Muppets Action Figures:
When Palisades Toys first showed off the prototypes for the first two series of Muppet Show figures, both press and industry people alike were impressed. For series one it was time to get things started, and now things are just moving right along into series two. Eventually they will segue into series three, and from there numbers even higher than that. Double digits? Just eight waves away!
The second set of Muppet Show figures builds upon the foundation laid in the first series. The first series had mainstays Kermit and Miss Piggy with Bunsen Honeydew, Dr. Teeth and the Muppet Labs playset. The second has Kermit's right-hand bear Fozzie, Gonzo the Great, Floyd Pepper (with a variant of Floyd), Crazy Harry (from the local nuthouse) and the Electric Mayhem playset with an exclusive Animal figure. The first series hit earlier in 2002 and it has been a while between series one and two, but the delay should be shorter for the next series of figures (scheduled for February - March 2003). Series three will cover Lew Zealand, Zoot, Scooter and Rowlf with the Swedish Chef's kitchen playset (showcased at the San Diego Comic Con 2002).
The first series also had its share of exclusive figures, a trend which continues into the second series. The second series has two versions of Fozzie in vacation attire, one exclusive to Musicland stores (with a blue Hawaiian shirt) and one available through ToyFare magazine (with a red Hawaiian shirt). There is also a version of Gonzo with a crash helmet available at Electronics Boutique stores in the US and PBM Express in Europe and Croftminster in Australia. In Antarctica they are available on the monthly supply ship that brings food, other essentials and sweet, sweet porn. There was a version of Fozzie available at the San Diego Comic Con in the fall of 2002 that was mostly clear, and you can also get that figure via the Palisades Collectors Club (along with any other show exclusive figures and plenty of other cool things).
The second series of figures is packaged as Muppet Show 25th Anniversary figures, but the line will undergo design changes in future assortments. Part of this is due to the 25th anniversary being over, and part is due to expanded licensing that will include not only characters from The Muppet Show, but also the Muppet characters from the series of Muppet movies. The San Diego Comicon exclusive Fozzie was based on the 'Muppets from Space' film, and series four will have Samuel Arrow (Sam the Eagle) from 'Muppet Treasure Island'. All the figures in series two have stands that are nearly identical to those included in series one. The stands have a Muppet Show logo and peg holes spaced for each particular figure.
The best place to keep informed about all happenings on both the Muppets figures and other products from Palisades Toys is the official website. There you'll find sneak previews of upcoming items, a lively discussion forum and plenty of information on the various toys they produce. Make sure to let Palisades President Mike Horn know that the Eagles can go to the Superbowl this year as long as they buy their tickets now.
Click on a picture below to see more pictures of that action figure.
Fozzie Bear is one of the best known and popular of the Muppets, and is the closest friend of Kermit the frog. Fozzie has been a staple of the Muppet Show and the various Muppet movies over the years as part of the comic relief. Fozzie is an aspiring stand-up comedian but it seems he is most funny when he isn't actually trying to be and fortune seems to have a little fun with him.
Being a bear means a few things that we humans often take for granted. For one, Fozzie gets to do it in the woods, and he doesn't have to wear clothes since he has plenty of fur on his body. The downside is that when he visits zoos they often try to capture him and he has a strong aversion to being made into a rug. He usually works at least two jobs just to pay for his monthly bills (mostly due to shampoo) and has an unhealthy addiction to Pac-Man resulting in his constant repetition of 'wocka-wocka-wocka'.
Fozzie's voice may seem familiar to fans of the Star Wars movies, and this is due to the performer who created Fozzie and brought Yoda to life. Frank Oz is somewhat of a renaissance man in the sense that he has been a successful puppeteer, actor and director. As Jim Henson's closest collaborator he has created and breathed life into characters like Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Sam the Eagle, Animal for the Muppet Show, Bert, Cookie Monster and Grover on Sesame Street as well as the best version of Yoda from The Empire Strikes Back and lending his talents to The Dark Crystal. As an actor he has always taken on small roles, and if you look closely you can catch him in The Blues Brothers and Trading Places. As a director he started with The Dark Crystal and from there has worked mostly with humans, directing films like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Bowfinger and The Score.
Fozzie has made the transition to action figure form well, and the detailed sculpting of the figure shows off nearly every hair on his body. He's got a slightly magnetic personality from having a magnet installed in his head and hat, to keep his headwarmer in place. The first series had either shaped hats (with reverse dimples on the head) or used a peg to keep the hats in place, and this was changed to magnetic hats. The hats stay on well with this system, but the figures that have magnets in their heads have seams showing where the magnets were installed, somewhat reminiscent of scars from brain surgery. As long as you keep the hats on, you'll never see the seam. One interesting thing with this Fozzie and the San Diego version was that the polarities of the magnets were reversed between the two, and the hats from each figure won't stay on the other. This might be something unique to the ones we have or perhaps part of a very clever plan taking into account the fact that an invisibility spray would have to affect the electromagnetic spectrum (part of which is visible light) and this might account for the magnetic reversal of polarity. Then again, maybe it just worked out that way at the factory, but we're leaning towards the former.
Fozzie is the same figure as the one available at the San Diego Comic Con (besides the paint decoration and accessories). At just over six inches, he's the tallest Muppet in series two and is the least articulated figure with only five joints. He has ball-jointed shoulders. His neck twists as do the thighs where they join his torso. He does come with a rubber chicken (well, this one is really a plastic version of a rubber chicken) and a Groucho Marx mask. Fozzie has a very nice microphone and stand, and the stand can be adjusted via a joint in the center of it and the corded microphone can be removed from the stand. The microphone doesn't really work, but you can simulate it by raising your voice when you speak near it, or making squelching feedback noises.
Translating the fuzzy Fozzie into the decidedly non-fuzzy plastic version was a job requiring many people beyond Palisades product designer Ken Lilly. Cynthia Woodie did the sculpting honors for Fozzie (and she also sculpted or assisted in sculpting Kermit and Miss Piggy from series one), and had help with the accessories from Big Chief Studios and Johnny Apokolips and paint from Eddie Wires (whose work can also be seen in a variety of Toy Biz products).
In rock and roll playing the guitar or singing is the best gig around. You get to be in the limelight, look really cool and you basically have to beat the chicks off with a stick. Sometimes you need to use pepper spray to keep them at bay, and this suits the man who plays bass guitar for Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem band. Floyd also assists on some of the back-up vocals for the band. He's got his eye on Janice and loves to rock with the rest of the Electric Mayhem band.
Floyd comes ready to play, with articulation and accessories to fit his job. He's five and a half inches tall and has ball-jointed shoulders and thighs, his feet twist at the tops of his boots, the wrists can twist and he has twists at the elbows. The elbow and calf twists are designed into seams in the costume design so they don't show. The neck has a ball joint so Floyd and look from side to side and even bang his head. Atop the banging head is a cap attached by the magic of magnetism, and he bears similar scars to those of Fozzie from the magnet's insertion.
Where would a guitarist be without a guitar, and Floyd has his trusty four string bass guitar. The figure is sculpted and designed to play the guitar right handed, and the imagery on the package supports this. However, sometimes Floyd is seen playing the guitar left-handed (in the recent Muppet Holiday special), so he just might be ambidextrous to go with Kermit being an amphibian. One thing is sure, the guitar is attached to an amplifier, and there is a handy strap included for the guitar.
Floyd Pepper is a man of many colors, and for his action figure debut he decided on two of them. A pink Floyd seems the most logical, but that version was passed up for one that is red and another that is blue. Of the two, the blue version is less numerous than the red, meaning he's happy more than sad. Both versions have the same articulation and accessories, but the two versions have totally different paint and color schemes. The blue version has a gray hat, gray undershirt, green pants and black boots. The red version has a brown undershirt and brown boots with blue pants and a green hat. The red version has a red and white guitar while the blue version has a white and black one. The amps are decorated differently, with a black amp with silver trim on the red version and a gray amp with gold trim on the blue version. The straps for the guitars are the same, but the clips on the strap are different, with black clips on the blue version and brown ones on the red. And one has a red jacket and the other a blue one, in case we didn't mention that big thing...
The man behind Floyd is Jerry Nelson, who has been fascinated by sounds. Since he was a child, Jerry has been performing various voices and sound effects and he's stayed busy in commercials, records and movies. He was originally hired to fill in for Frank Oz, who was drafted into military service in the 60's, and eventually returned to the fold full-time in the 70's. Some of the other characters he performas are the Count from Sesame Street, Robin the Frog, Crazy Harry, Statler and Lew Zealand. Jerry has been brought to you by the letter J, and the number 8.
Raven Hood sculpted Floyd Pepper and Crazy Harry for series two, and Dr. Teeth for series one. Raven also assisted Cynthia Woodie on Miss Piggy in series one. The accessories were created by Johnny Apokolips and Eddie Wires did the paint. The industrious people of China manufactured all the toys and even had help from a few of the non-industrious Chinese.
Crazy Harry gets his name from two things - being crazy and being hairy. One the one hand he has a large mop of black hair on his head, and a shaggy black beard. On the other hand the guy really enjoys blowing things up and creating explosive special effects. If someone were to get Harry and Jerry Bruckheimer together to make a movie, the silver screen would never be the same. Ever hear of 'explod-o-vision'?
Harry is about five and a half inches tall because he stands hunched over, otherwise he'd be around six inches tall. His bad posture often leads him to go on retreats every year to the French coast to relax. Even though his knees are sculpted at a bend, his elbows aren't. The elbows can bend, both wrists can twist, the waist and neck can twist and the feet can twist. The thighs can swivel and the head can move just a little bit up and down, but the motion of the head in this direction is very limited. The figure can easily be posed to press down on the plunger, but so far nothing has exploded from it yet.
Crazy Harry gets a little crazy when it comes to blowing things up, and his plastic alter ego is loaded for bear. Fozzie Bear to be exact. Harry gets his supplies not from the Swedish Chef, but another Swede who invented dynamite. (FYI, which would be Alfred Nobel, the Peace Prize Guy.) Harry has two sticks of dynamite, a dynamite plunger (which is spring loaded to return to the upright position), a bomb and a keg. This keg opens to store the explosives and is labeled 'gunpowder'. The barrel can double as storage for his hooch, denoted by the three x's under gunpowder (similar to the way Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies labeled her moonshine).
Crazy Jerry Nelson puts the crazy in Harry, and Jerry performs a number of the Muppets. There is plenty of information on just this very thing in the section on Floyd Pepper, and if you skipped it you can always scroll back up. If you already read it, feel free to read it again at no extra charge. If you can't read, you won't see this.
Raven Hood sculpted Crazy Harry and Floyd Pepper, and you'll never guess who did the accessories and paint. Well, if you guessed Johnny Apokolips and Eddie Wires (respectively) then you'd be right. If you guessed Crazy Larry or Crazy Gary, then you'd be wrong. Our judges would have accepted Crazy Eddie though.
Gonzo is one of the more interesting of the Muppets appearance-wise. He's short and blue with a huge crooked nose and three fingers on each hand. The truth about Gonzo was revealed in 'Muppets From Space', and Gonzo's origins were extra-terrestrial. Yes, Gonzo is an alien, and that is the only explanation that makes sense when you think about it. He doesn't look or act like anything on earth, so he must be an alien. The other Muppets are clearly from earth, where we have many talking frogs, dogs, eagles, pigs, prawn shrimp and bears, whatever it is that Animal is, and scientists who wear glasses to see when they don't even have eyes. It's rather obvious, once you think about it.
Even for an alien, Gonzo is weird. He has what seems to be an unwholesome attraction to chicken (and we aren't talking about the finger-licking kind) and a desire to put his life at great risk whenever possible. Gonzo is a daredevil, and he enjoys being fired from a cannon almost as much as motorcycle jumping. He likes neither as much as his girlfriend Camilla. She's a chicken. 'Nuff said!
Gonzo is the shortest Muppet so far at just over four inches tall. He likes to wear a cape because it makes him look taller, and this cape has an elastic band to go around his neck, is removable, and is red on one side and white on the other. You can reverse the cape, but he prefers the red on the outside as camouflage when hiding in the woods from color-blind people. Besides the cape he is dressed in his daredevil outfit, right down to the safety tennis shoes. He may be short on height, but not on articulation. Gonzo has ball-jointed shoulders, neck and waist twists, thigh twists and his feet twist at the mid-calf at the top of his sneakers.
To truly be a daredevil there is the need for the 'apparatus of dare deviltry', or sometimes the plural 'apparati of dare deviltry', and the Gonz (and he sometimes likes to be called) is packing a cannon. This isn't just any cannon, but a functional one that can launch Gonzo through the air to his pre-destined meeting with solid ground. The cannon isn't all powerful, but he can get a good three inches to half a foot of air (and even more from precarious counters). Keep in mind kids, that the cannon is designed only for use with this Gonzo figure, and you shouldn't launch anything else from it. It even says so on the inside of the cannon, and violation of those regulations could results in penalties equivalent to those incurred from removing the tag from a mattress. It just isn't worth it. The cannon comes with a pair of simulated wood chocks to keep the cannon from recoiling as Gonzo flies out in accordance with Newton's third law.
Gonzo is the creation of puppeteer Dave Goelz, who also performs Bunsen Honeydew and Zoot. Dave has also perfomed characters on Fraggle Rock and was the General Skekksis in The Dark Crystal, directed by fellow puppeteer Frank Oz. It was Frank Oz who helped Dave become a part of the Muppets after a meeting at a puppetry festival in 1972 and Dave has been an active part of the Muppets ever since.
Kathy Jeffers sculpted Gonzo, and she was also responsible for the sculpt on Dr. Bunsen Honeydew from series one. The accessories were made by Johhnny Apokolips and Eddie Wires did the paint. Gonzo spelled backwards is Oznog, an Aleutian word that means 'man of poultry'. Not really.
Pictures of Fozzie
Pictures of Crazy Harry
Pictures of Floyd Pepper
Pictures of Gonzo
|Where to buy Series Two Muppets: The Muppet Show action figures retail in the $8.99 to $11.99 USD price range, and are available at stores like Toys'R'Us (and via their presence on Amazon.com), KB Toys, Electronics Boutique, Suncoast, and Musicland, as well as various online toy retailers.
Several such online stores are RTM sponsors AisleSniper.com, Big Bad Toy Store, The Outer Reaches, and NHAtoys. (Be sure to check the other RTM sponsors, listed on the Shop Center.)