In light of Jim Henson‘s recent 75th anniversary, I thought I’d share a personal pic of some old friends taking a break from playtime.
My buddy Ernie and the incredibly versatile Anything Muppet were two of a series of Muppet toys by Questor that came out in 1973 and brought home the magic of Henson’s imagination.
(Tommy Talker, to the right, was in the ventriloquist biz, and would’ve gladly fit in with Kermit’s televised stage show as a guest performer.)
Also staying at my home at the time were Roosevelt Franklin, then, probably around 1978, Miss Piggy and – perennial favorite with visitors – Animal (the latter two from Fisher-Price).
Some Muppet toys, like Ernie and Miss Piggy, were soft-headed (literally, not figuratively) vinyl and some, like Anything and Animal, had hard plastic flaps to keep the mouth solid as your fingers did the talking motions.
Questor’s Muppets had a white plastic stick with a ring one each end (one small, one large) to grasp and manipulate a Muppet arm with your free hand.
Uniquely, Animal’s eyebrows could be controlled for full character effect.
This, along with an Exorcist-voice approach to his vocalizations, contributed to his success among my elders.
Of all of these felted friends, Anything Muppet was my first, and much beloved, puppet Muppet.
After many facial do-overs, the felted/velcro attachments of his eyes, nose and hair failed to stick, but his fun-loving demeanor belied the faceless mystery of his appearance, so he was my go-to guy for a long time.
These were more than mere toys. It let us Sesame Street viewers take part in the act of Muppet creation.
You had to think like a Muppet to bring them to life.
I still aim to do that as often as I can.