Age 9, with my Fisher-Price Kermit the Frog puppet in 1982.
Hello Muppet fans and welcome! I've been a collector of Muppet memorabilia since my childhood in the late 1970's. In 1997 I started documenting my collection as part of my puppetry website in a section called Mikey's Muppet Memorabilia Museum. Later around 2010 I transferred all of that information to this blog site, which is entirely dedicated to my Muppet/Jim Henson collection. I have been randomly adding content to this blog ever since! So yes, I'm pretty much obsessed with Muppets! :)
In 2017 I celebrated 20 years of providing a resource for Muppet collectables online! As one of the very first (if not the first) Muppet memorabilia websites available on the internet, Mikey's Muppet Memorabilia Museum has played a significant role in fostering the online Muppet fandom community as well as a new generation of Muppet fans. This blog is often used as a reference on Muppet discussion boards, while collectors and antique toy dealers all over the world have used the site to identify their Muppet collectables or to learn about the vast assortment of Muppet products that have been produced over the last 50 years.
I'm very happy to have contributed to the online Muppet community in this way! I especially enjoy connecting with fellow Muppet fans! If you have a question, are trying to identify something that you don't find on the site, or just want to share your thoughts, each page has a comments section at the bottom which I review every so often when I'm doing updates. I'd be glad to hear from you! I especially like it when I get asked about vintage items that I had no idea even existed, such as the kangaroo puppet from the mid 1970's. That was quite a surprise! It's always fun discovering the many Muppet collectables that are out there, which is the purpose of this blog. It's also here to allow visitors a trip down memory lane while revisiting their childhoods. How fortunate we all are that the Muppets were a part of it! Enjoy! -Mikey
The beginning of my Muppet collection
I have always been a fan of Jim Henson and the Muppets. When I was very young I had several Sesame Street puzzles and some of the original rubber finger puppets by Child Guidance. For Christmas in 1979 Santa brought me the Child Guidance Big Bird mouth puppet which I adored (shown below). My daycare also had the Educational Toys Ernie puppet for kids to play with, which I completely hogged!
This picture was taken Christmas day, 1979 when I was 6 years old. It's likely that my brother and sister wouldn't want to have their photo posted online, so I chopped them out of the image. The sibling next to me is holding the knickerbocker Super Grover and Cookie Monster plush toys. This photo is in black and white as my sister got a Polaroid camera for Christmas, so we took this picture to try it out.
I also adored the set of Muppet Show dolls and puppets made by Fisher-Price between 1976 and 1978, which is the same series that the Kermit puppet was from. I especially wanted an Animal puppet but by 1982 the toys had gone out of production and were no longer available in stores. Therefore I began searching garage sales and flea markets hoping to find one (in the 1980's we did not have the internet and the luxury of shopping online!). This was how I began collecting the Fisher-Price Muppet Show series. Ironically, I found all of the characters in the set before I finally found Animal, when I was 17 years old. Though I had located a few Animal puppets over the years, no one wanted to part with him!
These toys are largely responsible for what happened to me. That is, my transformation from a normal person into a fan of the Muppets! During my search for Animal I started collecting anything Muppet or Jim Henson related and so began my life long passion for collecting Muppets!
Here I am at age 14 in 1988 with some of the first puppets that I made.
In addition to collecting Muppet memorabilia, the Muppets inspired me to become a puppeteer. I had always liked puppets in general, and am a fan of many other puppet TV shows, but it was The Muppet Show that reeled me in to become a puppeteer. I started by making puppet sized clothes for my toy Muppet puppets to wear, such as rock band outfits, and then eventually I made my own smaller sized puppets. Gradually I got more complicated with the design of my puppets and they got larger, and larger, until I was eventually making my own full scale Muppet style puppets.
In 1988, when I was in my mid teens, I began doing local puppet shows at libraries and churches with my own original puppet characters. Some puppeteers think it's silly or unprofessional to become sentimental about their puppets, and consider them simply as props used to make a living. Me? I'm very sentimental about my puppets, but Tyler the Bear and Gordon the Sea Monster are especially important to me (shown below). I created Gordon in 1990 when I was around 16 years old, so you might say we've grown up together. Tyler was made about a year or two before Gordon. Remarkably, we've now been hanging out for over 25 years! Below is one of my favourite photos with the boys!
Gordon the Sea Monster, Tyler the Bear and I in the early 1990's during my late teens on a Westboro Parade float. I was probably 16 or 17 years old in this photo.
Here's Tyler the Bear and Gordon the Sea Monster at Parliament Hill in Ottawa. This photo was taken as a high school photography class assignment in 1990 or 1991.
5th National Puppetry Conference
In 1995 when I was 21, I attended the 5th National Puppetry Conference in Waterford Connecticut. The week long event was held at the Eugene O'Neil Theatre Centre. I had previously attended puppetry festivals and various workshops, however this was the first time that I had gathered with other like minded artists with a serious passion for puppetry in order to create puppetry. It was quite a remarkable experience, and overwhelming in a good way. Gordon the Sea Monster and Tyler the Bear came along for the trip too, as well as my characters Mr. Fishy and Brian the Lion. (It was a challenge to get a Lion through customs!) During the conference I began to create another story about Gordon called "The Sea Monster and the King". The above photo is from a rehearsal of that show.
The moment that I had arrived at the Eugene O'Neil Centre Jane Henson walked by me and went inside. I had no idea that she would be there. It took some measure of control not to geek-out right on the spot! During the conference she graciously signed my copy of Jim Henson the Works. Later she gave me a copy of The Art of the Muppets, which she had brought with her to the conference to use during her presentation about Jim Henson. Amazing! At the end of the week there was to be a variety show type of performance in which all of the puppeteers presented the skits that they had created during the conference. I didn't realize that I was supposed to get tickets for my parents to attend. When Ms. Henson found out that I couldn't get tickets because they were sold out, she was appalled and leaned right through the ticket booth window opening to discuss the situation with the attendant. A moment later everything had been taken care of and I had two tickets on the house, courtesy of Jane Henson!
As part of the evenings presentation I performed Gordon the Sea Monster and Tyler the Bear in two scenes from what would later become "The Sea Monster and the King". Two other puppeteers (Pam and Art) helped out with performing King Brian and Mr. Fishy, as well as Gordon's right hand. It was quite an honour to perform Gordon the Sea Monster with Ms. Henson in the audience.
This group photo was taken on the last day of the conference. In addition to Jane Henson (seated far left next to the post) I met Heather Henson (front row, far right in pink shirt), George Latshaw (back row, far right in striped shirt) Annie Evans (seated in front of Jane Henson, in blue shirt), and Bart Roccoberton (back row centre with beard). I'm sitting in front of Mr. Roccoberton with the purple shirt.
After the video shoot was finished I reworked the story into a live touring show, with help from my friend Jay performing King Brian. This group photo of me with the puppets is from 1997 when I was 24. I had grown my hair quite long by then! :)
Since 2000, I've been making my own unique style of superhero hand puppets which I designed to be used on a table-top stage. These puppets were featured in my live show Heroes Past and Present which made it's debut at the Puppets Up Festival in 2006. The show later received a Commendation for Design in Puppetry Theatre from the Arlyn Award Society. More information about my puppetry and other art projects is available on Mikey's Art and Puppetry Blog.