TORONTO – Call it bobblehead bedlam.
Hundreds of people snapped up a small plastic figure of one of the world’s most infamous mayors, Rob Ford, on Tuesday, some waiting hours to get their hands on the precious novelty item.
The lineup, which began at about 5 a.m., snaked around the inside of city hall — testimony perhaps to the crack scandal that has elevated Ford to international news.
“I’m just going to put it on the shelf and enjoy it,” said ardent Ford supporter, John Rowland, who was third in line.
“Everyone has their own personal problems. He’s finally admitted to it. I really don’t think that affects what he’s doing here at city hall.”
The $20 bobbleheads, depicting Ford with a Cheshire cat grin, were restricted to one per person with only 1,000 made — at least in the first run — and quickly sold out. Proceeds were earmarked for charity.
While many on hand said they supported the mayor, others politely expressed their disdain, even as they forked over their cash.
“It’ll always be part of my life,” said Jay White. “Love-hate relationship.”
Some noted the bobblehead looked more like Ford’s brother, Coun. Doug Ford, who has consistently acted as the mayor’s defender-in-chief.
The councillor, who called his brother “real” and “one of these folks down here,” conceded the figure missed the likeness in a few key ways.
“We sent it back four or five times to get it redone,” Doug Ford said.
“I guess they put too much hair. I guess they got to add a few more pounds onto Rob.”
At a makeshift counter, Rob Ford busily signed boxes and bobbleheads and posed for pictures for five solid hours.
“I enjoyed every minute of it,” he said later in the day.
Even before the sellout, others were making plans for their dolls, which didn’t include putting them on their desks.
On eBay, a new listing breathlessly declared: “Rare Toronto Mayor Rob Ford ‘Official’ Bobblehead — Crack Robbie Bobbie charity item.”
However, there were no takers for one asking $785.40, while another optimist wanted $2,500 with price “firm.”
“If people want to sell them, that’s their prerogative,” Ford said.
The item, however, was only one of several Ford online listings that included various T-shirts in “cocaine white,” photographs and bumper magnets featuring the mayor, who has admitted to smoking crack cocaine and misbehaving in public while in a “drunken stupor.”
“I smoked crack with Rob Ford,” reads one T-shirt. “You crack me up,” says another.
A 10-pack of fridge magnets, sporting the line: “If you voted for Rob Ford, you owe me an apology,” was listed on another site for $41.50.
Rudy Graham listed his two bobbleheads he snared at city hall on Kijiji for $500 apiece, saying he planned to donate the proceeds to a charity, perhaps one that serves addicts.
“All the money is going to a good cause,” Graham said, saying callers had been appreciative but not yet ready to fork over the cash.
“I think it’s good karma.”
Steven Gallen, who drove from north of the city to buy a bobblehead, said he was “all excited” to have one on his desk at home.
“It’s a different kind of mayor the city has,” he said.
From among the crowd, a woman yelled her encouragement as the mayor thanked people for their support.
“Rob Ford. No. 1. The best guy in town. Don’t give up. Continue, continue,” she yelled.
Doug Ford said the huge turnout was a clear sign of why the mayor had no plans to take a leave of absence or resign.
“I don’t think there’s a politician in the country, including the prime minister, who could have bobblehead dolls and have them line up around the corner,” the councillor said.
Bobbleheads all over nodded in agreement.