HERO’S WELCOME: As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to intensify, millions around the world have rallied behind Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Unwavering in his stalwartness and his calls for direct talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Zelensky remains fearless in his quest for democracy.
Along with a surge in his social media followers, Zelensky has unintentionally spawned a cottage industry of merchandise just by being himself. Since Russian military tanks first rolled into Ukraine last week, images of him have been stamped on mugs, posters, sweatshirts and T-shirts imprinted with an image of him, the Ukrainian flag and “I need ammunition. Not a ride.” The latest edition is a bobblehead that has been unveiled by the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame.
Zelensky has reportedly escaped three assassination attempts since Russians invaded Ukraine last week. Looking to not only honor Zelensky’s heroism, but also help the people in Ukraine whose lives have been uprooted due to the Russian attacks, the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum is donating $5 from each Zelensky bobblehead to GlobalGiving’s Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund. Those funds will be provide humanitarian assistance to impacted communities in Ukraine and other regions. The $30 item is being sold on the museum’s online store.
Asked if he was wary that creating a bobblehead for the Ukrainian president could trivialize what is happening or be seen as insensitive, the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum’s cofounder and chief executive officer Phil Sklar said those things are always considered. In this case, the company was getting requests for a Zelensky bobblehead and executives saw other products with his likeness were becoming increasingly popular. “Bobbleheads are a great way to honor someone like President Zelensky, who has become a worldwide hero, and support the people of Ukraine,” Sklar said.
Each bobblehead has detailed history about the 44-year-old leader’s rise to acclaim before the populist took office in May 2019. Before becoming a married father of two, he earned a law degree from the Kryvyi Rih Institution of Economics. Born to Jewish parents in the former Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, the trilingual Zelensky’s first language is Russian. Pre-politics, the actor-comedian-screenwriter-director played the role of president in the television series “Servant of the People.”
Bobbleheads are often used as learning tools or as a means to honoring someone, Sklar said. The likeness features Zelensky in a shirt, tie and slimming gray suit, as opposed to camouflage pants and army green zip-front pullover news viewers have seen him in for the past several days.
With a few hundred Zelensky bobbleheads already been sold, Sklar said sales were off to a good start. The company’s bestselling bobblehead is one modeled for Dr. Anthony Fauci with approximately 50,000 sold, according to Sklar. Second place goes to one of the woolen mitten-wearing U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Inauguration Day, followed by one modeled after Loyola University’s men’s basketball uber-fan Sister Jean.