In 2002 Palisades Toys produced the first four action figures in their series based on the Muppet Show. The first few series were marketed in celebration of the 25th anniversary of The Muppet Show. Later the series would expand to include characters from the Muppets Tonight TV show as well as movies such as Muppets from Space and Muppet Treasure Island. Each figure came packed with loads of accessories and cost a hefty $25 each on average, which is why I chose to only get the first four figures in series one. This included Miss Piggy, Kermit (shown above), Dr. Teeth and Bunsen Honeydew (shown below).
These are very well made action figures with excellent detail to look like the actual puppets rather than a cartoon version of them, as is so often the case with Muppet toys. Large size figures were also made for selected characters (Gonzo, Animal and Beaker). Oddly enough, Kermit was never made as a large size action figure which is a shame. That would have been awesome! The series was bombarded with special edition figures that were available at selected toy stores or toy conventions. Some collectors like this kind of challenge, but I find this rather frustrating as it makes it impossible to collect the entire series.
This issue of Tomart's Action Figure Digest magazine (No. 128, Dec 2004) has a six-page section listing all of the Muppet Palisades action figures that were available at the time.
In the early 2000's when the Palisades Muppet action figures were being on the market Fun $ All produced a set of four Muppets 3D Animator Action Puppets (or push puppets). Included in the set was Kermit, Animal, Beaker, and Pépe.
Around the early 2000's a series of tissue boxes was offered by Scotties as another tie in with the 25th anniversary of the Muppet Show. Two boxes were made for the standard size box of tissues, and at least one larger sized box (shown above and below). Boxes have cut out finger puppet figures on the bottom to make your own Muppet Show!
Below is a small tin of mints that was sold in 2002 through selected toy stores and novelty shops.
In 2002 the Muppets were featured on several Nascar racing cars, which is really awesome! This was part of a trend at the time to have notable characters depicted on race cars, which if I'm not mistaken began with Warner's Looney Tunes characters. As Muppets were involved, naturally, a series of similarly detailed toy cars were made in several different sizes (also called scale or ratio in car collecting circles) and packaging variations. On the collecting side of things, I found this whole Muppet-Nascar thing to be quite confusing as there were so many different drivers, character licences, and companies involved, that I couldn't keep track of what's what. That on top of the fact that I'm not into car racing to begin with made me stay away from this toy car series. I only have this one car in my collection as an example. Other Muppets to appear on cars include Kermit and Miss Piggy (together), Kermit (by himself), Fozzie, Gonzo, Animal, Rowlf, Pepe the King Prawn, and the Swedish Chef.
So, if I have figured this all out correctly, the manufacturer of these toys is Action Performance Companies, and the logos "Double Platinum" and "Winner's Circle" are their toy car brand names. They also use the Nascar logo because the toys are based on Nascar racing, and the Muppets are licenced as well. But we're not done yet! Each car has a specific driver's name on it, and the type of car, so in this case the Dodge logo is also licenced. Additionally, this is the 1:43 diecast scale version of the car, as both smaller and larger sizes were also available. Forget about your wheels, this is all enough to make your head spin!
Here is a closer look at the Bunsen and Beaker car, which is a Dodge that was driven by Jeremy Mayfield.
This is the back of the card. See that big white section with all the fine print. That's all the copyright and licence info that needed to be listed for legal reasons! I'm not making that up. Click on the picture to get a bigger view.
This TV Guide from November 23, 2002 (with Sean Hayes on the cover) includes an article about the Muppets new Christmas TV special "A Very Merry Muppet Christmas" starring Whoopi Goldberg. Below is a photo of the article, on pages16 and 17.
These small Muppets puzzles were sold in dollar stores. They were made by Vista Puzzle/LeapYear Publishing in 2003.
In 2003 and 2004 Sababa Toys produced a series of large and small Muppet Show plush toys. The collection included many characters who had never been made as plush toys before. The large series included Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Animal, Bunsen, Beaker, Janice, Swedish Chef, and Rizzo. Below are Fozzie and Beaker from the large plush series. Unfortunately I didn't end up getting any of the others in the large set even though they are all very well made.
Here are the small 8" Beanie set by Sababa Toys from 2004. There are 8 characters and I have them all (because I am obsessed). :) Shown above are Fozzie, Kermit, Miss Piggy and Gonzo. The rest of the set shown below includes Swedish Chef, Bunsen, Beaker and Animal.
Sababa Toys made the very first plush toys of the Electric Mayhem Band in 2003. They were made as a continuation of the 8" beanie series. These are awesome with excellent detail in the costumes
The back of the Electric Mayhem package advertises that a Pigs in Space and Veterinarian's Hospital set are "coming soon" but unfortunately it was never produced.
Here is the Veterinarian's Hospital set by Sababa Toys. This set is pretty cool. Janice is in the same spot as she was for the Electric Mayhem set. Rowlf as Dr. Bob, Camilla the Chicken and Nurse Piggy complete the set. This is the first plush toy of Camilla!
The back of the Veterinarian's Hospital package shows the electric Mayhem set as "Now available" with the unproduced Pigs in Space set as "coming soon".
This is the Animal and Fozzie two-pack from the "Muppet Mayhem" collection of plush toys by Sababa Toys in 2003. These are a bit taller than the 8" beanies. Fozzie is about 10 or 11 inches tall. I have no idea why Animal is dressed like that. The head on Animal is also very poorly done. I bought this set for Fozzie, which I think is one of the best plush Fozzie Bear toys ever made. His head is shaped very well and his mouth opens. I like his outfit too. The colour of the fur is also a better match. This plush Fozzie is certainly much better than Sababa's 8" beanie of Fozzie. I can't help but wonder if this one would have sold better on its own without Animal?
Here is the back view of the Animal and Fozzie set. Two other sets were available: Kermit and Miss Piggy, and Staler and Waldorf. I did see both of these sets in the store as well, so they are available to Muppet collectors.
In 2004 Palisades was still making action figures based on the Muppets. This is Kermit as Abraham Smollet with Polly Lobster. Unfortunately Polly has a broken hand. Aside from that these are very well made figures. Kermit's hat stays on his head with magnets that have been imbedded inside the toy. This figure is from Series 7. Below is the back of the packaging showing the rest of series 7 and the soon to be available series 8.
Above are series 7 and series 8 of the Palisades Muppet action figures collection as seen on the back of the package for Kermit/Abraham Smollet.
I probably shouldn't say this, but I find it odd that the character Dr. Phil Van Neuter was included in this series. As such, it didn't surprized me that the series went out of production not long afterward. I have a great deal of respect for Brian Henson, whom I've never met, and who is of course a very talented puppeteer. So I find it odd that he's the performer behind this character. To be blunt, Dr. Phil Van Neuter is quite awful and really didn't belong with the Muppets. Hmmm wait, that didn't actually cover it...I should say, awful, awful, awful, awful! There, that's more like it. It's not so much the performance of the character, but rather the concept and design. Those rubber gloves are creepy, not "Muppet" funny. The same goes for the eyes/goggles. And his nose shouldn't be the same colour as his face if he's to belong to the Muppet gang. His name also isn't Muppet humour. I just don't think that "neuter" could ever be a funny word! In fact, this character is so wrong for the Muppets that it made me wonder what was going on with the creative team behind the Muppets. How could such a bad character get past all the writers and pre-production development to see screen time not just on one occasion, but several?
During the hay day of the Muppet Show the character Fleet Scribbler turned out to be a major embarrassment for the Muppets creative team. I actually liked Fleet Scribbler, and even if his character was a problem at least the design of the puppet wasn't. He at least looked like he belonged on the Muppet Show and had a Muppety name. An action figure of Fleet Scribbler would have been cool. As for Dr. Van Neuter, maybe if there were a different production aimed at an older audience with a new cast of characters, rather than the old familiar Muppet gang, the character would have fit in better and the puppet would have been fine. But not with the Muppets. In my books, Dr. Phil Van Neuter is the Muppet version of the Star Wars prequels. The Jar Jar Binks of the Muppet gang. Anyways, I'll be quite embarrassed if ever I meet Brian Henson and he happened to have read or gotten word of this little critique, but I have to be honest and its just how I feel about that character. I'm just thankful Dr. Van Neuter is no longer used in Muppet projects anymore, and I pray that the Muppet gods keep it that way, please! Of course, I still worship Brian Henson's performance as Dog from the Storyteller. That was an awesome TV series! Below are other figures from the Palisades collection.
Here are some items from the mid 2000's. On the left is a set of Muppets stickers from 2005 made by American Greetings, and on the right is a set of pins made by Carlton Cards.