There were six characters in the original Fisher-Price plush toy series: Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, Scooter, Rowlf and Animal. Three of the characters were offered as plush dolls - Kermit, Fozzie and Scooter - and three were offered as full sized mouth puppets with legs, to match the dolls -Miss Piggy, Rowlf, and Animal. (The Miss Piggy puppet did not actually have legs as it was made with a foam body tube under her dress to give the character height, therefore the puppet didn't need legs to look complete). Kermit and Fozzie were the only characters to be offered in both doll and puppet format, however their puppet counterparts were simply "cut-off" at the waist and did not have legs. All of these plush Fisher-Price Muppet toys were very popular in their day. Even though these toys are still very commonly found on e-bay and at flea markets, they are becoming more and more of a challenge to find in mint condition in original boxes.Scooter and Animal were the next characters added to the series, likely in 1977. Unfortunately the tags on both of these toys in my collection have been cut off by the pervious owner, so I can't check what date is listed. The two toys were released and marketed at the same time. Fisher-Price made their Scooter doll with very hard plastic shoes. Scooter's face is perfectly shaped to look just like the character. This is one of those rare instances in which a Muppet plush toy was made with a closed mouth. Fisher-Price added a lot of excellent detail to this Scooter doll. Although it's not likely to be noticed, under his yellow jacket collar the doll has a second orange collar to match his shirt, as seen on the Muppet Show. I've also included a closer look at the patch on Scooter's jacket. It's odd that Fisher-Price placed this patch on the front of Scooter's jacket rather than on the back where it should have been, but it's a nice detail none the less. The doll has Velcro on its hands. The glasses are made out of a softer plastic than the shoes. His hair is made out of yarn.
Although Scooter was a popular character and a reasonable choice for the Fisher-Price series, future Muppet toy collections would drop the character in favour of Gonzo. It wasn't until the 2000s, some 20 years later, that another Scooter doll was made (which I don't have), this time for the Disney's MGM Studios theme park gift shops. To my knowledge a toy puppet of Scooter has still never been made!
Muppet Museum Fact: The original Scooter puppet that was performed by Richard Hunt on the Muppet Show is now part of the collection at the Ballard Museum in Connecticut, USA. I visited there in 2003 and was thrilled to see Scooter up close in the fleece! Very cooool! He's always been one of my favourite Muppets.
The Fisher-Price Scooter doll was made with a variation in fabric colour and can be found with dark blue or light blue jeans, shown above. There's no difference in value due to the variation, I just find it interesting to discover this type of thing as it reveals a part of the history of the manufacturing process for the toy. In my experience the light blue version is far less common than the dark blue version.
As you can see, I had fun taking this picture! When I was setting up the two dolls to show the variation I thought of how they looked like a gay couple and what a coincidence it was that puppeteer Richard Hunt, who performed the character, was also gay. Don't they look cute together! I call this photograph "Scooters in Love"! :) Such an inspiring work of art, this could be the start of a whole new career! Kidding aside, I think it would be cool if they made Scooter a gay character, but only if they didn't use homosexuality as a punch line. That's such an uncreative cop out and not cool at all. But to have Scooter be the first official gay Muppet would be awesome if they did it with respect, and a nice tribute to his original performer. It would reflect the reality of the world, that everyone is not heterosexual. Plus it would allow gay kids to have some visibility in popular culture, which is so critical, in order to help gay kids cope in a heterosexual dominated society.
Here's another picture of Animal just for fun! :)
The last character to be added to the series was Miss Piggy. Thanks to the Plaid Stallions vintage toy blog we can see pictures of the 1978 Fisher-Price catalogue confirming that Miss Piggy was added to the series in 1978, along with the collection of Muppet Show action figures shown below. However the tag on this toy says 1977, which seems odd and confusing. It's possible that the toy was designed in 1977 but wasn't marketed until 1978. When the Muppet Show was developed, Miss Piggy wasn't planed to be in the cast, her character developed over the first two seasons to become a break out character on the show. The writers and performers simply went along with the silliness that happened between Kermit and Miss Piggy, and wrote her into the show more and more in each season. So it makes sense that Miss Piggy was a late addition to this collection.
In addition to the challenges caused by the foam, keeping one of these puppets in mint condition is made more difficult by the rooted doll hair which is quite easily messed. It is quite difficult to find one with the original hair style. The Miss Piggy puppets were first sold in open window boxes which allowed for the puppet's hair and plastic rubber face to get quite messy and dirty while still on the shelf at toy stores. Therefore, Fisher-Price repackaged this puppet in a closed window box to keep the puppet clean until it could be sold. The cellophane window boxes are, in my experience, less common than the non-cellophane boxes. I have several copies of this puppet and have noticed that for some of them the plastic used for her face has begun to break down and is sticky to the touch. So this is something else to check for if ever buying one for your collection. Poor Miss Piggy!
Along with the Miss Piggy puppet, the Kermit and Fozzie puppets were added to the series in 1978 which seems odd to me. However the Kermit puppet box shown above does have a 1978 copyright date on it. The Fisher-Price puppets of Kermit and Fozzie were sold in closed boxes rather than the open style boxes used for the other plush toys in this series, which made the Kermit and Fozzie puppets seem somewhat separate from the collection. Alas, the plastic on the inside of this specific Kermit puppet's mouth is starting to break down and is now sticky to the touch. I'm not certain how common this is with other copies of this puppet, so if you plan to purchase one of these for your collection its something to keep in mind.
Muppet Museum Fact: Puppeteer Bob Stutt, who performed characters for Fraggle Rock, once told me that in the early 1980s when the Henson company was training puppeteers for Fraggle Rock in Toronto they used several of these Fisher-Price Kermit puppets in their workshops!
Muppet Museum Fact: Another interesting trivia note about the Fisher-Price Muppet Show plush toy collection is that some of the toys are seen in the Blue Brothers movie from 1980. They are in the famous "driving through a mall" scene, in which the Blues Brothers smash through a mini mall with their car. When they drive through a Toys R Us, a customer is at the cash register with a Grover doll asking for a Miss Piggy. The Muppet toys are seen displayed around the cash register and in the background of this scene. At one point a Rowlf puppet is clearly seen flopping around on the hood of the car. Yes, I know way too much about these puppets! Additionally, puppeteer Frank Oz who performed Grover and Miss Piggy also makes a cameo at the very beginning of the movie as the security guard.1978 Fisher-Price catalogue on the Plaid Stallions website. These figures were released as "The Muppet Show Players" in a boxed set with Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, and Rowlf. The same figures were also available individually on cards which have 1979 as the copyright date on the back. Figures of Gonzo, Scooter and Animal were only available individually on cards and are less common (shown below). All seven figures came with a white plastic rod that attaches to the figure's back so that it can be used as a rod puppet. Miss Piggy is a rubber finger puppet rather than an action figure.
To my knowledge, the rights to produce puzzles and games based on The Muppet Show was given to Milton Bradley and Hallmark Cards/Springbok in North America, while the European rights went to Hope/Hestair Products. Above is a European puzzle from 1977. This image was also used for the very first Muppet Show poster that was available at the time, and which I also have in my collection. More puzzles are shown below in the 1979 section.
Here is the Parker Bros. The Muppet Show board game from 1977. This game was very popular in it's time and is quite easy to find. A second board game was made in 1979 and is shown below in that section.
Here is the game board for the 1977 game. It's interesting to see all of the different Muppet characters that were included in the audience.
Here are the game pieces for the 1977 game. I like that they used actual photos of the Muppet characters for the game pieces instead of drawings. It's especially neat that they show the front and back view of the character.
The game board for the 1977 Muppet Show game can be found with a black or green finish on the reverse side of the board. The green boards were sold with solid white bases for the game markers, while the black boards had clear bases for the game markers. I doubt either one is more valuable than the other. I just think it's fun to find product variations of toys that I collect and thought I'd share the info. Neat eh!
Side 2: Tenderly, I'm in Love with a Big Blue Frog, Tit Willow, Veterinarian's Hospital, Simon Smith and his Amazing Dancing Bear, Trees, Sax and Violence, Bein' Green
Below is the second Muppet Show record that was released the following year in 1978. There are two versions of this record. One of them has a double sized album cover that opens up, while the other is a standard record cover. I have the standard version.
Side 2: Happy Feet, Pigs in Space, I'm Five, Sea Chantey, New York State of Mind, The Pig Calypso, When, A Gypsy's Violin, Wishing Song, Animal Sings Gershwin, For What it's Worth, We Got Us, Closing Theme
In 1978 and 1979 a very popular series of Muppet Show character mugs was produced by Kiln Craft in England. I only have two from the series. The Miss Piggy mug is dated 1978 while the Scooter mug is dated 1979. I'm not certain if that explains the colouring difference or if there is a 1979 full colour Miss Piggy mug available. Characters in the series included Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, Scooter, Rowlf the Dog, Animal, Floyd Pepper, Sam the Eagle, Swedish Chef, and Beauregard. Statler and Waldorf were on the same mug together, with one character on each side. More images of the above two mugs are shown below.
This is a very popular item with Muppet fans. It is "The Muppet Show Book" published in 1978. The book recounts many of the skits that were seen on The Muppet Show during the first two or three seasons and includes guest star appearances by Vincent Price, Candice Bergen, and Rudolf Nureyev. Song lyrics are also included on various pages.
Here is "The Muppet Show Annual" hardcover book from 1978, published by Brown Watson. The book includes photos, illustrations, comics, games and activities. I think there are other Muppet Annual books published but I'm not sure how many or if one was made for each season of the show.
Hallmark/Springbok also made larger puzzles with 500 or 1000 pieces. Here is a larger puzzle from 1978, with over 500 pieces. It's titled "King Kong goes ape over Miss Piggy". I glued it to a wooden board when I was a kid, so the black boarder is not part of the puzzle.
This Hallmark/Springbok puzzle from 1980 features Miss Piggy and is titled "America's Heartthrob". This is a very large puzzle with 1000 pieces! The finished puzzle measures 24 X 30 inches. The puzzle pieces for her hair were especially difficult to do!
This is a 1000 piece Hallmark/Springbok puzzle from 1980 titled "A Muppet Christmas Party".
Here is the game board from the 1979 game. It has the same board printed on both sides, but with the text in English on one side and French on the other.
Here are the game pieces for the 1979 game which is unique as Sweetums and Sam the Eagle are featured characters.