Mikey's Muppet Memorabilia Museum

Mikey's Muppet Memorabilia Museum

Sesame Street: 1980-1989


Here is a very nifty five inch doll of Ernie made by Knickerbocker in 1981. The shoes are attached as the doll's feet but the shirt and pants are removable. These dolls don't seem to be as common as the Ernie and Bert rag dolls Knickerbocker made (shown on the "Sesame Street 1969-1979" page). The box has a copyright date of 1981. An original price tag sticker on the front of the box says $6.79.

This is the back of the box for the above Ernie doll. It shows the other dolls available in the set, Big Bird, Cookie Monster (with chef hat), Bert and Ernie. A closer view is shown below.
 
It's too bad more characters weren't included in this series. It would have been awesome to have Super Grover, The Count, Roosevelt Franklin, Sherlock Hemlock, and others in this style.

Here is a closer look at the Ernie 5 inch doll. The matching Bert doll is on my "to find" list.  
 
In 1981 Knickerbocker/Ganz Bros. made variations of their popular Bert and Ernie dolls in which the characters are wearing pyjamas. I only have the Bert doll, shown above. 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 a small 4 inch clip-on figure of Bert that I bought at some point in the 1980's. There is a small oval sticker on the back of the shirt that says "Made in Korea". A close up of the sticker is shown below. This looks like it might be a bootleg item. The head is similar to the Child Guidance finger puppet of Bert.

 
Hasbro first began to make Sesame Street toys in the early 1980s under their Playskool brand. One of my favourite collections from Hasbro are the Sesame Street metal cars. Here is a photo showing 21 different vehicles. I've found three more since taking this picture for a total of 24 cars. There are 28 vehicles in the collection that I know of, so I'm only missing four of them: Grover's Helicopter, Ernie's Helicopter, Oscar's Trash Can Roadster (a trash can shaped car), and Bert's Snowplough. A yellow, plastic, flat carrying case in the shape of a school bus was also made for this collection. In 1998 Fisher-Price produced a similar series of Sesame Street toy cars which may cause confusion for collectors trying to identify specific cars. I discuss the Fisher-Price series on the "Sesame Street:1990-1999" page of this blog. A closer view of the Hasbro cars are shown below. 

Big Bird's green car, Popcorn Truck, and Dump Truck (missing the back section).

Big Bird's Mail Truck and Musical Instrument Car.

 Cookie Monster's Chauffeur's Truck, Cookie Train, Cake Truck, and Cement Mixer Truck.

Ernie's Fire Truck, Race Car, and Bath Tub vechicle.

Bert's Taxi Cab, Pigeon Patrol Truck, and School Bus 

Oscar's Garbage Truck, Jalopy Car, and Bulldozer
  
Grover's Western Wagon, Speedster (silver spaceship), and Airplane 

Snuffy in a row boat, the Count's Countmobile, and Herry's Gym Mobile. That's 25! 25 awesome Sesame Cars! Ah! Ah! Ah! 
 
 
Here are two Sesame Street place mats from a set that was produced in 1981. I'm not sure how many different ones there were in this set, but I assume there were at least four, as was the case in 1982, shown below. I only have these two from the 1981 set. The back of the place mats have activities to do. The manufacturer info says "Playtime Placemats, B of A Inc." and "made in the USA".
 
Shown above and below are a set of four Sesame Street place mats that were made in 1982. Once again, the back of the place mats have activities to do. These were made by the same company as the 1981 set.
 
 
Here is a larger sized, hard plastic Cookie Monster pull toy made by Hasbro/Playskool in 1982. As the toy is pulled forward Cookie Monster's arm moves up and down to eat his cookie, and his legs peddle the bike. Below is a view showing the back of the toy with the sticker that says Cookie Monster.


In 1983 Hasbro produced these three 8 inch sized Sesame Street plush toys. The characters, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and Oscar, are all wearing T-shirts with their names on them. Of all the smaller sized Sesame plush toys from the 70's and 80s these are the most commonly found. I had always thought these plush toys were made by Knickerbocker as they look so much like the smaller sized Knickerbocker plush toys from the 1970's, but I've just recently discovered that they are in fact made by Hasbro. The three examples that I have are in mint condition, yet only Cookie Monster has a manufacturers tag sewn into a seam at the back. The other two do not show any signs of a tag having been cut off, so it seems they were sold without any manufacturer or copyright info. The tag on Cookie Monster says Playskool and has a copyright date of 1983. These were sold through to at least 1988 as the Cookie Monster from this set is seen in the window display of the Toronto Muppet Stuff store in my 1988 photo shown here: http://mikeysmuppetmemorabiliamuseum.blogspot.ca/p/muppet-stuff-store.html

I've noticed a variation for Big Bird's eyes. The original toys have a painted blue line on the eyelid, and the later version has the blue line as a a raised, sculpted edge around the eyelid. This is another reason why I thought these were made by Knickerbocker, as the eyes with the painted blue line are made the same as those used for Knickerbocker's Big Bird plush toys.

Continuing with Hasbro plush toys, here's a set of three 9 inch Honkers made by Hasbro in 1983. When the doll's nose is squeezed the toy really honks. The Honkers were introduced on the TV show during the 1980s, so I believe this is the first time the Honkers were made as plush toys.

This is an 11 inch plush Baby Ernie made by Hasbro/Playskool in 1983. It's made in the same style as the popular Knickerbocker Bert and Ernie plush toys from the 1970s, which Hasbro continued to produce in the 1980s.
 
 
Here are the Hasbro Sesame Babies from 1984. The series included Big Bird (if he's a baby wouldn't that be Little Bird?), Grover, Oscar the Grouch, and missing from my photo, Cookie Monster. The bonnets and diapers for these dolls were separate removable clothes which are often missing. This Big Bird is missing the bonnet. Each of the diapers has the character's name printed on it.
 
The Sesame Babies came into existence after the 1983 Muppets Take Manhattan movie spawned the Muppet Babies craze that lasted through to the early 1990's. The film portrayed the Muppet Show characters as babies for the first time, followed by a Muppet Babies animated series. See the Muppet Babies page of this blog for more info. 
 
Since the Muppet Babies became so popular, the Sesame Street characters were quickly marketed in baby form, as seen with these plush toys. Disney's Mickey Mouse characters were also quick to follow the babies trend and competed with the Muppets for a share of the "baby" market in retail stores during the 1980's.
 
This is a music box made by Fisher-Price. There is no date on it however according to Muppet Wiki it was made in 1984. When the larger knob on the TV set is wound the music box plays the popular Sesame Street song "People in Your Neighborhood", as the illustrated paper scenery scrolls to the left.

The back of the toy is just plain green, with a Big Bird illustrated decal on the right side.

The left side of the toy has the lyrics of the song in English and French. Below I've shown the complete illustrated scenery cycle.



  
Here is the "Sesame Street Get Ready: Words" card game with a set of 30 large illustrated cards. Each card is dated 1978 but this set was made in 1986, produced by Golden. The cover of the box was illustrated by Tom Brandon and the cards were illustrated by Tom Cooke. Unfortunately this box is torn at the top.
 
Here is another item produced by Golden in 1986, a Sesame Street puzzle made out of thick card board. It's titled "The Shapes on Sesame Street" and has eight puzzle shapes that can be removed to reveal the name of the shape underneath. This one is missing the square piece above Oscar. 
 
In 1986 Hasbro took over the production of the 20 inch Talking Big Bird which Child Guidance/CBS had been producing in the early 1980s. This toy was a variation of Child Guidance's "Stuffed Big Bird Puppet" that had first been produced by Educational Toys Inc in the early 1970s (the very first Big Bird plush toy to have ever been made). The Hasbro talking Big Bird that I have is broken, so I don't know what Big Bird says. At the same time that Hasbro made this Talking Big Bird in 1986 they introduced the smaller 15" non-talking version, shown above.

Here is the jumbo sized (or giant sized) plush Big Bird made by Hasbro/Playskool in 1986. It is 30 inches tall, head to foot, or 18 inches sitting.
 
This, without questions, is my favourite Big Bird plush toy. There will never be another Big Bird plush toy better than this one! I bought this in the mid to late 1980s at Toy City, Westgate Mall here in Ottawa. I recall that, as a kid, I had wanted this very, very badly and saved up my money forever to buy it. Eventually when I had enough I went with my Mom to the store to buy it. It was the happiest day of my life! :) As a kid, I used to ride around on my BMX bicycle with Big Bird sitting on the handlebars. People thought I was a bit nuts, and they were right. :)

Here is the side view to show the shape of the toy and his tail.

What I especially liked about this Big Bird was how Hasbro made the mouth. It looks just like a Muppet style mouth, which is awesome! Unfortunately, Sesame Street plush toys often don't have this type of detail. While this toy was in stores, Hasbro also had the license for Muppet Babies toys. I recall that the jumbo sized Baby Kermit plush toy was displayed next to this Big Bird on the toy store shelf. Many years later after I bought this Big Bird I found the Baby Kermit at a thrift store. A picture of it is on the Muppet Babies page of this blog, at this link:

Also in 1986, Hasbro/Playskool produced a series of plush Sesame Street mouth puppets that were more or less the right scale for the jumbo plush Big Bird toy, shown above. These puppets were sold in boxes. Two styles of box were made, some boxes say "Sesame Pals" on them, while others simply say that the toy is a puppet. The original four puppets to be released were Ernie, Oscar (shown above), Bert and Cookie Monster which all have the opening for controlling the puppets at the waist area on the back of the puppet, as shown below. Ernie's puppet opening is under the back of his shirt, Oscar's is where his fur meets the trash can. Big Bird and Grover (shown below) were added to the series later on and are controlled through the back of the head. These were all very well made and popular toys in their time. Unfortunately my examples of Ernie and Oscar are in very rough shape. Ernie's pants show fading from light damage.


Here are the Big Bird and Grover puppets made by Hasbro/Playskool in the late 1980's. These puppets were controlled through an opening in the back of the head. A version of this Grover puppet with darker blue fur was also made, but I find that this one looks better.
 

This is a wooden tray puzzle that does not have a date on it. It may have been made in the late 1970s, however I think it is more likely from the early to mid 1980s as it is made by Hasbro/Playskool. Below is a view of the puzzle with the pieces removed.


On the topic of puzzles, in the mid 1980s Milton Bradley continued to produce Sesame Street puzzles with unique shaped puzzle pieces (see the Sesame Street 1970-1979 page for more). This puzzle is from 1985 and shows Big Bird with Little Bird.

 This is Ernie, Betty Lou and Bert on a 1985 puzzle with unique shaped pieces.

 This is Big Bird and Cookie Monster on a 1985 puzzle with unique shaped pieces.

This is a jumbo sized puzzle in a large box from 1988 showing Big Bird, Ernie, Bert Oscar and Elmo. It has large pieces that are shaped like standard puzzle pieces. From this point on all boxed puzzles are made with standard shaped puzzle pieces.

Here is a rare Sesame Park 50 piece puzzle with the Canadian Sesame Street Muppets, Dodie (a green skinned elderly woman who likes flying around in her airplane), Louie the Otter (a French and English speaking character), and Basil Bear (who learns how to speak French from his friend Louie). The copyright info on the side of the box says "© 1988 Children's Television Workshop, Sesame Street Muppet Characters © 1988 Muppets Inc." The longer side of the box has the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) logo next to English and French text "Les Entreprises Radio-Canada, CBC Enterprises, Montreal, Quebec, H3C 3A8". Therefore, when this puzzle was made the program was simply called "Canadian Sesame Street", and later in the 1990s it changed to "Sesame Park". There is a maple leaf logo on the front of the box in the top left corner that says "Sesame Street Canada".

The picture of this puzzle is a rather crudely rendered illustration and I find it to be a very bizarre choice for a puzzle. The characters and scenery are drawn with a black marker and then the picture is painted. In my opinion the arrangement of the characters is also poorly done as they are all bunched together in the middle of the picture, and their poses aren't very interesting. Basil the Bear is the only one whose face can be seen as the other two are looking away, which doesn't do much to promote the characters. This leaves me wondering if the CBC actually got a kid to do the drawing, or if they were just too cheap to license an actual photograph of the puppets from one of their own shows! How nice it would have been to have a Sesame Park puzzle showing the actual puppets. However, in a way the illustration sort of adds to the uniqueness of this hard to find Muppet collectable. Below is a view of the puzzle pieces, which are large-sized.



This Milton Bradley puzzle is from 1989 and shows Betty Lou, Ernie, Bert, Elmo and Cookie Monster.

In the mid to late 1980's Tara Toy produced a series of "Tricky Trike" toys of Sesame characters on tricycles. When the toy is pushed forwards the character peddles the bike. Above is Bert on the original bubble card, which has been opened. Usually the back of Tara Toy cards show an assortment of other toys that are available, but this one is just solid yellow on the back. I purchased this toy at a BiWay discount store in the 1980's. As you can see by the price tag it was .66 cents! Not a bad deal.

Here is another view of Bert on the Tricky Trike. Big Bird was also made in this series, and the tricycles were made using different colours of plastic creating two versions for each character. Bert is available on a blue bike with red wheels, shown above, as well as a red bike with yellow wheels. Big Bird can be found on a red bike with yellow wheels, and a yellow bike with blue wheels. Aside from Bert and Big Bird there doesn't seem to be any other characters in this collection I find it odd that Bert was made and Ernie wasn't as usually it's the other way around.

I've also shown the Tricky Trike toy next to the Tara Toy PVC Big Bird for size comparison. All of the Tara Toy PVC figures are on the "Sesame Street PVC Figures" page of this blog, here:

Following on the success of the Child Guidance finger puppets which had been in production for a full decade, but had gone out of production in the early 1980's, Tara Toy made two sets of Finger Puppets in the mid 1980s. The first set, shown above, includes the six main characters: Oscar, Ernie, Bert, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and Grover. (Elmo was still not a main character yet.) Below is the second series. All of the same characters were made but they are holding something. I'm only missing Oscar, he's holding Slimey the Worm.



The Applause toy company made the next series of finger puppets in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Shown above is my favourite Sesame Muppet, the Count, along with Betty Lou, Elmo, and Alice Snuffleupagus. That's four! Four very awesome finger puppets! Ah! Ah! Ah! (That shtick never gets old!) With the exception of the Count, this is the first time that these characters were made as finger puppets. Below is a back view to show the detail.

I find this to be quite a bizarre set of finger puppets as to my knowledge Applause didn't bother making any of the other the main characters for this series, and instead choose to do these four random characters. This may have been because the Tara Toy series was still available, so the intent could have been to continue the series. Applause did a higher quality job on their finger puppets so it's too bad they didn't make any other characters, and that they abandoned this series of the characters as "themselves" before they started making the themed sets mentioned below. It would have been nice to see some more characters added to the collection, such as Mr. Snuffleupagus, Guy Smiley, Two-Headed Monster, Frazzle, Biff, Sully, Super Grover, Forgetful Jones, Telly, Grundgetta, Barkley, Honkers, and Twiddle Bugs, many of which Applause included in their PVC figurine collection.
 
Applause made two sets of Sesame Street finger puppets based on themes with the characters dressed in different outfits. The first set was based on a Western theme. Above is Prairie Dawn and Cookie Monster. I'm missing Big Bird and Oscar from this set. (Oscar is in a wooden barrel instead of his trash can.) A third series was based on the theme of different jobs and included Betty Lou as a Doctor, Ernie as a Fireman, Elmo as a Painter, and Big Bird as a Postman.

Here is a 5 inch Bendy figure of Grover made by Applause. I'm assuming it was made in the late 1980's  or early 1990's when Applause was producing toys for the Muppet Stuff stores. I've also seen Big Bird, Ernie, Bert, Cookie Monster and Elmo for this set. Applause also made 5 inch bendy series based on a Western theme that included Ernie and Bert wearing cowboy hats and boots. I have yet to see any of the other figures in the western bendy set.

A smaller series of four 3 inch bendy figures was also made, this time with a beach theme:
Big Bird with and orange life jacket
Elmo with tire tube around his waist
Ernie wearing a striped bathing suit
Bert with swimming flippers

In the late 1980s and early 1990s the Applause toy company held the license to produce Sesame Street toys, many of which were sold through the franchise of Muppet Stuff stores. Along with the above finger puppets they made plush toys, a VERY extensive series of PVC figures, hand puppets, and mouth puppets. Here is the Elmo puppet that I bought in 1990. The tag has a 20th anniversary logo on it and a copyright date of 1988. With this series of puppets, Applause was essentially continuing the series begun by Hasbro/Playskool. The entrance for controlling the Elmo puppet is through the back of the head (shown below) and the body is stuffed, which is the same as Hasbro's Big Bird and Grover puppets. I believe this is the very first Elmo puppet to be marketed, as the character was still relatively new around this time.


While they were offering their Sesame Street puppets, Applause also offered a wide selection of Sesame plush toys. This is a plush toy of Snuffleupagus which has a doll joint at the neck so that his head can be turned. An identical looking hand puppet of Snuffleupagus was also made. A variation of this plush toy was made with light brown fur which I think looks quite odd as the character is supposed to have dark brown fur. 

Above is the Applause Count doll from 1988. I've shown a side view so that you can see the plastic monocle. A front view is also shown below. My friend Duane bought this for me at a Flea Market in California in 2013! It's in great shape complete with original hangtags  The tag shows a logo for Sesame Street's 20th anniversary, same as the Elmo puppet above. Several variations of this Count doll were made with very noticeable product changes. A puppet version of this doll was also made, shown below. That's one! One very awesome Count doll! Ah! Ah! Ah!


Above is a Count puppet that I bought from the Muppet Stuff store that used to be at Bayshore Shopping Centre, in Ottawa, ON. Being the Muppet freak that I am, I was a regular customer! (The above Elmo and Grover puppets were purchased at the same store.) The tag that came with this Count puppet has a copyright date of 1988, but the puppet was still being sold in 1990, which is when I bought this one. As with the Count doll from 1988, shown above, I've seen a few earlier variations of this puppet, but I like this 1990 version the best. The Count is also my favourite Sesame character. It's difficult to see in the photo but there is a plastic circle "monocle" attached next to his left eye, the same as the above Count doll. The entrance for the puppet is at the bottom unlike many of the other Sesame puppets that Applause was making at the time which have the entrance at the back of the head (see the Elmo puppet, above). The body of this puppet also has some stuffing in it so that it's similar to a doll and can sit up on it's own. One! One very awesome Count puppet! Ah! Ah! Ah! KABOOM! (Remember how Old School Sesame Street always had the thunder and lightning after the Count counted things?!)

Here is a closer look at the hag tags for the Count puppet and Elmo puppet.
 

In addition to the awesome series of Sesame Street mouth puppets, shown above, Applause also made a not-so-awesome series of hand puppets with stuffed heads (non-moving mouths). Here is the ugly Big Bird puppet from this collection. The other characters don't look as bad as this one. I've seen puppets of Bert, Ernie, Oscar and Grover for this series.
 
Here is a very soft and squishy 11 inch Cookie Monster plush toy that was made by Applause. Unfortunately the tag attached on the bottom of the toy doesn't have a date, but it's likely from the late 1988s or early 1990s. The apron is removable and says "Cookies make me happy". As if we didn't know that already! :)
 
This is a 13 inch plush Big Bird plush (9 inches sitting) with the original hang tag and plastic candy cane. It was made by Hasbro/Playskool in 1988. His hat is tacked on at the sides of his head but is otherwise removable. A similar plush Big Bird without the Santa suit was also produced at the same time.
 
I suspect that nobody will be surprised to see this in my collection. This is a very, very, very, very commonly found Ernie cookie jar. It doesn't have a date, makers marks, or any copyright info on it. During the 1980s this cookie jar was available through craft supply shops or pottery supply shops as a craft kit that you could bake in a kiln and paint yourself. Therefore, every one of these is hand painted by novice or semi-professional painters, which is why every time you see one it is painted differently from the last one you saw. There is a general colour scheme to follow, but in many cases people used their imaginations to paint Ernie however they wished, which accounts for some of the bizarre variations you might come across. It's also very likely that due to the popularity of the character, some folks painted these by the dozen on a home-made production line for sale at craft fairs, and so on, using more or less the same colours. In any case, the true origin of this cookie jar is a mystery to me! Regardless of how common they are, if you can find one that is painted well it makes for a nice (and inexpensive) addition to a Muppet collection. Personally, I think these cookie jars are awesome. I keep this one on the counter in the kitchen! Below, I've shown the cookie jar with the lid off.

 
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, toy company Illco produced a wide rage of Sesame Street products. This is a larger sized wind-up toy car with soft rubber figures of Ernie, Oscar, and Big Bird attached. The figures are reminiscent of the Tara Toy finger puppets that were made earlier on in the 1980s (shown above). When the car drives along, Ernie and Oscar move up and down together as Big Bird moves in the opposite direction, up or down. This one is missing the crank that is needed to wind up the toy. Below is a view of the other side.

 
Here is a hard plastic Big Bird friction toy by Illco. When you press Big Bird down, his nest drives forward as Little Bird bobs back and forth. Below is a view of the wheels on the bottom of the toy.

 
Here is an 8 inch tall Oscar the Grouch Weeble Wobble style toy made by Lewco in 1988. It's from a game called" Don't tip the trash can" in which plastic pieces are placed on the lid of Oscar's can. Here is the Muppet Wiki page about the toy which includes an image of the original box: http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/Don%27t_Tip_the_Trash_Can
 
Here is an Ernie pillow doll that I found second hand in the 1990's. I don't have any manufacturing information, though the sewing and filling of the doll was a home made project. These types of pillow-style dolls have long been sold at fabric stores, which often carry bolts of fabric with illustrations of characters (licenced characters, Santa Claus, manger scene characters, etc.) printed on sheets of fabric that is sold by the meter. You would then cut out the shapes along the guidelines, sew the pillow together and then stuff it to make your own doll. Other than Ernie's pal Bert, I've never seen any other Sesame Street characters in this style so I don't know how many dolls were included in the series. I suspect the fabric for these pillow dolls was made in the 1980's, though it's possible that it's from the late 1970's or very early 1990's.
 
Here is a pack of Sesame Street invitations made by Party Plus/Granger Balloons Inc. Unfortunately there is no date anywhere on the package. I suspect they're from the mid to late 1980's but they could also be from the very early 1990's. As Elmo is not featured it seems more likely to be from the 1980s.
 
Photos and text © Mike Artelle, 1997, 2016

6 comments:

  1. Wow!!!!
    Everything Muppet, great information. I have a box of my sons toys from the 80's and was thinking of giving the stuffed toys to the dog to play witn.... but now???

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    1. Hello Unknown
      Glad you like my blog! But...to the dog? Yikes!!! Hope you changed your mind. If the Sesame plush toys are in good condition you can sell them as a lot on e-bay and then use a fraction of what you earn from selling them to buy your dog a toy! :)

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  2. I found a 70s rattling Cookie Monster, and I found two maybe 80s ones today. This site is my go-to for trying to identify vintage muppets! Thanks!

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  3. Hi Lucy
    That's a super find! Those original 70's plush toys are quite funny looking, which for me is what makes them so cool! Thanks for the comment about my blog, that's awesome to hear! Very happy to help a fellow Muppet fan! :)

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  4. I have a Kermit riding a bicycle that I would call a gyro toy as the back wheel is heavy and metal and spins up with a geared plastic pull cord. The toy itself is plastic and in a sample box with no graphics or manufacturing data. It was labeled as a prototype at a toy show and having never seen one before or since so I took a chance. I believe I had a Piggy version too which has gone missing through various moves, Ring any bells? Trying to find any information I can.

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  5. Hi Sounds interesting! I haven't seen or heard anything about those before. I'd love to see a photo if you have one! Too bad Piggy went missing, especially if they are prototypes! It seems someone brought home the bacon. wocka wocka! :) (Muppet jokes!) Sorry I'm not able to be much help, but best of luck with your search.

    ReplyDelete