Here is an Entertainment Weekly magazine from November 2011. The article is about the new movie "The Muppets". The cover shows an awesome picture of a "classic" looking Kermit that I would love to have a poster of.
However, I have an issue with the title "How the Muppets were saved". Actually, it annoys me just reading that, which really ruins an otherwise great magazine cover. Regrettably, the concept of "saving" the Muppets was used as a marketing strategy for the new film, which to me seems like a really rotten way to treat the puppeteers and crew who work behind the scenes. The idea behind "saving the Muppets" was that because two key Muppets projects had done so poorly in the past, it was "okay" to suggest that the Muppets were washed up, and therefore needed rescuing. The projects in question included their most recent theatrical movie at the time "Muppets From Space" (1999), which had done quite poorly, and the short lived TV show "Muppets Tonight" (1997) which had been cancelled.
Clearly those two projects didn't show the Muppets at their best, but to say they needed rescuing is entirely inaccurate and quite insulting. Fact is, the demand for the Muppets was alive and well for an entire decade after those two projects, and before the Disney Muppet film was even a thought in Jason Segel's head. For starters, Kermit received a star on the Hollywood walk of fame, the Muppets had several successful You Tube videos go viral, and they did several very successful TV specials, commercials and direct to video films. All of this, and the merchandise was non stop, including the hugely popular Palisades action figure collection. So the idea that the Muppets needed saving is quite a silly one and completely inaccurate.
In 2012 Danawares once again made plush toys of the Muppets, this time as merchandise for the new movie "The Muppets". Above are the 9 inch plush toys which unfortunately are all very cheaply made. The poor quality is more apparent if they are compared with the 2010 Danawares Muppets series shown above. This time five characters were made in the series: Animal, Miss Piggy, and Gonzo (shown here), as well as Fozzie and Kermit, which I'm missing.
A different approach was taken for Gonzo's eyes this time, but they are still poorly done. One is bigger than the other and they are lop-sided, but I can't criticize this to much as they are hand sewn onto the doll!!! As a puppet maker myself, I can't imagine having to hand sew this style of eyes onto dolls all day, especially not for mass-production. Whoever did the sewing likely only had seconds to finish each Gonzo doll, so in that light its impressive work. Just a poor design. Gonzo's hair is made from a rough shoelace cord and looks like a Mohawk. The light blue cord is also the wrong colour.
Animal, this time around, is the worst one from the series. In fact the quality of this toy is pathetic. This is just mass-produced trash, and very sad to see. Miss Piggy is not bad. Her face is a major improvement from the 2010 series, and she has her classic purple gloves. The hair is done with fabric which is interesting, but looks rather cheep. The Sababa Toys Nurse Piggy from 2003 (shown above in that section) used yarn for hair, which I think is the best option. These plush toys were also quite pricey at 15.99 each in Canada, but again I managed to get them on sale. Larger versions of these toys were also made, as well as the new character Walter. I have yet to see them available in stores but they were offered online through the official website for "The Muppets". http://disney.go.com/muppets/
Here is the original shelf display box that was shipped with the 2012 plush toys.
Danawares also produced a smaller series of clip on Muppet plush in 2012. Miss Piggy, Kermit and Gonzo are shown above. I haven't seen Animal or Fozzie for this smaller series, but I suspect they were included as well.
Around 2010 and 2012 when Danawares was producing their various Muppets plush toys, they also produced this 3 in 1 Muppets puzzle. It was packaged as three smaller sized boxed puzzles which can be combined to make one large puzzle. All three puzzles were shrink wrapped together in the same package with an additional printed page added on one side, as shown above.
There are two very odd errors in the image of this puzzle. One is that Zoot was shown twice in the same picture, on the left he's wearing a black suit and on the right he's in his usual clothes. The second error is that Statler and Waldorf's booth is on the left rather than the right where it should be. I suspect these errors happened because the image seems to be made up of clip art from different source. The art for Statler and Waldorf is done in a different style than the main image. The Zoot shown on the right could easily be edited out without affecting the rest of the picture.
In 2011 after "The Muppets" movie had been in theatres, this "Christmas and New Years Countdown Calendar" was sold at Wal-Mart stores. It came with 32 pieces of chocolate that were made with five different Muppet shapes including Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie and Animal. It was made by Jean-Talon Chocolate Inc., a company in Laval, Quebec, and distributed by Regal.
Here is a very soft pillow and throw set that was sold at Wall-mart stores in 2012 as merchandize for "The Muppets" movie. These are very well made with nice, bright images. The pillow shows Kermit, Fozzie, Miss Piggy and Animal, and the fleece throw (shown below) has an awesome illustration of Animal. Unfortunately these items, along with the 2012 Danawares plush toys are marked "Disney" on the tag and have no mention of Jim Henson, which I think is awful. I would prefer "Jim Henson's Muppets" or "A Jim Henson Muppet" instead of Disney, who had nothing to do with creating the Muppets.
The pillow and throw set shown above was part of a line of bedding sold at Wal-Mart that featured similar illustrations of Muppets. These included: 1) A standard size pillow with a printed image of Muppet characters. 2) A double sized blanket made of very soft, short "fake fur" with large images of Kermit, Fozzie and Animal's heads. 3) A double size blanket with a large illustration of Kermit on one side and "fake fur" on the other.
This Kermit Snow Globe is 2 1/2 inches tall and was available for the Christmas season in 2012. I found this one at Canadian Tire. The copyright info says "The Muppets Studio" with no mention of Disney, which I like.
Here's an item from 2013 that I really like! (I've actually been trying to wean myself off of collecting Muppets but I couldn't pass this one up!) I'm very happy to find this TY "Beanie Buddy" Kermit plush toy because it is so well made. There have been so many poorly made Muppet plush toys, especially over the last 10 to 15 years, that to see this good quality plush Kermit is a very welcome change. Kermit's green body is made out of a velour-like soft fabric, and his eyes and mouth are well done. He also has stuffed feet / flippers which isn't very common for a Kermit plush toy, but a nice touch. This is a 15 inch toy that retails for about $15 to $17 here in Ottawa, ON, which is an excellent price for the quality compared to the 9 inch cheaply made 2012 Danawares Muppets plush toys shown above.
Once again however there is no mention of Henson on the tag, only Disney, which I think is shameful. I guess the folks in charge at Disney are perfectly content to diminish culture by taking steps that will eventually erase Jim Henson's name from public knowledge. With a property created by a genius like Jim Henson, is it not common sense to create a special brand with a trademark such as "Jim Henson's Muppets", or something similar? This would have allowed the Disney Company to enhance the uniqueness of this licensed property (the Muppets) and diversify the brands that the company offers, rather than diminish everything by lumping it under the Disney banner. I suppose we'll soon be seeing Darth Vader toys with a Disney tag on them too, rather than Lucas! It's sad that in our "civilized" culture nothing is sacred when it comes to big corporations making money.
This is a 9 inch Easter Kermit plush toy made by Danawares in 2013. This Kermit is similar to the 9 inch plush toy made in 2012 to promote The Muppets movie. In this case Kermit is wearing some bunny ears and the bottoms of his flippers are made with the matching Easter egg pattern fabric. Once again the tag says Disney.
Kermit, Animal and Dr. Teeth Wacky Wobblers by Funko
This is the Muppet Show cake that I bought in Dec 2013. This one was made at the Carlingwood Mall Loblaws store here in Ottawa, ON. The cake is decorated to look like the Muppet Show theatre stage and comes with two original PVC figures (Kermit and Miss Piggy) as well as a shaped plastic background image of the Electric Mayhem Band. This cake topper set was made by DecoPac Inc. There's no copyright date on the figures so I'm not sure when this cake topper set was originally made available, but by Dec 2013 it had been discontinued. My guess is that it was introduced in 2011 or shortly after to coincide with Disney's new movie "The Muppets". Some stores will still have this set in stock, but once they sell out these figures will be gone for good, so if you're an obsessed Muppet freak like me you'd better get them while you still can!
Muppets Most Wanted
Fozzie Bear and Animal Subway lunch bags.
A group photo of the Muppets, and Beaker Subway lunch bags.