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Looking for a reference on a puppet maker!

Discussion in 'Puppet News' started by Mister Hoggoth, Jan 28, 2009.

  1. Mister Hoggoth

    Mister Hoggoth Active Member

    Can anyone comment on the works of Oliver at www.oliverscreatureshop.com? I am wanting to commission a replica from his studio but want to know if anyone has used him before? His site is great, but he is a bit expensive. Not that I am afraid to pay for a great replica, just want to make sure before I go forward with it.

    Has anyone here purchased a puppet from him? or is there some other puppet masters I should look at?

    HunterPeeples likes this.
  2. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle Well-Known Member

    what is it you are trying to have replicated?i guess it all depends?
    HunterPeeples likes this.
  3. rickly

    rickly Active Member

    Oliver's Creature Shop is just another in a long list of aliases for Michael Lisa, formerly Vault of Puppets, notorious Muppet knock-off seller on ebay, recently named in a lawsuit by Disney for intellectual property rights violations.


  4. Mister Hoggoth

    Mister Hoggoth Active Member

    Why would it matter on which muppet I wanted replicated?
  5. Mister Hoggoth

    Mister Hoggoth Active Member

    I will say I did find his add originally by an ebay ad, but people sell replicas of props/puppets all the time. Has this person actually swindled someone?
  6. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    The guy is being sued by Disney because of replicas (as Rickly already explained). That should tell you what you need to know.
  7. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle Well-Known Member

    yeah , i responded before i checked the link,

    Rickly , and Andrew are correct , same puppets , and pictures as the numerous Knockoffs we have all seens,

    A real shame since some of his original work, and customer orders are really nice, but hate to say it , until the leagl issues are worked out i would advise caution,

    Of course if you were looking to have a un-liscened replica made, you will not be finding much assitance form Rickly, Andrew or myself.
  8. MGov

    MGov Well-Known Member

    No, it doesn't happen "all the time". It is copyright infringement and it is illegal.
  9. Mister Hoggoth

    Mister Hoggoth Active Member

    Under that logic you can say anyone who makes a puppet in the style of a muppet is breaking the law, even if it isn't an exact copy. Marvel Comics went down this logic and eventually lost.

    You can't tell me that people who make puppets for a living don't use muppets as a reference for some of there styles. There are several Monster Muppet style puppets on ebay right now that any lawyer could make a case is a Muppet knock off.

    I was just asking if anyone had a reference to this gentleman's work, and seem to have gotten only information about him being sued. I guess no one here has actually done business with the guy.
  10. Mister Hoggoth

    Mister Hoggoth Active Member

    Thank you very much. Do you have a website or examples of your work?
  11. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle Well-Known Member

    until now you had not mentioned muppet , some puppeteers, and Vent perfromers do have original characters that they have had built over the years, and when the original builder is not availible they look for substitute designers and builders.

    that clearky isnt the case here, but that was the intent of my origibal post.
  12. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle Well-Known Member

    I do, but i dont do Muppet Replicas,

    feel free to see samples of my work, by clicking the link in my Sig
  13. Melonpool

    Melonpool Well-Known Member

    Just out of curiosity, is it legal to sell -- say -- a replica Star Trek phaser (not a master replica or official version, but a scratch-built fan replica)? And, if so, how is it any different than selling Muppet replicas? Is it the difference between a copyrighted prop vs. a copyrighted character? Or is it that Disney/Henson is more protective of the Muppets than Paramount is about Trek?

    I don't support Muppet replicas, especially when they're custom jobs and the makers charge tons for them. I just know that replicas from other shows have run rampant for years and I've never heard anything about them being illegal, but Muppet replicas are automatically flagged as contraband.
  14. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle Well-Known Member

    all depends on the company , i know some Star wars prop dude, got a cease and desits order, and some other prop things have been removed from ebay
  15. rickly

    rickly Active Member

    This issue is SO-O-O-O old, and has been covered in great detail on this board SO-O-O-O many times.

    In a nutshell, it all comes down to money. Someone who scratch builds a STAR TREK phaser is almost certainly a hobbyist who spent incalcuable unpaid hours creating the facsimile. He could never sell it at a real profit. He's in it for the satisfaction of recreating something from a favorite sci fi franchise.

    Michael Lisa and his cohorts on the other hand, are clearly making unlicensed replicas FOR PROFIT. They are not making one-offs for their personal collections, then selling them - they are manufacturing and mass-marketing their replicas with big price tags. Vault of Puppets/Oliver's Creature Shop were stupid enough to advertise on high-profile/high-volume public marketplaces like ebay and Amazon. What were they thinking? That Disney doesn't monitor such places for rip-offs? That Disney lawyers would ignore such flagrant violations of intellectual property rights?

    You will probably never get anyone on these boards to admit to buying one of "Oliver's" replicas - even though they almost surely have - because this is such a hot issue, and there are so many professional puppeteers and puppet makers who frequent this board who share my opinions. I personally have only seen one of his creations - it did not look much like his posted photos at all, and was not especially well made - in my opinion.

    As for thinking "a puppet in the style of a muppet" is a copyright violation, this is almost entirely unenforceable legally. Mostly because - let's face it - what does a Muppet really look like? What are the features that define a Muppet? A moving mouth? There were moving mouth puppets long before Muppets. Buggy white eyes? EMMETT OTTER puppets have little black button eyes - are they less Muppets than Fraggles are? Um, is a Muppet worn on a hand? Hand puppets certainly pre-date Muppets by centuries, and that definition would exclude Sweetums and all the Doozers, who were rod puppets. A STYLE is not really copyrightable, neither are the materials from which something is made (which, incidentally, is the principal ingredient in the look of the Muppets - what they are made from) - the appearance of a specific character IS copyrightable. A piece of music written in the style of jazz can be copyrighted, but the composer of that piece can't sue everyone who composes jazz-inflected music. Marvel can't sue DC for creating a character "in their style," but if DC put a red and black spiderweb-veined suit on someone and had him swing from building to building on a web, Marvel could probably take DC to the cleaners.

    The MAIN reason not to do business with "Oliver" is that he is a liar - he says on his website the Muppet replicas aren't for sale, but on ebay he says they are. For ages the Kermit replica on his site that he said he built was really a gutted MR Kermit poser and the Fozzie he showed had the face from a photo of a REAL Fozzie pasted onto it. He is a scoundrel. He is being sued by Disney, he's too stupid to stop doing what got him into legal trouble, he is dishonest, AND he charges too much for work that is only just acceptable.

    Just to give you an idea of who this guy is, on a prominent replica prop forum - from which he is now banned - he created several fake identities for the sole purpose of posting glowing reviews of his own puppets. He posted conversations between his aliases - "Gee, Bob, your puppets look great!" "Thanks, Biff, they're made of the finest materials available!" - how psycho is that?

    'Nuff said.
    HunterPeeples and Rymoore21 like this.
  16. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle Well-Known Member

    well Said rickly
  17. question i hope will be answered: someone probably already answered this but i was looking forward to making a series of episodes on youtube about, i dont know, the muppets. so if i made replica muppets and i made my own series about them on youtube, would that be illegal? i just wanted to ask that before i did anything.
  18. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle Well-Known Member

    yes that would, since your not doing a Parody of the muppets but rather building replicas of specific characters, and creating a show based around them. since you do not have the rights to the intelectual property you can not legaly create this time of web show.
  19. thanks!

    thank you so much for telling me! i was so close to making an episode. if you didn't tell me i would probably have been sued.:)
  20. CoOKiE

    CoOKiE Well-Known Member

    Heres a good question... Are you just as likely to be in trouble for buying?

    Sure, you're not building it to sell for profit... BUT... if you're buying from a drug dealer... you're in the wrong as well.

    I only ask, because i never heard if that guys customer's were being chased down too
    HunterPeeples likes this.

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