Educational Toys Inc. made the first series of Sesame Street toy puppets in 1971 and 1972, offering Ernie, Bert, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster (shown above) and a doll-like Big Bird Stuffed Puppet which had a plastic beak and plastic legs. The Cookie Monster and Oscar puppets offered by Educational Toys were made in Jamaica. The Cookie Monster puppet was also made in Canada. This was likely done simultaneously with those made in Jamaica. The Ernie and Bert shown above do not have makers tags on them, so it is unknown if they were made in Jamaica, Canada, or the United States. The box shown below for Ernie does not have any makers information other than "Educational Toys Inc." on the inside next to Ernie's right elbow.
Here are the only makers marks on the box. It says "ERNIE and MUPPET are trademarks of MUPPETS Inc. Educational Toys Inc. Licensee"
The back of the box had a punch-out section allowing it to become a puppet booth, designed to look like a TV set. I've found that when boxes turn up on e-bay or at nostalgia shows, they are ususally in this "played with" condition which reduces the value considerably.
Here's a link to a photo showing the two different Ernie boxes, along with Cookie Monster, Oscar and Big Bird all in Educational Toys boxes:
Sesame Street Roosevelt Franklin puppet
Above is the Educational Toys version of the Roosevelt Franklin puppet. With help from David of "Grover's Corner" (here is his blog: http://vintagesesamestuff.blogspot.ca/) I've managed to identify which copy of the Roosevelt puppet I have. As with the Ernie and Bert puppets, Educational Toys' Roosevelt puppet was made with the black iris section of the puppet's eye sculpted so that it is raised slightly above the white section. Roosevelt's arms were also left unstuffed. The Child Guidance version of this puppet simply has flat painted irises, and the arms have a slim foam tube inside similar to Bert. Child Guidance also made a version of this puppet with a slightly smaller head than the original Educational Toys version. Vicma also made a version of this Roosevelt puppet in the late 1970s using pink plastic for the head instead of purple.
Originally I thought that Educational Toys did not make the Roosevelt Franklin or Grover toy puppets as these two characters do not appear in the artwork on the sides of the Educational Toys box (seen above with the Ernie puppet). It's possible that these two characters were added to the series later, in 1972 or 1973 (maybe even at the same time as the Count, shown below) which is why they wouldn't have been included in the box artwork. I've come across a photo of the Roosevelt Franklin puppet in what looks to be an Educational Toys box. The photo is on page 271 of the mammoth book "Sesame Street: A Celebration - 40 Years of life on the Street". The puppet is shown in the less common smaller sized box with the white base. I have yet to see Roosevelt in the larger style box with the brick base (again, seen above with the Ernie puppet) so I am not certain if this puppet was also sold in that box as well. I've never seen the Grover puppet in any of the Educational Toys boxes, so it's possible that this character did not join the series until Child Guidance took over the production. As you can see, there are still a few mysteries to be solved! Speaking of which....
The extremely rare "plastic head" Sesame Street Count puppet that was, apparently, sold only in Canada. Very little is known about the origin of this puppet, even the type of box it was sold in is up for debate. I've posted more information about this mysterious puppet here: http://mikeysmuppetmemorabiliamuseum.blogspot.ca/2016/04/the-1973-count-puppet-box.html
These are some of the Child Guidance Sesame Street puppets made between 1973 and 1979, all mint from the box. Shown here are (L to R) Ernie, Bert, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster, Big Bird, and Grover.
Child Guidance Sesame Street Ernie Puppet with the 1973 box
The picture on this Child Guidance box for Ernie shows the Educational Toys version of the puppet. The back of the box also shows the Educational Toys puppet. Next to the box is the actual Child Guidance puppet which is very different (note the shirt stripes). The Child Guidance "plastic head" Ernie puppet was made from 1973 to 1977. Below is Grover's box from 1973. This puppet was made several years before Fisher-Price made the Rowlf the Dog and Animal puppets for their Muppet Show series of toys. All three of these puppets are very similar in style, with plastic heads covered with fabric and a plastic nose. I wonder if perhaps this Grover puppet influenced Frisher-Price's design for the Muppet Show series? Child Guidance produced this Grover puppet from 1973 until 1978 or 1979.
Child Guidance Sesame Street Grover puppet with the 1973 box
The image below shows the back of the boxes that were used from mid 1974 to mid 1977. This revised box (with five kids instead of four) introduces The Anything Muppet and The Count to the series. This photo is also the only time the correct Child Guidance "plastic head" Ernie puppet is ever seen on Child Guidance boxes, as the 1974 Ernie box still used the Educational Toys picture for the front (the same one seen above on the 1973 Ernie box). Therefore, the actual Child Guidance "plastic head" Ernie puppet was never pictured on the front of the boxes. The Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster and Bert puppets shown below next to their boxes are all from 1974. All seven items shown on the back of the 1973 boxes can also be found in 1974 boxes.
Child Guidance Sesame Street Oscar the Grouch puppet with the 1974 box
Child Guidance Sesame Street Cookie Monster puppet with the 1974 box
Child Guidance Sesame Street Bert puppet with the 1974 box
The Anything Muppet is advertised in the 1974 Child Guidance catalogue (shown above) as being a new addition for that year. It came with a variety of face pieces (eyes, nose, hair, etc.) so that kids could create their own character. This puppet is hard to find with all of the pieces. Often when this puppet turns up on e-bay or at a flea market it doesn't have any pieces at all.
Above is the description of the Anything Muppet from the 1974 Child Guidance catalogue, with a list of all the pieces that the toy came with.
The Child Guidance Anything Muppet as shown on the back of the 1974 box (left) and the 1977 box (right). Note that the stripes are horizontal as compared with the puppet seen in the above 1974 Child Guidance catalogue photo, which has vertical stripes.
Although the 1974 Child Guidance product catalogue listed the Anything Muppet as being "new", the 1973 Eaton's Christmas catalogue included the above photo of the Anything Muppet on page 460. This blue version is clearly a prototype as it looks nothing like the toy that was actually produced. Not a single component of the puppet pictured here is the same as the actual toy puppet! The puppet's face and hands should be pink instead of blue, his shirt is made out of Ernie's shirt fabric, and the eyes and hair are all completely different, though I like how much this blue prototype looks like a hippie! In any case, in order for Eaton's to have filled their customer's orders for Christmas 1973, Child Guidance would have had to have made the Anything Muppet available in late 1973, rather than releasing it in 1974! The other interesting thing about this photo is the yellow arm rod on Grover. To my knowledge all of the arm rods were black plastic.
Here's another look at a prototype for the Anything Muppet. This one is an even earlier version from the 1972 Aldens catalogue. Note that the listing says it's "not available". Very bizarre! Why include it in the catalogue if it's not available? Once again the character is blue instead of pink, and he also has brown fur pieces and yellow hair that was not included with the final product. His shirt is a solid orange instead of striped. As this is a 1972 ad, could it be that this is the Educational Toys prototype for the Anything Muppet which Child Guidance later finished developing for a 1974 release? The puppet sleeve on this Anything Muppet prototype is much longer than the one shown above, which is typical of the Educational Toys puppets. This is definitely the Educational Toys Big Bird (the listing says it was available in Nov 1971) and what looks to be a smaller variation of the Educational Toys Bert with the fabric eyebrows. In any case this is a very interesting advertisement!
The Count was not mentioned in the 1974 catalogue however a unique version of the "fabric head" Count puppet appears with the Anything Muppet on the back of the revised box packaging for 1974. Therefore, the Count was likely added to the series sometime in 1974 or 1975. The version of the Count puppet seen in the 1974 box had fake fur hair and is likely a prototype, which is too bad as it looks a lot better than the actual puppet that was made. The actual product was pictured on the 1977 boxes and has doll like hair. This in my opinion is the worst puppet in the series. I still don't have the "fabric head" count puppet in my collection and I'm not in any rush to change that. I've deliberately passed it up at flea markets a few times.
Next are the boxes for 1977 (with six kids) which introduce the Big Bird Hand Puppet. The "plastic head" version of Ernie and Bert were also replaced with the cheaper, less interesting "fabric head" puppets. It's strange that Roosevelt Franklin is now the only puppet with a plastic head. (It also seems that Roosevelt is now pink instead of purple. Vicma also made avery different version of Roosevelt that was pink.) The Count puppet on the 1977 box has been changed to show the actual product that was sold. In this picture, the pieces of the Anything Muppet's face were changed from the 1974 box photo. This time the puppet doesn't have a moustache. Most of the same kids from the 1974 box are back to hold up the puppets again.
Child Guidance Sesame Street Big Bird puppet with the 1977 box
This Big Bird Hand Puppet is awesome! I like it the best from this series, even more than my plastic head Count puppet. I got one of these Big Bird puppets for Christmas when I was very young and was fascinated with it, so I'm really glad to have found one in the original box. Unfortunately the plastic used on the inside of the puppet to shape the beak and hold the eyes in place has dried out and become very brittle. In fact it's so fragile now that I hate to even move it as the plastic has already broken in a few places (it snaps even if you barely touch it!). As a result, one eye is now loose, so the eyes may have originally been closer together than they are in the photo. In order to take this picture, I stuffed the head to give the puppet some shape and to keep the eyes in place.
Child Guidance Sesame Street Ernie puppet with the 1977 box
Here is the box for the "fabric head" Ernie puppet. I bought this from e-bay and when it arrived it had a "plastic head" Ernie in the box. I don't know if Child Guidance packaged them this way or not. Perhaps when they were making the transition from the "plastic head" type to the "fabric head" type some puppets were put into the wrong boxes?
Child Guidance Sesame Street "fabric head" Ernie and Bert puppets from 1977.
It seems that these "fabric head" Ernie and Bert puppets were made until at least 1980, as the Ernie has a tag that says "Gabriel Industries a division of CBS Inc." with a copyright of 1980. It was made in the United States. Unfortunately the Bert puppet doesn't have a tag. I stuffed both of their heads to give them shape for the photo.
Child Guidance Sesame StreetCookie Monster puppet with the 1977 box
This 1977 Cookie Monster box is identical to the 1974 box only it has the updated picture on the back. Therefore, Cookie Monster has three box variations, and I assume, so do all of the original items from 1973. The card board insterts (shown above) for these boxes are often missing.
No, I'm not a Muppet! I'm Monsieur Tranquille!!!
Here is the CBS/Child Guidance Ernie and Bert hand puppets from 1980. They are quite pathetic though I find they have more personality than the fabric head count puppet. I had to stuff their heads to give them shape for this picture. The Ernie puppet shown here is the one I played with as a child so he is in very poor condition compaired to the Bert puppet, which I found on e-bay and is almost mint condition.