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Purchasing a Muppet-Style Puppet

Discussion in 'Puppet News' started by Traveling Matt, Sep 1, 2002.

  1. Traveling Matt

    Traveling Matt New Member

    Hey guys!

    I'm wondering if anyone can tell me: where is the place to go for Muppet-style puppets with flexible mouths?

    Hopefully inexpensive and in the States, too :)

    Thanks

    - Billy :cool:
  2. CaptCrouton

    CaptCrouton New Member

    Some of the puppets from these sources have flexible mouths and some don't.

    I've bought stuff from One Way Street (onewaystreet.com I believe) and Puppet Productions (puppetproductions.com) Also Axtell Expressions makes some wonderful flexible mouth puppets using latex, but they're not cheap. Check them out anyway at www.axtell.com Hey look, I figured out how to put in URL! I don't get any kick back but these are the only places I've got puppets from.

    Oh wait, I did buy a horse puppet on ebay, but the lady who made it was obviously a smoker, so I don't recommend it. That was a bit of a disappointing surprise. She did decent work, but gosh it stank, er stunk,er stinkted.

    Dats all the info I got.
  3. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Active Member

    Here's the lowdown on the places to find Muppet-style puppets:

    Armslength Productions sells a number of VERY Muppet-style puppets priced between $99 - $200 US. I have no idea if the mouths are flexible.

    Axtell Expressions sells the best mass-produced latex puppets in the world, period. Accept no substitute. They have a wide range of stuff in their catalogue priced between $65 - $600. Very high quality and very expressive.

    Although she doesn't have a website, Marlene Reimer has awesome Muppet-style puppets and also custom-built our characters for several years in the mid-90s. Prices for her puppets range from $40 up to $200 and she does custom orders too. You can call her toll-free at 1-888-300-1400.

    CyndeeLou's Puppets Are very affordable at about $30 each and the design of her newer puppets is very simple, but effective. I don't know if the mouths are flexible on these either.

    Puppet Odyssey sells a range of puppets for around $65 made by different companies (including them) and the quality varies. You'd have to e-mail them for specifics.

    Images Puppet Productions sells a line called "Berrylane Buddies" which can be ordered through their website and found in gift shops across Canada and the US. Very affordable, flexible mouth puppets at $50 - $60.

    The Grin Puppet Shop in New York builds to order and while I've never handled one of their puppets, they look good. Their website is in a bit of disarray but you can e-mail them at studiogrin@hotmail.com for further info.

    There are many, many other companies on the net. A good place to look for builders is to check out the list of world-wide puppet builders and sellers on The Puppetry Homepage

    Generally when you buy puppets you get what you pay for. The more expensive puppets are usually the better quality ones. I am personally not fond of most of the puppets that are mass-produced out there (except Steve Axtell and Marlene Reimer's work) they are OK for toys, schools, churches, etc (and that is what many are intended for) but if you are serious about wanting a good, high quality, professional puppet it is usually best to talk to one of the pros who build custom puppets. Be warned, these usually go for hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars. But again, you get what you pay for.

    Some of the best builders of the lot are Nina Keogh , Noreen Young, Rick Lyon, Terry Angus, Kanja Chen as well as the aforementioned Marlene Reimer and Axtell Xpressions.

    Oh there's also some outfit in Canada called OMCS, I hear they are not bad either. :D
  4. Traveling Matt

    Traveling Matt New Member

    Hey, thanks for the info guys

    Especially you, Buck, man that's a lot of sources! ;)

    - Billy :cool:
  5. CaptCrouton

    CaptCrouton New Member

    Yeah Buck. Helped me too. I didn't realize how much stuff was out there and available. And the puppetry homepage link has even more links and other info that would take me years to get through.

    Thanks again!
  6. ToastCrumbs

    ToastCrumbs New Member

    Muppet Style Puppets

    To all Muppet Central Members,

    Believe me when I say that I understand the need to search out puppets that are simular to Muppets. I mean who doesn't love Jim Henson's Muppets. Muppets are truly the pinacle of puppetry when it comes to hand rod puppets and live hand puppets. For starters I would say that your best way of purchasing a puppet that is built in the same exact stlye is by trying to locate Muppet workshop builders who do some freelance work on there down time from Henson. Several years back there use to be a book called The New York Theatrical Source Book. It listed a section on puppetry and in it I actually found some famous Henson workshop builders. Now remember if you want the best you have to pay for it, there's no way around this. A puppet of this high standard goes from 1,500- 3,000 and that's without a costume.
    Sure there are companies that people have mentioned on this site, and they are fairly good places to go for your average Muppet rip off, but let me just say a few things. Any puppet builder who is talented can make you a puppet that looks like a Muppet. They key word here is "looks like". I mean we all know what a Muppet looks like and with a fair amount of research we can find most of the materails used to build them. The one thing that everyone seems to forget is that none of the companies that are mentioned here know how to build a Muppet from the inside out. This is where the talent of the Henson Muppet Workshop comes in. There are only a few dozen people in the world who can build this style of puppet. These extremely gifted people are so very important to The Jim Henson Company and know one can do what they do.
    So keep this in mind I have tried on many puppets that look like a Muppet, but not one of them ever functioned like one. I either had to fight to open the mouth because the flexability was garbage or the puppet weighed a ton. Most of these companies take many shorcuts and if you were to put any of there puppets side by side with a Muppet you would see how obvious it was. So remeber when your puppet finally arrives and you try the thing on and your not happy you'll know exactly why. A puppet that doesn't funtion properly is nothing more than a statue, so put the thing in the corner of your room and enjoy looking at it, cause unfortunetly that's about all you're ever going to do with the thing. Believe me it happened to me once, only once and never again. Only except the best from the best. And if for some reason they can't build a puppet for you at the moment you need one, believe me they'll refer you to someone they have worked with in the past who is on the same level as they are. so please be careful when it comes to purchasing your puppets. It's beter to save and get exactly what you want or just try and build it yourselfs. Besides not many people are going to take the time and care to build you a puppet better than you.
  7. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Active Member

    Hi Toastcrumbs - long time no post!

    The list I posted was primarily made up of people who do puppets for $200 and under and that's all alot of people can afford. You make a very good point about puppet construction though. Professional puppets that cost thousands of dollars usually cost that much for a reason - you really do get what you pay for. I'd also like to point out that most of the names on the latter part of the list I posted are actually Muppet-trained builders.

    Now I realize that this is a Muppet board and we're all fans of the Muppets but one of the big issues in puppetry for the past twenty years is just how "Muppet-ized" puppetry has become. This is largely because the Muppets are so popular and the Muppet Workshop has trained two generations of puppet builders in the US, Canada and England.

    I love the Muppet Workshop's stuff and they're definately among the best in the world but most of the really original, impressive puppets I see lately are the ones that go in a completely different direction like Julie Taymour's "Lion King" or Michael Curry's Giant Puppets for DisneyWorld. Then there is the blacklight puppets of Famous PEOPLE Players and The Sheep Shop (who worked very hard to carve out their own unique style after they worked for the Muppets for many years) and countless other examples from overseas.

    There's a whole wide world of other puppet styles to explore out there!

    :)
  8. ToastCrumbs

    ToastCrumbs New Member

    Hey Buck,

    I completely agree with you that there is a whole world of puppetry out there, and the ones you mentioned are great ones. Hey, this is what Jim Henson wanted, he wanted people to expand on what he created and take it into new and interesting places. So I believe people should take what they learn and re-apply it to something fresh. Although I do understand that this is easier said then done.
    All I wanted to do was make people aware that there are some people out there that claim they can build you a Muppet or that they were trained at the Henson workshop. Just because someone interned for a little bit or happened to be around some of the puppets to get a really good look at them doesn't mean that they were a Henson builder. I just want everyone to have this info. If there is someone who says they were trained ask what that means. Believe me if they interened for a year they probably built only one AM Muppet and spent the rest of the year ironing Big Bird feathers or making some food props for Sesame Street. To truly be A Muppet workshop builder you would have at least had to put in a couple of years building various types of characters and soaking up the knowledge from the talented staffers who work there.
    So just be careful, that's all I'm sayin'. Oh, well that's it for today as always HAPPY PUPPET BUILDING TO ALL!!!!!

    ToastCrumbs
  9. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Active Member

    Yeah, checking out credits is always a good idea. I know of a few people who did a few background puppets on one Muppet project and at the top of their resume is that they are/were a Muppeteer. I mean sure, it's technically true but the impression it leaves is misleading.
  10. Tera

    Tera New Member

    Thanks for all the info, y'all! I know diddily about puppets but would like to try working with them. You've given some wonderful info for a beginner.

    You mentioned the weight of the puppets being an important factor...what do you think the maximum effective weight of a one handed puppet is? (I know its a bit different for everyone, but I'd like to know a ballpark figure).
  11. ToastCrumbs

    ToastCrumbs New Member

    Puppet weight

    Not sure about that because I've nevered weighed one. I would say there is a great range in weight, but your average hand puppet couldn't weigh more than somewhere between 1-5 pounds, but I'm guessing. Most likely they weigh very little if they're not in a heavy costume. To tell you the truth I'm not sure if most hand puppets are heavy enough to even register on a scale.
  12. DanB315

    DanB315 New Member

    Muppet Type Puppets

    The best place is Puppet Prods. of DeSoto, TX. Do a Google search.

    Danny


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