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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Merry Muppet Collectable Christmas By Nicholas Napoli

It’s almost time for Christmas and if you’re a Muppet Fan, who has been on a tight budget all year long, like I have, now is the perfect time to play catch up with your Muppet Collection. This past year has been very interesting for me and my collection, we started the year off great, most of my collection were stored in containers and at least 5% was still out on display, but at least we were still under the same roof together. As the year progressed, me and my collection grew further apart, no longer was I able to care for them, no longer did I have room for my collection. I was forced to move 22 containers into my sister’s house, luckily for me, unluckily for her, she has a spare room. At the same time, money has been tight this year, when it came time to decide between a beautiful Skeksis bust or electricity for the month, I chose electricity, I still regret my decision. Now I find myself in the possession of about 2% of my collection, and at the end of the year, that 2% is also making its way into a container at my sister’s house. At the end of it all, I’ll keep one item with me, I myself am intrigued to find out which item that will be. For now, let’s put sadness behind us and focus on the joy of Christmas, let’s see what we can add to our lists for Santa this year! 

To start our Christmas list, let’s focus on The Jim Henson Company and all the wonderful merchandise they’ve put out for fans all year long. The first I’d like to mention is Chronicle Collectables, they’ve created busts, statues and replicated relics from the Worlds of both The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. Unfortunately for me, I haven’t picked up any of these items, and by the looks of it, they’ve all gone fast, I’ll have to hunt on eBay in a few months, I need that Skeksis bust. Archaia comics continues to release great graphic novels based on The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, The Storyteller and Fraggle Rock. Speaking of Fraggles, the complete series finally made its way onto Blu- ray, I’m so excited to watch this, I own it, I just can’t watch it. Be careful when purchasing this item if you’re not from America, it might not work on your Blu-ray player. I thought I owned a multiregional Blu-ray player; all my Muppet movies are Region A and my The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth Blu-rays are both Region B. I can watch any of these movies on my Blu-ray player, but I can’t watch this one. I’ve asked this question everywhere, from what I’ve gathered, Blu-ray’s are normally multiregional but on rare occasions, they’ll only play for one specific region, unfortunately for international Muppet Fans, Fraggle Rock is one of these select few. From what I gather, this means I probably have a Region B Blu-ray player, since I only buy Muppets/Henson Blu-rays, I’ve never realized until now. All my life Fraggle Rock makes it hard for me to watch it, if not in my early days when they aired the episodes right when I started school, then into adulthood, with adult reasons, such as regional coding! I’ll wait and see if it’s eventually released internationally, and I’ll pick up another copy, if not I guess I’m buying an American Blu-ray player, damn Fraggles! 

The perfect version of Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas was released last year and this year, it’s making its way onto Blu-ray. This news got me completely by surprise, I wasn’t expecting this, it’ll be out on December 18 th which is very close to Christmas. Hopefully I’ll find it under my tree on Christmas morning, if not I’ll make it a new years day present from me to me. The Happytime Murders is also making its way to Blu-ray on December 4 th , two great Jim Henson family Christmas movies to enjoy over the holidays. Seeing as I haven’t been able to see The Happytime Murders yet, it hasn’t been shown in my area, I will definitely pick it up on its release date, I feel as if I’m really late to the Happytime party. I’m hoping for The Christmas Toy to find its way onto Blu-ray, hopefully with at least some episodes of The Secret Life of Toys to go along with it, I love that special. Moving onto soundtracks, an Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas soundtrack has recently been released, a nice addition to last years The Storyteller soundtrack. Last but not least, Funko have announced that very soon, we shall all be able to add a Jim Henson Funko figure, next to our Jim Henson Palisades figure, I can’t wait! And now my Funko wish list, I hope there’s an announcement for at least one of these soon. Funko Gorgs (plus exclusive flocked versions), Funko Dinosaurs, Funko Muppet Babies, more Muppet Funko’s in general and Funko Frank Oz. There is also a Sam and Friends book planned, hopefully for a release next year, I can’t wait to read it. 

Sesame Street have so much merchandise available, I can’t even keep up, The Magical Wand Chase has magically made its way onto DVD. A company called ProductWorks has released a number of Christmas/Halloween themed Sesame Street garden light decorations, based on Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Oscar and Elmo. I found these by accident on Amazon, I was intrigued, I now have a 24” Oscar replica, no way I’m putting this outside in the garden, even if I had a garden. I bought an 18” Big Bird but now I want the 32”, that must be massive and a good scale, to add alongside my Sesame Street plush collection, if they ever find their way out of their containers that is. Although they won’t be released on time for Christmas this year, two new Sesame Street books are planned for release next year. The Pursuit of Grouchiness: Oscar the Grouch’s Guide To Life and Love The Fur You’re In. 

Disney’s The Muppets released a Kermit cloths collection at the start of the year, I’m sure those are still around. I found a pair of Muppet socks at Marks & Spencer’s and Hallmark released their Rowlf Christmas Ornament earlier this year. A second Muppet Meet The Classics was released, titled Fairy Tales From The Brothers Grimm, actually I need to pick this up, Clueless Morgan and Polly Lobster make an appearance. Other than Diamond Select’s new Swedish Chef Action Figure and their incredible Animal bust, I don’t think there’s much more in the way of Muppet merchandise. Now if you’re still a child at heart, as I am, then you’re in luck, because now, now we can truly get excited over Muppet Babies Christmas toys! 

Muppet Babies Volume 1 made it onto DVD a few months ago, my nephew can’t get enough of it, he watches the same six episodes on repeat every time, that’s four more episodes than what my VHS tapes had back when I was a kid. I’m so glad my nephew is becoming an even bigger Muppet Fan thanks to this new show. Recently Muppet Babies premiered on Disney Junior in my area, and all my friends keep informing me of this show, they all have children now, and apparently, they all love Muppets now too. This is why I love this show, I’m seeing what I experienced as a kid, for the first time amongst kids these days, what a great show. 

A few months ago, The Disney Store released the first official piece of Muppet Babies toy merchandise, in the form of plush toys. Baby Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Animal and Summer were all represented, these have an interesting story. I was short on cash when these were released, but I wanted two sets, one for myself and one for my nephew, so I put these on hold until I could save up the funds. Suddenly out of nowhere, only a few weeks into their release, baby Gonzo was unavailable anywhere, not even on eBay. All I could find all over the internet was a baby Gonzo listed on Amazon for $107. Luckily, I had seen this developing, I was keeping an eye out, Gonzo began vanishing, luckily, I ordered one set, if you’re wondering, I kept it for myself. I now had six Muppet Babies plush toys, but now I needed a second set for my nephew. Gonzo was nowhere to be found and Fozzie and Animal were also selling out fast, Kermit, Piggy and Summer, were still everywhere to be found. I managed to order a second set, paying $35 for Fozzie, but sadly this set was missing Gonzo. From what I can tell, Gonzo is the clear favourite, by miles, followed secondly by Fozzie and Animal, these are the characters that sell the most, when it comes to babies. I gave my nephew his set of Muppet Babies but when he asked about Gonzo, I caved and gave him mine. Five Muppet Babies, sitting on a shelf, I’ve never owned a baby Gonzo plush. All my life, I’ve only owned a baby Kermit, Piggy, Animal, Fozzie and Rowlf plush toys but never a baby Gonzo, I was really looking forward to this one. Before you start getting your tissues, don’t worry, a Christmas miracle occurred, The Disney Store recently released all six versions again, and I was able to grab a baby Gonzo to finish my collection, at the low price of $14.99, its currently in the mail, Merry Christmas to me! 

Just Play has stepped in to make this Muppet Babies Christmas even more special and it truly is expensive to keep up. There’s a Muppet Babies 6-figure PVC set now available, and honestly it looks great. Muppet Babies now also come in action figure form, four have so far been released, baby Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie and Summer. Where are Gonzo and Animal some might ask? I was one of them. The more I think about it, the happier it makes me that they weren’t released, in my mind this means a second wave will follow shortly. Now for the fun Christmas speculation game, who are the extra two characters joining Gonzo and Animal in the next wave? Bunsen and Beaker? Statler and Waldorf? Rizzo and Carlos? Nanny’s Legs and Chickens? The possibilities are endless. Alongside the action figures, there is also a set, consisting of the same figures, along with vehicles, although this time Summer is left out, I imagine she will appear in the next wave, alongside Gonzo and Animal. Does anyone remember the Muppet Babies amusement park train set released in the early 90’s? Well if you’re lucky and you kept yours, and your mom never threw it away when you were young because it took up too much room, then you’ll be able to add a Muppet Babies playroom play set next to it. 

More Muppet Babies plush toys, except this time, Gonzo and Animal have yet to be released, again, I wonder who will join them in the next wave? The Disney Store have already released these, why does the Muppet collector in me feel like as if I will explode if I don’t buy these second versions? I need to buy them, take them to my sister’s house, put them inside a container and then I’ll be able to catch my breath. And lastly, this is so amazing, I can’t even explain it in words, well I can, it’s a moving, talking, joke telling, Muppet Babies theme song singing, baby Fozzie plush toy, amazing! 

I hope Muppet Fans have been nice this year, we have a lot, I imagine we all hope Santa can bring us. If you don’t believe in Santa then let me warn you about the hard-grouchy truth that is Christmas shopping. Remember Muppet Fans, normally Muppet merchandise sticks around on the shelves for a long time, but this time around children are buying our merchandise too. We’re not the only ones hoping to add a baby Piggy action figure (with a cake) to our collections. If you want something grab it, before it’s too late, don’t let the children ruin your Muppet Christmas!  

- Nicholas Napoli

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