We are continuing to take your votes on our MuppetsHenson Poll! Please rate the latest episode of "Pigs In Space" appearing on The Muppets YouTube Channel, "The Gravity of the Situation". Part two of the last poll is still active for your votes. We would like to know what other sketch from "The Muppet Show" would you like to see NEW episodes produced. Let us know your opinions. You can find the NEW MuppetsHenson Poll at the TOP of the RIGHT SIDEBAR. Thanks for your participation!

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Guide To Collecting Muppets By Nicholas Napoli

Last year might not have been the best for fans when it came to Muppet productions but merchandising wise we did alright. 2016 was a fun year to be a Muppet collector, it was even more fun and at times difficult to keep up if you’re a fan of all things Jim Henson. Staying up to date with my Muppet collection has always been a challenge, especially since I have to order everything online, I purchased the entire Palisades Toys line through the internet. For me it’s difficult to keep my collection updated because at times some items are hard to come across but money wise there has always been such a limited selection of merchandise (at a time) that it’s never been a problem until recently. This generally tends to happen when there’s a new line of figures (in any form) as was the case over ten years ago when Palisades released their line of Muppets action figures. The last time I had trouble keeping up was when Palisades began releasing wave after wave of excellent Muppet figures every four months for about three years, this was a fun experience, one that will always remind me of the name Ken Lilly.

Diamond Select reintroduced The Muppets in action figure form back into our lives last year and alongside the regular figures they also introduced Muppet Minimates. For the first time since Disney purchased The Muppets I was overwhelmed by merchandise and Lego and Muppet fanatics were overjoyed.  

No longer was I patiently waiting for a
Rowlf plush to show up at the Disney Store or for Hallmark to release their annual Muppet ornament instead I was working like crazy to hunt down those difficult to come across Pigs in Space Toy R Us Minimates Exclusives amongst others. So far the Minimates have given us a large selection of different characters even including a random Swinetrek crew member, twenty-seven characters and thirty-seven figures in total when including variants. Honestly I would not mind if the line ended by Series 4, obviously if they continue I’ll keep buying but for now we have a nice selection of characters. I wasn’t a fan of the design yet I thought the same thing when the Vinylmation figures first came out, then I kicked myself for not collecting those, only because so many different characters were represented, I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice so I began collecting these the day they became available. I’ve already got the first two series, I’ve got Series 3 in the mail and now I’m just waiting for Diamond Select to announce the Series 4 line up so I can continue being excited to collect these in the future. My Series 4 wishlist would include Sam the Eagle and Bobo Bear, Rizzo the Rat and Snowth, Walter and Lew Zealand and finally Sweetums and Uncle Deadly.

I purchased Diamond Selects Muppets Action Figures Series 1 as soon as they became available and a few months later I ordered Series 2 but it wasn’t until recently that I finally opened them all out of their packaging. I’m moving soon and because of that I’ve had to begin storing my Muppet collection into containers, if there is no display and  only storage then what is the point of unpackaging my collectables? Around Christmas I decided to give myself a little present and opened Statler and Waldorf as I was keen to display them inside their balcony box on a hook on the wall. If you’re a Muppet Fan you’ll know exactly what happened next, I opened Animal, then Kermit, Robin and Bean Bunny, followed by Fozzie and Scooter, Gonzo and Camilla and lastly Dr Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker. As I looked at my newly opened figures I began to wonder why so many negative reviews? None of my figures came with any paint problems, the joints were a bit stiff but with a little exercise they began to move easily and the characters all look perfect especially Scooter once you push down his glasses.

When these figures were first announced I thought to myself this will be a nice way to hopefully fill in the few gaps left by Palisades but after opening the first six sets I’ve realised this is a brand new line of Muppet action figures and I’m glad their different from what Palisades offered us so many years ago. These figures are much smaller therefor much easier to handle, they won’t take up to much shelf space like the Palisades figures, I’ve actually found the perfect way to display them all without taking up to much space in my livingroom. These figures attract you to play with them unlike the Palisades ones which feel more like collectable figures you’re scared to touch. I must point out I was very impressed with Dr Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker, perhaps it was the fact that Statler, Waldorf and their balcony and Animal and his drumset had me so excited I had overlooked the scientific duo but once opened I could not put those particular two down. I’ve always visualized a full body Beaker resembling that of my Palisades Series 1 Beaker so this representation looked off but when you finally have the figure in your hand you realise this is a far more accurate representation. Have you ever wanted a regular clothed Link Hogthrob amongst your Muppet collection? Now you can if you’re okay leaving Hans Solo out of your Muppet Star Wars display.

Most excitingly of all (well for me anyway) is the upcoming Series 3 which will not only include Floyd and Janice, a perfectly shaped Miss Piggy along with Foo-Foo and a Penguin but also has an insane three pack consisting of Rowlf, Crazy Harry and Mahna-Mahna! This is the series I’m most excited about, I’m a huge fan of Mahna-Mahna and the Snowths, they’re the reason I wish I had 
collected the Vinylmation line, will we ever get Mahna-Mahna and Snowths plush toys which sing their classic song when squeezed or maybe even a Mahna-Mahna alarm clock? I never understood why Palisades didn’t release Mahna-Mahna and the Snowths in action figure form, they were going for obscure characters yet they only made these characters as part of the Muppet Minis. If Mahna-Mahna comes as part of a three pack why he is not packed with two Snowths instead fascinates me, perhaps we’re getting a Snowths, piano and explosives set down the line. I haven’t read anywhere that Rowlf, Crazy Harry and Mahna-Mahna come with any accessories yet Crazy Harry’s hands are designed to hold dynamite sticks... do they expect us to use our Palisades dynamite sticks? Diamond Select please do not let Mahna-Mahna become the Johnny Fiama of this line. The only annoying thing about Series 3 is the fact that it won’t decide on its release date, first they were slated for January 31st, then February 22nd and now March 31st but looking around online I can see they have quietly started popping up yet at ridiculous prices, I’m sure they’ll become widely available any day now at a more reasonable price.

Palisades Toys Muppets Action Figure line ended back in 2005, I was so grateful for all the new characters I now had as part of my collection (and until this day some have still not been represented again in merchandise) but at the same time I couldn’t stop but dwell on the ones that didn’t make it into final production. Every time I look at my Frog Scout Robin figure I wonder why are you not naked? Every time I look at my Johnny Fiama figure I wonder where is Sal Minella? Every time I play Muppet Treasure Island I wonder where is Clueless Morgan and Mad Monty? Every time I look at my Dr Phil Van Neuter figure I wonder why are you not Bobo Bear. After all these years some of these Muppets have fallen more into obscurity whilst others which we had never considered during Palisades run have risen to fame and deserve the action figure treatment. I highly doubt we’ll be adding Sal Minella, Clueless Morgan or Mad Monty to our collections anytime soon but we’re only three series in and we already have naked Robin, Bean Bunny, Foo-Foo, Mahna-Mahna and a balcony set! I think Bobo Bear stands a good chance of making it into our collections this time around and hopefully Walter, Big Mean Carl, Behemoth, Yolanda, Bubba Rat and perhaps even Constantine and Miss Poogy might make it too. My Series 5 wish list consists of Sam the Eagle, Walter and Lew Zealand (3pack), Bobo Bear and Pepe (2pack) and Dr Teeth and The Electric Mayhem Bus replica (Multipack). Series 6 wish list would include The Swedish Chef, Rizzo and Yolanda (3pack), Zoot, Lips and Snowth (3pack) and Sweetums, Uncle Deadly, Big Mean Carl, Behemoth, Angel Marie, Pigs in Space Crew, Beauregard, Muppet Newsman, Bobby Benson, Baby Band, Bubba Rat, Pops, Marvin Suggs, Muppaphones, Johnny Fiama, Sal, Wayne, Wanda and Chip (23pack).

Last year was also a rare treat for Jim Henson fans, not only did our Muppet collections continue to grow but we were also able to add merchandise from other classic Jim Henson properties including The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. Until last year my collection lacked The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth merchandise, I had books, DVDs, a Labyrinth postcard and a Skeksis Neca action figure butthat was all. Thanks to Funko Pops I now have representations of most of the main characters in figure form, including Ludo! If that was not enough later on Funko Reaction released their own line of The Dark Crystal action figures, each figure comes with a separate piece of the dark crystal. There was a convention exclusive back in summer featuring Jen and a Landstrider and another a few months later including Kira and a Garthim. I’ve searched high and low all over the internet and I have not found a single seller selling the Kira and Garthim convention exclusive, luckily the Garthim will also be released as a Toys R Us exclusive sometime around March and will hopefully make it easier for us collectors to track down online or if you’re lucky in a store. We also received a second helping of Labyrinth merchandise in the form of a board game produced by River Horse, it’s a shame the character playing pieces don’t come painted, that was a big selling point for me, although I did read online a while back that they might eventually release the figures separately and painted. Archaia Comics continues to release great graphic novels based not only on The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth but The Storyteller too.

Let’s not forgot that we were also lucky enough to add the Sesame Street gang to our Funko collections making it four Henson properties to get the Funko Pop treatment. We all know what’s missing and by the way Funko are taking over toy stores I’m sure Fraggle Rock Pops will eventually become a reality, at least I hope so, I need a 6” Junior Gorg Flocked Exclusive. Dinosaur Funko

Pops would also be very welcomed, I really do prefer the flocked exclusives, miniature flocked Muppet statues would be something I could really get into collecting. Sadly this year other than an Animal flocked exclusive Funko didn’t release any other new Muppet characters which is a real shame, I would have hoped that with the 2015 TV show they would have at least had an extra set to release. What I most enjoy when adding items to my collection is when I am able to add merchandise of a character who is not represented in my collection yet, thanks to Funko Pops I’ve filled many of those holes but now they have gone far and beyond as this March we’ll get to add Herry Monster to our collections. Herry Monster Funko Pop will be released this march as part of Funko’s Speciality Series alongside a stoned Jiminy Cricket.

So far 2017 is shaping up to be another good year for collectors, we were able to start the year by buying a bunch of different Muppet calendars and as mentioned above a Herry Monster Funko Pop will be released this March. This year Diamond Select will release Muppets Series 3 Action Figures and probably a Series 4 (which they might reveal next month at New York Toy Fair) as well as a Series 4 for the Minimates line and if we’re extra lucky and wishful they might release Sesame Street action figures too. This summer Medicom will release a really nice set of Sesame Street figurines
and we’ll have a Muppet colouring book to help us destress half way through the year. Sometime before Christmas hallmark will be releasing their annual Muppet ornament and this year’s ornament belongs to The Muppets Christmas Carol’s Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim. Last year was fun because for the first time I was having a hard time keeping track of what merchandise was being released and when. Luckily MuppetsHenson provides a slideshow of
upcoming Muppet merchandise (and happenings) being released this year near the bottom of the sidebar on this page, I found it very useful at times. What would be my 2017 Muppet wish list item? A Sweetums plush toy, how does this not already exist?

Happy Collecting !


Voice Cast Announced for Sony Pictures Animation’s ‘The Star’

An A-list voice cast is lending talents to Sony Pictures Animation’s "The Star". Executive produced by DeVon Franklin, who is known for the faith-based films "Heaven Is For Real" and "Miracles From Heaven" along with Lisa and Brian Henson of The Jim Henson Company.

"The Star" will have the voice talents of Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Tracy Moran, Kris Kristofferson, Kristin Chenoweth, Kelly Clarkson, Gabriel Iglesias, Ving Rhames and Gina Rodriguez, as well as Steven Yeun who plays the lead, and Christopher Plummer who will voice King Herod. The family-friendly film will be released wide November 10.

The story follows a small but brave donkey named Bo (Yeun) who yearns for a life beyond his daily grind at the village mill. As the logline states: “One day he finds the courage to break free, and finally goes on the adventure of his dreams. On his journey, he teams up with Ruth, a lovable sheep who has lost her flock and Dave, a dove with lofty aspirations. Along with three wisecracking camels and some eccentric stable animals, Bo and his new friends follow the Star and become accidental heroes in the greatest story ever told – the first Christmas.”

Directed by Oscar-nominated writer-director Timothy Reckart (Head Over Heels), the film is executive produced by Franklin, Lisa Henson and Brian Henson (The Jim Henson Company) and produced by Jenni Magee Cook.

The screenplay was written by Carlos Kotkin from a story by Kotkin and Simon Moore. Initially, the animal was going to be a lamb, but it was changed in the creative process.

Digital animation was done by Cinesite Studios and Affirm Films also joins in the film’s production and marketing.

“We are proud of the artist-driven titles we have coming to the marketplace,” said Kristine Belson, President of Sony Pictures Animation, in making the announcement. “The abundance, variety and quality of the features are a testament to the wealth of creative talents who call Sony Pictures Animation their home.”

Friday, December 16, 2016

NEW MuppetsHenson Poll NOW Up! - Rate the NEW "Pigs In Space" Episode - "The Gravity of the Situation"

NEW MuppetsHenson Poll is now up for your votes!

This week's question deals with the NEW episode of "Pigs In Space" appearing on The Muppets YouTube Channel, "The Gravity of the Situation". 

Part two of last week's poll is still active for your votes. We still want to know what other sketch from "The Muppet Show" would you like to see NEW episodes produced. 

Here is this week's question:


What did you think of the second "Pigs In Space" episode, 'The Gravity of the Situation' which debuted December 16th, 2016 on The Muppets YouTube Channel?  


Let us know what you think. You can find the MuppetsHenson Poll at the TOP of the RIGHT SIDEBAR. 

Thanks for your participation!

MuppetsHenson Poll FINAL Results - Rate NEW "Pigs In Space" Episode - 'Alien: Look Who’s Coming to Dinner'


NEW "Pigs In Space" episodes have been created for The Muppets YouTube Channel. The first one, 'Alien: Look Who’s Coming to Dinner', debuted on December 9th, 2016. What did you think of this first episode?
EXCELLENT 50% (10)
VERY GOOD 40% (8)
FAIR 10% (2)
POOR 0% (0)
Total votes: 20

VIDEO: "Pig's In Space: The Gravity of the Situation”

Can First Mate Miss Piggy withstand the unknown dangers of space? Can her S.S. Swinetrek crew-mates Captain Link Hogthrob and Dr. Julius Strangepork withstand the well-known dangers of First Mate Piggy? Find out in this all-new episode of the gravity-defying, levity-inducing “Pigs In Space"


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Excerpt From J.M. Lee's New Dark Crystal Prequel, "Song of The Dark Crystal"

From io9

Jim Henson’s much-loved 1982 fantasy film, The Dark Crystal, recently made headlines when an official sequel was announced, in comic book form. But the official prequel novels are already here. The first one, J.M. Lee’s Shadows of the Dark Crystal, came out last summer; the next in the series isn’t out until July, but we’ve got an exclusive excerpt to share.

The book is called Song of the Dark Crystal, and it’s also by Lee (follow him on Twitter here). In addition to the excerpt, we also have the first look at the book’s cover art. It’s by Cory Godbey, who also did all of the book’s interior illustrations.



Kylan was the second to wake, though the only evidence that he was not the first was that Tavra was nowhere to be found. Coals smoldered in the fire, but the morning was still cold and a bit damp. Kylan pulled his cloak tight and took his tablet and scroll from the traveling pack he shared with Naia. His friend and her brother shared a deep sleep nearby as Neech finished his morning preening on Naia’s shoulder. Neither Drenchen stirred as Kylan sat up and propped his tablet on his knees, spreading the scroll across it and taking time in the quiet morning to record his journey thus far.

It had been several days since the last time he chronicled their journey. Dream-etching the words that described all that had happened since first arriving at the Castle of the Crystal took time. As the second Brother rose and the air began to warm he heard footsteps coming from the forest. Kylan looked up from his tablet to see Tavra emerge from the brush bearing a weighty bundle wrapped in her cloak.

“You’re almost at the end of that scroll,” she remarked as she lowered the bundle of breakfast to the ground. She let the corners fall, revealing a collection of fruit, fragrant flowers, tubers and nuts.

“I’ve got more,” Kylan said. He rolled the paper and stowed it once more in the traveling pack. “But I suppose this story is far from over . . . do you think that there are there scrolls for trade in Ha’rar?”

“Daughters of the All-Maudra do not trade. They are given whatever they desire.”

The boast seemed strange coming from a Gelfling who had kept her lineage a secret for so long. Tavra sat cross-legged and plucked a red and white blossom from the collection, picking a petal off and munching quietly on it. It was hard to believe the serious Silverling was truly one of the All-Maudra’s daughters. Kylan wondered what it was like to have siblings—he thought back on Mythra, and her tireless attempts to cheer her brother. Even Naia had Gurjin, and her sisters back in Sog.

Kylan realized he was staring when Tavra met his eyes. Hers were lavender, though somewhat sunken in her weary face. The draining had certainly taken its toll on her, but despite the worn, almost deathly exhaustion, the soldier still had an ethereal, ghostly beauty. He looked away and felt his cheeks warm.

“I climbed a tree and saw the High Hill this morning,” she went on. “The directions Rian gave you are good. As expected of a Stonewood. Assuming the twins wake up and are able to travel, we’re in good standing to make it there without much time lost. We can exchange our words with Aughra and get moving to Ha’rar.”

“Have you spoken with Aughra before?”

Tavra shook her head. “She rarely leaves the High Hill and few bother to venture to her orrery, so we rarely hear from her. She keeps to herself.”

“You sound as if you don’t believe she’ll help us.

“Why should she? She’s the voice of Thra—she hears the songs of the world that many do not. She must have known what the Skeksis were doing, and yet she said nothing. If she said nothing then, and all this time, why would she say anything now? She has no interest in politics.”

“This isn’t politics, is it? The Skeksis are supposed to be the protectors of the Heart of Thra. The Crystal. We, and all creatures of Thra, entrusted the Castle to them.”

“Perhaps some creatures believe we still should.”

It was an abrupt and peculiar thing to say, and Kylan didn’t know how to react, so he said nothing. Tavra finished the flower and tossed her hair.

“Wake the twins. We need to get moving if we’re going to catch up to Rian.”

Naia and Gurjin woke early and the four sat around the dying fire with a breakfast of petals and pulpy fruit. They left the fruit pits and seeds in the cool ashes of the fire to sprout, packed up, and continued northeast. Tavra took the lead, always plowing ahead without looking back, left hand on the hilt of her sword while the right held a stick that she used to push brush aside as they passed. There was a path, albeit a not well traveled one, and up the trail they went.

Kylan walked with Naia, who took the rear and watched Gurjin from behind. The ailing Drenchen guard was not spritely, but he had energy to his step, and the color was returning to his skin, deepening in its dappled gray-green hues. Naia, on the other hand, had paled slightly, though only enough to seem tired, which would have been understandable even if she hadn’t shared her vliya with her brother.

“How are you feeling?” Kylan asked her.

“Could have slept better, but not bad. It feels good to be moving. It feels good to have Gurjin and Tavra both here.”

Kylan adjusted the pack on his shoulders. He was already sore, but he knew there was no other way to grow into it. Naia reached over her own shoulder and massaged where her wings joined her back. It seemed she was in the same situation.
“The past couple days have been quite an adventure,” he agreed. “Tavra offered all the scrolls I could need to write it down, so at least it’ll be quite a tale for others someday. They won’t have to worry about all the unglamorous aspects.”

“You’ll change the bit where we were almost eaten by a plant?”

“Absolutely.”

She laughed and Kylan laughed with her. It felt good. He had been worried about her, especially after her resolve to share her life with her brother. Instead, though her body was weakened, her heart seemed rejuvenated. That would go a long way.

The highland was less dense here than below. From their vantage as they climbed, Kylan realized that they had been on a consistent ascent since they’d left the Spriton Plains so many days ago. The Dark Wood, and the Castle of the Crystal, nestled in the arms of the highlands, were lush and bountiful from the Black River that flowed down and within it. The landscape reminded Kylan of a youngling basket, a cradle–from which Olyeka-Staba, the Cradle Tree, was named, he guessed.

They had not gone far when Tavra signaled for them to stop. She proceeded slowly and the others followed, Naia putting her hand on the hilt of her dagger and picking up her pace to join the Silverling at the front. Kylan stayed back with Gurjin, who stooped to pick up a hand-sized rock as a makeshift weapon.

“Slowly now,” Tavra said over her shoulder. “There’s a blockage up ahead. Spiders. If we’re quiet and don’t disturb them, they’ll leave us alone. If we wake them, though, we’re in for big trouble. These are death-sting spiders, and like other spiders they care not for Gelfling one bit.”

The path widened and curved to accommodate a crop of boulders, half a dozen big things that were probably the last remains of an ancient avalanche. Most remarkable about the structure, though, was the frothy white mass of cobwebs that covered it. Had Kylan not heard Tavra say spiders, he might have thought the rocks had grown fur or some kind of mold or fungus. No spiders were in sight, but the boulders had plenty of nooks and crannies for a dark sleeping space.

Kylan had never heard of death-sting spiders, but he could infer enough from the name to be careful. Just to be sure they understood, Tavra added quietly, “One sting will kill you. Don’t do anything stupid.”

Tavra stepped lightly, circumventing the rocks, and they followed. Kylan marveled at the webbing, despite what dangers it might hide. It shone in the early morning sun like spun silver, draped in thick tapestries inlaid with delicate patterns.

They had nearly passed the formation when Kylan saw something beneath the webs. At first he thought it was a trick of the eye, but he squinted and took a careful step closer.

“Kylan, don’t,” Naia said.

“I’m just looking . . . there’s something there. I think it’s dream-etching.”

He edged forward, but the motion brought a chittering noise from deep inside the boulders. He dared not get closer at risk of waking the nest, but there was definitely something written on the rocks where the web was thickest. He could only make out one of the words:

HER.

“Leave it alone. You’ll wake them,” Tavra urged.

“You all go on ahead. If I’m quiet, and gentle, I think I can make it out. So few can dream-etch. If someone took the time to write something, it must be important.”

Naia crossed her arms. Though she whispered, her voice was no less staunch.

“I’m not leaving you with a swarm of death-stingers that are sure to be cranky if you wake them. If you stay, I stay.”

Tavra would not have it. She said, “None of us are staying. We’re leaving. Now.”

“Maybe Tavra’s right,” Gurjin said. “One or two spiders is no problem, but a whole nest . . . who knows how deep it goes. These mountains are probably full of underground caves and tunnels. There could be thousands of them.”

While the others argued quietly, Kylan scooted closer yet, as quietly as possible. He could almost make the other words out. He was so close!

“You two go ahead,” Naia said. “I’ll stay here with Kylan. If he thinks this is important, then I do, too. If the spiders wake up, I might be able to dreamfast with them and explain we mean no harm. If worst comes, I’ll throw Kylan over my shoulder and run if I have to.”

“They will not—” Tavra began, but Naia wasn’t asking.

“Go!” she said, loud enough that the clicking, chirping, skittering noise from within the nest intensified. Gurjin stepped back and Tavra glared at the Drenchen girl.

“Fine,” the Silverling said. “But I warned you.”

Then she continued up the trail. Gurjin hesitated, but Naia shooed him.

“You’re not in a state to outrun anything right now,” she said. “We’ll be fine. Kylan and I have been through worse. We can handle this. It won’t take long.”

“Be careful,” Gurjin said, and hurried after Tavra.

Naia slipped her knife into her belt and faced the rocks with Kylan.

“I hope this is worth picking a fight with a Silverling,” she said. “Something must be bothering her. She’s as touchy as a . . . well, as a sleeping spider nest. Ha!”

Kylan and Naia took slow steps closer to the rocks. No matter how quiet, each step stirred the shadows within the nest. Veiled by the gauzy web, the spiders inside were almost impossible to see, though as they neared Kylan thought he could make out a rolling coat of black, shining bodies. Web-wrapped lumps hung in the draped nest, some with the feet and tails of woodland creatures sticking out.

More words etched into the rock also became clear, written in Gelfling hand:

TRUST HER

Kylan almost took it for what it was, whatever it meant, but he could see there was still more hidden beneath the web. To reveal the last part of the message, he would have to brush the web aside. He picked up a stick, glancing within the nest where some of the spiders were emerging, tiny black things crawling along the strands of the webbing. He held the stick carefully, to show he was not a threat, and to indicate to Naia what he was about to do.

“You don’t have to stay,” Kylan whispered.

 know,” Naia replied.

He took the last step, close enough to reach the rock with the web. Naia stayed back, watching the nest as it slowly came to life. Kylan reached out with the stick and poked at the web near the writing. As soon as the stick touched the web, spiders emerged, in small numbers at first, and then more.

“Hurry,” Naia said.

The web was sticky, and thick, and he had to exert more effort than he expected to tear the netting to the side. The sounds of the nest grew louder as the larger spiders awoke, some the size of Kylan’s hand.

“Hurry,” Naia said again, more urgently.

Finally, the web came away. The remaining words that completed the etching were startling, and Kylan forgot about the spiders. Naia grabbed him by the pack and yanked him away, nearly picking him and the pack up in the process. Kylan took his eyes off the writing and willed his legs to move. They sprinted away from the cropping and up the trail.

When they were in the clear, they stopped to catch their breath. Tavra and Gurjin’s footsteps marked the trail, and Kylan could make out their forms in the wood ahead. He panted and wiped his forehead, sweating more from shock than the physical exertion.

“What did it say?” Naia asked, less winded but still weaker than usual. “You went pale as a cloud, and that’s saying something for a Spriton!”

Kylan tried to tell her two times before finally getting the words out.

“DO NOT TRUST HER,” he panted. “The words said DO NOT TRUST HER.”



J.M. Lee’s Song of the Dark Crystal will be out July 18, 2017.

'Top Puppet’: NBC Orders Reality Special From ‘The Voice’ Producers, The Jim Henson Company & Craig Ferguson

NBC is putting puppets in the spotlight, teaming with The Voice producer Talpa Media, Muppet creators The Jim Henson Company, comedian and Celebrity Name Game host Craig Ferguson and Universal Television Alternative Studios for Top Puppet, a new competition special set out to discover the next great puppet act. 

Casting is underway for the special, which will premiere next summer. It is designed as a one-off, but success could lead to more. Ferguson is executive producing and not expected to host.

In Top Puppet, competitors will battle it out in front of a live studio audience and three judges who will seek originality. The goal is to feature the full spectrum of puppeteering on the show — from hand puppets to giant walkers, marionettes to humanettes, ventriloquists to singing hand puppets — with acts as grand as the spectacle of The Lion King or realistic as War Horse or simple as sock puppets.

Puppeteers and ventriloquists have had a long and illustrious history on television, beginning with Edgar Bergen and his puppet, Charlie McCarthy, in the 1950s. More recently, popular puppeteer and comedian Jeff Dunham has had a slew of highly rated TV specials and performed worldwide.

Jay Bienstock, Charles Boyd, Phil Cottone, John de Mol, Ferguson, Brian Henson and Vince Raisa will executive produce. Top Puppet will be produced by Universal Television Alternative Studio in association with Talpa Media and The Jim Henson Company.