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Sunday, May 13, 2018

A Guide To Collecting More Muppets! by Nicolas Napoli

In 2011 in celebration of The Muppets (2011), The Disney Store released new Muppet character plushes including, but not limited to Pepe, Walter, Beaker and The Swedish Chef. In 2014, celebrating Muppets Most Wanted, The Disney Store added additional characters including Rowlf and Constantine to their line of plushes. Dr Bunsen, Scooter, Dr Teeth, Janice, Floyd, Zoot, Sam the Eagle and Camilla, these characters have not been represented in plush form properly or commercially for a very long time. After The Muppets (2015), I’m sure their must be some demand for at least some of these characters. Sweetums, Uncle Deadly, Lew Zealand, Robin, Bobo Bear, Mahna-Mahna, Snowths, these characters have never been represented in plush form, I hope The Disney Store continues to expand their Muppet plush line someday. In my opinion, plush toys should always be available, in sight and easily purchasable for casual fans to collect when the urge to become a Muppet Fan commences. 

In 2016 Diamond Select treated fans to three series of Muppet Action Figures and Minimates, giving us our very first Mahna-Mahna action figure. Sadly, series four consisting of The Swedish Chef & Chicken, Sam the Eagle & Rizzo and Dr. Teeth & Zoot has been postponed indefinitely. This series should have been released months ago, sadly sales weren’t profitable enough to continue expanding on this line of action figures. Fortunately, The Swedish Chef and his Chicken are trying to make their way into our collections, they will be released as a standalone set in the series. If The Swedish Chef sells well enough, we might be lucky and receive another set from the series in the future. I do hope this line is able to make it past series four, even if it’s spread out. My series five wish list would include: Walter & Snowths, Pepe & Bobo Bear and Sweetums & Uncle Deadly. For those who miss seeing Rizzo amongst their collection, The Disney Store PVC figurine released a few years ago, as part of a pack, fits nicely amongst this collection. 

Muppet Fan Collectors are in short demand, those of us who collect Muppet merchandise are very passionate about it. In reality there is not a big enough market for Muppet merchandise, sales suffer because of it. Muppet merchandise is not particularly profitable for toy companies, how Palisades Toys reached up until Series 9, I have no idea, but am very grateful they did. Muppet merchandise works best when sold as collectables, high price points will be paid by Muppet collectors, multiple sales of Muppet merchandise to the general public, won’t be a guarantee. The Bradford Exchange released an amazingly detailed Muppet clock some time ago, one I sadly currently have stored away. Every year Hallmark Collectables releases a new Muppet Ornament to hang up on our trees, and this year we shall be receiving Rowlf playing his piano. An Electric Mayhem music box has also been released, these might all have high price points but as I said before, Muppet collectors are in short demand. If we want merchandise, we’re probably going to have to pay a little extra for it. 

Muppets Tsum Tsum, Muppets Meet The Classics book series, Miss Piggy Footwear, unfortunately this past year, Muppet collectors, haven’t had much to collect. The sad reality is, we’re a small group, toy companies aren’t excited by the Muppet license, they know they’re not going to make a very big profit on it. Lucky this might be about to change, with the introduction of the Muppet Babies 2018 reboot. Children are now slowly becoming familiar with these characters, lots of children buying Muppets, sells more than die hard collectors collecting Muppets. Granted we’ll have to start collecting Muppet Babies merchandise for the time being, but hopefully with the new Disney Online Streaming Muppet Show, things might change for us next year. I first became an obsessed Muppet Fan through Muppet Babies and before I began expanding my collection, it mainly consisted of Muppet Babies merchandise. Muppet Babies (2018) is doing really well amongst children ages 2-5 and if lucky Muppet Babies merchandise will soon flood toy shelves. So far Muppet Babies merchandising wise, they’ve released a soundtrack and soon we’ll find the release of three new Muppet Babies books. As a Muppet adult Fan, I’ll probably collect a plush representation of each character, if there’s figures, I’ll be buying them and unlike The Muppets (2015), I’m actually eager to own this show on DVD and share it with my family, specifically my nephew. 

Moving away from Muppets, Funko Pop finally gave us, what I personally had been waiting all my life for, a proper Uncle Travelling Matt, Sprocket, Doozers and the Fraggle five figures. These are amazing, especially the felt exclusive 5 pack. Unfortunately, from what I can tell, these aren’t selling out, you can find them everywhere. Hopefully enough will sell that Funko Pop will release a few more characters, including Doc, The Trash Heap with Philo & Gunge and can you imagine, if they were to give us a Cantus figure. I’m going to keep remaining hopeful, that one day Funko Pop will finally give fans 6” Gorg figures, and hopefully even with the exclusive felt treatment. For some reason Sprocket is oddly much smaller than the Fraggles, I like to believe this means Doc will be released eventually. If Doc were to be released, the same size as the Fraggles, having made Sprocket smaller, would then make complete sense. Thanks to Funko Pop we have added The Muppets, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth to our collections yet I still want more. I hope one day, Dinosaurs, The Storyteller and Muppet Babies will get the Funko Pop treatment too. As much as I enjoy collecting these, I hate not knowing if more will ever become available, my Muppet Funko Pop collection needs expanding. Statler, Waldorf, Dr Bunsen, Beaker, Rizzo, Pepe, Janice, Floyd, Zoot, Walter, Sweetums and Uncle Deadly, just to name a few. 

Although we might be lacking Muppet merchandise, it is a great time to be a fan of The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and even The Storyteller. Archaia keeps releasing comics based on each three of these different franchises, even including a sequel to The Dark Crystal in a series titled Power Of The Dark Crystal. Both The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth have had ultimate visual history books released and both films have also been released on 4K UltraHD. Last year Labyrinth collectors were able to add a complex Labyrinth board game to their collections, then followed by a The Dark Crystal board game too. Since then additional Goblin game pieces have been released, as well as deluxe golden representations of the original Labyrinth playing pieces. McFarlane Toys have released a 7” Jareth The Goblin King collectable action figure, apparently later on we might also be getting Jen and Kira collectable action figures. Chronicle Collectables have now come along and have so far released some very interesting collectables based both on The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth.

 My personal favourites include a Chamberlain and the Worm statues but have so far also released many accessories based from The Dark Crystal. The most surprising and much welcomed of them all, a The Storyteller Soundtrack, featuring 36 songs from the late 80’s Jim Henson television show. 

It has been too long since I’ve been excited for a Muppet DVD, I hope we get The Muppet Show Seasons 4 and 5 eventually. Muppets Tonight: The Complete Series or especially a collection of specials on two discs. I grew up watching The Muppet Playhouse series on VHS, these tapes are what excited me, to watch The Muppet Show, I wish these would find their way onto DVD. A series of Muppet toys is always welcomed, sadly it is mostly never complete, I would much rather prefer PVC collection packs, consisting of around ten characters each, released every now and again. This way I’d know, one of my collections, will eventually be complete one day. Felt collectable Muppet statues including Kermit playing banjo on a lillypad, Miss Piggy sitting on a stage moon, Gonzo riding a motorcycle up a ramp, Statler and Waldorf in their balcony box, Sweetums riding a bicycles etc… this I would love to collect, if not something similar. At the top of my wish list will always be a Mahna- Mahna alarm clock, I hope one day I get to wake up to the song “Mahna-Mahna”.  

- Nicolas Napoli

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