November 16, 2008

A Whatnot Photo Tour

Filed under: Feature,Reports — Tags: , — Joe Hennes @ 11:46 pm


Everyone: get out a pen and some paper. At the top of the page, write “[Your Name]‘s Holiday Wish List”. Now erase “[Your Name]” and actually write your name. Below that, write “My Very Own Muppet.” Then underline, bold, and italicize. Yes, I know you can’t italicize after it’s already written; I was just testing you.

The Muppet Whatnot Workshop is open for business at New York’s FAO Schwarz toy store, right across from the candy section. (Did you know you can buy M&Ms in any color you want?? I’m addicted to teal!) ToughPigs’ own Ryan and ToughPigs’ own I made a visit to the Workshop to see what all the hubbub was about, bub.

Sometimes (often) I forget that not everyone lives in New York, and they can’t just hop over to FAO whenever they need a Tonka truck fix. The FAO Schwarz people thought of that and made the Whatnots available on their website. Still, there’s lots of neat Muppety stuff in the Workshop itself, so we brought along a camera to show you everything Tom Hanks would have seen if only Big had been made 20 years later.What’s a Whatnot? What a great question. It’s like an Anything Muppet. What’s an Anything Muppet? It’s like a Whatnot. Eh, just read their Muppet Wiki articles.

Hey, it’s all your favorite Muppet characters! The blue guy! The lady with the glasses! Tommy Lasorda! 

There’s something slightly morbid about Muppets hanging lifeless on a wall. But is it more or less so if they don’t have names?

The FAO Schwarz people were stitching and hot gluing features onto the puppets like they’ve been doing it their whole lives. The wood and brick fa?ɬßade gave the place a Geppetto-like feel. But, y’know, owned by Disney.

ToughPigs’ own Ryan tried one on to see how it manipulated. According to him, it was a bit of a squeeze getting his hand through the neck, but there was plenty of room inside the head for an adult-sized hand. He plans on customizing and buying one of his own soon, so keep an eye out for a possible review a bit later on.

There’s a small conveyer belt with costumes running above the Workshop. Nothing too special about that, I’m just a big fan of conveyer belts.

My favorite part of the shop is the overhead lights. When you’re standing underneath them, you can’t tell that anything’s special, but once you move away, you can clearly see the Muppet-esque eyes and nose. Rumor has it that at night, the entire Workshop comes to life and demands human sacrifice.

A TV screen was playing a loop of new Muppet content. The video with Kermit and Piggy from the FAO webpage played, as well as videos of Pepe outside the store handing out flyers, the Muppet Newsman (surprisingly performed by Dave Goelz, doing a bang-up job) with falling chickens, Reporter Kermit interviewing people on the street, a short bit with Bunsen and Beaker, and a short bit with Rizzo. The people working at the Workshop didn’t know if the videos will surface online, but I sure hope they do. It was hard to hear over the tourists, but they looked like quality sketches. And with the new YouTube accounts, maybe a Whatnot will start one so he can share the wealth.

Twelve large framed pictures of the Muppets, all signed with well-wishes to the Whatnots, were posititioned around the Workshop. Click the images to embiggen and see what the fictional characters had to say about fictional non-characters.

A Whatnot Workshop t-shirt was also being sold. I couldn’t find it on their website, so this might be an in-store exclusive. The front of the shirt has the Workshop logo and the back of the shirt has the eyes and nose seen above. Nearby, a merchandise shelf held Muppet DVDs, Kermit’s book, and Pepe’s book. I can’t believe it took the addition of an entire Muppet wing to get FAO Schwarz to finally sell some Muppet merch.

Two glass cases were filled with some junk. Lots of limbs and fur and foam and pictures were tossed in, leaving people like me scanning every inch for anything of interest. Well, lo and behold, I found a few easter eggs!

Bunsen’s half-a-head was on the bottom shelf of one case. The poor guy, bodiless and blind inside a shadow box.

Here’s a bunch of eyes. But if you look close, you’ll see that one of those eyes is actually a ping-pong ball! Remind you of anyone?

As we saw in Secrets of the Muppets, Gonzo is carved from a foam block whenever he needs to be replaced. So, does that mean this guy is a failed Gonzo clone?

If you look closely, you’ll see some recent Miss Piggy stock art made for Muppet Studios, dated 7/15/08. Now, stock art is constantly being made, whether it’s used or not. But let’s hope this is an indication of more stuff coming our way.

Another fun bit to notice was the three doors in the Workshop, labeled “Crossed Eyes”, “Over-Sized Noses”, and “Single Socks”. Oh those wacky doors! They were my favorite characters on The Muppet Show.

We also spotted a few stickers placed near the cash register. I came very close to ripping them off the wall and running, but those toy soldiers FAO has at the door aren’t just for show.

I hope you got a glimmer of what it’s actually like at the Whatnot Workshop. If you decide to place your order for your Whatnot online, now you can pretend you’re actually there, admiring the feng shui.
Click here to choose a nose for this article on the ToughPigs forum!

joe.toughpigs@gmail.com



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