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T-shirt design competitions are great excuses to get the general public to start making their own fan art.  And it proves to be a brilliant cross-section of different styles (and different levels of quality) all about a very specific subject.  We’ve been lucky enough to get two Muppet t-shirt design contests and one Sesame Street one over the past couple years, and we’ve painstakingly gone through and reviewed every single entry.  And now it looks like we’re doing it one more time with the Threadless Fraggle Rock t-shirt design contest!

Last year, a different Fraggle Rock art contest was held, but there were far too many entries to review, and way too many sloppy ones.  I mean, I can only provide so much snark, guys.  But this time around, the entries are better looking, and much more review-able.  So, thanks for that.

I’m sure a few of the artists of these entries are reading my reviews, so I wholeheartedly apologize in advance if I slam your work.  It’s just one Muppet fan’s opinion, which nobody really takes seriously anyway, so don’t let it get ya down.

I have some very specific tastes too.  I love originality, I despise stolen art unless it’s solely used as inspiration.  Obscurity warms my fanatical heart, even though it may not affect the Threadless voting community at large.  Basically what I’m saying is, to paraphrase Drew Carey, the points don’t matter.

Enough of me, let’s get to me and my reviews!  Remember, give the images a click to see them in their full glory, and click on the links below to cast your votes.  Voting will be open until May 20th.

1 booberloveBoober Love

It’s hard to imagine this one on a t-shirt.  Especially when you try not to imagine Boober bursting out of your chest in a bloody mess.  I mean, it’d stain your new shirt!

My rating: 2

2 radishes galoreRadishes Galore

This one’s a cute panel, but it doesn’t make for the most eye-popping shirt design.  Although I’m intrigued as to why Junior’s eye is so darned shiny.

My rating: 3

3-1 boober on the move3-2 eat my dust
Boober on the Move / Eat My Dust

Here’s two entries by the same artist, using the same sketch of Boober, who is running for some reason.  He can’t be running from a Gorg, since he’s smiling.  Is he running toward his laundry pile?  Or a simmering radish soup?  I demand backstory!!!  But really, that’s a cute picture of our pal Boober.

My rating: 3

4 monumental
Monumental

Previous t-shirt design contests have tried to slip Jim Henson into some of the designs, but legal reasons have kept that from eligibility.  But since Fraggle Rock is a Jim Henson Company-owned show, maybe he’s on the table now.  If that’s the case, this is a really cute idea, even though Jim looks a little like a robot.  Also, I want a Jim statue.  Can someone get started on that? Thanks.

My rating: 4

5 happy 30thHappy 30th

I’m calling shenanigans on this one.  I truly love this design, which I enjoyed so much I bought a magnet from Fraggle Rock’s CafePress store.  There should be some rule against entries that are already available in t-shirt form, especially since it already won one contest with a big cash prize.  C’mon, let someone else have a chance.

My rating: 1

6 fraggle splashFraggle Splash

I wouldn’t necessarily think that the paint splatters would work, but I kinda dig it.  Although this one’s just screaming for someone to say “Excuse me sir, but your Boober is showing.”  Yowza.

My rating: 4

6 poor booberPoor Boober

Poor, poor Boober.  I have a feeling we’re going to be seeing a lot of pictures of him looking depressed in this contest.  This one looks like another great comic panel, but I’m iffy if it works best in t-shirt form.  Sorry if that brings you down even more, Boober old pal.

My rating: 3

7 friends til the endFriends ’til the End

Creepy.  I love the art style, but I can’t help but think of Gobo and Wembley in a Frankenstein-esque setting getting sewn up the middle.  And now you can’t either.  Sorry ’bout that.

My rating: 3

8 down at fraggle rockDown at Fraggle Rock

There isn’t much going on here, but this artist definitely tried to capture something iconic.  It works really well as a cartoony logo for the show, and I bet it’d look awesome on a shirt.  I dig it.

My rating: 5

9 down at fraggle rockDown at Fraggle Rock

The image of Boober with his elbows up on a rock saying “Down at Fraggle Rock” is possibly the most iconic image from the show.  So while it most definitely deserves to be immortalized on a t-shirt, it also begs for some sort of variation.  When I look at this version, I’m wondering why we don’t just vote for a photo.  Feel free to show off, artists!

My rating: 2

10 inky fraggleInky Fraggle

Cute!  But probably a little young for me.  And for anyone over 1.

My rating: 4

11 red fraggleRed Fraggle

Taking a picture off of Google Image Search and putting it through a Photoshop filter does not an artist make.

My rating: 1

12 doozer deconstructedDoozer Deconstructed

One of the more unintentionally hilarious elements to Fraggle Rock is that all of the Doozers run around naked when they’re not working.  So I know I shouldn’t find this image so bizarre, but I’ll be damned if it’s not still weird seeing a naked Doozer.

My rating: 4

13 fraggles and turnipFraggles and Turnip

I promised myself I wouldn’t judge any of these entries by their titles, since the titles don’t appear anywhere on the shirt.  But “turnip“???  Come on!  It’s a radish!  Any self respecting Fraggle fan knows that!  Geek rage!!!!!

My rating: 2

14 digital fraggleDigital Fraggle

This design is almost interesting, but where is this going?  What’s the reason behind the scattered images?  It doesn’t look “cool” enough to justify messing around with Fraggle stock art, and it doesn’t have a reference to anything as far as I know to justify how flat it looks.  Also, the neon hurts my spine.

My rating: 1

15 all work all playAll Work, All Play

Man, the Doozers really are kinda Communists, aren’t they?  (So are the Fraggles a little, but that’s another story for another day.)  So I really love the idea of a red propaganda-style poster all about the little workers.  Karl Marx would be proud.

My rating: 5

16 rock readyRock Ready

I admit, I really didn’t care for this one when I first saw it.  Red looked too strange with only half a face, especially since her most recognizable features are those pom-pom pigtails, of which there are two (count ’em, two).  But something grabbed me about it the more I looked at it.  It’s so simple, but your brain does the heavy lifting to put it all together.  I like it, but I’m not entirely sure why.

My rating: 4

17 minimalist booberMinimalist Boober

Who wouldn’t want a t-shirt of a piece of poop leaking orange Kool Aid?

My rating: 2

18 great childhoodGreat Childhood

Yeah, I know her.  I know her well enough to know that she deserves better than some repurposed clip art and comic sans.

My rating: 1

19 terreuxTerreux

I’m not sure if this is a reference to something, like a parody of fine art or a cave painting or something.  Whether it is or not, this is a unique variation on the Fraggle characters, and I really enjoy looking at it.  I guess that’s a good sign or something.

My rating: 5

20 fuzzy redFuzzy Red

You can’t really tell from the image above, but this picture of Red was made from spooled yarn (click on the link below the image for a close-up look), which is amazing and beautiful.  Unfortunately, I doubt it would come up on a t-shirt.  Like, at all.  A for effort though!

My rating: 3

21 hunting fwagglesHunting Fwaggles

I feel like there’s a real missed opportunity in there with an Elmer Fudd reference.  Instead, we’ve got a Junior with jowls that droop below his elbows.

My rating: 2

22 fraggleus redFraggleus Red

Great idea, which would be fantastic under the pen of a better artist.  I like that we need to investigate further into the biology of the Fraggles, and that their anatomy includes turtleneck sweaters.

My rating: 2

23 fraggle rocksFraggle Rocks

I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE.

My rating: 5

24 fraggle splatsFraggle Splats

Gross, the Fraggles are melting, dripping, exploding.  It’s like the Fraggles were crushed by the Rock.

My rating: 1

25 dont be a party booberDon’t Be a Party Boober

Wow, what a pretty version of that iconic image of Boober.  Who knew he’d look so good in watercolor?

My rating: 5

26 doozers revengeDoozer’s Revenge

This artist doesn’t really get the relationship between the Fraggles and the Doozers.  It was never violent or angry, and it most certainly never led to the construction of a giant killer Doozerbot.

My rating: 2

27 WWJGDW.W.J.G.D.

What Would Junior Gorg Do? He’s probably put a little more thought into his t-shirt design.  He’d also probably sit on something expensive and accidentally let his trapped Fraggles go.

My rating: 2

28 tales from fraggle rockTales From Fraggle Rock

A recurring theme in the previous Muppet and Sesame Street contests was seeing overly simple designs that only hint at the characters.  It was like a test to see how few details you could put into the picture while still keeping it recognizable.  That’s a little harder with Fraggles, but this is a valiant effort with the Fraggles’ tails.  It’s too bad the end result looks so spermy.

My rating: 4

29 Unfinished Wembley DancingUnfinished Wembley Dancing

Maybe it’s the bright yellow, maybe it’s the odd splotches in the background, or maybe it’s the dead look in his eyes, but I think this picture is giving me a migraine.

My rating: 2

30 A Doozer's Job is Never doneA Doozer’s Job is Never Done

That is the fattest Doozer I’ve ever seen.  He’s, like, the Large Marvin of Doozers.  What do you think he’s reading off that clipboard, a takeout menu?

My rating: 3

31 jolly doozerJolly Doozer

Fan. Tastic.  I hope there’s a biker out there somewhere with this tattooed on his chest.

My rating: 5

32 junior queen kingJunior Queen King

This is a clever design, and a nice layout.  Plus, it’s probably one of the very few designs in this contest to feature Ma Gorg.  Show a little love for Ma.

My rating: 4

33 felty celebratory quilt77 doozer celebration
uncle traveling matt returns
Felty Celebratory Quilt / Doozer Celebration / Uncle Traveling Matt Returns

I really enjoyed the first entry in this batch, but it seemed so busy.  What I really wanted was to be able to see the images a little bigger or more clearly.  So what a stroke of luck when I discovered that the artist submitted two more designs using the artwork from the first one!  The “quilt” is still the best because, just like Fraggle Rock, it works when all the pieces come together in harmony.  At least, that’s what a talking pile of garbage taught me.

My rating: 5

34 30 fraggle facesFraggle Faces

Yes.  Yes yes yes.  What a fantastic, yet simple sampling of the Fraggle Rock characters.  Use this design as a cheat sheet for explaining to your friends who Convincing John or Large Marvin is.  The only one missing is Ned Schimmelfinney.

My rating: 5

35 pocket boober35-2 boober pocket ii
Pocket Boober / Pocket Boober II

These two designs, using the same image, but with different placement, are cute enough.  Much like Threadless’ “You Call That a Pocket?” design, I appreciate the Fraggle-in-a-pocket idea, but there isn’t much context.  Maybe if he were upset, we’d fill in the blanks for the story that got him up there.  Or if he was somehow showing that he was interested in the laundry aspect of his position.  As it is, he’s looking a bit generic, as if he could be anywhere (or anywhere on a shirt, as this artist has shown).  It’s still a good design, but just a hair away from being a great one.

My rating: 4

36 the adventure never endsThe Adventure Never Ends

I’m trying so hard to ignore the inconsistency in proportions, but I can’t do it.  The Fraggles are almost as big as Sprocket, but the ones in this picture are Doozer-sized.  Or Sprocket has somehow become the Gorgs’ pet.  Obviously this is a huge distraction, because I’m not even looking at the design work.  I’m bad at my job!

My rating: 3

37 fraggle birdFraggle Bird

Ah, we have finally made it to my favorite entry in this contest, and perhaps my favorite entry in any of the t-shirt design contests.  This is the Fraggle Bird.  You may not remember him from Fraggle Rock, but that’s only because he wasn’t in Fraggle Rock.  According to the artist, he or she found this picture online, decided it looked Fraggly, and entered it into the contest.  So not only is the picture not an original creation, but it doesn’t even have anything to do with Fraggle Rock!  Which is why I encourage everyone to give it a 5.  Let’s see if we can push the Fraggle Bird into Fraggle continuity!

UPDATE: Boy, is my face red.  I am most certainly losing Muppet nerd points for this one.  The bird was seen in a Fraggle Rock image before, I just never noticed it!  You can see him right here.  Of course, this doesn’t negate the fact that nobody else would ever recognize him as a Fraggle Rock character, but I’ll amend my rating nonetheless.

My rating: 2

38 custom made suitCustom Made Suit

What a fantastic idea!  Except for the fake collar.  Seems a bit preppy for Doozers, doesn’t it?

My rating: 4

39 doozers at workDoozers at Work

Caution: Doozers can’t see with their helmets on.  Wear smaller helmets.

My rating: 3

40 dudo rockDudo Rock

The word balloon says “Rock”, but Boober’s expression says “Meh.”

My rating: 3

41 postcards from the edgePostcards From the Edge

This design is begging for a little focus.  Matt’s head almost completely covers the earth, the quote doesn’t really have anything to do with the image, and the stamp is floating up there in outer space (the real one) for no good reason.  I would’ve liked to have seen Matt in outer space, a picture of him acting as a brave Fraggle, or a design that looks like a postcard, but not all three crammed together like this.

My rating: 2

42 we can dooz itWe Can Dooz It

Obviously, Rosie the Riveter is the second most famous riveter after this anonymous Doozer, whose name is probably “Rivet” or something.  Sorry, Rosita, you didn’t make the cut.

My rating: 5

43 boober timeBoober Time

I had to do a little Google searching, because this one looks super familiar.  But I think it’s just drawn so similarly to that early Disney style that I assumed it was a direct spoof.  Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t, but I sure do like it.  I might even like it more without the distracting Doozer in the background, but raters can’t be choosers.

My rating: 4

44 Fraggle HoleFraggle Hole

Here’s our first entry by ToughPigs’ own Smig!  Nobody knocks a Muppet design out of the park like this guy.  And he’s done it again, with the Fraggles breaking through the wall to say hi, maybe sing a little song or something.  Or if you’re the morbid type, the Fraggles are bursting through your chest, Alien-style.  It works on so many levels!

My rating – Withheld, since we know the artist personally.

45 Jim Henson's PuppetsJim Henson’s Puppets

I really love the idea of Muppets performing puppet versions of the Muppeteers, which is an idea that’s been done really well in the past.  However, given the recent passing of Jerry Nelson, I feel like he would’ve been more appropriate for Gobo’s puppet pal.  I know, Jerry’s a lot less recognizable than Jim, but who wouldn’t want a Jerry Nelson puppet for their arm??  And how did I get so off topic?

UPDATE: Our friends at the @MuppetFanProbs Twitter feed have called shenanigans on this one, noting that it unceremoniously copied this brilliant image of Kermit and his Jim puppet.  Our rating has been amended, and the points have been transferred directly into @MuppetFanProbs’ checking account.

My rating: 1

46 30 shades of red30 Shades of Red

Red is staring into my soul!  She wants my radishes!  But I don’t have any radishes!!!  SOMEONE GIVE ME A RADISH QUICK!  [Editor’s note: This is why you always carry an extra radish with you.  The More You Know.]

My rating: 2

47 pixel fragglesPixel Fraggles

The 8-bit Muppet and Sesame t-shirts have done really well, so it doesn’t surprise me that the idea made it around to this contest too.  But these guys look more Super Nintendo than NES, if you know what I mean.  I can’t even tell you how much I would pay to play a video game with these guys.

My rating: 5

48 fraggle nouveauFraggle Nouveau

These Fraggles definitely look hand-drawn, but they’re also practically traced, since they look so much like certain photos.  That gives me that “uninspired” feeling again, but I can’t belay the artist for the work she put into it.  I’m sorry that this review isn’t funnier.

My rating: 3

49 outer spaceOuter Space

Poor Smig.  He made such an amazing piece (a little earlier in this article), and someone else independently came up with an almost identical idea.  Replace “crack in the wall” with “heart-shaped hole”, move the Fraggles around a bit, and it’s almost the same thing.  Smig’s is a lot cleaner and three-dimensional, but it’s still a good design idea.  So good, apparently, that everyone and their mother thought of it.

My rating: 4

50 SshSsh!

Here’s a secret about me: I want a t-shirt with just a radish on it.  No context, just radish.  But hide a Fraggle in there somewhere, and my t-shirt just became twenty times geekier.  This design may not be iconic enough to win the contest, but as a nerd who appreciates the randomness in the world, I would wear it with pride.

My rating: 5

That’s it for part 1!  Head on back in a few days for part 2, when we review 50 more designs from potential Fraggle Rock t-shirt design winners.  And maybe one done by a Poison Cackler.

Click here to fly away with the Fraggle Bird on the ToughPigs Forum!

by Joe Hennes – Joe@ToughPigs.com

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