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The 2003 Muppet Holiday Gift Guide

By Phillip and Cindy Chapman
December 1, 2003

Well, it’s that wonderful time of year again. The time when the snow starts falling, twinkling lights decorate our homes, and those annoying cranky holiday shoppers fill the streets. No matter how you celebrate this Christmas season, it’s inevitable you will have to buy at least one present. So why not make it a Muppet present? Now, you can either go to the mall on Christmas Eve and battle other holiday-challenged shoppers, or you can start your planning now.

To assist, here is a list of the hottest Muppet items available this year. So whether you’re starting your Christmas list to Santa, or if you're Santa to a Muppet fan we’ve got exactly what you’re looking for. From games to figures to DVDs this has been one exciting year for Muppet fans. Santa, you just might need a bigger sleigh.

Choose a category:
DVD | CD | Video Game | Board/Card Game | Plush
Toy | Book | Accessory | High-End | Surprise Release
Product of the Year

DVD of 2003

OUR PICK: Muppets Magic From The Ed Sullivan Show, Goodtimes Home Video

Muppets Magic takes the prize just by the rare footage alone. Never mind the somewhat odd cover, this DVD will appeal to all Muppet fans. Never before released scenes date all the way back to 1966. Although some may not recognize a few of the early characters, they will certainly enjoy the original Muppet humor that has graced the Jim Henson Company since it's inception nearly fifty years ago.

Estimated Street Price: $10-15
Retailers: Amazon.com and select video stores

HONORABLE MENTION: The Storyteller Collection, Columbia Tri-Star

The Storyteller is such a close second, it hardly seems fair to rate it as such. Anyone who enjoyed watching the Jim Henson Hour during its brief appearance will absolutely love this collection. Like Muppets Magic, you may not recognize any of these creatures, but the beauty and soulfulness of each story will touch your heart. The Storyteller Collection wins a prize for being true to form. All nine episodes appear uncut. Great gift for Lord of the Rings fans.

Estimated Street Price: $20-25
Retailers: Amazon.com and select video stores

CD of 2003

OUR PICK: Songs From The Street Boxed Set, Legacy/Sony Wonder

Songs From The Street is a favorite for any music lover. Sixty-three tracks of original music from Sesame Street are here including songs from the Muppets and superstars such as James Taylor, R.E.M., Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder and more. A detailed 64-page booklet is included for fans to get the behind the-street info they crave.

Estimated Street Price: $40-50
Retailers: Amazon.com and wherever CDs are sold

HONORABLE MENTION: Dark Crystal Soundtrack, Manufacturer

This long-awaited Dark Crystal CD Soundtrack features the original LP on disc 1 and the movie score on disc 2. Die-hard fans will be able to visualize the movie to the beautiful and dramatic orchestration of Trever Jones. And it wouldn’t be a collector’s edition without the included booklet.

Estimated Street Price: $25
Retailers: Buysountrax.com

Video Game of 2003

OUR PICK: Muppet Party Cruise, TDK Mediactive

It’s finally here, a PlayStation2/GameCube Muppet video game. It’s been a long time since RaceMania and Muppets Party Cruise was sure worth the wait. Designed for multi-players and, though not as fun, it can be played alone. The Muppets are in top form with 30 different party games featuring the voices of all your favorite Henson performers. Muppet fans get ready: your ship has come in!

Estimated Street Price: $20
Retailers: Amazon.com and wherever video games are sold

HONORABLE MENTION: Spy Muppets, TDK Mediactive

On this Game Boy Advance title, Spy Muppets: License to Croak, you are Agent Kermit and must stop the secret plan of the mysterious master villain. Along the way, you'll see Sam the Eagle and his comical projector screen debriefings. Take Bunsen and Beaker's inventions with you and you're off for 15 levels of Bond-like mayhem with chickens, penguins, rats and lobsters thrown in for good measure.

Estimated Street Price: $20
Retailers: Amazon.com and wherever video games are sold

Board/Card Game of 2003

OUR PICK: Muppet Monopoly, USAopoly

Muppet Monopoly is just too good for words. Lots of colorful photographs and extra Muppety touches makes for a fun-filled game night. We assure you, you’ve never played Monopoly like this before. Cha-cha over to Pepe's Salsa and Samba Club or pay a visit to Kermit's Swamp.

Estimated Street Price: $35
Retailers: Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble Stores

HONORABLE MENTION: Tie-Muppet Uno, Sababa Toys and Muppet Playing Cards, RIX Tins

As far as card games go you can’t beat Uno. It’s a classic game and now it has a great Muppet style. Every single card includes a Muppet photo. Wild cards and reverse have a unique twist while each individual numbered card displays your favorite characters. Just don't forget to say Uno when you're down to one card.

Estimated Street Price: $12
Retailers: Wickedcoolstuff.com and Barnes and Noble Stores

Two full decks of playing cards are perfect for playing poker, gin or go fish. Not only do the backs of each card display a group photo of the Muppets, but each face card (Jack, Queen, King, Ace) has a different character. Even the ultimate jokers, Statler and Waldorf, try to get in on the action. The set comes complete in a colorful collectible tin.

Estimated Street Price: $10
Retailers: Wickedcoolstuff.com and MediaPlay Stores

Plush of 2003

OUR PICK: 15-18” Poseable Plush, Sababa

We chose the larger poseable plush over the other parody beanbags because they bear a closer resemblance to the actual Muppets. Characters include: Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Animal, Rizzo, Beaker and Bunson. Be on the lookout for a cool white Christmas Kermit at a Barnes and Noble near you. Hopefully, additions for 2004 include Pepe and the remaining members of the Electric Mayhem. Muppet puppets would be nice as well.

Estimated Street Price: $16-20 each
Retailers: Wickedcoolstuff.com and Barnes and Noble Stores

HONORABLE MENTION: Electric Mayhem, Sababa

While we like the other parody bean dolls, the Electric Mayhem was our favorite. Muppet fans never got a Janice, Floyd, Dr. Teeth or Zoot plush in the Fisher-Price boom of the late 70’s. We figured it was about time these wonderful characters were made to snuggle up with. Other bean sets on the way next year include Vet's Hospital and Pigs in Space.

Estimated Street Price: $16 each
Retailers: Wickedcoolstuff.com and Barnes and Noble Stores

Toy of 2003

OUR PICK: Tie-Swedish Kitchen and Pigs in Space Playsets, Pallisades Toys

These playsets are some of the most amazing toys released in ANY genre. The Swedish Kitchen includes the Chef and more than 40 accessories, many show specific. The Pigs in Space playset with First Mate Piggy is nearly a dead-on replica from The Muppet Show. At this price point, you won't find a better value than either of these works of art.

Estimated Street Price: $35 playset
Retailers: Amazon.com, EBGames.com and Target Stores

HONORABLE MENTION: Muppet PVC's, Palisades Toys

If PVC figures are more your style, you will be amazed at the quality of these four sets. Don't think they are normal PVC's though, they are larger than you'd expect and the quality is that of a miniature model, not a cheap kid's toy. These are the best Muppet PVC's ever, bar none. Highlights for the year include Thog and Mahna Mahna along with the themed Muppet Christmas Carol sets.

Estimated Street Price: $15 each set of 3 figures
Retailers: EBGames.com, MediaPlay Stores and Barnes and Noble Stores [Christmas sets only]

Book of 2003

OUR PICK: The Wisdom of Big Bird, Villard Books

Ever wondered what makes Oscar so grouchy? Or Big Bird’s most embarrassing moment? Carroll Spinney is the man behind the Bird and trashy guy and he tells nearly all in this book. A wonderful and delightful read, Spinney shares his and Big Bird’s thoughts regarding his successful career on Sesame Street.

Estimated Street Price: $13-17
Retailers: Amazon.com and wherever books are sold

HONORABLE MENTION: The World of the Dark Crystal, Harry N Abrams

It was a big year for Dark Crystal fans. Like the aforementioned CD, this book recreates the movie experience. Fans can leisurely linger over each and every beautiful illustration. Just like the original 1982 release, the content remains the same but this hardback edition contains a few additional touches including a booklet with original concept work by Brian Froud. Before this release the booklet sold for over $100 on eBay.

Estimated Street Price: $20-25
Retailers: Amazon.com and wherever books are sold

Accessory of 2003

OUR PICK: Muppet Show Dart Board, RIX Tins

Did you ever think you'd see a Muppet Dart Board? Well the fine folks at RIX Tins bring this gameroom accessory to life. The board is made of metal and includes six magnetic darts. It's great to see rarer characters like Dr. Teeth and Janice on the board. Wild-drummer Animal is right at home in the center. So why not gather your friends and challenge each other to a game.

Estimated Street Price: $20
Retailers: MediaPlay

HONORABLE MENTION: Antenna Toppers, Blum

It's the accessory for your car. Put a Muppet on your antenna and show everyone just how much of a Muppet fan you are. Choose from Kermit, Piggy, Gonzo and Animal. There's just something wonderful about having a Muppet on your favorite vehicle. We can't be responsible for the looks you get though.

Estimated Street Price: $5 each
Tlstuff.com and Wal-Mart Stores

High-End of 2003

OUR PICK: Muppet Show Busts, Sideshow-Weta Collectibles

While priced at $50 a sculpt, Sideshow's busts are some of the nicest high-end Muppet collectibles ever released. Our favorites from the year include Gonzo and Sam from series 2, Janice and the Swedish Chef from series 3, and Zoot and Beau from series 4. They make amazing display pieces. We only wish they wouldn't have ommitted Floyd from the set, so he could be right at home with his Electric Mayhem comrads.

Estimated Street Price: $50-60 each
Retailers: Sideshowtoy.com and other specialty stores

HONORABLE MENTION: The Dark Crystal Collector's Edition Boxed Set, Columbia Tri-Star

This DVD boxed set is newly re-mastered with Jim Henson's sketches and his original "Mithra" treatment of the film. In addition, the box set includes collectible premium items: a limited edition film frame senitype reproduction, a copy of Jim Henson's never before-seen original handwritten production notes and a special forward by Cheryl Henson.

Estimated Street Price: $45-50
Retailers: Amazon.com and select video stores

Surprise Release of 2003

OUR PICK: Fraggle Rock Plush, Sababa Toys

The honors for collectibles we thought we'd never see go to Sababa's plush dolls of Gobo and Red Fraggle. The quality is so outstanding, you'll be dancing your cares away. Word on the street is that Wembley, Boober and Mokey are on the way in 2004. Now all we need is a Fraggle DVD collection on this list next year...

Estimated Street Price: $13-15
Retailers: HotTopic.com and Hot Topic Stores

HONORABLE MENTION: John Denver & The Muppets: Rocky Mountain Holiday DVD, Columbia Tri-Star

This 1983 special has not been broadcast in 20 years, much less received an official DVD release. Now you can watch Rocky Mountain Holiday in DVD quality. Travel to the Rocky Mountains with the taletns of John Denver and Jim Henson, two legends gone from us much too soon. Wouldn't it be great to see the 1979 John Denver special, A Christmas Together, in this spot next year? We can hope.

Estimated Street Price: $15-20
Retailers: Amazon.com and wherever videos are sold

Product of the Year

OUR PICK: Muppet Action Figures, Pallisades Toys

What seperates these Muppet action figures from the rest of the pack is not only their high-quality sculpts and attention to detail, but Palisades interaction with fans makes the difference. They care about getting the character "right", not just meeting sales numbers and quotas. Their dedication has proved that even obscure Muppets can sell if designed and promoted well. Hopefully, other retailers will follow in their footsteps and continue to raise the bar in 2004.

While everyone has their favorites, series 5 with Tux Gonzo, Janice, the Newsman and Pepe the King Prawn was our highlight of the year. Target's Koozebane Kermit is a must-have as well. Palisades released four waves in 2003: series 3, series 4, series 5 and series 6. They all contain gems for any fan. We've been waiting over 25 years for some of these toys and now they are finally here.

Estimated Street Price: $9 each figure
Retailers: Amazon.com, EBGames.com and Target Stores

Editor's Note: The above designations are based solely on our opinions and are not based on any scientific data. The intent is to highlight many of the more popular releases throughout the year. Let us know what were your favorite products of 2003 in our discussion forum.

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