Kermit the Frog Photo Puppet Replica
Phillip Chapman (September 10, 2006) - It was a
year ago that we first reported that Master Replicas was in the developmental
phase of creating a limited edition authentic replica of Kermit the Frog.
Now the final product has finally arrived.
has received a final production prototype Kermit for this review. Basically,
the Kermit replica you see here is exactly the same as the one you’ll
receive if you ordered yours from Master Replicas on-line. According to
Creative Director Kevin Eslinger, the first 100 pre-orders are shipping
now. A much larger shipment of Kermit replicas will arrive via boat from
China in the days ahead.
For more than thirty years, I’ve always wanted to see an “official”
Muppet character released. Not a mere toy that is just a mirror likeness
of a character, but a real, exact Muppet as we know and love. Finally,
this day has come. The great people at Master Replicas have taken on a
challenging task recreating the most beloved Muppet of all time.
One of the
issues that most fans will deal with in terms of this product is expectations.
We all expect our Kermit replica to be perfect, but the reality is that
the Kermit puppet that we all know and love has gone through many changes
over the years. This Kermit replica is based more on the recent Kermit
design rather than the earlier Kermits from the 1970's. Even the real
Kermit puppet looks very different in person than what is seen on television
depending on the angle and lighting.
notice Master Replica’s Kermit is a full-body “Photo Puppet”.
Originally Henson began using posable photo puppets like this for still
photography, most notably for the Muppet Calendars and Muppet Magazine
in the 1980’s. While some fans may be initially disappointed that
Master Replicas isn’t creating hand-puppets, the real thrill of
owning Kermit is in his adaptability and posability to any situation you
Kermit uses the exact same patterns as the real full-body poser along
with nearly identical antron fleece materials. Kermit was manufactured
nearly exactly the way each photo puppet is created at the Henson Workshop.
The main differences between Master Replica's Kermit and a real Kermit
poser is that Master Replica's body design is more
robust in order to better withstand the test of time and includes plastic
inside to join all the wires. Foam has been injected inside of Kermit's
even demonstrated the Henson stitch to the China factory. Kermit comes
with a custom display stand and a gold numbered plaque. He is being produced
in a very low, limited edition run of only 2500.
measures 24 and ½ inches long. His arms are 13 inches each while
his legs are 12 and ½ inches long. Initially, his head, neck and
body proportions seemed a little off. As I scrunched Kermit’s face,
moved his mouth and adjusted his hands he became more and more accurate
by the minute. Once you break him in a little, you’ll be more than
pleased with the results. The Kermit replica is slightly smaller than
the real puppet but the same size as the real poser.
eyes are real ping-pong balls with black felt pupils. His mouth includes
the standard Muppet pink tongue with black throat and includes a rubber
gasket inside. The same felt used on Kermit’s collar is also on
the bottom of Kermit’s feet. A Master Replica tag is conveniently
hidden underneath the back of Kermit’s collar.
I soon realized
the immense joy of owning this high-end collectible is that Kermit is
fully posable in an almost limitless arrangement of positions. Unlike
any Kermit you’ve ever owned, you can adjust Kermit’s mouth
expression, rotate his neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, ankles
and fingers. Whether you love frustrated Kermit, scrunched up Kermit,
solemn Kermit or thinking Kermit, all of these poses and more can be created
effortlessly. Kermit can sit in any pose and on almost any surface. Getting
Kermit to stand is more difficult, but possible if the legs are positioned
just right to balance his body.
Kermit puppet is on the left while a more "flat head" poser
Kermit is on the right.
that has always been present in the official Henson poser Kermits used
for Muppet photographs is the “flat head” Kermit. Basically,
since Kermit doesn’t have a performer’s hand inside, with
a still "poser" Kermit his head is more flat than pointed in
between his eyes. Often this is due to the poser being "over stuffed".
Initially, the Kermit replica suffered from this as well, however, as
I adjusted Kermit’s face and eyes he began to take the proper form.
Thankfully, Master Replicas allowed ample room for Kermit's stuffing to
be moveable inside his head so that each person could adjust Kermit to
at Comic-Con, Master Replicas announced that the next Muppet replica planned
for 2007 will be The Great Gonzo, based off the third season Muppet Show
design and patterns. If Gonzo sells well, the wild Muppet drummer Animal
is the next replica planned for production. From Gonzo's long nose to
Animal's wild hair, both of these characters present many challenges in
design. Master Replicas is committed to producing many more Muppet as
long as fans continue to support the line. One thing we'd love to see
on both Gonzo and Animal is moveable eyelids.
Replica's Kermit is surrounded by other Kermits throughout the years
including: Fisher-Price Kermit (1978), Eden Kermit (1993), Palisades
Kermit (2002), Fisher-Price Dress Up Kermit (1981) and Ideal Kermit
Sales of the limited edition Kermit replica have been above expectations and
fans should order
their authentic Kermit Replica before he sells out entirely. Kermit’s
value will likely only increase on the secondary market. The Kermit Replica
is limited to a run of only 2,500.
Kermit is so impressive. Immediately he’ll become one of your most
prized collectibles. Even though the $199 price point is high, it’s
a small price to pay for such a wonderful recreation of the world’s
most famous frog. Your other Kermit puppets and dolls will fade in comparison
to this work of art.
If you'd like to see more pictures of Kermit, check out Master
Replicas web site and the Muppet Central Forum.
THE HISTORY OF THE KERMIT REPLICA
Recently, Creative Director Kevin Eslinger posted the following in the
Muppet Central Forum on the history of the Kermit replica over the past
just got back to Colorado after a very extended Comic Con Trip. Comic
Con end a week and a half ago for everyone else but ended for me on
8/1. There was so much follow up required after comic con it was incredible.
I have so many projects in the works for 2007 that it is difficult to
find time to even think about 2006 stuff. So here is my moment of pause
one 2006 product called the Kermit Photo Puppet Replica.
Driving up the 5
freeway from LA to Walnut Creek I made a phone call to Terry
Angus. To many of you Terry does not need an introduction but for
the few who don't know him he was a puppet builder for a show called
Fraggle Rock. If you don't know what Fraggle Rock is you are obviously
are in the wrong place. How I met Terry is an interesting story but
basically comes down to product development 101.
So after I was determined
to make a Kermit Puppet Replicas I had to figure out how to actually
do it. The problem was I had no budget and no approval from Disney.
So I started talking to people. I would bring up in a conversation how
I want to make a Kermit Puppet but I did not know if it was a good idea.
If you do that enough times in the toy industry you usually run across
someone who is interested in the project. This is how Mike Moore enters
the picture. Mike Moore is an old friend to Master Replicas. He and
his company HMS created many of Master Replicas's tooling patterns.
Mike's body of work and access to Hollywood Props is humbling. I could
digress in to a dozen different stories from here but I will continue
my focus on Kermit.
I brought up my
idea to Mike and found an instant kinship. I think was also the first
time we met. I remember showing him some marking sizzle from Disney
about Muppets. Mike showed me bits and pieces of the muppets he had
collected. He gave me a scrap of antron fleece colored to the best Kermit
green he could make. It was a funny looking scrap of fleece. Unintentionally
it looked like the cut pattern to a tiny thong. I eventually cut it
up and gave parts to the Chinese factory and now it looks more like
Mike told me about
a Kermit puppet hew was trying to build based on photos from the TV
Shows and Movies, Old Style guide Information, and bits and pieces of
information let go by Henson over the years. After I left HMS I was
invigorated by the feeling the idea could gain momentum. Later as I
thought about the opportunities I was told that we were going to have
a product development meeting with Disney in a couple weeks.
meetings with licensors are always great. It is the one time I like
being a loose cannon. I always like walking into a licensors office
with something they are not expecting to see. So I told Mike if he could
get his prototype done to match the date of my meeting I would walk
it in and try to get approval. Mike always comes through on his word
so that day I walked into Disney with the best Kermit you can make without
cut patterns. It scared the Master Replicas SBU Leader that I was showing
up with an un approved product but she couldn't stop me. People who
know me know one of the joys that is Kevin is my "smarty pants"
So I took it in
and it was the highlight of the meeting. Our licensing representative
immediately took the puppet from the conference room where we were meeting
and ran up and down office hallway introducing Kermit to everyone. It
was a beautiful moment on many levels.
So Disney kept the
Kermit Puppet for a week or so and eventually came back and said we
could make Poser/Photo Puppets not actually Puppets that can be manipulated
by hand. Fair enough.
Enter Lawyers, contracts,
legal mumbo-jumbo, pain, suffering, waiting, etc.
believe I met Ken Plume at Toy Fair 2005. Ken is a great guy but he
is my Neuman character in this story. Sorry that is a Seinfeld reference
for anyone not in the know. We have a little story arch that includes
some turbulent areas but we are still very much inline with the same
goals. Ken is a writer who keeps his hand on the pulse of the toy and
collectible industry. He is one of those guys who knows everyone. For
awhile there I use to talk to Ken every day. I told him all my ideas
including the Kermit project. Ken told me about his relationship with
Terry Angus. Ken explained to me who Terry was and how he would be able
to build me a Kermit Photo Puppet. In a way you could say Ken is the
link in this entire story that brings Kermit to the public.
Just so you understand
the importance of Ken's introduction you should understand that no one
else in my vast network of prototyping vendors could put me in contact
with someone who could build an actual Kermit puppet for Master Replicas.
Quite frankly Terry
was apprehensive about the project when we first approached him. He
really wanted to do it but feared the ramifications. I assured him that
this is a fully licensed product and not some bootleg copy. Once he
heard this he was agreeable to the project but wanted to keep his name
out of the limelight for the moment.
By Comic Con 2005
Terry completed the first Kermit Photo Puppet. We did not have permission
from Disney to put it on display but he was hiding in corners of the
booth that year. Comic Con was where I first met Travis from Palisades.
Kermit made our introduction. I like to think that Kermit's introduction
helped get Travis hired at Master Replicas even though that is not entirely
So as the prototypes
and the cut patterns came it from Terry I transitioned them over to
Andrew Wen who is now our famous Head of Manufacturing. You may have
read about him in Forbes magazine or seen him on CNN. I haven't because
my own ego wont let me.
Kermit became Andrew's
favorite project. In September of 2005 I went on a trip to china. It
happened that this coincided with the Vendor Turnover meeting for Kermit.
I have film of Andrew and I turning this project over to our Chinese
Manufacturer. We spent about 2 hours explaining the Kermit Prototype
and Cut Patterns that Terry created to the Chinese vendor. It was sad
to leave Kermit in mainland China. I saw him again at Pre-Toy Fair in
October but again had to send him back to China afterwards. I don't
know how he is doing because he never writes and hasn't come back to
visit. That is until he started sending back his twin brothers this
Meanwhile my relationship
with Terry and Ken somewhat faded. It takes a long time to develop a
product in China. The waiting can tear development relationships apart.
Terry and I didn't talk and Ken and I regressed in our Newman/Seinfeld
is the first green, prototype of the Kermit replica from the fall
Earl Kress is the
one person who I would consider the number 1 fan of the Kermit project.
He wasn't involved in any direct way to creation of the prototype but
he was there last comic con and he was there again asking about Kermit
and the future of Muppets every day a comic con. He helped to remind
me of the fans of Muppets out there who would really enjoy our Kermit
Orders for the Kermit
have been exciting. Our sales group has told me that we haven't seen
interest in a product like this in a long time. Sales is now asking
me what is coming next for Muppets. They want me to create more character
ASAP. So as Earl announced for the first time about 2 weeks ago Gonzo
is next. It should also be noted that Animal will follow Gonzo in 2007.
I should have the beginnings of Gonzo to show you soon. Animal will
be a little while. I have prototype deadlines looming. I am scared to
even mention them because it is a lot of work to do in a very short
period of time.
But what everyone
really wants to know right now is when are they going to get their Kermits.
Soon. How soon? Well the first Kermit's have left from Hong Kong on
a cruise. I don't even want to guess when they will make it to our distribution
center in New Jersey but they told us they might show up early next
month. Some more Kermits will leave on cruise around the middle of this
month. Who knows when they will show. There are many adventures Kermit
could get into on a boat from China to the US.
So as I was driving
from LA to Walnut Creek Terry and I discussed the fact that people on
the forum may be confused about the people who have been involved with
this project over the past year. However, credit for a product is really
much less important than the fact that Kermits are shipping and Gonzo
is being developed. I am working with the Puppet Heap now. They give
me cut patterns, material swatches, and construction notes. I had these
off to Terry Angus. I also make copies of the cut patterns for Mike
Moore so he can help fabricate rigid parts such as eyes and eye mechanics.
As I come home tonight
for the first time in 3 weeks I read and see Amy is now
posting in this forum. Amy is our spokes person on most of the forums
where our product is talked about. I am the Creative Director for Master
Replicas so I don't really answer forum questions on a timely basis.
Amy is great at listening to the collector community and relaying important
question to the appropriate internal Master Replicas people. So if you
wanted to ask anyone from our Janitor to our CEO a question "JUST
ASK AMY." She will get the information for you. Please welcome
her with open arms as she will be the one who can bug me to answer your
Now wasn't that
an elaborate way to say, "the first week of September."