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Thursday
Feb262009

The Muppet Whatnot Workshop Experience

As mentioned in an earlier post, whilst in New York recently I went to FAO Schwarz and got a custom Muppet built to my specifications in their Muppet Whatnot Workshop.

muppet2

I (like most people I saw) decided to try to recreate myself in Muppet form.

The system is a lot like creating a Mii – albeit with a reduced choice of options. In a way this is a good thing, because it encourages a bit of imagination or artistic licence – but it also means that your end result is a bit of a compromise between your initial vision and the items available.

The process goes like this…..

You tell the person manning the counter that you want to create a Muppet (I told them that I wanted two). They tell you that they cost $130 each (at this point I tried to pretend that this wasn’t a surprise - but it was a bit more than I expected). They also tell you how long it will take (depends on how many they already have to make). The store person then opens a sealed package containing a kit and hands it to you.

Inside the kit are three glossy cards each showing a  different head shape – each one a different colour.

blank-muppets1

The other cards contain vinyl cling stickers (non adhesive). These are the eyes, noses, hair and outfits.

muppet-stickers1muppet-mockup2

After choosing your head type you can then start experimenting by sticking different features to the card. If you find it hard to visualize how some of these will look in ‘real life’ it's not a problem as every single variation is displayed on a wall of muppets next to the counter.

muppet1

When you are happy with your configuration you copy your choices across to an order sheet by ticking the appropriate boxes and present this to the cashier.

They then type all your choices into the till, take your payment and give you your receipt.muppet-order-sheet3

I was then offered the choice of watching my Muppet being made (which happens on a table behind the counter) or take a buzzer and wander the shop until it was complete. I could imagine what gluing a few pieces of foam together looks like, so I chose to wander the shop for 20 mins. Whilst doing this I quickly realised that nothing else in the store interested me, without the Muppets I wouldn’t have spent a penny. Obviously a toy shop isn’t a place meant for a 38yr old chap with no children. However The Muppets and Sesame Street hold a special place in the memories of people my age and as a result,  FAO Schwarz should do very well with their exclusive agreement. The cost and the scarcity of their stores should mean this remains a long running desirable treat rather than a quick over-exposed flash in the pan. Muppets never come in or go out of fashion and there is no technology to go out of date.

When it comes to picking the Muppet up, it is packaged in a clear plastic drawstring bag. The Muppet is supplied with a metal stick to articulate its hand – just like a ‘real’ one, this can be inserted into either of the Muppet wrists in a special eyeloop. photo-1

The clear bag is a very smart idea. I walked back to my Manhattan hotel with this bag slung over a shoulder and the Muppet on display looking backwards out of the bag at the people following me. At each crosswalk I could hear the people behind discussing it – telling each other where to buy one etc. A security guard in a shop asked me how much they were. By carrying this one through town I probably sold another ten.

So now I have a Muppet, Its something I've wanted for more than 30 years and it serves no function other than to make me smile every time I see it.

muppetts

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Reader Comments (17)

Hey man, I can certainly appreciate your desire for a Muppet. I actually just found out about the Workshop and I'm thinking about getting one myself, even more now after reading your blog. Make that 11, haha. Take care!

June 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWLGJr.

[...] a blog I stumbled upon while researching the Workshop. ┬áHis write up of his experience is here. I’m sure there will be some smart @$$ Sesame Street Smarty Pants who wants to correct me, so [...]

This is probably the COOLEST thing I have ever heard of...damn me for living in Texas!!!

July 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

Count yourself lucky, I'm from the UK and I had to bring my two back on the plane in my hand luggage.
You might still be able to get one sent to you in the future - apparently there are plans to reopen the online store again as soon as they are ready, (it was shut down after Toys-r-us bought FAO).

July 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTechmoan

Wow, Simply Wow.

August 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteroedipusgames

The Official FAO site has no links, but did you know you can use the telephone to find information as well? How archaic! Anyway, my Girlfriend just called this morning and the FAO in New York is still offering this service.

I shudder to think how much money we could spend there....

August 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteroedipusgames

My only Q: How much?

August 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRoberto

They're still going for $130 according to the rep on the phone. Unfortunately we live in Ohio...

August 26, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteroedipusgames

how do you get the top picture call respond fast

October 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkati

I visited the store this morning and hummed and heyed about getting one....i didn't.....but will tomorrow :)

July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBruce

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