madamealex1The holidays are coming up, and the question that’s on every hardcore Muppet merchandise collector’s mind is: What’s new?  There’s not a ton of new Muppet stuff to put on your wish list that you probably don’t already have.  Chances are that you’ve bought the Muppets Most Wanted Blu-ray, you have enough Cookie Monster plushes to get you through a recession, and you’ve given up on hoping for more Fraggle Rock stuff.

There’s just enough out there to fill a stocking or two that wasn’t available last Christmas.  (For a near-complete list, check out the Muppet Mindset’s must-haves wish list.)  Personally, I’m hoping to find a Kermit Chia Pet under my tree.  But one thing (or rather, four things) not included there are Madame Alexander’s Muppet puppets.

Now you may be thinking to yourself, “Isn’t Madame Alexander that company that makes the surprised-looking cutesy-faced dolls?”  Yes, Jimothy (if that’s your real name), that is correct.  But that’s not all they do.  Starting with their new line of Muppet merchandise, Madame Alexander is branching out beyond collectible dolls and into the world of stuffed animals.  Including a stuffed Animal.

madamealex-kermitAs we revealed in our coverage of the 2014 Toy Fair, Madame Alexander will be releasing four stuffed animals and four plush puppets featuring Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, and Animal.  While we patiently await the dolls, the puppets are now on sale.

It’s worth mentioning that this isn’t the first time Madame Alexander has delved into the world of the Muppets.  Their collectible dolls have been sold with Muppet-inspired clothing, tiny doll versions of Kermit, Piggy, and Cookie Monster, and even a recreation of 123 Sesame Street.

The good people at Madame Alexander wanted to know what the Muppet fans would think of their new puppets, so they sent a few samples to us here at ToughPigs HQ.  We have on hand (pun intended) the Kermit and Fozzie puppets, and we’re excited to tell you all about them.

madamealex-fozzieThe quality on the puppets is exactly what you’d expect from a high-end toy company like Madame Alexander.  The fabric feels great, they’re really soft, and the seams have no sign of fraying.  I’d expect them to last a long, long time.  (Maybe we’ll review them again in 20 years to update you on their upkeep.)

One thing to keep in mind about all Muppet puppets is that it’s incredibly difficult to get the likenesses perfect to the original puppets.  So my expectations weren’t so incredibly high that I’d think I had the real deal on my arm.  Kermit looks very much like Kermit from the neck-up.  They really got the shape of his head right, thanks to some strategic stuffing, but that doesn’t leave much room to manipulate his facial expressions like Jim Henson did.  Thankfully, I was able to bend the mouth just enough to make the “sheesh” face, so I’m more than pleased.

madamealex-sheesh

Meanwhile, Fozzie is a bit more off-model.  Fozzie may be the most difficult puppet to properly translate into merchandise form.  He’s also hindered by his size, as he looks tiny when next to Kermit (they’re actually the same size, but I instinctively expect Fozzie to be the larger of the two).  His eyes are a little too far from his nose, and his mouth is too round at the lips, but these really are minor details.  They made a strong effort at getting the shape of Fozzie’s head right, which is almost eggplant-shaped.  Unfortunately, this makes the puppet resemble a furry brown Olaf, but I actually find that to be sort of cute.  I was also pleased to see that they got the pattern on his tie correct, and I’m thinking about storming the Madame Alexander workshop to steal a bolt of the fabric.

"I'm Fozzie, and I like warm (bear) hugs!"

“I’m Fozzie, and I like warm (bear) hugs!”

Both puppets have just enough room for my adult-sized hands to fit comfortably inside, which was my #1 complaint about the FAO Schwarz Muppet Whatnots.  I feel like I could actually put these things on and put on a whole puppet show without needing to stretch my knuckles every five minutes.  But I’m also reminded that these are puppets to be played with, not to use for professional use.

madamealex-kermit2The arms hang loose, with no chance of being modified to be a live-hand puppet and no option to insert an arm rod for manipulation.  The stuffing in the heads make it impossible to drop the jaw, so their heads flop around when they talk (just like any other toy puppet, so it’s hard to consider that a complaint).  And they end at the belly button (if they had one, of course), so there’s not a lot of room for error if you’re thinking of videotaping yourself performing them without letting your arm be seen.

But most importantly, you will all be glad to know that the Kermit puppet is accurate.  I counted 11 points on his collar.

So if you’re looking for a gift for the Muppet fan in your life, or if there’s a Fozzie-shaped hole in your Christmas wish list, we recommend the Madame Alexander Muppet puppets.  They’re quality toys, they won’t break the bank (at around $25-30 each), and best of all, they’re Muppets!

madamealex-duo

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by Joe Hennes – Joe@ToughPigs.com

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