After seeing The Muppets earlier this week, it got me thinking of my personal favorite incarnation of the franchise, Muppet Babies. As I mentioned in my article last week, to me, Muppet Babies was Saturday morning. The show was well-written with lots of heart and good lessons for kids, but made it more palatable than a lot of kids’ programming with a healthy dose of pop culture references (who can forget the Star Wars episode?). Most importantly, the show didn’t just encourage kids to use their imagination, it practically exalted it as a concept.
It’s perhaps a testament to the producers of Muppet Babies that the show was never heavily merchandised. There were some plush toys of course, but nothing resembling the sort of toys an eight-year-old boy might want to play with…with one exception: the McDonald’s Happy Meal figures.
The toys were released in 1987. There were four in the set: Miss Piggy in a Power Wheels-style car, Fozzie on a rocking horse, Kermit on a skateboard and Gonzo on a tricycle. You can learn more than you might ever have wanted to know about them here.
I had Fozzie and Kermit, while my sister had Miss Piggy. Years later (long after I’d lost them), I went back and got them all on eBay. There’s not a lot to them–they’re just PVC figures with little vehicles. Fozzie and Kermit are arguably the best since they can also be stood on their own (though Fozzie looks a bit bow-legged), while Gonzo and Miss Piggy are frozen in seated positions.
I keep hoping there will be a wave of Muppet Babies nostalgia and a new line of merchandise, but it seems that untangling the copyright issues that would be necessary to get the show released on home video (a prerequisite for a new round of merchandising) is unlikely in the near future–or at least until all the major media conglomerates merge into one super-company. Until that day, the show will remain a fondly-remembered blip on the Muppets timeline.