Mikey's Muppet Memorabilia Museum

Mikey's Muppet Memorabilia Museum

Muppets 2010 to present

These are the 9 inch Muppets plush toys made in 2010 by Danawares. Gonzo is 8 1/2 inches tall. Only four characters were made, Animal, Miss Piggy, Great Gonzo (shown below) and of course Kermit, which I'm missing. This set seemed to only be available in stores for one year. They disappeared rather quickly. I found that Kermit's mouth was poorly made so I wasn't too keen to get that one. His mouth was all lumpy and lop-sided as though the cardboard inside was too big. It was quite sad to see. Gonzo's eyes are also poorly made, but otherwise Gonzo was well done with nice detail on his outfit. Animal is very well made and has his original shirt and brown pants from the Muppet Show. His shirt has the red pattern section printed on to match the actual costume on the Muppet Show, which is awesome! In addition he also comes with some drumsticks! To me Animal is by far the best one from this set. As for Miss Piggy, I find this one is quite ugly because her nose is way too big and the doll hair gets messy easily, but it is interesting that they gave her a wide brimmed hat and the outfit is nice.

Here is a better picture of the Danawares 2010 Gonzo to show the detail of his shoelaces and his cape. In Canada these sold for $15.99 at retail which I found was too pricey. I managed to get Animal and Miss Piggy on sale, but alas no Kermit!
 
 In 2010 Hasbro produced this Muppet Yahtzee game. The Kermit head is hollow and is for rolling the dice with. A different Muppet character appears on each side of the dice: Fozzie, Animal, Gonzo, Sweetish Chef, Miss Piggy and Kermit.

In April 2010 Boom Kids published issue No.1 of a 4 issue comic book series titled Muppet Snow White. I believe there were several other Muppet comic book stories published around the same time. These are designed in the style of a graphic novel and are printed on glossy paper.
I got these Animal pyjama pants as a Christmas present. They were made in 2011 however there is no manufacturer info on them. The tag just has "The Muppets" embroidered on it. There were various other Muppet clothing items made in this series (including boxer shorts) that feature other Muppet characters.

Here is an Entertainment Weekly magazine from November 2011. The article is about the new movie "The Muppets". The cover shows an awesome picture of a "classic" looking Kermit that I would love to have a poster of. 

However, I have an issue with the title "How the Muppets were saved". Actually, it annoys me just reading that, which really ruins an otherwise great magazine cover. Regrettably, the concept of "saving" the Muppets was used as a marketing strategy for the 2011 film, which to me seems like a really rotten way to treat the puppeteers and crew who work behind the scenes. The idea behind "saving the Muppets" was that because two key Muppets projects had done so poorly in the past, it was "okay" to suggest that the Muppets were washed up, and therefore needed rescuing. The projects in question included their most recent theatrical movie at the time "Muppets From Space" (1999), which had done quite poorly, and the short lived TV show "Muppets Tonight" (1997) which had been cancelled. 

Clearly those two projects didn't show the Muppets at their best, but to say they needed to be "saved" is entirely inaccurate and quite insulting. Fact is, the demand for the Muppets was alive and well for an entire decade after those two projects, and before the Disney Muppet film was even a thought in Jason Segel's head. For starters, Kermit received a star on the Hollywood walk of fame, the Muppets had several successful You Tube videos go viral, and they did several very successful TV specials, commercials and direct to video films. All of this, and the merchandise was non stop, including the hugely popular Palisades action figure collection. So the idea that the Muppets needed saving is quite a silly one and completely inaccurate.

In 2012 Danawares once again made plush toys of the Muppets, this time as merchandise for the new movie "The Muppets". Above are the 9 inch plush toys which unfortunately are all very cheaply made. The poor quality is more apparent if they are compared with the 2010 Danawares Muppets series shown above. This time five characters were made in the series: Animal, Miss Piggy, and Gonzo (shown here), as well as Fozzie and Kermit, which I'm missing.

A different approach was taken for Gonzo's eyes this time, but they are still poorly done. One is bigger than the other and they are lop-sided, but I can't criticize this to much as they are hand sewn onto the doll!!! As a puppet maker myself, I can't imagine having to hand sew this style of eyes onto dolls all day, especially not for mass-production. Whoever did the sewing likely only had seconds to finish each Gonzo doll, so in that light its impressive work. Just a poor design. Gonzo's hair is made from a rough shoelace cord and looks like a Mohawk. The light blue cord is also the wrong colour. 

Animal, this time around, is the worst one from the series. In fact the quality of this toy is pathetic. This is just mass-produced trash, and very sad to see. Miss Piggy is not bad. Her face is a major improvement from the 2010 series, and she has her classic purple gloves. The hair is done with fabric which is interesting, but looks rather cheep. The Sababa Toys Nurse Piggy from 2003 (shown above in that section) used yarn for hair, which I think is the best option. These plush toys were also quite pricey at 15.99 each in Canada, but again I managed to get them on sale. Larger versions of these toys were also made, as well as the new character Walter. I have yet to see them available in stores but they were offered online through the official website for "The Muppets". http://disney.go.com/muppets/
 
Here is the original shelf display box that was shipped with the 2012 plush toys.
 
Danawares also produced a smaller series of clip on Muppet plush in 2012. Miss Piggy, Kermit and Gonzo are shown above. I haven't seen Animal or Fozzie for this smaller series, but I suspect they were included as well.
 
Around 2010 or 2012 when Danawares was producing their various Muppets plush toys, they also produced this 3 in 1 Muppets puzzle. It was packaged as three smaller sized boxed puzzles which can be combined to make one large puzzle. All three puzzles were shrink wrapped together in the same package with an additional printed page added on one side, as shown above.
 
There are two very odd errors in the image of this puzzle. One is that Zoot was shown twice in the same picture, on the left he's wearing a black suit and on the right he's in his usual clothes. The second error is that Statler and Waldorf's booth is on the left rather than the right where it should be. I suspect these errors happened because the image seems to be made up of clip art from different source. The art for Statler and Waldorf is done in a different style than the main image. The Zoot shown on the right could easily be edited out without affecting the rest of the picture. 
 
Here is an adult T-shirt featuring the Electric Mayhem from 2011 or 2012. The hang tag presents this shirt merchandise for the 2011 movie.
 
In 2011 after "The Muppets" movie had been in theatres, this "Christmas and New Years Countdown Calendar" was sold at Wal-Mart stores. It came with 32 pieces of chocolate that were made with five different Muppet shapes including Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie and Animal. It was made by Jean-Talon Chocolate Inc., a company in Laval, Quebec, and distributed by Regal.

Here is a very soft pillow and throw set that was sold at Wall-mart stores in 2012 as merchandize for "The Muppets" movie. These are very well made with nice, bright images. The pillow shows Kermit, Fozzie, Miss Piggy and Animal, and the fleece throw (shown below) has an awesome illustration of Animal. Unfortunately these items, along with the 2012 Danawares plush toys are marked "Disney" on the tag and have no mention of Jim Henson, which I think is awful. I would prefer "Jim Henson's Muppets" or "A Jim Henson Muppet" instead of Disney, who had nothing to do with creating the Muppets.

The pillow and throw set shown above was part of a line of bedding sold at Wal-Mart that featured similar illustrations of Muppets. These included: 1) A standard size pillow with a printed image of Muppet characters. 2) A double sized blanket made of very soft, short "fake fur" with large images of Kermit, Fozzie and Animal's heads. 3) A double size blanket with a large illustration of Kermit on one side and "fake fur" on the other.

This Kermit Snow Globe is 2 1/2 inches tall and was available for the Christmas season in 2012. I found this one at Canadian Tire. The copyright info says "The Muppets Studio" with no mention of Disney, which I like.

Here's an item from 2013 that I really like! (I've actually been trying to wean myself off of collecting Muppets but I couldn't pass this one up!) I'm very happy to find this TY "Beanie Buddy" Kermit plush toy because it is so well made. There have been so many poorly made Muppet plush toys, especially over the last 10 to 15 years, that to see this good quality plush Kermit is a very welcome change. Kermit's green body is made out of a velour-like soft fabric, and his eyes and mouth are well done. He also has stuffed feet / flippers which isn't very common for a Kermit plush toy, but a nice touch. This is a 15 inch toy that retails for about $15 to $17 here in Ottawa, ON, which is an excellent price for the quality compared to the 9 inch cheaply made 2012 Danawares Muppets plush toys shown above.

Once again however there is no mention of Henson on the tag, only Disney, which I think is shameful. I guess the folks in charge at Disney are perfectly content to diminish culture by taking steps that will eventually erase Jim Henson's name from public knowledge. With a property created by a genius like Jim Henson, is it not common sense to create a special brand with a trademark such as "Jim Henson's Muppets", or something similar? This would have allowed the Disney Company to enhance the uniqueness of this licensed property (the Muppets) and diversify the brands that the company offers, rather than diminish everything by lumping it under the Disney banner. I suppose we'll soon be seeing Darth Vader toys with a Disney tag on them too, rather than Lucas! It's sad that in our "civilized" culture nothing is sacred when it comes to big corporations making money.

This is a 9 inch Easter Kermit plush toy made by Danawares in 2013. This Kermit is similar to the 9 inch plush toy made in 2012 to promote The Muppets movie. In this case Kermit is wearing some bunny ears and the bottoms of his flippers are made with the matching Easter egg pattern fabric. Once again the tag says Disney.

In 2012 Funko released a series of eight Muppets "Pop" figures. I find the Kermit is interesting but I don't understand what the big deal is about having a square head?!?!? Animal is interesting too, but I'd prefer his normal eyes rather than the solid black eyes, which is the style used for most of the figures in this series.  The back of the box shows the complete collection: Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie, Animal, Dr. Teeth, Mahna Mahna, and a Snowth. In 2014 two more characters, Sam the Eagle and Sweetish Chef, were added to the collection to promote the Muppets Most Wanted movie.

Kermit, Animal and Dr. Teeth Wacky Wobblers by Funko
 
During the summer of 2013 the toy company Funko made a series of five Wacky Wobbler Bobble Heads based on the Muppets. In addition to the usual group of Muppets (Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie and Animal) Funko included Dr. Teeth in the collection. This is an awesome figure of Dr. Teeth that, in my opinion, is a must have item for any Muppet collection. I also like Animal and Kermit from this set. The style of these figures suits the Muppet characters really well, and at seven inches tall, they're all extremely well sculpted and detailed.
 


 
 
The back of the Wacky Wobblers box

With Animal and Dr. Teeth already available, it would be awesome to see the rest of the Electric Mayhem band added to this collection, especially Floyd Pepper. If Funko ever makes additional characters for this collection my wish list would include: Floyd Pepper with guitar, Scooter, Gonzo in his purple suit, Rowlf (without a costume), Uncle Deadly (phantom of the Muppet Show), Zoot with his saxophone, Janice with guitar, Mahna Mahna, Sam the Eagle (with blue feet!), Swedish Chef, Sweetums, and Beaker, Bunsen Honeydew, Muppet Newsman, Walter, Clifford (with his original sunglasses), and Pepe.

Muppet Cake
This is the Muppet Show cake that I bought in Dec 2013. This one was made at the Carlingwood Mall Loblaws store here in Ottawa, ON. The cake is decorated to look like the Muppet Show theatre stage and comes with two original PVC figures (Kermit and Miss Piggy) as well as a shaped plastic background image of the Electric Mayhem Band. This cake topper set was made by DecoPac Inc. There's no copyright date on the figures so I'm not sure when this cake topper set was originally made available, but by Dec 2013 it had been discontinued. My guess is that it was introduced in 2011 or shortly after to coincide with Disney's new movie "The Muppets". Some stores will still have this set in stock, but once they sell out these figures will be gone for good, so if you're an obsessed Muppet freak like me you'd better get them while you still can!

Here is a silly item that I found in Jan 2014. This is a pack of 20 Johnson & Johnson Muppets Band-Aids. There are at least four different boxes to collect. Kermit's picture is shown on one side of each box, and another Muppet character is shown on the opposite side. This box has a picture of Animal, and I also saw a box with Miss Piggy, and one with Beaker. There is also a box with Statler & Waldorf shown together on one side. These six characters are also seen on the actual bandages along with Pepe the King Prawn. The set of Band-Aids was likely released between 2011 and Dec 2013. Unfortunately, there's no copyright date on the box.


Muppets Most Wanted

During the last week of February 2014 Subway restaurants began a promotion for the soon to be released movie "Muppets Most Wanted". A collection of six lunch bags were sold. Above are the bags showing Kermit and Miss Piggy. In addition, two Subway Gift Cards were available with a photo of either Kermit or Miss Piggy's face, shown below. The Muppets also appeared in a TV commercial for Subway restaurants around the same time as this promotion.


Fozzie Bear and Animal Subway lunch bags.

A group photo of the Muppets, and Beaker Subway lunch bags.

The same graphics were used on the back of each bag, with the "Muppets Most Wanted" logo and the "Subway" logo. Shown here is the back of the Fozzie bag.

 
 
Photos and Text © Mike Artelle

2 comments:

  1. Re: The idea of 'Jim Henson's'- That is a good idea. However, I believe that the Jim Henson Company retains rights to the use of Jim's name in marketing and as such doing that would essentially mean Disney having to pay back royalties every time they make Muppet merch, so that will never happen.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Ronnie, Thanks for posting a comment. I thought about the royalties thing too and wonder if that's the case or not. It does seem possible that is what's happened, though on the other hand, it seems that it would be in the interests of the Henson company to make sure Jim Henson's name stays attached to his creations, even if that means waving royalties or giving a special deal to Disney. After you posted your comment I added the pictures above showing the box of plastic Muppet cutlery. The logo used on the box says "Jim Henson's Muppets", and there is a Disney logo as well, so I wouldn't say it will never happen as it already has! I just wonder why they didn't keep this going? In any case, I probably shouldn't have gone off on a rant against Disney, but I'll never get used to not seeing "Henson" on Muppet collectables. Especially as Mr. Disney passed away in the 1960s before most of the Muppet Show characters even existed. Though I guess if someone is a die-hard fan of the Muppets they would likely know about Jim Henson anyways.

    ReplyDelete