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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Palisades Toys by Nicholas Napoli

Palisades Toys 
by Nicholas Napoli 

The early noughties might have not treated Muppet Fans kindly with many new productions but it sure did excite the collectible side of our fandom. I was a 90’s kid, I missed out on all the cool The Muppet Show era toys and collectibles luckily I was around for its 25th Anniversary when Palisades Toys flooded the market with Muppet Action Figures. It’s been over ten years since Palisades released their line of Muppet Action Figures and you know they were a great company when after so many years Muppet Fans still remember the name Ken Lilly. I was just a kid reading the forums at the time but Ken Lilly listened to us fans, Ken Lilly is awesome, Ken Lilly and his team at Palisades Toys gave us this… 

Plus they still owe us a Muppet Cow. We lived in a time where Rowlf had only grunted one or two times in the last ten years, Scooter had only been seen once in almost ten years selling T-shirts at the beach and yet here we were adding The Muppet Newsman, Crazy Harry and even Marvin Suggs merchandise into our collections. I still remember when the Series One lineup was announced in late summer 2001 and it took Muppet Fans by complete surprise. I imagine most of you like myself were expecting the lineup to include Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo and Animal instead we got… 

Are you kidding me? Dr Bunsen Honeydew was a pleasant surprise but Dr Teeth? A Dr Teeth Action Figure? Funko Toys wasn’t even born yet so this was a major big deal and if that wasn’t enough we were also getting a Muppet Labs Playset which included Beaker. Then came the first twist of many turns in this journey Muppet Fans took together to complete our collections. We were all caught by surprise, many of us were Action Figure virgins, we didn’t know what to expect and that is why like Walter many of us are still missing to this day Wizard World Exclusive Dr Teeth Repaint from our collections. Dr Teeth was the first official convention exclusive to be released and he didn’t appear on Amazon alongside the rest of my collection. I looked all over the internet and I couldn’t find him eventually he started turning up but it was either order the Dr Teeth Exclusive through eBay or continue saving up for Series Two? I was in school back then, I couldn’t afford this but I had learned my lesson I was ready for the next exclusives. This is when I realized I was going to have to do my shopping all over the internet and not just Amazon and at that time inserting your card details online was very scary especially when you’re using your Mom’s credit card.

At that moment I knew this was going to be an exciting yet a very expensive ride but I was all in. From the years 2002-2005 Palisades Toys release The Muppets Action Figures, Playsets, Exclusives, Mini’s, Mega’s and even opened a Collectors Club. You know how you can determine if you have OMD (Obsessive Muppet Disorder) when after ten years you can still memorize the Series One-Series Nine Lineup which I’m sure many of you reading this can do to. They added characters to our collections who up to this day we never would have had in any (proper) form of representation. Thanks to Palisades Toys we have merchandise of such characters including Pops, Johnny Fiama, Clifford, Dr Phil Van Neuter, Robin, Polly Lobster, Link Hogthrob, Dr Strangepork, Floyd, Lips, Sweetums, Lew Zealand, Zoot, Janice, Uncle Deadly, Muppet Ghosts, Random Frog Scout, Koozbanians, Penguins, Camilla, Javas heck even Pepe, Sam the Eagle, Dr Bunsen Honeydew, Dr Teeth, Statler and Waldorf fall under that list. We even have Doglion, Thog, Ghost of Christmas Present, Mahna-Mahna and Snowths Minis for crying out loud. We have a complete set of The Electric Mayhem Band even including Lips!!!! Just think if it weren’t for Palisades we would never have had a (proper) complete Electric Mayhem Collection of any kind especially not one that included Lips. 

Granted we did get the Sideshow Collectible Busts around the same time which included many of those characters. The new line of Disney Vinylmation Figures has also given obscure (merchandise related) characters a second chance to join our collections at blind chance. Sam the Eagle, Dr Teeth, Mahna-Mahna and the Snowths have now been represented by Funko Toys but for ten years all we’ve had was Palisades. Link Hogthrob, Sam the Eagle, Uncle Deadly and to an extent even Dr Bunsen Honeydew, Beaker, Rizzo and Camilla finally got their second due in Disney’s Star Wars Muppet Action Figure Line. FYI if you remove Ewok Bean Bunny’s hoodied he fits almost perfectly in scale with the Palisades Action Figures. I have a big Muppet Collection but when I look around 40% of that collection is made up thanks to Palisades Toys. Had it not been for Palisades my Muppet Collection would mostly consist of Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Animal, Rizzo, Beaker, Statler, Waldorf and The Swedish Chef merchandise. If it weren’t for Palisades instead of this… 

We would only have this. 

And that. 

Even though Palisades Toys gave us all those characters Muppet Fans still complained and demanded and we were so spoiled by Palisades especially Ken Lilly because they still kept on listening to us. We were so pissed when Series Three Rowlf came in a tuxedo, we wanted him naked. Why did we have to skip Janice in Series 4 and wait all the way until Series 5 to complete our Electric Mayhem set? And would she be left handed or right handed? We want magnetic removable hats! Why did we get Samuel Arrow before Sam the Eagle? We need a new Miss Piggy! Why is Robin dressed like a Frog Scout? Now we need Frog Scout Leader Kermit! Polly Lobster, check, now where is Clueless Morgan? Make sure Sweetums is to scale even though we know he would not fit in the original packaging! Gonzo’s nose is a little more purplish! Why does Scooter come with a skateboard accessory? Since when does Scooter use a skateboard? And let’s not get started on the whole Mini Scooter fiasco of 2004. Thanks Palisades for the Backstage Playset with naked Rowlf but where is The Muppet Show Theater? You promised us Uncle Deadly! And Ken Lilly moved heaven and earth to make this happen for us. 

Sadly all good things come to an end and after three years of producing what I consider to be the best quality Muppet Toy Anything ever Palisades slowly ceased to exist as did the future of The Muppet Action Figures. The worse part was not that fact that we missed out on Sal Manila, Bobo Bear, Clueless Morgan, Mahna-Mahna, Snowths and Bean Bunny Action Figures but the fact that Palisade Toys were getting ready to branch out into other Henson properties. Sesame Street was coming soon, Super Grover was the only figure to ever become available and soon Ernie, Two-Headed Monster, Guy Smiley and Oscar were joining our Muppet Action Figure Collections to scale and we had pictures! 

And as much as I love Sesame Street here is where the real tragedy happened for me. 

But instead of thinking of what could have been let’s be grateful for what we did get. 

If you want to learn more about Palisades Toys line of Muppet Action Figures CLICK HERE to check out the Muppet Wiki, a great resource for Muppet Fans and in this case Action Figure Collectors.  

And if you’re feeling a little bit too happy today and want to depress yourself a little before going to sleep then CLICK HERE to see what could have been if only Palisades Toys had lasted one more year. 

If you haven’t started collecting these yet I advise you start now, what are you going to do wait another ten years? Over the past ten years The Muppet Action Figures have become so popular that they even had their own TV Show and Behind The Music Special. 

Thank You Palisades Toys for making our collections that much better!

1 comment:

  1. The Muppet figures by Palisades may be quite possibly the greatest toy line of all time. Everything from the sculpts to the textures to the paint apps to the articulation to the accessories to the playsets were top-notch. So much CARE was put into their production. I'm proud to say that I have nearly every figure with the exception of a few variants (and I OPENED them by the way, they're meant to be opened and displayed to be appreciated for what they are). They could've continued the line forever, and I'm sad that it came to an end, but I'm so grateful that they were made and I got to be a part of the hunting, collecting and appreciating process.