Deely bobber

novelty headband

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A woman wearing a deely bobber

A deely bobber (also deeley bobber, or deeley bopper)[1] is a novelty item of headgear comprising a headband to which are affixed two springy protrusions resembling the antennae of insects[1] or of stereotypical little green men. These "antennae" may be topped with simple plastic shapes or more elaborate and fanciful decorations, such as mini pom poms or light-emitting diodes. The name "deely bobber" is a genericized trademark;[2] other names include deely-boppers,[3] bonce boppers, or space boppers. In June 1982, a headline The New York Times called them Martian antennae.[4] A colloquial term used in Norfolk, England is Bibbly Bopps.


Stephen Askin invented the original deely bobber in 1981, inspired by the "Killer Bees" costumes on Saturday Night Live.[5] Askin was a serial entrepreneur who had sold dartboards depicting Ayatollah Khomeini during the Iran hostage crisis of 1980.[6] Askin made prototype Deely Bobbers in his kitchen and test-marketed them at the Los Angeles Street Fair of summer 1981, selling 800 at $5 each.[6] He sold the invention to the Ace Novelty Co. of Bellevue, Washington, which launched it in January 1982 at the California Gift Fair.[5][6] The name "Deely Bobber" was suggested by the wife of John Minkove, an Ace marketer; it had been her schoolfriend's placeholder name for "thingamajig".[5] It was previously a brand of toy block sold 1969–1973.[2] Deely bobbers began retailing in April 1982 at US$3.[5] They quickly became a fad in the United States,[7] before reaching the United Kingdom in July. At the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee, 10,000 a day were sold;[6] total sales by August were estimated at 2 million,[1] with Askin getting 5% of the wholesale price.[6] Imitations costing $1–2 undercut the original,[5] though Askin applied for a patent.[6] The original decorations for the antennae were polystyrene shapes covered in sparkles: spheres, stars, hearts.[5][6] Flashing lights were added to cash in on the hit movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,[6] with seasonal themes for later holidays.[6]


  1. ^ a b c "Hard-Times Baubles". Time. August 9, 1982.
  2. ^ a b "Deely-bobber" Online Etymology Dictionary, Douglas Harper
  3. ^ Ayto, John (2002). Twentieth century words. Oxford University Press. p. 531. ISBN 0-19-860230-8.
  4. ^ Alexander, Ron (June 7, 1982). "A new fad invades: Martian antennae". The New York Times. pp. B11. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "It's the umbrella that fits on your head". The Tuscaloosa News. Associated Press. July 2, 1982. p. 12. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Lester, Peter (July 26, 1982). "They're Called Deely Bobbers and They Mean $$ for Gizmo King Stephen Askin". People. 8 (4).
  7. ^ Barry, John (August 2, 1982). "Computer concocts hyphenation". InfoWorld. 4 (30): 34. 'deely bopper' (those springy cranial antennae tat are taking the country by storm)
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