with series 4, Palisades wanted to move the line from "The
Muppet Show" to a more general "Muppets" so that
the movies and Muppets Tonight could be integrated into each series.
Tell us a little about that process.
Basically, it is just like you said. Around the time of the San
Diego show last year we acquired more in the way of licensing from
Henson, so we decided that once the 25th Anniversary was over we
would change over to a full-on Muppets line. Series 4 is the beginning
of that. The transition occurred very smoothly, and the only thing
that we had to do that was different was have Greg Leeuwen, Palisades
Graphics Manager, create the packaging template that would be used
from here on out. That took a bit longer as we had to go through
several rounds since this was the first time we were doing it. But
now it is set and the process is like it used to be.
with the new name, series 4 ushers in a radical change in packaging
from the traditional Muppet Show red curtains to a modern aqua theme.
What are your thoughts on the new packaging now that you can see
it on the shelf?
I love the new packaging. It is very vibrant and truthfully the
product stands out a lot better against the background than it did
on the red cards. What I will miss most are the puppet pictures
in the corner. Because we are now doing characters that are much
more obscure, it has been difficult to get high resolution pictures
that match each other in quality. We can use the low-res on the
backs of the cards in the little circles, but increasing them in
size results in a bad front image. I also like the new clamshell.
Anything that gives the figures better protection between the time
they leave China and the time they get into the consumer hands is
always a good thing. It costs a little more, but it is worth it.
with series 4, more than 500 Target stores nationwide are carrying
the regular figures, Mega figures and playsets. Since Toys R Us
stores dropped the line as of series 2, describe what it has meant
to have such a huge retailer as Target come on board a year into
think this is undoubtedly my favorite Kermit figure...so far.
There is one for next year that will blow this one away for
From a product development perspective it doesn't change a lot for
me. The product designs and production levels are still going to
remain the same, although deadlines are a little tighter. But overall
for the company it gets exposure for the line and gets the product
in front of people who may not even know it exists.
was the hardest character of series four to capture and why?
LILLY: I would say Rizzo. When you are dealing
with a character that is so small, a lot of design concessions have
to be made in order to make a functional figure that still has many
of the puppet characteristics.
is your most favorite from series 4? Why?
Rizzo is my favorite because of the fact that he was the most difficult
to do. The compromises between puppet-to-figure were done very well.
Phil Ramirez, who sculpted Rizzo, did a phenomenal job on the sculpture
so we were ahead of the game right there. Then the factory really
did a phenomenal job in making sure that the key joints and details
translated like they needed to for the figure. Bill Mancuso, who
did the accessories, did an amazing job on the extra pieces. That
was critical to the success of the SKU since he is so small and
we had to add value to the package.
is your least favorite from series 4? What would you do different
Sam the Eagle isn't as fun to play with as the other ones. Not as
posable, and that means a lot to me. It is also difficult to get
him to hold stuff because of the design of his hands. He is a great
looking piece, don't get me wrong, but as an action figure he is
the weakest of the assortment in my opinion.
Target exclusive Koozebane Kermit will be one of the most anticipated
figures to date. What are your personal opinions on this figure,
how it developed and how the final product turned out?
Koozebane Kermit happened because of several things. First, Target
wanted a really high profile Muppet in their assortment. Second,
we no longer had access to any of the Series 1-2 characters because
of some issues with the factory who produced the goods and so our
original intent to do a repackaged Naked Kermit with Banjo and Swamp
stuff was out the window. Third, the playsets were cut back to two
a year and the planned Koozebane playset had been canceled.
three things combined resulted in us coming up with an alternative
to the playset in the form of the "mini-environment" and
the production of the Koozebane Kermit, which turns out to be the
coolest exclusive we could have done for Target.
this is undoubtedly my favorite Kermit figure...so far. There is
one for next year that will blow this one away for me. And I like
the fact that we were able to get such a unique exclusive into Target
for the opening line at the store. It is really a figure that will
get people into the store and that's great. The figure itself exceeded
my expectations and when you set it up on the shelf it really looks
later this summer, Palisades first two sets of Muppet PVC's will
arrive. Of particular note to fans are the first recreations of
Thog, Mahna Mahna and the Two Snowths. What challenges have the
PVC line presented? What is your favorite PVC so far?
The biggest challenge of the PVC line has been how to cheat the
scale in such a way that the figures still feel like they are in
scale and still make it affordable. I think the other has been in
convincing people that these are worth 15 dollars a set. It's another
one of those "pictures not doing them justice" kind of
thing. I mean, Thog is bigger than the Kermit figure! These things
are bigger than you expect and way more detailed up close than what
most people think of when they think "PVC figure".
favorite of the line is, and you are not going to believe this,
Miss Piggy. It is the first time I think we have really finally
captured a likeness of her that expresses an emotion that is really
appropriate to the character. I like it a lot. Thog is almost right
up there though...been itching to tackle the character since the
line started. This PVC is really a great likeness.