Henson Happenings at NYCC – 2023

Published: October 18, 2023
Categories: Feature, Reports

New York Comic Con – our own personal Christmas – has come and gone for another season.  Between the comics, the pop culture, the costumes, the art, the merchandise, and the aforementioned and thinly-veiled reference to Christmas, it’s prime for Muppet fans like us.  The only thing missing from Comic Con to make it actually perfect is Muppet stuff.

And that’s where we come in!  Every year, we get ourselves to NYCC and we spend four whole days looking for all the Muppet stuff we can find throughout the con.  That includes news revealed at panels, original artwork, exclusive merchandise, brilliant cosplay, and more.  And we’re proud to bring you our full report on all things Muppet found at this year’s Con.


First and foremost, ToughPigs hosted our very own panel – The Live Muppet Drawing Challege!  We invited four of our artist friends – Dave Hulteen, Jay Fosgitt, Richard Gomez, and Chris Smigliano – to draw Muppets live for our audience.  The rub was that they had no idea what they might be asked to draw!  We ended up with strange interpretations of the Kermit the Frog Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloon, the Muppets as the Village People, Miss Piggy as a Ghostbuster, Fozzie Bear as Alex Trebek, and so many more. (You can see a few of these at the bottom of this page – a little reward for reading the whole article!)

Lucky for us all, we filmed the entire panel, and we’re so excited to share it with you all.  It will take some time to edit, so keep an eye on ToughPigs over the coming weeks to see what we got up to.

At Diamond Select’s panel on Thursday, we got yet another look at the Uncle Deadly and Pepe figure set, which is planned to be released early next year. And if the slow release schedule has you wondering if this’ll be the end of the line, fear not! We learned that there are plans for another set, which the company should begin soliciting soon. During the Q&A, we asked about what they reference when they sculpt the highly-detailed Muppet figures, to which they explained that while they don’t have access to the actual puppets, they rely on screenshots from The Muppet Show and other projects. (It’s comforting to know that they likely depend on Muppet Wiki as much as we do!)

On Saturday, Hallmark’s panel didn’t specifically mention Muppets, but we did inquire about the future of Sesame Street ornaments during the Q&A. While there isn’t a new Sesame ornament for this year, they assured us that they still retain a license to use the characters, and there will be new products sometime in the future.


Naturally, one of the best parts of any convention is the cosplay.  People can be so dang creative, both in their inventiveness and their craftsmanship.  And of course, a few of these cosplayers have chosen characters from the wide worlds of Jim Henson.  One of our favorites was this large-headed Count Von Count.

Another fave – Kermit the Dang Frog!  Or possibly Walter dressed as Kermit.  It’s hard to tell.

Speaking of Walter, this Muppet fan brought along her modified Walter puppet, who’s cosplaying as Pete Martino from Ghosts.  The arrow through his neck is a dead (pun intended) giveaway.

Now that you can purchase officially licensed Bert and Ernie sweater replicas, it’s bound to be a popular costume for couples or best friends or roommates.  As evidenced by this duo of duos, each of whom make for great Berts and Ernies.

Always extremely popular at any Comic Con is Jareth the Goblin King, who presumably is present at the event only to scout out new children to recruit into his Goblin army.  In retrospect, we should’ve probably called the cops rather than take photos.

Not all cosplays need a ton of work to put together.  Take these, for example.  They’re just pajamas!  And as a bonus, they’re probably super comfortable too!

It will come as no surprise, our favorite cosplay of the Con is this incredible Dr. Teeth.  Not only is it a terrific Dr. Teeth, but it was expertly built and worn by ToughPigs’ very own artist-in-residence, Chris Smigliano!  Amazing work, Smig!


Prophets don’t know everything, but the folks at Insight Editions may have found a way to know the future with this tarot deck themed to The Dark Crystal. Even if you’re not looking to know how to heal the land of Thra, this is a highly-detailed set, with cards featuring Jen, Kira, Aughra, the Chamberlain, and more characters from the 1982 film.

Maybe the only magic you need is to dance magic dance your baby to sleep. Insight’s also got you covered with “Goodnight Goblin King,” a storybook designed for bedtime inspired by the world of Labyrinth. The publishers generously gave us a copy of the book, so keep an eye out for our review coming in the near future. (Did the Fizzgig card predict that?)

We saw so many Muppet pins!  They’re all perfect for showing off your love of the Muppets, as well as popping unsightly balloons.

On Saturday, Super Impulse took over The Pop Insider’s booth to sell their line of Mr. Potato Head PopTaters, including the ones for Bert and Ernie. If you find the right accessories, Ernie can have not just a banana in his ear, but a banana for an ear!

There’s something special about finding bootleg Sesame Street merchandise, as seen with these magnets.  But are these magnets actually special, or are they disturbing?  Who’s to say?

Super7 had their line of Sesame Street figures on display, including the super-cute, super-tall, and super-expensive jumbo figures of Count von Count and Super Grover. (A steal for any millionaire at just $295 each.) For those with more down-to-earth budgets, there are also $20 figures for the Count, Bert, Ernie, and the Yip-Yip Martians. That’s only $10 per Yip!

For those who prefer to display their fandom on their chest, the company also had a sweatshirt featuring Oscar the Grouch, with a slimy-looking “Super7” written underneath. (That’s word art that looks covered in slime, not word art that looks like Slimey, which would’ve been way more adorable.)

Did you know they used to make Muppet merchandise in the olden times too??  Unbelievable, right??  Comic Con is always good for some old fashioned (and highly priced) Muppet stuff.

But that’s not all! There was a lot more Muppet merch to see, including these assorted Muppety thingies:


As you can probably derive from the name, Artists Alley is a great place to scope out all sorts of amazing artwork.  Some of it, if you can believe it, features Muppets on them!  These are just a few of the pieces we spotted, with so much more to be found amongst the thousands of artistic creations found at the Con.

by Dave Perillo
by Dave Perillo
by Jodie Rae Charity
by Tara Gee
by S. Preston
by Diana Teeter

Other stuff!

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, hot off their recent hit movie, made an appearance at New York Comic Con.  As you likely know, Donatello and his pals aren’t technically Muppets, but these four costumes were built by The Jim Henson Creature Shop, which sort of makes them second cousins to Fozzie Bear and Lew Zealand and Mean Mama and the rest of the Muppet crew.

Speaking of the Creature Shop, film producer Jason Blum and director Emma Tammi sang the praises of the company as they promoted the movie adaptation of Five Nights at Freddy’s during their Blumfest panel on Thursday. According to Blum, it was because of the Creature Shop that they were able to break Freddy Fazbear, Bonnie, Chica and Foxy to horrifying life through practical effects, which was essential to the look and feel of the horror film. We guess that makes them more estranged cousins of Sweetums and Uncle Deadly. 

And that, my dear friends, is the end of this year’s New York Comic Con coverage.  We’ll have more for you soon, including video from our Live Drawing Challenge panel.  And of course, we’ll be doing this all over again next year.  See you at NYCC ‘24!

Click here to cover yourself in pins on the ToughPigs forum!

by Joe Hennes, Shane Keating, and Matthew Soberman


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