Some toys are just too ugly to throw away.
Over the last couple months, I’ve been weeding out my Muppet collection, trying to clear a little space in my apartment by getting rid of some of the Muppet junk that I don’t really like anymore. That “weeding-out” process is always difficult for collectors. I mean, if I wanted to not own stuff, I wouldn’t be a collector in the first place.
But the strangest part of going through my collection was finding a bunch of Weird Sub-Collections that I just couldn’t part with — not necessarily because I “like” this particular object, but because it fits so well with these other objects that I also don’t happen to “like” very much.
It’s a collector’s axiom: One soda can is trash. Twenty soda cans is a collection. A hundred soda cans is a museum. A thousand soda cans is a disorder.
So, to justify the space these things are taking up in my life, I present to you one of my favorite Weird Sub-Collections: The Ugly Fozzies.
One would think that Fozzie would be an easy character to make toys of — since he is, after all, a teddy bear. But one would be wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong. Allow me to demonstrate.
Ugly Fozzie #1 — Wocka wock… oh. Huh. Allow me to present the work of Direct Connect, who made some pretty dire Muppet toys about a decade ago. This one’s from 1991. I know, he’s not that bad. But it gets worse from here. This is the Fozzie who you would end up dating because he happens to be the best looking Fozzie at the Ugly Fozzie cocktail party.
Ugly Fozzie #2 — Now we’re getting somewhere. This one’s a beanbag from Walt Disney World, sometime in the mid-90’s, and he’s got serious issues. His left arm is stitched so that it kind of flops over to the side and resists all attempts to reposition it. This, coupled with the sleepy eyes and lopsided grin, gives him a kind of last call at the singles bar desperation. This is the Fozzie who will only get pity dates.
Ugly Fozzie #3 — Another favorite from Direct Connect, 1991. I have no issues with the face on this Fozzie. I am willing to waive the face. My issue is that at no time in Fozzie Bear’s long and varied career did he ever wear teal, yellow and hot pink overalls. Even Fozzie’s worst enemy would have to break it to him that this outfit does not suit him. I would like to point out that somebody who makes more money than I do sat in a meeting at the Direct Connect toy company and approved this outfit for production.
Ugly Fozzie #4 — Now that’s a hard face to love. This is the mid-90’s Fozzie plush from Walt Disney World. His fur has a nappy, curly spring to it that’s fairly unpleasant to the touch. His mouth is stitched wide open in a sort of half-laugh half-scream. His nose obscures his eye-focus. And let’s not even discuss what’s going on with his upper lip.
Ugly Fozzie #5 — This one is from the 1995 Canadian McDonald’s Muppet hockey promotion. The other toys in this series looked great, but something has gone horribly awry with this Fozzie’s face. Again: meeting, approved, more money than I do.
Ugly Fozzie #6 — And now, ladies and gentlemen, frogs and pigs, may I present the King of the Ugly Fozzies — the 1989 Direct Connect Fozzie doll. If there is a special spot in Hell for ugly toys — and any responsible religious authority will tell you that there is — then this is the Ugly Fozzie squatting malevolently at the top of the infernal heap, ordering the other ugly toys to stoke the furnaces. The unlucky child who receives this Fozzie for Christmas will not be pleased. Take a closer look at His Terrifying Visage if you dare, and you’ll see the weirdest detail of all — that the fur on his chin just misses meeting his lip in an entirely unacceptable, distressing way. There’s heavy, hard plastic inside his head, so it kind of lolls around on his body, and when he’s sitting straight up, his head hangs down in shame. It ought to.
So that’s one of my many Weird Collections — if you’ve got one of your own that you’d like to share, e-mail me at Danny@toughpigs.com and tell me about it! Maybe we can work through this together.
by Danny Horn