Mikey's Muppet Memorabilia Museum

Mikey's Muppet Memorabilia Museum

Sesame Street: 1969-1979

The original series of 1970's Sesame Street hand puppets now have their own page in this blog:
http://mikeysmuppetmemorabiliamuseum.blogspot.ca/p/sesame-street-toy-puppets-1971-1984.html

Anything else from my Sesame collection that was made in the 1970's is included here on this page... at least it will be eventually!
In addition to making toy hand puppets, Child Guidance also made soft rubber finger puppets during the1970's. These are among my most favourite Muppet collectables. The Count finger puppet (not shown) and Herry Monster - the light blue one - are the most difficult characters to find in this collection. That being said, Herry tends to show up more often than the Count. The Count finger puppet is super rare and very hard to find in any condition. The Count for this set is holding the numbers 1, 2, 3 (not to be mistaken for the 1980s Applause finger puppet of the Count which has one arm raised up and no numbers!). Sherlock Hemlock  (the detective) and Lefty the Salesman (with black hat) were added to the series in 1974.  These two are often missing their hats and can be difficult to find, but not as difficult as Herry and the Count which were added later in 1978.

There are a number of variations for most of these puppets, such as colour of plastic used, paint colour, and even a moulding variation that makes differences in size. Ernie and Bert are available with rooted hair (as shown above), with fake fur hair or with sculpted hair. The last two variations are less common. There is also a wide variety of packaging for this series, especially if the international packaging is taken into consideration. As with the larger hand puppets, Vicma produced variations of these finger puppets in Spain and other markets, however Herry and the Count seem to only have been available in North America. In Mexico, the toy company Lily Ledy produced Ernie, Bert, Cookie Monster and Oscar, as well as Abelardo (an orange crocodile) and Paco (a green parrot) from "Plaza Sesemo" as finger puppets for this collection.


Child Guidance also made these nifty "Stack Up" 3D puzzles in the mid 1970s of Big Bird, Ernie, Bert and Oscar. I had all four of them when I was three or four years old but I lost the Big Bird one.  A few years ago, I replaced it with one I bought on e-bay. The other three shown above are the same ones I had since I was three! That explains why the bottom of Ernie's mouth is missing. I had also peeled off the stickers for each of their eyes, so I hand drew some replacements. Bert's nose also came off and was lost at one point! I've seen a Bert stack up puzzle on e-bay that had a blue shoulder piece instead of an orange one, which changed the order of the stripes.

Here is the Fisher-Price Little People Playset that was made in 1974. Eight figures were included with the playset. Above are Bert, Ernie, Cookie Monster, Big Bird and Oscar. I'm missing the three human characters: Mr. Hooper, Susan and Gordon. Other than the street sign I'm missing all the assessories too. That being said, I'm glad to have this set as I put it together very slowly over the years, piece by piece! I also have Herry Monster so I'll have to add a photo of him here eventually. Fisher-price also made a boxed set of the original eight figures that were to be used with this playhouse, as well as a clubhouse playset that included figures of Roosevelt Franklin, the Count, and Grover. The final boxed set of figures included Snuffleupagus, Prairie Dawn and Herry Monster, and is very rare to find. 

Here is the Fisher-Price Movie Viewer which was very popular in its day. Kids would insert a cassette and then look through the end of the toy while turning the red crank shown above. You could make the movie go very fast or very slow, backward or forwards. It sounds simple by todays standards, but this toy was honestly hours of fun! 
 
Fisher-Price produced a wide rage of licenced cassette tapes for this toy including several Sesame Street films. The toy was introduced in 1973 and the first Sesame Street cassettes were sold in 1974. I have the Sesame Street cassette "Cookie Monster in the Kitchen" which has a copyright date 1977, but was apparently not included in this series until 1986. Below is a view of the other side of the toy.
 

Here are the three film cassettes that I have: Sesame Street, Disney's "Lonesome Ghosts" and Charlie Brown. Here is a remarkable web site that documents all of these Fisher-Price cassettes: http://www.thisoldtoy.com/fisher-price/dept-1-audio-vis-mus/f-movie-viewer/a-index.html#4
 
Knickerbocker produced the very first plush toys of Sesame Street characters in the 1970s. Shown here is the first series of smaller sized plush toys: Big Bird is 11", Cookie Monster is 8.5", and Oscar the Grouch is 10". These plush toys were very popular and common in their day and definitely have a vintage look to them. These days they're becoming a little harder to find, but are certainly not rare collectables. They pop up on e-bay or at thrift shops from time to time. Knickerbocker would later produce two more "smaller-sized" series of plush toys based on this initial set. This was in addition to a "large-sized" series of plush toys. In my opinion, all of these early Knickerbocker toys are must have pieces for serious Muppet memorabilia collectors. A beanie sized plush toy of Grover (without his Super Grover costume) was later added to this set, but he's much harder to find than the others which is why he's not in this photo!

Here is a very odd set of the first series Knickerbocker plush toys with very noticeable variations. I bought this set on e-bay from a seller in the USA around 2005. In my experience these variation plush toys are much less common than those shown in the first picture above. Big Bird is made with a brighter yellow and his beak is longer and squared at the end, Cookie Monster is light blue instead of dark blue, and Oscar is shaped somewhat differently, especially his head, and is made in a brighter green. I haven't yet seen a variation for the Grover doll.

The second series of smaller sized plush toys made by Knickerbocker has the characters dressed up in different career outfits. Big Bird is a Firefighter (I'm missing the red jacket that he originally came with), Cookie Monster is a Baker (with removable apron), and Oscar seems to be a train conductor or a garbage man. In any case he's wearing overalls and is ready to work...somewhere. Unfortunately this Oscar's eyes have yellowed over time, but I've seen other copies of this toy that still have white eyes. The red bandana around his neck is removable.

The second series also included Super Grover. This plush toy was very popular and is very easily found today compared to the Grover plush toy from series one. Shown next to Grover is Herry Monster, also by Knickerbocker. This Herry plush toy is super-ultra-rip-my-hair-out-rare to find...and thanks to e-bay I finally got one! Bask in his shaggy blue awesomeness!!! The Grover and Herry plush toys are about 15 inches tall. It's my understanding that Knickerbocker also made a larger size plush toy of Herry to go with the large plush series. Both small and large Herry toys are rare finds.

The third series of smaller-sized plush toys to be produced by Knickerbocker are musical dolls with a wind up key on their bums. They both play "Pop Goes the Weasel". I've only seen Cookie Monster and Big Bird for this set, and am not aware of any others. The back view is shown below.


Here are four different sizes of the large-sized Knickerbocker Cookie Monster plush toys from the 1970s, along with the smaller 8 inch plush toy for size comparison. This series also included Grover, Oscar and Snuffleupagus (all shown below). A plush toy of Herry Monster was also offered in this series for a very short time and therefore is harder to find. This was a very popular series of plush toys in its time and was made through to the early 1980s. The toys are quite crude looking and shaggy, however taking a moment to gently comb the fur will improve the look of them. (I have a plastic brush set aside that I use only for puppets and plush toys.) Shown here, left to right, are 20 inch, 17 inch, 15.5 inch, 12.5 inch plush toys of Cookie Monster, with the 8 inch toy in front. The 20 inch Cookie plush toy is a bit creepy to have around, so I keep it packed away in a bag! :)
 
Here is the hang tag from the 20 inch Cookie Monster. It has a price tag sticker that says "RED'S $14.99". I bought this one with the 17 inch Cookie plush toy on e-bay around 2005. The back view of the hang tag is shown below. The copyright date is 1975. Click on the photo to see a larger view.


Here is the tag from the 17" Cookie Monster. The back view is shown below and is slightly different from the 20 inch tag. Once again, the copyright date is 1975.


I've noticed a variation for the 12.5 inch Cookie Monster's eyes. The toy shown here on the left has smaller sized irises painted more to the front of the eye, while the toy shown on the right has larger irises painted more towards the top of the eyes. This second version has a manufacturers tag that says "GANZ BROS TOYS LTD. Toronto, Canada". This was the Canadian distributer for Knickerbocker.
 
Talking versions (with pull string) of these toys were also made. I have a talking 16 inch Oscar in my collection (shown below). After posting this Muppet Memorabilia Museum page, I've received comments and e-mails from folks who had the talking Cookie Monster and Grover. No word yet if there was a talking Snuffleupagus.

Here are four different Knickerbocker large sized Grover plush toys. Shown here , left to right, are 28 inch (top of head to toes, 17 inch sitting), 19 inch (with legs), 17 inch (with legs), 20 inch (with legs.
 
Grover was made in two styles, with an open mouth or a closed mouth. It is my understanding that the open mouth version was the original style available in the early or mid 1970s, and the toy was later modified to be the closed mouth version offered in the mid to late 1970s and early 1980s. My reasoning has to do with Grover's eyes....
 
The earlier version of these Grover plush toys had eyes that were made out of two oval pieces of thin plastic (or vinyl), one black and one white, that were attached with a black button fastener as the iris. This is shown above on the light blue Grover, which has an open mouth. The eyes are rather cheep looking and break easily. This style of eye was very common on toys that were given out as prizes at carnivals or fairs in the 1970s.
 
Later versions of Grover plush toys have eyes that are each one plastic piece and painted with the white and black parts of the eye, as shown above on the dark blue Grover toys, which have a closed mouth. This is likely an improvement that was added to the toys at some point to phase out the cheaper two piece eyes. Note however that the black iris for each of these was painted differently, with the one on the left more rounded that the one on the right. The Grover on the right is the shortest one that I have. For some reason, it's filled with Styrofoam pellets (again, like the plush toy prizes from carnivals) rather than soft polyester stuffing.
 
In the mid 1970s Grover's eyes were modified again to have a full circle iris painted, which is what Grover's eyes should have had all along.

Fuzzy and Blue: I've also noticed that light blue Knickerbocker Grover plush toys are not as common as the dark blue version. The light blue Grover shown above is the only one I've ever seen. Usually the open mouth Grover toys have dark blue fur. As this is an earlier version it is possible that the company was still trying out the colours for each character to see if dark blue or light blue fur looked better, or if one sold more than the other. Note that the large Cookie Monster toys shown above are all light blue, but the character is actually supposed to be dark blue. Yet, Knickerbocker only made the smaller 8 inch sized plush toy of Cookie Monster dark blue (shown above). The Child Guidance Cookie Monster puppet is also dark blue. As these were the first ever plush toys of these characters, Knickerbocker had to figure out how to sell them and the colour choice seems to have been an important piece of the puzzle. Cookie Monster plush toys have been light blue, or bright blue, ever since with only a few exceptions while Grover has always been dark blue.
 
Here is the hang tag from the 28 inch Grover. It has a price sticker that says "RED'S $15.78". I bought this from the same e-bay seller that sold me the two Cookie Monster toys with hang tags. The back of the tag is shown below. The copyright date is 1976 (instead of 1975, as noted on the Cookie Monster tags).


Here are the large Knickerbocker plush toys of Oscar, in two different sizes along with the two 8 inch toys for size comparison. Shown here, left to right, are 19 inch (with legs), 16 inch (with legs), and the 16 inch talking version. For some odd reason, Knickerbocker made Oscar with a red felt tongue even though Oscar doesn't have a tongue. The 19 inch version shown here has a tag on the back that has the GANZ BROS TOYS info. Notice the different colours and thicknesses of brown fur used for the eyebrows for each of these. The third Oscar (the non-talking 16 inch toy) is missing the plastic eyes as they would break easily, so I have Styrofoam ball halves in place to hold the shape. This plush toy is also a lighter green that the others. I got this one for my ninth birthday in the early 1980s from my Aunt, who took me to Toy City at Westgate mall to pick out a toy. I was allowed to spend nine dollars, and even though Oscar was $9.99 my aunt bought him for me anyways! :) 
 
Here is a closer look at the 16 inch talking Oscar. The front and back view are shown. He has a metal ring attached to his pull string. I'm quite lucky that this talking Oscar toy still works, as these talking toys are often broken. Oscar has six different sayings:
 
"Have a yucky day!"
"I live in a trash can"
"Be a Grouch like me!"
"Don't pull my string!"
"I love trash"
"Want a Sardine Sundae?"

Here are the larger Knickerbocker plush toys of Snuffleupagus. Shown here are 15 inch (with hang tag, USA version), 15 inch (Canadian version), and 12 inch (Canadian). The Canadian versions have a tag sewn at the back with the GANZ info. It's interesting that Snuffy was included in the original line of plush toys as he was rarely marketed. Snuffy was only made during the 1970s as by the 1980s this toy was dropped from production. However, this is in no way a rare toy as it is easily found on e-bay, which is where I bought the one with the hang tag.

Here is a side view to show the shape of the toys (though it looks like this could be "The Great Migration of the Snuffleupagus"). Snuffy is made in a sitting position. The USA 15 inch version of the toy (with hang tag) is much slimmer than the Canadian/Ganz 15 inch version. Below is a top view to show the different sizes of the tails.
 

The Canadian/Ganz Bro Snuffy (right) has much smaller irises that the USA version (left).
 
This photo seems kind-a rude! :) Snuffy has a mouth/lip attached under his trunk. The mouth for the 15 inch Canadian/Ganz version (center) is larger than the USA version (left). 

The USA version of Snuffy also has a different tail, which is made and stuffed as part of the body of the toy, while the tail on both sizes of the Canadian/Ganz version is much smaller and is sewn in at the seam (which allows it to wag side to side). 
 
Here is the hang tag for Snuffy. The back view is shown below. It has a copyright date of 1976. Click the photo to see a larger version.

 
Here are the many different sizes of Ernie and Bert rag dolls made by Knickerbocker in the 1970s. I'm missing the 15 inch Ernie doll. The clothes (shirt and pants) are removable from all of these dolls except for the smallest size. I once saw a giant sized version of the Bert rag doll that was about five feet tall sitting down! Likely there would have also been a matching Ernie. Needless to say, those giant sized dolls are quite rare. Toy vechicles such as a truck or bicycle were made for the smallest size rag dolls. The smallest size also had other characters in the set, including Oscar, Cookie Monster, Big Bird and the Count. A plush car was made for either the 6 inch or 9 inch dolls (I'm not sure which). Talking versions were also made, likely for the 15 inch dolls. The Count (shown below) and Betty Lou were also made as rag dolls in this series. Here are the sizes: Bert came in 27", 15", 10", 7" and 4.5". Ernie came in 25", likely 14" (to match with 15" Bert), 9", 6", and 4".

I've found some variations for the 10" Bert and 9" Ernie dolls. Bert has variations for both his shirt and pants while Ernie has a variation for his pants.

Here is a 7" Bert with removable shirt and pants next to a 6" Ernie with removable shirt only. The pants are sewn on as part of the doll. The last 6" Ernie (on the far right) has the clothes printed.

Here is the smallest sized rag dolls. Bert and Ernie have printed clothes but I've noticed there are variations to the illustration for Bert's collar and the length of this shirt, while the stripes on Ernie's shirt are wider on the second Ernie (on the right). This smallest set also had other characters, including Oscar, Big Bird, the Count, and the 3" Cookie Monster shown here. Plastic toy trucks, a bicycle (or it may have been a motorcycle), and other accessories were also available.

This is the 14" Talking Count rag doll by Knickerbocker. I've shown it below next to the 15" Bert for size comparison. This doll is broken and no longer "talks", but originally it had a pull string on the back.

That's one! One missing pair of pants! Ah! Ah! Ah!

In addition to the rag dolls, kickerbocker produced stufed toys of Bert and Ernie in two different sizes. Bert came in 15" and 12" (though I also have a 13" version of the smaller doll), and Ernie came in 13" and 11". The smaller sized dolls were very popular and are more commonly found than the larger versions. Hasbro later continued to produce the smaller sized dolls well into the late 1980s.

The many eyes of Bert.

Here are some variations that I've found for Bert's eyes. On the left is the original version with felt eyes (with a ripped off unibrow, ouch!), then the thinner fabric eyes, then the last two have progressively larger irises.

Knickerbocker/Ganz Bros. made variations of these Bert and Ernie dolls that are wearing pyjamas. I only have the Bert doll though. These pyjama version dolls are far less common than the original dolls. Unfortunately this doll has a seam on his left arm that has come undone.
 
This is the portable Big Bird Radio made in the mid to late 1970s. I found this one at a thrift store with the radio section missing, so now it's just a hollow figure. The nest section is where the radio was installed. The Big Bird figure is made from soft rubber similar to the Child Guidance finger puppets that were popular at the time. The same company that made this radio also made one with Ernie and Bert attached to the top. Below is the back view.

 
This is the Missing Match-Ups game by Milton Bradley, made in 1976. I had this game when I was very young but didn't keep it for my collection. Some time ago I found this one at a thrift store and was glad to see that it was complete and in good condition. What's so awesome about this game is that it features many of the early Sesame Street characters that are unfortunately no longer on the program. On the cover of the box is Sherlock Hemlock the detective, who was a popular character at the time, along with Ernie and Rubber Duckie.

Sherlock Hemlock was featured on the game board as well. Of course, the idea of the game is to find the matching pictures, numbers or letters.

The game came with two large cards that were printed on both sides. These went under the game board to allow for different matching games. The card shown at the top (Slide B) has pictures of Ernie, Bert, and Rubber Duckie, which I've also shown below.

   
 
The other card shown above (Slide D) has pictures of Grover, Roosevelt Franklin, Magic Mumford, Oscar the Grouch and an Anything Muppet boy on a TV set.

     

The reverse of the Slide D card shows Slide A with Big Bird, Sherlock Hemlock, Betty Lou, Frazzle and Sam the Robot. This is one of the few items of Sesame merchandize that featured Sam the Robot as the character was written off the show. Frazzle, who is also rarley marketed, is also seen on the cover of the Sesame Street Monsters record which includes a song about him.

   
  
 

The reverse of the Slide B card has Slide C with Cookie Monster, the Count, and Prairie Dawn.

   
 

In the late 1970s Milton Bradley (Hasbro) produced at least 20 puzzles featuring Sesame Street characters. These puzzles had rather oddly shaped pieces. This puzzle shows Magic Mumford with Grover and was made in 1976.


 Here is the completed puzzle, shown above, and the unique puzzle pieces shown below.


 This puzzle is also from 1976 and shows Herry Monster with Oscar the Grouch.

Here is the Fisher-Price Oscar the Grouch pull toy from 1977. This toy originally had a yellow plastic cord on the front with a squeeze pump at the end that made Oscar pop out of his can. I stuck a pencil in the back to keep the lid open for the photo, to show what Oscar looks like.

This Big Bird puzzle is from 1978.
 
Here is a picture of a picture! This is a large (18.5" X 24") framed poster of Ernie and Bert from 1978, produced by American Publishing Corp.

This is an even larger (35" X 23") framed poster of Super Grover dated 1979, produced by American Publishing Corp. Sherlock Hemlock, Guy Smiley and Betty Lou are looking up at Grover.

This is a Birthday cake candle made by Wilson in 1979. It's 3 3/8 inches tall. The Wilson company also made Star Wars candles in this same style that were sold at the same time. I used to have Chewbacca and R2-D2 from that set.

 Here are some patterns from a vintage children's bed sheet. There's no date on the tag but it looks like it would be from the late 1970s or early 1980s.  Bert, Grover and Big Bird are shown above, while Ernie and Cookie Monster are shown below.


This is the tag which says "The Sesame Sheet", which I thought was a funny play on words.


Photos and Text © Mike Artelle

6 comments:

  1. Hi Mike! Just wanted to let you know that these puppets were also sold in Spain in the 70s by the brand Vicma, I had a few of them. They also made other models, like these:

    http://www.todocoleccion.net/marioneta-detective-sherlock-hemlock-abrete-sesamo-barrio-sesamo-sesame-street~x30116659

    http://www.todocoleccion.net/marioneta-felipe-sonrisas-abrete-sesamo-barrio-sesamo-guy-smiley-sesame-street~x30116687

    Cheers!

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  2. Hi Koldo, thanks for the info. I had seen the Vicma puppets online but was too lazy to add all the info about them here. However, I've now updated this page. Too bad those Vicma puppets are so costly, they are awesome! I'd love to add Guy Smiley to my collection... someday maybe? Thanks again.
    -Mike

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  3. The 1970s and early 1980s Dark Blue Grover had came in plush and had a pull string that plaed some of his favorite phrases as well.

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  4. I've been looking for my favorite childhood toy. It was a cookie monster with a pull string that sang "c is for cookie". It was the early 70s. Ever seen one?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Lori
      Regretfully I haven't seen one. That sounds like an awesome Cookie Monster toy! Hope you find one again someday.

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