football experience meant that service teams were formed to boost morale and that included the 1944 Halifax Navy Stadacona team.  They lost in the semi-finals of the All-Navy Championship to the eventual Grey Cup winning Montreal St. Hyacinthe-Donnacona Navy team.   



Sports Weekly Newspaper sections, Volumes III & V, 1950


After the end of the war Canadian Football experienced a mini-explosion in popularity in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Numerous leagues and teams were formed and competed at the service, intercollegiate, junior and intermediate levels with play between teams at different tiers being commonplace.



1959 & 1960 football programs featuring the University of New Brunswick
versus regional civic and military teams 


The Dartmouth Air Station team was renamed the Shearwater Flyers and became the first team from Atlantic Canada to win a national title. The 1957 team representing the Maritime Football Union won the Canadian Rugby Union Intermediate Championship by defeating the Fort William Redskins 27-21. The team would continue playing until 1967.



Shearwater Flyers Team Photo. year uncertain


From 1965 the Atlantic University Football Conference (actually officially known by many different names over many seasons) was restricted to just educational institutions. Only four of these teams are still actively playing football, but at one point in time or another, besides the New Brunswick Red Bombers the Cape Breton Capers, Dalhousie Tigers and Prince Edward Island Panthers fielded Canadian football squads.

If you want to read the most comprehensive outline of the history of Canadian University football teams that exists anywhere, check out this link.



1966 Acadia Axemen versus St. Francis Xavier Program (with CFL Logo?) &
1988 Vanier Cup Program featuring the Calgary Dinos and the Saint Mary's Huskies


St. Francis Xavier would become the first Atlantic team to win the Vanier Cup (Canadian College Championship) in 1966 in the national competition's second year of existence. St. F.X. would only appear in one other Vanier cup losing in 1996. The Saint Mary's Huskies are the most successful of the Atlantic University teams with a 3-6 Vanier Cup record. The Acadia Axemen are 2-2 and the Mount Allison Mounties are the only winless team at 0-2.



Atlantic Schooner Helmet Decals

 
In 1982 a conditional CFL expansion franchise was granted and the team was officially named the Atlantic Schooners. Unfortunately funding for the required stadium was never approved and the franchise application was withdrawn in 1983.

Subsequently two exhibition games were held in St. John, New Brunswick in 1986 and 1987 but I have been unable to locate any programs or ephemera relating to those games No doubt if any was produced it is quite rare today. Atlantic Schooner items are also quite rare and in fact items such as the helmet decals shown above were probably privately produced as the team never began actual operations.     



Early 1990s Canadian University Team Helmet Folder &
modern cheer gear for two of the Atlantic University teams


Of course items related to the four remaining football teams from Atlantic area Canadian Universities continue to be produced and have been for more than fifty seasons. Additionally a number of amateur leagues currently operate teams for players after high school or junior colleges in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

Some twenty years after the last flirtation with a CFL franchise in the region, the CFL returned to Atlantic Canada with an exhibition game designated Touchdown Atlantic in 2005. They would follow these up with regular season games in 2010, 2011 & 2013.  A few relatively hard to come by memorabilia items were produced for these events.


 
2005 Touchdown Atlantic Pin & 2010 Spirit of Edmonton Touchdown Atlantic Pin

Shown above are two of the pins produced to commemorate the Touchdown Atlantic series of games. These images are courtesy of Scott McLeod's fabulous CFL pin blog which every CFL collector should become acquainted with here. You will also find a large selection of Schooner pins on his site.

So now it is 2019, a fifth Touchdown Atlantic game was played in Moncton and a new group of businessmen want to bring the Atlantic Schooners to reality and add a tenth franchise to the CFL. They seem well organized and have the support of the league but face the same primary stumbling block of having no suitable existing stadium. Unfortunately there appears to be little appetite on the parts of regional governments to provide the fairly significant public funds required to build one.

Until that obstacle is surmounted, Atlantic Canada will have to be content with their not insubstantial Canadian football history as it is.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Scrapbook Scrimmage - (Volume 2 Additions)

When preparing both Collecting Canadian Football Volumes a decision had to be made as to what characteristics a set of program inserts should exhibit in order to be catalogued as a distinct separate collectible group. The general rule I adopted was that the inserts had to be printed on some sort of different paper stock than that used for the rest of the regular program pages (regardless of whether or not the items were perforated).

Using this guideline for sets on pages bound into the game programs (in some set cases loose items were inserted into the programs as well), the classic late fifties to mid sixties team specific issues of the B.C. Lions, the Edmonton Eskimos and the Montreal Alouettes were detailed in CCF V2.   



October 1st, 1960 Winnipeg Blue Bombers program with dedicated player pictures 


But sometimes there are borderline situations, case in point in 1960 the Winnipeg Blue Bombers printed a set of 4 pictures in every program intended for fans (HEY FELLAS!) to cut out and paste into their Hudson's Bay Quarterback Club Scrap Book. These pictures were printed on regular program stock and were not perforated but printed perforation lines were provided to aid the collector in cutting out the action shots.

As far as I know no copies of the stated HBC QB Club specific scrap book have surfaced yet, but they must have been specially produced and marked as such. No doubt there are some few surviving copies sitting undetected somewhere in attics and basements in Winnipeg or surrounding small town Manitoba.



August 18th, 1960 & October 24th, 1960
Winnipeg Blue Bombers programs with dedicated player pictures


August 18th was the first regular season Bomber home game in 1960, meaning the first set of pictures would likely have been printed in the August 4th pre-season game. October 24th was the last regular season Bomber home game in 1960, meaning the set is probably complete at 36 pictures. Although there were two subsequent home playoff games in Winnipeg so the number could be larger, however these types of promotions normally did not extend through the playoffs.



1953 Hudson's Bay Company Blue Bomber Junior Quarterback Club Cloth Patch
& 1965 Hudson's Bay Company Blue Bomber Touchdown Club Pinback


The Hudson's Bay Company had a long history of supporting the Bombers by sponsoring various fan clubs well before and well after the 1960 scrapbook was produced.

The following season the Bomber programs included one full page sized Player Of The Game picture in each program. These were not particularly designated to be removed by fans but from the perspective of making collector's aware of material featuring specific players, they should be listed when each game program is catalogued separately. Assuming the day ever arrives where a CCF Volume dedicated to Publications and Ephemera materializes.



August 24th, 1961 Winnipeg Blue Bombers program with dedicated player picture 


After putting out loose photo program insert sets in 1959 and 1960, and perforated program insert sets in 1961 and 1962 the B.C. Lions also went the route of just printing the pictures directly in the program on the same paper stock in 1963. They would return to program inserts on different stock in 1964 and 1965, but for the 1963 season if the fans wanted individual pictures they had to cut them out themselves, without the benefit of printed perforated cut lines even.



September 30th, 1963 B.C. Lions program with dedicated player pictures 


According to B.C. Lions memorabilia expert John Wirtanen kids all over the lower mainland were cutting out these 1963 pictures and pasting them to their bedroom walls and into (generic) scrap books. After four seasons of plenty of available inserts, they were probably conditioned to expect more. It is not uncommon to see old 1963 B.C. programs rendered pretty undesirable because the pictures have been removed. 



August 12th, 1963 & October 19th, 1963 
B.C. Lions programs with dedicated player pictures


The Lion's fan clubs were sponsored by Woodward's for many years and you can see a selection of their QB Club related ephemera in this earlier blog post.


Now of course individual player images in Canadian Football programs date to at least as far back as the very first programs that were being issued in the first decade of the 20th century. Notably those very early programs are so hard to come by that determining what their total seasonal player picture content was is not really achievable.

Team programs would generally feature head or posed action shots of their own players and eventually included a handful of that evening's opponents most dangerous stars. Going back a decade to 1953 we see some examples of these types of in stadium full length pictures from Calgary.



September 5th, 1953 Calgary Stampeders program with dedicated player pictures


These images were sourced from the team's own media photos, that were also usually distributed to newspapers in town and in the other league cities, as well as to the other league teams. That way the other cities had access to promote the upcoming games in the papers with opponents pictures as well as in their own programs.

Since not all media photos from those eras are known to have survived, the presence of the pictures in the printed material is very useful to compile accurate information on what images did exist at one time in the past. Sometimes you are lucky enough to acquire the exact media photos that were used, as was the case below.



September 12th, 1953 Calgary Stampeders program with dedicated player pictures, 
and the original media photo of John Henry Johnson used for the picture 


I would like to point out how the increased clarity of the actual original photograph of John Henry Johnson allows you to really appreciate the imposing grandeur of Calgary's Mewata Stadium in the background. Yes, Calgary's civic leaders were complete ignoramuses with regards to funding half-decent sports facilities for the people that pay the municipal tax bill 70 years ago too.

Some fan clubs in Calgary were sponsored by the Hudson's Bay Company at least in the first half of the fifties, but apparently for a shorter period of time than other department stores in other CFL cities.



Early Fifties Hudson's Bay Company Stampeder Junior Quarterback Club Cloth Patch
& 1954 Stampeder Quarterback Club Pinback



Going back further to just after the end of WWII in 1945, we see that Ottawa was providing plenty of on-field posed action shots in their programs from their first season being re-constituted after the war. Check out the funky reverse direction Ottawa Rough Rider logo too.
 


1945 Ottawa Rough Riders program with dedicated player pictures


As catalogued in CCF V2 in 1939 the Rough Riders produced a set of perforated player cards attached within a postcard sized card stock envelope. The following 1940 season they seem to have combined the player perforated card idea within a similar envelope, but this time with sponsor advertising and it was designated as the official programme.

Perhaps wartime material rationing was responsible for combining the two products into one. Separate 1939 Rough Rider programs exist, I am unsure if separate 1940 programs exist. But very likely these are absolutely the very first program insert cards to have been issued for Canadian football.       



1940 Ottawa Rough Riders program with dedicated player pictures



If you compare the image of Pete Kaluski below with that from 5 years later at bottom left from the 1945 program above, it is apparent that the Rough Riders probably refreshed their media photos at least every few seasons. Ottawa tended to place a lot of player pictures in their programs. In 1939 different players appeared on either side of the cards, that is probably the case for 1940 as well.






It is not known whether any department stores produced memorabilia that helped drive football interests with Ottawa fans during this time period.


Thanks to Mike Smith-Knutsen and John Henderson for scans and pics of some of the items displayed in this post.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

35 Years of Schenley Supremacy

In 1953 a new era of official recognition for the most outstanding players in all of Canadian Football was introduced sponsored by the Schenley Distillers Company. These awards spanned what were then two independent leagues, the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union (or Big Four) from the East and the Western Interprovincial Football Union from the West. Over the course of the next five years the leagues would amalgamate to become the CFL.

Initially there were three award categories, Most Outstanding Player, Most Outstanding Canadian and Most Outstanding Lineman. The first Most Outstanding Player winner was the Eskimos Billy Vessels and the dated tie clip shown below was probably produced to commemorate the event. 



Edmonton Eskimo Billy Vessels MOP award acceptance photo from 1953 with tie clip &
Montreal Alouette Sam Etcheverry MOP award acceptance photo from 1955


Both leagues had their own individual Most Valuable Player awards (the Jeff Nicklin Memorial Trophy in the West since 1946 & the Jeff Russel Memorial Trophy in the East since 1928). While the winners of these trophy's would normally be the team nominees for the national Schenley honours, this was not always the case (for example the MVP in the West for 1953 was the Calgary Stampeder John Henry Johnson who would go on to a HOF career in the NFL). The nomination process in the early years did not appear to be fully standardized and records show gaps for some team nominations before 1957.




Gold and Silver plated custom engraved metal platters from the Schenley ceremonies,
Late Fifties or Early Sixties
 



The Schenley awards ceremonies were high brow affairs with custom engraved serving platters ordered especially for the occasions.  While somewhat cumbersome to store or display these rarely seen platters still make for very interesting collectibles. Numerous examples from many different seasons exist. 




1962 Schenley MOP Finalist Montreal Alouette George Dixon (with back label) &
1962 Schenley MOL Finalist Hamilton Tiger-Cats John Barrow (with back label)



Collecting Canadian Football Volume I listed a set of 5" X 7" photographs featuring the six 1967 Schenley finalists, one from each conference for each of the three awards. The images were sourced  from the usual team issued photos from the era but came with paper labels on the backs and were probably distributed at the awards ceremony. 

The images above confirm that these photo sets were issued from at least 1962, besides Dixon and Barrow (who both won their respective awards) there would also have been items produced for Stampeder Harvey Wylie (MOC winner), Eskimo Tommy Joe Coffey (MOP runner-up), Rough Rider Russ Jackson (MOC runner-up) and Stampeder Wayne Harris (MOL runner-up). Thanks to Bob Penner via Ab D Cards for the 1962 photos.   





1960 Schenley Awards Ornate Bronze Pen Holder with Pen &
1964 Schenley Awards Pinback



As you might expect a variety of memorabilia novelties and souvenirs associated with the awards were manufactured over the years.  Some were quite substantial and probably cost a considerable amount to produce and others were less so although most are attractive and desirable.

In 1972 the Most Outstanding Rookie award was added and in 1974 the Most Outstanding Lineman award was split into Most Outstanding Defensive Player and Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman bringing the total of major awards handed out each season to five.




Schenley Awards Brochure (Unknown Year) &
1964 The Stampeders Story Magazine
 



Naturally publications from or about the awards are the most prevalent memorabilia that you will normally encounter while searching for Schenley themed material. Most years some sort of booklet or brochure was likely prepared for the event.

While the late fifties / early sixties Stampeders had no Grey Cup success their eventual Hall of Fame laden roster did haul in a significant number of individual Schenley awards. A rare colour picture of a trophy was featured along with three recent Schenley winners on the now fairly difficult to find Stampeder Story team history magazine.   




1972 20th Anniversary Schenley Awards Bronze Coin &
Schenley Awards Cloth Patch (Unknown Year), 1977 25th Anniversary Schenley Awards Pin  



One of the better known, sharp looking and relatively easy to acquire Schenley commemoratives was the 20th Anniversary bronze coin that has been catalogued in the one day to be completed Collecting Canadian Football Volume III.  Other collectible pieces from the later period of the awards are fairly commonplace and make for interesting additions to a CFL collection.




1977 25th Anniversary Schenley Awards Booklet &
1982 30th Anniversary Schenley Awards Booklet


As the years of Schenley sponsorship stretched into decades several retrospective booklets were published. These are chock full of content on the greatest players of all-time in Canadian Football League history. The large colour image on the second booklet highlights what attractively designed trophies the Schenley Awards were. 




Stampeder Willie Burden MOP award acceptance photo from 1975 &
B.C. Lions Mervyn Fernandez MOP award acceptance photo from 1985


At ceremony B&W award acceptance photos (as opposed to pre-ceremony prepared photos) probably exist for most seasons from 1953 through the late seventies. Colour images of players accepting their awards are probably few and far between and limited to the last few seasons that Schenley lent their name to the trophies.




1983 Schenley Awards Booklet &
1985 Schenley Awards Booklet


More ephemera is available from the last few seasons of the Schenley's, such as the small booklets shown above. A rare colour collectible from the awards shown below is probably a one-off display piece used at the event. It came up on Ebay a few years ago and the photos of the nominees appear to be individually cut and pasted onto the cardboard backing piece. 




1986 Schenley Awards Eastern Nominees Display Board


After three and a half decades the Schenley sponsorship of the Most Outstanding Awards came to an end with the 1987 class. A remarkable run of cooperation between the league and their advertising partner annually showcasing the absolute best of player on-field performances.

As shown below Tom Clements (winner) went up against Brian Kelly (runner-up) in the final Schenley MOP award battle. Presumably four more sheets were produced with the 8 finalists for the four other major awards as well.



1987 MOP Finalist Photo from the last Schenley Awards  


The Most Outstanding awards would continue on after Schenley ceased to support the promotion (sometimes sponsored by other corporations and sometimes not), but the glory days of the iconic golden trophies that largely coincided with the glory days of the league were over.


Friday, 30 August 2019

Modern Bobbles

Most vintage CFL memorabilia collectors are familiar with the ceramic bobblehead figures issued in the early sixties in a bewildering array of styles that are yet to be properly evaluated, categorized and catalogued (one day...). Newer versions (probably unlicensed) were created in the seventies and near the turn of the last century generic CFL player resin bobbleheads were produced.

Starting in the 2000's CFL teams began to issue custom bobbleheads to honour a specific individual and provide a sponsored promotional tool for distribution to fans. These were usually given away on game days or in the case of lesser produced versions made available at special team events. Collecting Canadian Football Volume II lists nineteen different team specific bobbleheads (mostly players) issued up to the end of 2012.



2016 B.C. Lions Adam Bighill bobblehead box &
2018 B.C. Lions GM/Coach Wally Buono bobblehead box


Since the publication of CCF V2 at least 27 new bobbleheads have been issued and in this digital age where you can order a bobblehead of yourself on demand, the trend shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Therefore this post will catch you up on the known new items.




2017 B.C. Lions Jonathon Jennings bobblehead &
2017 B.C. Lions Emmanuel Arceneaux bobblehead



B.C. Lions are by far the most active at issuing the more or less standard sized bobbleheads (somewhere around 6" to 8" high) with six distributed to fans on specific game days over the last couple of seasons. In addition to those shown above a Solomon Elimimian figure was also produced in 2016.

Unless you are highlighting the end of a glorious career (like Wally Buono's) then you run the risk that your current day players honored with a bobblehead might soon be playing for your rivals. In fact all of the players above (plus Elimimian) are still playing in 2019 but none are B.C. Lions anymore.




2016 Montreal Alouettes Anthony Calvillo bobblehead & 
2019 Montreal Alouettes John Bowman bobblehead game advertisement

Anthony Calvillo was honoured with his bobblehead for his career services to the Alouettes in 2016 and he became only the second player with two different bobbleheads, having had an earlier one issued in 2003 to commemorate the 2002 Grey Cup victory.

On September 21st of this year Alouette fans will be able to grab a career appreciation figure of long time defensive line standout John Bowman.




2008 Calgary Stampeders Henry Burris bobblehead specimen box &
2019 Calgary Stampeders Jon Cornish bobblehead box


In 2008 the Calgary Stampeders had planned to distribute a limited amount of Henry Burris bobbleheads as Burris was receiving his second of three consecutive President's Club ring awards. But Chinese manufacturing quality control had a long way to go back then, as reportedly the whole shipment had to be trashed for production problems and misspelled words on all the figures.

A very few reasonably OK figures were apparently salvaged with one showing up on ebay for $500 a few years back and while I would have liked to have it for my collection, I did not want it anywhere near that bad...

More recently the graphics for the new Jon Cornish bobblehead distributed at the August 17th Stampeder game are considerably more upscale.





2017 Toronto Argonauts Doug Flutie bobblehead & 
2019 Toronto Argonauts Derel Walker bobblehead


The Argonauts have been fairly active with commemorative bobbleheads issuing a Grey Cup MVP highlighting Doug Flutie bobblehead a couple of years ago, and a Derel Walker this season which is the players first with the team.

Damon Allen was the first player to have had more than one bobblehead when the Argonauts produced one in 2013 whereas his first was as a B.C. Lion. The Argonaut figure is about 2/3 the height of the B.C. one.




2019 B.C. Lions Mike Reilly bobblehead & 
2019 Edmonton Eskimos Trevor Harris bobblehead


The recent off season free agency carousel resulted in a lot of players changing teams and so what better way to introduce your prized new quarterback acquisitions than to have them immortalized in miniature three dimensional form.

Mike Reilly figures were handed out in B.C. (some Lions promotional products are only distributed to fans below a certain age, although I am not certain if this was one of those). Trevor Harris was available for direct purchase by Edmonton fans or in combination for donating a ticket to a member of the Canadian Armed Forces.



2007? Winnipeg Blue Bombers Doug Brown bobblehead & 
2019 University of Saskatchewan Huskies Coach Brian Towriss bobblehead


Winnipeg does not appear to have been very active at all in bobblehead production, although there was a Doug Brown figure made in the last decade that did not get listed in the CCF V2 catalogue. This was branded on the box as a Pro Players product which would lead one to believe that perhaps more were issued by the CFLPA players association marketing arm.

One of the more rarely produced CIS Canadian university football figures, issued this year is legendary University of Saskatchewan Huskies head coach Brian Towriss, available at the Huskies Sept. 14th home game.




2018 Saskatchewan Roughriders Mike McCullough bobblehead & 
2013 Saskatchewan Roughriders Ron Lancaster mini bobblehead


One would think that Saskatchewan would have lots of incentive to make bobbleheads to be snapped up by their fan base but the only one I have been able to document is the Mike McCullough which is labeled as a Roughrider Alumni Bobblehead on the box, again raising the possibility that more retired players would have been so commemorated.

Corby Distilleries produced a set of eight Roughrider mini bobbleheads in 2009,  catalogued in CCF V2, and they produced a new batch of eight for the 2013 Grey Cup year in Saskatchewan. Players included Lancaster, Reed, Ridgway, Schultz, O'Day, Davis, Greene and Makowsky.




2017 Ottawa Redblacks Big Joe mascot bobblehead &
Early 2010's Hamilton Tiger-Cats Stripes mascot bobblehead


Ottawa and Hamilton have not issued any player specific bobbleheads in the last eight years to my knowledge, but they have each produced a mascot figure as shown above.




2019 Hamilton Tiger-Cats retro bobblehead game advertisement
with image of an authentic early sixties CFL generic ceramic bobblehead


This upcoming November the Tiger-Cats are celebrating their 150th (!!!) anniversary by doing a promotional giveaway with retro bobbleheads bringing us back full circle to the original generic novelty items from almost 60 years ago.