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Tiny Bobbles

Hudson Cooper - Columnist
Posted 1/7/21

The world's natural resources are being depleted. Energy producing substances such as oil and gas are being drained. Many scientists say fracking is ruining the environment. Some suggest that we …

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Tiny Bobbles


The world's natural resources are being depleted. Energy producing substances such as oil and gas are being drained. Many scientists say fracking is ruining the environment. Some suggest that we harvest solar power from the sun. It is an expensive endeavor and governments have yet to commit to enough tax breaks or subsidies to make it affordable for households.

There might be a cheaper way to harness solar power. The devices can be found in any one of the nation's dollar stores. You know the stores I mean. They all have similar names such as Holler Dollar, Buck-A-Roo and 99 Sense.

The devices I suggest take on many forms, yet all operate on the same simple principle. The sun hits a rectangular plastic solar receptor measuring 1-inch x ½-inch causing bobbles such as a plastic penguin, hula dancer or Santa to shake back and forth.

Most of these solar toys are manufactured in China and sell here for a dollar. I can only imagine the processing plant. Thousands of underpaid, repressed workers on an assembly line taking the plastic mold and attaching them to the solar receptor base.

Prior to a holiday in the United States, the assembly line prepares to change from the hip shaking hula dancer or head bobbing penguins. For Easter, plastic bunny rabbits and twirling colored flowers march down the assembly line. Christmas bobbles are a big seller.

It seems that every week, the dollar stores display and then sell out of a variety of themed items. Solar bobble elves, snowmen, reindeer arrive here from China and then fly off the shelves of the dollar stores.

But the most popular Christmas solar bobble must be the big man, Santa Claus. We just cannot seem to get enough of him. Carrying a sack of toys, riding in a sleigh or bobbling back and forth in a rocking chair Santa is the big favorite.

The amazing thing about these bobbles is that with few exceptions they last for years. I have a few that have been wiggling on my window ledge for 5 years. When the sunlight hits that small rectangular solar panel they start moving.

They vary in movement depending on the type you get. I have three bobbles of Santa in a rocking chair. One of them starts rocking as the sun rises. The two others soon follow but without the same enthusiasm.

Someone should reverse engineer the technology behind these solar bobble toys. If it costs a dollar to buy here, it must cost next to nothing to manufacture. Maybe there is a way to harness these solar panel bobbles and generate useful power.

Solar farms are popping up all over the country. Acres and acres of sun gobbling panels are helping to provide power for communities. Since most of us do not have acreage like that, the solar bobbles might provide a solution at least for all or part of your home.

I am a big fan of the Alaska reality programs that depict how those people in remote areas use ingenuity to survive. Many times, they find barely alive car batteries at the local dump, link them up and use that energy to power up their electric tools. If they can do that in shows with names that sound like “There's No Place Like Nome” or “That's Snow Biz”, surely we can learn to link our solar bobbles and provide some power for our homes.

Today buying commercially made solar panels are too expensive for most of us. But imagine buying 10,000 bobble head Santas in rocking chairs and arranging them on your roof.

With their individual solar tiny solar panels linked together you might get enough power to run small household items. The secondary benefit is that at Christmas time you would have built in decorations. Traditional outdoor lighting displays couldn't hold a candle to 10,000 rocking chair Santas moving in unison.


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