ALPHARETTA — It’s a safe bet that Camilla native Warren Royal never thought he’d set a record for the biggest bobblehead figure. After all, he hadn’t expected to make his livelihood creating the animated figures.
“I never thought this would ever be like a business,” Royal said Friday shortly after he returned home from Orlando, Fla., where the record was confirmed by representatives of the Guinness World Records, which publishes the Guinness Book of World Records.
“It’s more fun than I ever thought it could be.”
The record-breaking figure was a functioning bobblehead model of a St. Bernard dog named Goldie. Its height was measured at 15 feet, 4 3/4 inches tall, breaking the Game Show Channel’s former record holder — a 13-foot-tall bobblehead likeness of game show host Chuck Woolery, the original host of “Wheel of Fortune.”
Royal’s company, Bobbleheads.com, is based in Atlanta. In business since 2008, it sold more than 85,000 figures in 2014. Bobbleheads.com focuses on creating bobbleheads of historical, pop culture, entertainment and political figures, including Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. It also creates customized figures for both commercial clients and for individual customers.
“We’d been working on this (project) for months,” Royal said. “It was hard work. But I was telling everybody it has to be hard when you’re setting a world record.”
Why a giant St. Bernard? Simple. A client wanted it.
Royal said his company recently signed Applied Underwriters, a workers comp insurance provider based in San Francisco, as a client. The company uses bobblehead figures as premium gifts for agents and clients and had Royal’s Bobbleheads.com come up with a revamped design of its mascot — Goldie, a St. Bernard — and produce it.
The name comes from Applied Underwriters’ initials, AU, which also is the symbol for gold on the periodic table. The company’s marketing shows giant versions of Goldie at locations such as the Golden Gate Bridge.
“He (Goldie) is always huge, larger than like,” Royal said.
The insurer is a Berkshire-Hathaway company and was looking for a way to get into the parent company’s trade show this year. Officials were told they needed to “go big” to generate interest and get into the show.
Applied Underwriters officials took the advice literally.
“They came up with this great idea,” Royal said. “Take Goldie their mascot and make a giant bobblehead. Oh, and why not do a world record while we’re at it?”
Royal said his company was able to take its computerized 3D design of the Goldie model and increase the scale. Then he located a high-quality prop company, Dino Rentos Studios in Orlando, that produces work for companies including Disney to physically create the piece.
The giant dog had to be a working bobblehead, which meant its head had to bob freely. A spring for a two-ton pickup truck was used to make the head move. At first, it didn’t move freely, but Royal said the crew learned that it would by shortening the spring.
“We just had to cut the spring down some,” he said. “It bobbles just perfectly.”
On Friday, a representative of Guinness World Records came to examine the figure. The height was measured and certified by a surveyor. Goldie passed muster and now officially is the world’s largest bobblehead.
“They don’t mess around,” Royal said. “If it’s not authentic, they won’t certify it.”
Royal said almost immediately after the record was confirmed, he was asked if he had plans to break the new record.
“I said it’s really the client’s record,” he said. “It’s their project and their record. It belongs to them. We’re not going to try to top our own client. We’re just going to sit back and enjoy this.”
Records, however, are made to be broken. Some of the requirements of the Guinness World Records is that for a record to be set, the record has to be measurable, repeatable and beatable.
“Give it a few years,” Royal said, “and maybe we’ll try it again.”
Meanwhile, he said, he’s enjoying a job that doesn’t feel like work.
“We’re just having fun,” he said.