As reported yesterday, Gonzo and some chickens were supposed to appear on America’s Got Talent last night on NBC. Well… as you might’ve heard (or seen), they didn’t. Muppet fans aren’t sure what happened. It could be a matter of miscommunication or just a matter of the whatever getting bumped for Shakira and her shaking of that thing. Or maybe Kermit the Fake ate Gonzo?
Don’t forget to submit your answers for The Great Muppet Survey! Monday, September 21st is the last day to send in results. Time is running out!
Please sign the Where’s Steve Whitmire? Petition. We’re nearing 100 signatures!
Today’s Mindset comes to us from the extremely talented graphic artist Dave Hulteen, Jr., otherwise known as Vic Romano on Muppet Central Forum. Dave has written an article about some Sesame Street 40th Anniversary merchandise you might not want to spend your money on.
Dave Hulteen, Jr. (Vic Romano on Muppet Central Forum) – It’s Sesame Street’s 40th Anniversary, so let’s roll out the monumentous event with some crappy merchandise, shall we? This review is only about the new PVC figures from Fisher Price, and not the playsets, because at $7 a pop, I simply can’t afford to review anything else.
So first off, let’s get the Elmo issue out of the way. That furry little red dingle-berry is a corporate hog who has to be everywhere. I know that’s not new news, but it is an availability issue. You see, the figurines come in three different two-packs: Ernie and Big Bird, Super Grover and Oscar, and Elmo and Cookie Monster. God forbid you want to get the Ernie/Big Bird or Grover/Oscar figures, because they apparently come one per case. I went to six different Targets in New Jersey and New York and found just one of the Ernie/Big Bird toys in one Target, and just one of the Grover/Oscar in another. However, every store had dozens of the Elmo/Cookie packages! If that’s not enough, Elmo appears on every package at least twice! I know he’s the representative face of the street, but great googily-moogily! It made me believe I was getting more Elmo figures simply because of the packaging!
Okay, so on to the figures. I realize these are for kids, the package clearly says ages 18 months to 4 years, and for the most part, the sculpts are decent, but I wish they could have made Big Bird just a little bigger. When he’s standing next to the other figures, he’s obviously a full head size taller, but it looks odd to a fan of the show who meticulously criticizes every detail. The bio on the card that comes with him even states his height at eight foot, two inches. If these figures were to scale, that would make Grover seven feet tall! His face looks like the young, or baby Big Bird from storybooks, but there’s some real subtle charm to the toy none the less. For starters, his body is textured like ruffled feathers and his left arm is across his chest while his right arm is raised in the air, just like when Carroll performs him, only backwards. I don’t know if it’s an intentional nod toward the puppetry aspect, but it made me smile.
Ernie on the other hand is just a little too small. He looks like a little person compared to the other characters. His paint and sculpt are fair, nothing fantastic, but why the hell is he wearing sunglasses? And while I’m on a rant, when the hell did Ernie surpass Bert to the extent that not only is Bert not packaged with Ernie, but there is no Bert figure at all! How or why would you even consider having Ernie without Bert? Has Ernie rose to such a height of fame that he can’t be bothered with his best friend? Or is Bert so repulsive to the general public that no one even wants a figure of him? The card that comes with Ernie even mentions his “Old buddy Bert”… so where is he?! This is one of those awkward places where old school fans and newer ones really meet at a cross roads. Elmo’s popularity and appeal notwithstanding, separating the dynamic duo is a huge no-no, and a big “F you” to the fans. I believe that if you’re going to tout the legendary status of 40 years on the product packaging, you have to include Bert with Ernie.
Super Grover has a really cool stance with his arms raised above his head and slightly leaning to the side like you can just hear him yell: “This looks like a job for SU…. PER GROVER!” His body sculpt is real fun, and he has these nice big floppy blue feet that anchor him down. His face is just a little off, but the real problem is his costume. The ties on his cape are pink, the same color as his cape, and not gold like the actual character, or even the image that appears on the back of the packaging for that matter. His cape also flows down instead of being tied to his wrists like it should be. Okay, so it’s not like it’s a major flaw, but as a fan; I noticed, and like the Ernie and no Bert figures, it bothered me.
If they got one figurine right, it was Oscar. Now this is a cool one. He’s got a great sculpt, he looks sweet, his can is a nice shiny metal color (even though Oscar’s can is supposed to be dingy and dirty, but I won’t nit-pick this one because at least the can is dented and scratched), and he’s holding Slimey! Oscar (like Grover) also has a fur texture to him, which is a nice touch. If I had one complaint about this one, it’s that he’s maybe a little too wide-eyed, but that’s stretching it. Even Slimey himself looks really cool sitting on Oscar’s hand.
The most noticeable thing about Cookie Monster is that jar of cookies he’s holding. First off, it looks more like Winnie The Pooh’s “Hunny” pot then a cookie jar. Secondly, the definition of the cookies in the pot isn’t well defined, and it looks more like he’s holding an urn full of poop with fleas in it. Finally, and I realize this probably varies from figure to figure, the paint job on the jar runs onto Cookie himself. The body sculpt is okay, and once again, the fur texture is nice, but his legs together look odd. Every character sculpt in this line has the legs close together, but I guess from story books I’ve seen as a kid, I just remember Cookie being more bowlegged. This one falls flatter then the others, but I’m not entirely sure why.
Finally we get to Elmo. Like the other monsters in the line, he has the fur texture, but this sculpt has a great likeness. There’s nothing off about him. The paint job between Elmo and the ball he’s holding is flawless, despite being packaged with the very same Cookie Monster figure that isn’t. His right hand is raised to wave “Hello”, but the sculpt places it right alongside his head, so it looks more like Elmo has been in a freak car accident then waving to his pals on Sesame Street. You can tell however, that a little more care went into the sculpting of the franchise’s flagship character, and maybe it’s just his bright red color in comparison, but he really stands out among the group.
All the figures come with trading cards which might have been better if they were double-sided, but they have some really nice shots of their respective characters. The paper packaging also includes a cutout of the famous Sesame Street sign post. It’s too flimsy to stand alone, but it’s kind of cool to have something like it with the figures.
Overall, the line is very mediocre. The scale of the characters is off completely from one another, and they seem more like Christmas tree ornaments then PVC figures. Still, it’s nice to finally have some type of effigy of the classic characters, even if Bert is glaringly omitted. I can’t stress enough though, how rare the Ernie/Big Bird and Oscar/Grover packs are. If you see them, get ’em right away and wait on the Elmo/Cookie packs. I’m sure we’ll be seeing them by the truckloads on clearance end-caps by Christmas. At the end of the day though, the retail price for each pack of two characters is $6.99. It’s a little pricey when you consider what you’re getting, and maybe not worth the cash for your collection… and did I mention there’s no Bert?