Monday, June 07, 2010

Muppets in the Wild

I make no secret that I love the Muppets.  I grew up with them.  So did the bloggers of Tough Pigs. I don't remember much about Sesame Street but I know I adored The Muppet Show.  In recent years I've gotten seasons one and two of The Muppet Show on DVD as gifts.  And they remain amazing.  Not nostalgia-amazing but really-good-amazing, there's-stuff-here-for-adults-amazing.  Maybe what I'm even more impressed with is the there's-stuff-here-for-artists aspect of the show; something I definitely never caught on to before.

Jim Henson was really interested in doing everything and anything he could with puppetry and marionettes.  I love reading about his vision and what he was trying to do.  The Muppet workshop has produced some duds over the years like The Dark Crystal and (the debatably bad, or at least awesomely-bad) Labyrinth.  But they're also the ones responsible for really great monsters like Yoda (who needs no introduction), and Rigel and Pilot from the TV show Farscape.

When the 20th anniversary of Jim Henson's death came around last month I had myself a good cry.  First of all, I couldn't believe I was only six when that happened.  I remember it.  I remember seeing the funeral on TV, a packed hall and all the mourners held giant butterflies on poles with streamers.  There was color everywhere.  I remember my mother telling me that he didn't want his funeral to be somber and black, he wanted there to be color.   My own grandfather had died the year before but this was the first death I remember affecting me.  I think I felt I knew Jim Henson better.  I remain angry, and upset that he died so young.

Meanwhile -- while I pull myself together and stop sniffling (seriously) -- there's a whole series of youtube videos with the writers of Lost and the Muppets who are trying to get in on the end of the series action.  My favorite is with the Swedish Chef.




But I've said the best Muppet thing for last.  FAO Shwarz is making muppets-to-order just for you and me. There's a huge range of possibilities for the combination of features your Muppet "Whatnot" can have.  Watch the video to see what  Whatnot is. 

This one in the bowling shirt I created. I went for an old-school monster look with the big bushy eyebrows and horns but your monster doesn't have to be a monster.  He can look like that bald guy who always was unfortunate enough to dine in the restaurant where Grover was waiting tables.

At $129 before tax and shipping, the Muppet Whatnot makes an expensive toy for a child or a very reasonable collector's item. If I had money to burn I would totally be ordering customized Muppet paraphernalia like Sal.

Yeah, I named him. So what?

5 comments:

El Johno said...

i'm a bit sad about your diss of Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. I love those movies!

have you watched The Storyteller? it was a good mini-series.

Okie said...

Way cool. I may have to get some personalized Whatnots for my wife & kids. Very rad!

Jud said...

Interesting to learn about this side of you. I grew up with the critters on Sesame Street and to a degree on the Muppet Show in the late 1970s. I enjoyed Sam the Eagle.

El Johno said...

btw, i firmly believe Elmo killed Grover in a coup to take over his position. Super Grover was the shizzle, and now we have to deal with the evil spawn, Elmo.

also, Swedish Chef is my hero.

Eileen Wiedbrauk said...

Fun fact: the Swedish Chef is the only muppet where the puppet's hands are the hands of a human puppeteer.

His handling of cooking implements makes all other hand types not feasible.

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