Mikey's Muppet Memorabilia Museum

Mikey's Muppet Memorabilia Museum

Muppets 1981 - 1989

Muppet memorabilia was in no short supply during the 1980s. Following the cancellation of The Muppet Show in March 1981, the Muppets next appeared on the big screen in The Great Muppet Caper in June 1981, followed by The Muppets Take Manhattan in July 1984. They also appeared in several TV specials and in advertising while reruns of The Muppet Show continued to be broadcast. The Muppet were still "hot" and very popular in 1981 when the show was cancelled, but as the story goes, Jim Henson wanted to end the series while the Muppets were still in demand and this momentum shows in the products and movies that were made.

This Life Magazine cover from August 1980 says it all!!!

Here is the Hallmark/Springbok Christmas puzzle from 1981 titled "Merry Mistletoe Time". It has over 500 pieces and measures 20 1/4 X 20 1/4 inches.

(Photo coming soon)
 
Here is a classic '80s novelty. These clip on plush toys were very popular during the 1980s. Every cartoon character from Garfield to the Pink Panther was rendered in clip on form, along with every cuddly animal you could think of, from koala bears to bunny rabbits. Here is Gonzo as a clip on. I've never seen any other Muppet show characters in this format, and do not know what year it was made. I'm assuming it is from the 80s but it could be earlier. I've also always wondered if these little clip on figures are bootleg items or officially licensed.

On the topic of strange things, here is what is left of a paper Kermit party hat from the early or mid 1980s. It's a bit flat now. I remember buying the package of these at the store when I was very young and assembling them all just for fun. What a weird kid I was! Somehow I managed to keep this one for my collection. The cone shaped hat was a 3D paper figure of Kermit that sat on your head with his legs hanging down the sides of your face. Kermit is holding a microphone in his hands. An elastic band kept the hat on just like a standard party hat.

This is a series of Muppet Show stickers made in 1981. They have been removed from the original sticker sheet and Miss Piggy is missing from this set. The Kermit with the heart is from a separate set but was also made in 1981.
 
Here is a hardcover book "Miss Piggy's Guide to Life" from 1981, published by Muppet Press/Alfred A. Knopf.

For many Muppet fans (like me!) this book is the Bible of Muppet awesomeness! It was published in 1981, and is written by Christopher Finch, who would later write the companion book "Jim Henson the Works" in 1993 (shown on the Muppets 1990-1999 page of this blog). Finch also wrote "The Making of the Dark Crystal" in 1983 which I don't have in my collection but can be seen on the Muppet Central website at this link: http://www.muppetcentral.com/collectibles/fantasyworlds/books.shtml
"Of Muppets and Men" is a behind the scenes look at the creation of the Muppet Show and Sesame Street, and is a nesting ground for the "Muppet bug" which has bitten many young fans and turned them into puppeteers. Use caution if you open this book!


Here is a softcover children's book "Muppets Go Camping from 1981. There were several other books in this series published in 1981 through to 1983. (Three other books are shown further below)
 This is the original soundtrack for the second Muppet movie, The Great Muppet Caper, from 1981. Below is the back cover.

There are 15 tracks on this record. Side 1: The main Title, Hey A Movie!, The Big Red Bus, Happiness Hotel, Lady Holiday, Steppin' Out with a Star, The Apartment, Night Life
Side 2: The First Time It Happens, Couldn't We Ride, Piggy's Fantasy, The Great Muppet Caper (The Heist, The Muppet Fight Song, Muppets to the Rescue), Homeward Bound, Finale: Hey A Movie!, Reprise: The First Time It Happens

 Here are both sides of the paper record sleeve showing photos from the movie and the lyrics for songs. If you squint you might be able to read them....maybe.


Here is The Great Muppet Caper Video Disc from 1981. Below is the back view.



Above are the front and back views of The Great Muppet Caper glasses from McDonalds in 1981.
 
In 1982 Miss Piggy had her own very successful and popular record album, shown above. The back cover is shown below. This record was produced by Joe Raspo who created many of the famous songs for Sesame Street.
There are 11 tracks on this record. Side 1: Stereau Warmup, Snackcercise, Lift the One You Love, Exercise Your Rights, Dream Dancin'
Side 2: La Vie Aerobique, Sit Down, Breath Easy, A Little Chin Music, Hairobiques Made Simple, Au Revoir

The poster of Miss Piggy shown above came with the record. I bought this record second hand and was surprised to find the poster was still there!

Here is a children's book "Two For the Show" published by Random House in 1982. Shown next to the original book is the republished version by Golden Books/Western Publishing in 1986 with the orange boarder on the cover. Below is "Gonzo and the Giant Chicken" from this book series, also published in 1982. The Pigs in Space book was published in 1983.
 


Muppet Magazine was first published in 1983 and continued until 1989, with four issues each year. This was an excellent magazine with brand new photos of the Muppets and a variety of guest stars. Each issue also had a short Muppet comic featuring the Muppet Show gang, the Fraggle Rock gang, or Muppet Babies. It was a very entertaining and funny magazine that I wish had stayed in circulation. In all, 26 issues were published and I have half of them. Shown above are the Spring 1984 issue with Kermit, Miss Piggy and Robot Kermit. On the right is the Summer 1984 issue with Brooke Shields. Below is the Fall 1984 issue with Mr. T and Animal. More issues are shown further below.


This record "Silly Songs" is from 1984 and has 13 tracks, 7 of which are re-releases off of the "Muppet Show 2" album that was originally sold in 1978. I remember buying this record at the Toy City store that used to be at Westgate Mall, here in Ottawa. Below is the back cover.

Side 1: The Muppet Show Theme, Upidee, Lydia the Tattooed Lady, Pachalafaka, I'm My Own Grandpa, The Rhyming Song
Side 2: Dog Walk, Memory Lane, There's a New Sound, Who, Sea Chantey, Borneo, Closing Theme

 In 1984 Marvel Comics published a three issue comic book series based on movie The Muppets Take Manhattan. Above is issue No. 1

 Issue No. 2 with the Muppet Babies

Issue No. 3 showing the wedding

In 1984 Post cereal offered a series of small Muppet posters as prizes inside the cereal box. This was a promotion for the third Muppet film The Muppets Take Manhattan. In addition to the posters, Post held a contest in which kids collected game pieces that came with the posters. The game board was on the back of the cereal boxes (Alpha-Bits, Pebbles, Sugar-Crisp, and Honeycomb). If a certain combination of Muppet game pieces was filled out you would win a prize which included a BMX Bike, a Muppets View Master, a Timex Muppet watch, and a Crayola Muppets Clay Time Kit. Below is a closer look at the Gonzo game piece. All of the other posters I have, shown below,  were trimmed to remove the side panel with the contest instructions, so this is the only game piece I have.



 
On the back of each poster was an illustration of the poster to colour, so I've shown the front and back of each poster. I had taped these to the wall in my room when I was a kid, so they are all in rough condition.





This last poster was in very bad shape, so it has been glued to a piece of paper.

This Kermit PVC figure, marked "Comics Spain", was made in 1984 and sold only in Europe. Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Animal and the Sweetish Chef were also included in this series. Prototypes of Sam the Eagle and Nigel (the band leader) were planed but never made.

This small Animal pin is dated 1985. I bought it in Toronto at the Muppet Stuff store in 1988. A white T-shirt with this same graphic of Animal was also available at the time.

Muppet fans got a special treat in 1986 with this two record set "Favorite Songs from Jim Henson's Muppets". I don't recall where I got my copy from, possibly through a record club, but I remember this record was also advertised on TV as a "special offer" to be ordered over the phone. Below is the back cover. Even though this is a two record set, it has a standard cover that doesn't open.

Side 1: Muppet Show Theme, Mahna Mahna, Movin' Right Alonng, The Rainbow Connection, Mr. Bassman, Fraggle Rock Theme, I'm Gonna Always Love You
Side 2: Muppet Babies Theme, Dream For Your Inspiration, When the River Meets the Sea, Bein' Green, Tit Willow, Coconut, Java, The First Time it happens
Side 3: Rubber Duckie, Workin', Happiness Hotel, Good things Happen in the Dark, Catch the Tail by the Tiger, Grandma's Feather Bed, My Way
Side 4: Halfway down the Stairs, AB-C-DEF-GHI, C Is For Cookie, Cottleston Pie, It's Up to You, Saying Goodbye

 Here are two more issues of Muppet Magazine. On the left is the Winter 1986 issue with the Cosby Kids, on the right is Spring 1986 with Robin Williams, Dolly Parton, and Pee Wee Herman.

Not long after Fisher-Price stopped making the original Muppet Show plush toys, this "Classic Kermit the Frog" was available. It was made by Hasbro in the mid 1980s. The fabric used for this doll is about as soft as reticulated foam, which is the kind used for car filters!

This small flocked Gonzo Christmas decoration in the original box was produced in 1987 by a Canadian company, Alderbrook from Pickering, Ontario. I've never seen any of the other characters in the series, but recall purchasing this one at a grocery store.

Here are the four Muppet Magazines from 1987. Above is the Winter issue with Pee Wee Herman, and the Spring issue with Kirk Cameron.

I had a huge crush on Kirk Cameron when I was younger and was very happy to see him on the cover of Muppet Magazine! In the Spring of '87 I would have been 13 years old. I didn't really know then what "gay" was, but knew that I was "different". Unfortunately, by that age I had also come to understand that boys were not supposed to like other boys, and so began my years of struggling and confusion. So sad that in some parts of the world, even right here in our own communities and schools, we still put kids through that! Nobody deserves to go through that! Wow! Amazing what sort of memories one issue of Muppet Magazine can bring back!!! It's quite sad that Kirk Cameron himself has turned out to be so anti gay. In other words, "cute but not too smart"!

 Below is the Summer issue with Christopher Reeve and the Fall issue with Bronson Pinchot (aka "Balki" from TV's Perfect Strangers). 


In spite of the poorly designed Dakin dolls from 1981 (Kermit is shown on The Muppet Show page), Dakin - along with Applause - became a main supplier of Muppet memorabilia for the growing chain of Muppet Stuff stores. This Gonzo puppet was made in 1988 as part of the Jim Henson Presents series and was sold exclusively at Muppet Stuff stores. Unless you have very tiny child sized hands, and perhaps even then, this Gonzo puppet's mouth is unfortunately too small to use as a puppet. Puppets of Kermit and Miss Piggy were also made as part of this set, as well as a Santa Kermit puppet. I'm not aware of any others based on Muppet Show characters. As part of the Jim Henson Presents series Dakin also made three Fraggle Rock puppets (the Doozer puppet is shown on the 1980's Fraggle page of this blog), and several Muppet Babies puppets (shown on the Muppet Babies page).
 
Here is a Kermit plush doll wearing a baseball outfit, made by Dakin in 1988. This was sold exclusively at Muppet Stuff stores. The baseball glove is soft plastic and the hat is a hollow plastic shape covered with fabric. It's debatable as to weather or not this is supposed to be a Baby Kermit or a regular/adult Kermit, however Dakin also produced a Baby Kermit doll at the same time that has a much larger head than this doll. The irises on the Baby Kermit doll are larger with shorter lines at the side, which is the correct iris style for Baby Kermit. Therefore it seems that this baseball Kermit is meant to be the regular/adult Kermit. Dakin also made a version of this baseball Kermit doll (same size body, head and eyes) without any clothes. That version of the doll has the pointed collar rather than the rounded one that Baby Kermit has, which seems to confirm that this baseball Kermit is not a Baby Kermit. In my experience the 1988 "no clothes" Kermit Dakin doll is much less common than this baseball one, but don't confuse it with the 1981 Dakin Kermit (shown on The Muppet Show page) which also isn't wearing any clothes!
 
A regular/adult Miss Piggy doll was also made by Dakin in 1988 wearing a purple outfit. It has a full head of hair as compared with the Baby Piggy doll which is wearing a hood. Dakin's regular/adult Miss Piggy doll and hand puppet both use the same face as the Baby Miss Piggy puppet and doll, the only different is that the regular/adult Miss Piggy doll eyes have smaller irises and there is a black line around the outer edge of the eye. The 1981 Dakin Miss Piggy by comparison is quite different, as it has the same plastic head that was used for the Fisher-Price dress up Miss Piggy doll. Different views of the baseball Kermit are shown below.


This Fozzie Bear doll doesn`t have a tag so I`m not certain what company made it or when. I`m assuming that because it`s not very common, and because of the poor quality, that it is from this second wave of Dakin Muppet plush toys. If so, it would have been made in the late 1980s. However, it may also have been made in the 1990s by a different company.
 
Here is an embroidered patch that I bought at the Muppet Stuff store in Toronto, in 1988. It's 3.5 inches high by 4 inches wide.

 These are the next four issues of Muppet Magazine from 1988. Above is the Winter issue with Jason Bateman, and the Spring issue with Danny DeVito. Below is the Summer issue with Crocodile Kermie, and the Fall issue featuring Muppet Olympics.


In 1988 Sealtest produced several dairy products featuring Muppet characters. Among the items they introduced was a yogourt-like milk beverage called Muppets Blend. It was sold in a carton in two different flavours but it did not last very long in stores. Above is a shopping cart ad for Muppets Blend from 1988. I used to work at a grocery store, so I saved this one after the product was discontinued. I recall buying a carton of Muppets Blend to try it, but didn't like it. Unfortunately I forgot to save the carton.

These stickers were given out in the grocery store at a sample table for Sealtest Muppets Blend. Each sheet has two stickers with an image of one character in different poses. It's interesting that there is a Rowlf sticker as he wasn't featured on any of the Sealtest products. I'm assuming there are Kermit and Miss Piggy stickers to go with this set, but I'm missing those. In 1989 Sealtest also did a promotion in which a Kermit or Miss Piggy plush doll could be ordered through the mail. These are the same plush dolls that were made as part of the Grand Toys/Direct Connect series shown below in the white boxes. Sealtest also did a TV commercial for Muppets Blend that was based on the Muppet Show opening theme song and showed a scene that was similar to the one with the Muppet characters in the arches. Instead of singing "This is what we call the Muppet Show" the words were changed to "This is what we call fruit Muppets Blend".


At the same time that Sealtest introduced Muppets Blend, they also produced five flavours of Muppet Yogourt which sold well for several years. Above are the original plastic containers for all five flavours. Below is a better look at the lids for the containers. Kermit's favour is Peach-Pear, Miss Piggy is Strawberry, Fozzie is Banana Split, Animal is Raspberry, and Gonzo is Fruit Punch.


Early on the yogourt containers were changed. Below is an original container on the left with the wide white space at the top, next to the revised container which removed the white space. I'm missing the Kermit container for the revised set, but have the other four. The Animal raspberry yogourt was the only flavour that I liked, and I recall eating it almost every day until Sealtest stopped making it.


These bendy figures were made by Grand Toys/Direct Connect in 1989. I believe they were sold exclusively at Toys R Us. I have them all except for Fozzie shown below on the back of the card.

I've seen several sets of these bendy figures in different outfits, though there is so much Muppet Stuff out there I haven't been able to keep track of these very well. I think there are at least two other bendy sets in addition to this one, possibly made by other companies. This specific set was released in conjunction with the series of plush toys, shown below.

Grand Toys/Direct Connect offered this series of six plush Muppet characters in 1989 through Toys R Us stores. The dolls were also sold without the boxes at Muppet Stuff stores. With the exception of Kermit, all of the characters in this series have a moulded, hard plastic head. Fozzie Bear's hat is also plastic. This is the first time I've ever seen a Kermit doll made with fabric eyes instead of plastic eyes. He is wearing a jogging suit that says Muppet University with large letters "MU". When I bought this set in 1990 here in Ottawa, each doll was priced at $9.99 each. I've also seen images online that showed $12.99 price tags on the boxes.
 
The character's names on each box are stickers. Aside from that the boxes are identical for each doll. Originally, this series was sold in larger boxes, as shown with the Animal doll below. Later the boxes were reduced in size, as seen with Rowlf (below) and the three above. At this point, the dolls themselves were modified slightly, with the irises being painted bigger on some characters. I've seen this done for Fozzie, and Animal, and it was likely done for Rowlf and Gonzo as well making for two versions of each. Kermit's shirt also has two variations, one with a red "MU" (shown here), and one with a green "MU". I haven't notice any variation for the Miss Piggy doll.

To my knowledge this was the first major series of plush toys and figures to be based on the Muppets since the Fisher-Price series had gone out of production in the early 1980s. In addition to being sold in stores with their own boxes, the Miss Piggy and Kermit dolls from this series were sold through a promotion by Sealtest which had a line of Muppets dairy products in the late 80s (shown above). This was how I acquired the Miss Piggy doll, which arrived in the mail in a solid black plastic baggie without a box. In 1990, when these dolls were still in stores, a PVC figure of Miss Piggy was made with a poodle dress similar to what this doll is wearing, though I think it may have been made by a different company.

In addition to the large plush toys and bendy figures, Grand Toys/Direct Connect produced this smaller sized collection of plush toys. Unfortunately, as with the bendy figures, Rowlf wasn't included in this set. Aside from Kermit, I bought all of these smaller plush Muppets at the Muppet Vision 3D gift shop in Disney MGM Studios theme park during the early 1990s. I`ve included them here as they were likely made in the late 1980s. The Muppet Vision 3D gift shop was sold out of Kermit, but I bought the rest of the figures anyway. A few years later I found the Kermit at a discount store here in Ottawa called Bi-Way, which has since closed. I was glad to complete this collection, but also disappointed that my Muppet Vision 3D souvenirs were not exclusive to the theme park. Fortunately I also bought a large plush doll of Animal that was exclusive to the theme park. It's shown on the next page of this blog. The box for the discount store Kermit has a Grand Toys logo printed on the front, bottom left corner, while the theme park boxes do not have any distributor logo.
 
I don't know what company made this Kermit Towel. The tag on it only has washing instructions and says made in Brazil. The date on the front of the towel in the bottom right corner says 1989. This is a child's size towel. I have an identical one that is adult size, shown below.

Here is a size comparison of the child size and adult size Kermit towels. Both are from 1989.

This is the matching Miss Piggy towel from 1989. Notice the Kermit image in her sunglasses is the same one from the Kermit towel. I've seen another version of this towel with Piggy's outfit coloured completely different from this one and her hair is doesn't have the ponytail. The drink and radio are also in different places, and the Kermit image in her glasses doesn't have the splashing wave in the background.

A box of Muppets bandages from 1988.

Here's a Miss Piggy PVC figure nail brush from 1988. This nail brush and the above box of bandages were distributed by DuCair Bioessence Inc.
 
A Miss Piggy comb made by Mattel in 1989. This one is still in the original wrapper. There's a pink string on the back of the comb, presumably so that it can be worn like a necklace.
 
Muppets "Funforms" from 1989 made by Lee Publications. This is a set of 8 pictures that you make using numbered stickers as the puzzle pieces. Muppet Babies Funforms were also available at the same time as these.


Text and photos © Mike Artelle, 2013

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