Mikey's Muppet Memorabilia Museum

Mikey's Muppet Memorabilia Museum

About Mikey and this Blog

Age 9, with my Fisher-Price Kermit the Frog puppet in 1982.

Hello Muppet fans and welcome! I've been a collector of Muppet memorabilia since my childhood in the late 1970's. In 1997 I started documenting my collection as part of my puppetry website in a section called Mikey's Muppet Memorabilia Museum. Later around 2010 I transferred all of that information to this blog site, which is entirely dedicated to my Muppet/Jim Henson collection. I have been randomly adding content to this blog ever since! So yes, I'm pretty much obsessed with Muppets! :)

In 2017 I celebrated 20 years of providing a resource for Muppet collectables online! As one of the very first Muppet memorabilia websites available on the internet, Mikey's Muppet Memorabilia Museum has played a significant role in fostering the online Muppet fandom community as well as a new generation of Muppet fans. This blog is often used as a reference on Muppet discussion boards, while collectors and antique toy dealers all over the world have used the site to identify their Muppet collectables or to learn about the vast assortment of Muppet products that have been produced over the last 50 years.

I'm very happy to have contributed to the online Muppet community in this way! I especially enjoy connecting with fellow Muppet fans! If you have a question, are trying to identify something that you don't find on the site, or just want to share your thoughts, each page has a comments section at the bottom which I review very so often when I'm doing updates. I'd be glad to hear from you! I especially like it when I get asked about vintage items that I had no idea even existed, such as the kangaroo puppet from the mid 1970's. That was quite a surprise! It's always fun discovering the many Muppet collectables that are out there, which is the purpose of this blog. It's also here to allow visitors a trip down memory lane while revisiting their childhoods. How fortunate we all are that the Muppets were a part of it! Enjoy! -Mikey

About Pricing and the Values of Items
Understandably, I do get a lot of requests about values of items from sellers who are researching what price they should be asking. I'm certainly glad to help identify things if I can, or share whatever info I have, however it isn't really my goal with this blog to keep track of what these collectables are worth. The reason being, I'm simply not an expert in that area and I'd rather not steer someone in the wrong direction, so I generally like to avoid suggesting values whenever possible. Determining the value or a selling price is a tricky thing as it depends a lot on the condition of the item, how much in demand there is for it among collectors, and who the actual buyer is. So it's quite difficult to come up with a value that will be set in stone to say "it's worth this much" because to someone else the particular item may be worth more, or considerably less depending on if they are trying to fill a hole in their collection, or is it of sentimental value, or if they are trying to find it for someone else, etc.

Quite frankly, the notion of having a price guide for collectables is quite silly to me as the market fluctuates so much, even over short periods of time, that you can't really depend on them. At least that's been my experience. So what I'd recommend in terms of pricing and values is to do some research on the item to find several sources, say three or four, that have set a value or selling price on it, then take an average. For example, if you go to e-bay and find several listings for the items you have, bookmark them and then wait for them all to sell and make note of the selling price. Maybe they didn't sell at the price being asked? This will give you an idea of the value of the item. I wouldn't do this just on e-bay though, go to a few online sources, as well as actual nostalgia shows and flea markets, and make note of the value of things as you see them. As a nostalgia show vendor, I can attest to the fact that online prices for collectables tend to be quite inflated as compared with the reality of what people are willing to pay. Therefore, if a flea market vendor is selling something that you think you might someday end up selling yourself, make note of their price. Keep a log or diary of what others are pricing things at. It's really an ongoing thing to research the values of collectables, and as I mentioned, the market keeps changing, so you have to keep adjusting the values with it.

All that being said, I'm also not the best person to ask about pricing Muppet collectables because I'm completely biased! I think all of it is awesome, so my prices would likely be too high anyways and wouldn't reflect what people would actually be willing to pay! :) There is quite a contrast between what a collector things his/her collection is worth vs what a buyer thinks it is worth. That goes for any type of collection, be it Muppets or Star Wars or whatever.

In terms of pricing and values, this is really the best info that I'm able to offer. I hope that it is at least somewhat helpful!

Jim Henson's TV Shows

I can't imagine what the world would be like without the Muppets. When I think about growing up with Jim Henson's TV shows like Sesame Street, The Muppet Show and Fraggle Rock I realize how lucky kids of my generation were. What wonderfully imaginative programs these are to have as part of my childhood. We were spoiled! Very few TV shows today are made with the same attention to detail, or with characters that display the same amount of warmth and caring. Looking at the state of things today, the world needs more Muppets!!!

Someday I'll add more info to this blog about my idol Jim Henson. I've noticed that with all the blogging I do, and writing about puppeteers, Jim Henson is the one who I've actually written the least about. I think it's because I have such a high regard for the man and his genius that I get worried about what to say. What could I possibly add to the wealth of info available about Jim Henson that will be unique or useful? How could I possibly pay a suitable tribute to such an individual?

Perhaps this blog is my tribute? I never had the honour of meeting my idol. He died in 1990 when I was 16 years old. A little over a year and a half earlier, on Nov. 11, 1988, I was in Toronto to attend a puppet workshop being offered at the OPA Puppet Centre in nearby Willowdale, ON. Puppeteer Bob Stutt, who worked on Fraggle Rock and the Canadian version of Sesame Street, was instructing the workshop. Earlier that day he had been at the TV studio working with Jim Henson on The Jim Henson Hour which was recorded in Toronto. As such the closest I got to meeting my idol was to be in the same city. Had the logistics of that day been different perhaps I may have met him. I know many people, mostly puppeteers, who have worked with Jim Henson and I'm always glad to hear their stories of what that was like. It must have been quite magical!


The beginning of my Muppet collection
I have always been a fan of Jim Henson and the Muppets. When I was very young I had several Sesame Street puzzles and some of the original rubber finger puppets by Child Guidance. For Christmas in 1979 Santa brought me the Child Guidance Big Bird mouth puppet which I adored (shown below). My daycare also had the Educational Toys Ernie puppet for kids to play with, which I completely hogged!

This picture was taken Christmas day, 1979 when I was 6 years old. It's likely that my brother and sister wouldn't want to have their photo posted online, so I chopped them out of the image. The sibling next to me is holding the knickerbocker Super Grover and Cookie Monster plush toys. This photo is in black and white as my sister got a Polaroid camera for Christmas, so we took this this picture to try it out.

As much as I loved Sesame Street, it wasn't until I saw The Muppet Show and The Muppet Movie that I became completely hooked on Muppets for life! Around the age of nine, I had the Fisher-Price Kermit the Frog puppet which I just loved! (It's shown at the top of this page.) Then my Mom bought me the book "Of Muppets and Men", shown below. Because of this book, along with the Ernie, Big Bird and Kermit toy puppets, I decided that I wanted to become a puppeteer!


This awesome book shows behind the scenes of The Muppet Show and presents the history of Jim Henson Productions up until 1981, when the book was published. It's a must have item for any die-hard Muppet fan.


Here I am in 1985 or '86 at age 11 or 12 with the humble beginnings of my Muppet collection!


I also adored the set of Muppet Show dolls and puppets made by Fisher-Price between 1976 and 1978, which is the same series that the Kermit puppet was from. I especially wanted an Animal puppet but by 1982 the toys had gone out of production and were no longer available in stores. Therefore I began searching garage sales and flea markets hoping to find one (we did not have the internet and the luxury of shopping online in the 80's!). This was how I began collecting the Fisher-Price Muppet Show series. Ironically, I found all of the characters in the set before I finally found Animal, when I was 17 years old. Though I had located a few Animal puppets over the years, no one wanted to part with him!

These toys are largely responsible for what happened to me. That is, my transformation from a normal person into a fan of the Muppets! During my search for Animal I started collecting anything Muppet or Jim Henson related and so began my life long passion for collecting Muppets!

Mikey's Puppets

Here I am at age 14 in 1988 with some of the first puppets that I made.

In addition to collecting Muppet memorabilia, the Muppets inspired me to become a puppeteer. I had always liked puppets in general, and am a fan of many other puppet TV shows, but it was The Muppet Show that reeled me in to become a puppeteer. I started by making puppet sized clothes for my toy Muppet puppets to wear, such as rock band outfits, and then eventually I made my own smaller sized puppets. Gradually I got more complicated with the design of my puppets and they got larger, and larger, until I was eventually making my own full scale Muppet style puppets.

In 1988, when I was in my mid teens, I began doing local puppet shows at libraries and churches with my own original puppet characters. Some puppeteers think it's silly or unprofessional to become sentimental about their puppets, and consider them simply as props used to make a living. Me? I'm very sentimental about my puppets, but Tyler the Bear and Gordon the Sea Monster are especially important to me (shown below). I created Gordon in 1990 when I was around 16 years old, so you might say we've grown up together. Tyler was made about a year or two before Gordon. Remarkably, we've now been hanging out for over 25 years! Below is one of my favourite photos with the boys!


Gordon the Sea Monster, Tyler the Bear and I in the early 1990's during my late teens on a Westboro Parade float. I was probably 16 or 17 years old in this photo.



This drawing was created in 1990 when I was 16, the same year that I made Gordon. It shows my cast of main puppet characters at the time: Tyler the Bear, Rob the Slob, Gordon the Sea Monster, Bruno the Dog, and Mr. Noodlehead.



Here's Tyler the Bear and Gordon the Sea Monster at Parliament Hill in Ottawa. This photo was taken as a high school photography class assignment in 1990 or 1991.


5th National Puppetry Conference


In 1995 when I was 21, I attended the 5th National Puppetry Conference in Waterford Connecticut. The week long event was held at the Eugene O'Neil Theatre Centre. I had previously attended puppetry festivals and various workshops, however this was the first time that I had gathered with other like minded artists with a serious passion for puppetry in order to create puppetry. It was quite a remarkable experience, and overwhelming in a good way. Gordon the Sea Monster, and Tyler the Bear, came along for the trip too along with my characters Mr. Fishy and Brian the Lion. (It was a challenge to get a Lion through customs!) During the conference I began to create another story about Gordon called "The Sea Monster and the King". The above photo is from a rehearsal of that show.

The moment that I had arrived at the Eugene O'Neil Centre Jane Henson walked by me and went inside. I had no idea that she would be there. It took some measure of control not to geek-out right on the spot! During the conference she graciously signed my copy of Jim Henson the Works. Later she gave me a copy of The Art of the Muppets, which she had brought with her to the conference to use during her presentation about Jim Henson. Amazing! At the end of the week all the puppeteers presented the skits that they had created during the conference. I didn't realize that I was supposed to get tickets for my parents to attend. When Ms. Henson found out that I couldn't get tickets because they were sold out, she was appalled and leaned right through the ticket booth window opening to discuss the situation with the attendant. A moment later everything had been taken care of and I had two tickets on the house, courtesy of Jane Henson!

As part of the evenings presentation I performed Gordon the Sea Monster and Tyler the Bear in two scenes from what would later become "The Sea Monster and the King". Two other puppeteers (Pam and Art) helped out with performing King Brian and Mr. Fishy, as well as Gordon's right hand. It was quite an honour to perform Gordon the Sea Monster with Ms. Henson in the audience.



This group photo was taken on the last day of the conference. In addition to Jane Henson (seated far left next to the post) I met Heather Henson (front row, far right in pink shirt), George Latshaw (back row, far right in striped shirt) Annie Evans (seated in front of Jane Henson, in blue shirt), and Bart Roccoberton (back row centre with beard). I'm sitting in front of Mr. Roccoberton with the purple shirt. 

 
A couple of years later during the summer of 1997 some friends helped me to make a 20 minute video titled "Fuzzy Fables: The Sea Monster and the King". This was the story that I had started at the 5th National Puppetry Conference two years earlier. The above photo shows a scene from the video, with Gordon the Sea Monster, Mr. Fishy and King Brian the Lion.

After the video shoot was finished I reworked the story into a live touring show, with help from my friend Jay performing King Brian. This group photo of me with the puppets is from 1997 when I was 24. I had grown my hair quite long by then! :)
 
 
Since 2000, I've been making my own unique style of superhero hand puppets which I designed to be used on a table-top stage. These puppets were featured in my live show Heroes Past and Present which made it's debut at the Puppets Up Festival in 2006. The show later received a Commendation for Design in Puppetry Theatre from the Arlyn Award Society. More information about my puppetry and other art projects is available on Mikey's Art and Puppetry Blog.

Meeting the Muppets!
After attending the 5th National Puppetry Conference in 1995, Annie Evens, a writer for Sesame Street, kindly invited me to visit the Sesame Street studio in New York where I met Martin P. Robinson (puppeteer for Telly Monster and Snuffleupagus) and Pam Arciero (puppeteer for Grundgetta Grouch). While in New York, I also visited Jim Henson Productions and the Muppet Workshop where I saw Kermit the Frog himself!

That's when I shook Kermit's little froggy hand. My life's ultimate dream has been fulfilled!

Gosh...now what do I do?

Well, logically I now have to work towards meeting all of the other Muppets that have ever existed! During my 1995 visit to the Muppet Workshop I also saw Gonzo, the Muppet Newsman, Zoot and several chickens. Plus, I had my photo taken with Grover, who was visiting from Sesame Street!


Hanging out with Sesame Street's Grover in 1995 at Jim Henson Productions in New York.

During the same trip I also visited the Sesame Street studio, which was more than awesome! All of the Muppet puppeteers and writers that I met while there were all super nice people. They made my Muppet dreams come true!!! At one point they passed around my book "Jim Henson the Works" and filled it with signatures which was very kind! Bruce Connelly even drew a picture of his character Barkley the Dog! During the lunch break from shooting, puppeteers Pam Arciero (Grundgetta) and Martin P. Robinson (Telly/Snuffleupagus) kindly bought me lunch in the studio's cafeteria which had a beautiful Sesame Street mural on the wall! The Sesame Muppets that I saw while I was there included Telly, Herry, Elmo, Grungetta, Zoe and my favourite Sesame character, the Count! I also saw Snuffy across the room hanging out in the studio. I'm very thankful to have had that remarkable opportunity!


During a visit to the Sesame Street studio in 1995 I got to meet the Count!

Sometime later I took another trip to New York for a Muppet workshop instructed by Kevin Clash where I saw several of the background Fraggles and got to perform with one. That was also very awesome!

Before all of the above, in the summer of 1995 I saw Scooter at the Ballard Museum in Waterford, Connecticut. I was really happy to see Scooter as he's always been one of my favourite Muppets! Some friends of mine have joked that if I had a look alike Muppet it would be Scooter! I have no problem with that.

Much earlier at the beginning of the 1990's I had visited the Canadian Sesame Street studio in Toronto where I met the cast: Basil, Louis and Dodi along with puppeteers Tim Gosley, Pier Paquette, and Rob Mills. Bob Stutt was also there doing additional characters. (This was before he had taken over the role of Basil Bear from Tim Gosley). In 2001, the three main Canadian Sesame Muppets all paid a visit to the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec (just across the bridge from Ottawa, Ontario) as part of a CBC children's television exhibit. Red and Mokey Fraggle were there too! After this exhibit closed, I saw the three Canadian Muppets hanging out at the CBC Museum in Toronto along with additional Muppet cast members Katie and Chaos the Cat.

In 2003, when I was 29, I had another awesome Muppet encounter when I met Oscar the Grouch and his girlfriend Grundgetta. This was in Storrs, Connecticut during a Puppeteers of America festival. In addition to meeting Pam Arciero again I met puppeteer Caroll Spinney who performed Oscar and Big Bird. They did an impromptu performance together with their characters that was hilarious!

Perhaps someday down the road I'll have the chance to meet other Sesame characters, such as Ernie and Bert, as well as more of the Muppet Show gang. It would be especially awesome to see Animal. We'll see!!!


Some of the items from my Kermit the Frog collection!


Muppet websites links:

Jim Henson on Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Henson

Muppet Central The official site about everything "Muppet" just for Muppet fans http://www.muppetcentral.com/

The Muppets The official Disney website for the new movie http://disney.go.com/muppets/

Muppet Wiki Everything you ever wanted to know about the Muppets and the people who bring them to life! http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/Muppet_Wiki

The Muppet Studio on You Tube http://www.youtube.com/user/MuppetsStudio

Sesame Street Official web site http://www.sesamestreet.org/home

Caroll Spinney Official website http://www.carollspinney.com/


To see more of my puppetry please visit Mikey's Art and Puppetry Blog!


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