Friday, December 30, 2016

Best and Worst "Stuff" of 2016!

We all know 2016 was a dumpster fire of a year.

We lost David BowiePrince
David Smyrl (Mr. Handford)George MartinFlorence HendersonGene Wilder"Toots" ThielemansMorley Safer, and Alan Rickman.

Puppet Up
 closed it's Las Vegas run early, and both The Muppets (2015) and 
No, YOU Shut Up! were cancelled.

There were a few bright spots such as The Electric Mayhem's live concert, various Muppet appearances - including Fozzie on @midnightSesame Street photobombing the 
Tonight Show w/ Jimmy Fallon, The Muppets opening Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (including Miss Piggy latter saving Tony Bennet), Fraggle Rock's return to HBO, and the debut of a new Henson series Splash and Bubbles. Other treats include Matt Vogel's great behind the scenes of Sesame Street web series "Below The Frame", the return of Pigs in Space, and Sonia Manzano receiving a Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award Emmy.

We even got to visit the debut of the Strong Museum's Henson collection

However, as our primary focus here is to talk Muppet "stuff" (that's we call ourselves Muppet Stuff) as our last post of 2016, we look back at the best (and worst) Henson related items released this year. 

The Worst:

Over priced and not very attractive are not how you honor the world most famous and fashionable pig. I mean $98 for a key chain? Come on. 

On the other end of the fashion spectrum was IntenCITY's line of Disney inspired fashions. While there were some really nice items for other Disney franchise, unfortunately their only Muppet related item looks like it was made by elementary school kids forced to make them during their lunch break. Cute, cheap, yet uninspiring. 

"Chase" Kira with closed mouth Fizzgig Pop!

A chase, or variant figure usually has something special about it - recolored, a different outfit, etc. but what Funko did for this chase was pretty lazy. It's just Fizzgig, but with a closed mouth. Not only that, the very thing that makes the figure different is hidden begins the "chase" sticker!

"The Best of Fraggle Rock"

Enjoy The Ride Records limited edition vinyl of The Best of Fraggle Rock. Should have been really special. There were 7 different vinyl colors made - each representing a different character, but each record had the same image of the Fraggles on the front and Trash Heap on the B side.

As we originally noted "It would have been a lot nicer and made the color choices more apparent if the different characters they represented were on the flip side, especially since Sprocket is only seen in the gatefold map."

The Best:

As only one of two official items released from the now cancelled The Muppets, we felt that it deserved a place on the list. Here's hoping Diamond Select follows it up with some Rowl's Tavern coasters or pint glasses someday. 

Seeing the many different artistic styles take on the world of Labyrinth and it's many characters is very inspiring. There are many gorgeous, funny, and brilliant images to found. With the continuation of Achia's Storyletter anthology comics, I could see Labyrinth becoming their next ongoing anthology project. 

With many great Labyrinth Pop! figures released by Funko this year we thought it best to include Ludo who rarely gets the merch treatment and as a large 6" figure too.
This Sesame Place exclusive was the perfect example of what their limited release "Classic Character Collection" should be - a fan favorite we don't see much of anymore that's realet represented in merchandise. Add to the fact that this is a puppet and not just a stuffed animal gives it much more interactive and has a great play-ability factor. Here's hoping the Pink one isn't too far behind!
While Zen Monkey Studios made some outstanding shirts and pins featuring characters from Labyrinth and Fraggle Rock, there Dark Crystal hoodie was a standout. Not only does is feature a gorgeous image of Kira, Jen, Fizzgig, Ursol, Aughra, and the Chamberlain on the back, the front features the crystal being broken into shards. Brilliant design, excellent execution. 

Dark Crystal ReAction Figure - Aughra

Funko did an amazing job bringing the long wanted, and until now never produced, line of Dark Crystal action figures to the market. While initially going to make straight replicas of Kenner's unproduced figures, instead they went above and beyond to give them a timeless yet fully sculpted look. The detail in Aughra is stunning, I just wish they used better glue on the packages. 

Labyrinth: A Visual History

Insight Editions put together another great coffee table book filled with never before seen photos and stories from the making of the film. The book even features many interactive reproductions placed throughout, giving it the feel that you stumbled upon it in the Henson workshop. I have high hopes for their Dark Crystal book scheduled for next year. And who knows if it also does well, maybe we'll get the Fraggle Rock book they planned to release last year!

Animal Action figure
This year saw Diamond Select Toys bring the Muppets back to the action figure world since Palisades Toys folded a decade ago. Thanks to a certain frogboy in San Fransico, series 1 was great, but series 2 really brought out the heavy hitters. Their Animal figure not only looked fantastic, but the inclusion of his drumset in both in the more expensive comic store version and the mass release (Toys R US, Barnes & Noble, etc) version was unexpected and needs to be recognized for a job well doe. If only the drumset fit together better and was able to stand on it's on without glue, tape, or puddy. 

Dark Crystal ReAction Figure - Ursol

Another greatly sculpted figure was Funko's Ursol the mystic figure. The detail that is seen in his body and jacket makes it an amazing piece of art. And in a better package then the rest of the regular line!

Which bring us to the our pick for the #1 release this year:
Statler and Waldorf Action Figure

Ever since Palisades released their 
Statler and Waldorf figures and their amazing Muppet Theater backstage playset, fans have been wanting their theater box. Diamond Select heard our pleas and not only released the box, but was able to included with both figures. It fits together perfectly and and is a must have for any serious Muppet fan. Not even the fact that the they're switched on the back cover or that the box was sadly not included in the mass release version could keep it from our #1 spot. 

Honorable Mentions:
game by River Horse, Diamond Select's Muppet Minimates, Jim Henson's Storyteller: Dragons, and Labyrinth's 30th Anniversary comic. 

There's more great Muppet stuff to look forward to in 2017.

Let us know if your favorite made the list or what you think we over looked this year. 

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