Bobblehead Draws Smiles from Around the Globe
CLEVELAND – As crowds wander through downtown Cleveland and security lines snake their way around the streets, there’s plenty of Donald Trump memorabilia available. The closer you get to Quicken Loans Arena, the site of the convention, the more there seems to be.
Vendors, no more than a stone’s throw away and never out of ear shot, hawk “Make America Great Again” hats and pins and anti-Hillary Clinton T-shirts and signs. Some, capitalizing on the selection of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as Trump’s running mate, pitched “Mike Pence, You’re Hired!” merchandise to the throngs of people. Among the less prominent items were the Trump bobbleheads, available at just a few pop-up kiosks set up outside the security zone.
But inside the cordoned off section of downtown Cleveland, one bobblehead literally stood above the rest.
“It commands authority, doesn’t it,” said Nathan King, a reporter with China Central TV, after seeing the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber’s 3-D printed, life size model of the presumptive nominee.
After waiting in line to get inside the security zone, King said he just wandered into the Alliance of American Manufacturers tent, where the bobblehead will be housed through Thursday, not knowing what was inside.
“It’s almost like a coronation where you walk in and there’s King Donald in bronze standing off to the side. I almost wonder if it’s something he’d want to take to his Fifth Avenue apartment to greet people by the door,” King continued. “There was a lot of work that went into it, I can see. Maybe more work than the real Trump.”
The body of the statue, which stands about seven feet tall including its base, was printed by Humtown Products in Columbiana. The head and hair – made separately – were printed at Youngstown State University by Freshmade 3D in downtown Youngstown. All the parts, save for the spring to give the head the ability to bobble, are made of printed sand and coated in a metal spray. While some visitors called it a “golden idol” or “bronzed,” the statue is, in fact, the color of silver.
It was designed as a way to promoted the Mahoning Valley and its growing culture of 3-D printing, said Guy Coviello, the chamber’s vice president of government affairs.
And, at least through the first day of the convention, it’s done its job. By 1:30 p.m. Monday, 86 people had their picture taken with the replica, according to photographer Danny Vega of Maxwell Foto, who was operating the picture area. Of those, added Chuck George, CEO of Hapco in Boardman, about a third had talked to representatives from the regional chamber – himself included – about 3-D printing.
“Our understanding is that [Tuesday] through Thursday will be very, very busy days. But so far we’re really happy with the amount of traffic and questions we’ve gotten about it,” George said. “When we’ve told people that it’s 3-D printed, they almost don’t believe it.”
What stood out to many was the detail of the model. Rich Wetzel, co-founder of Freshmade, said the head took about 225 hours to print, while it took Humtown about 30 hours to print the body.
“The display’s a really nice representation of Donald. I think his hairdresser would be proud of how it turned out,” said Joe Thorrez, vice president of C. Thorrez Industries in Jackson, Mich.
Kathleen Thorrez, his wife and chairwoman of the Jackson County Republican Party, added, “I think he’d like the suit. It looks Italian.”
She added that C. Thorrez is looking into adding 3-D printing to make prototypes and that she’s considering using it to design jewelry.
“It’s been out for years but it’s starting to become an everyday language. We need to start thinking that way,” Thorrez, said. “I’m fascinated by this and learning the new techniques that are out there.”
Overall, the response seemed to be a mix between amazement that there was a life size model of Trump and amazement of what could be done with additive manufacturing.
“It’s neat to see new technology and it’s very appropriate to make sure that our candidate is represented here in all sorts of creative ways,” said Massachusetts State Rep. Geoff Diehl, R-7, and chairman of Trump’s campaign in the state.
Diehl’s district includes three towns with vocational schools, he said, and the students use the printers frequently, even making items to sell as fundraisers.
“So they’re learning the technology and utilizing it to make some money in creative ways,” he said. “I plan on sharing all my experiences on Facebook and I’m going to let people know that 3-D printing certainly has a future.”
Elizabeth Cusma, working in the security zone as an event transportation specialist, stopped in the tent on her lunch break with some friends and posed for several pictures and selfies with the bobblehead.
“I know a few people with their own printers, but I’ve never seen anything like this before,” she said.
For Chris Bedford, editor-in-chief of The Daily Caller News Foundation in Washington, D.C., most of what he heard of additive manufacturing was gun owners using home printers to create replacement parts. The bobblehead, he said, was something entirely new.
“I wanted to touch it and shake it. It wasn’t delicate,” he said. “If you’re here at the RNC and you haven’t gotten a picture with the golden, 3-D printed Donald Trump, you are missing out.”
After taking a picture, Bedford said he’d send a reporter later in the week to write a story on it.
For the Alliance of American Manufacturers, the bobblehead is ideal to promote their message and show just what manufacturers can do.
“It’s made right here in Ohio and if you want to look at the creativity and innovation you can find in America, this is a great example,” said Jet Moody, press secretary for the alliance. “Trade has been at the forefront of both campaigns. We looked around and we want to support the local community. We heard about 3-D Trump from some locals here and knew that it was the heart of what we’re doing.”
The model of Trump drew attention from just about everyone who set foot in the tent, from Swedish businessmen to New Mexican delegates to reporters from the West Coast. And everyone did something different, noted Stephanie Sferra, executive director of the Trumbull County Tourism Bureau.
“What’s interesting is the women go over and they hold Trump’s hand. … I don’t know why. They go over and they grab his hand and have their picture taken. Then we had a guy who was short and tried to put his arm around his waist,” she said.” But it’s creating exactly what the chamber wanted. It’s creating interest.”
Pictured: Elizabeth Cusma, Twyonia Cooper and Jenn Neumann, all event transportation specialists in the convention’s security zone, stopped by the bobble head on their lunch break.
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