Sunday, October 27, 2013
In 1995, visitors to McDonald's could get a Jim Henson's Muppet Workshop Happy Meal.
This was much more popular than the Jim Henson's Muppet Sweatshop Happy Meal offered in 1994.
For the Muppet Workshop Happy Meal, kids (or more likely, parents) are put to work to create their toys.
Even the box itself can be turned into a puppet. In this case, it is a Muppet Dog.
Kermit is always Green, so it is fitting that even the bottom of the box has a use! That's where you'll find the ears for your dog puppet.
The puppets for the Muppet Workshop Happy Meal consist of hard plastic pieces. Check out the Kermit the Frog on the Bird's red hat!
The bodies of these puppets are hollow, so feel free to feed your puppet French Fries just like those cute little birds you see eating fries outside your local McDonald's.
Once the head piece is snapped in place, you can add the provided accessories to your hard plastic puppet.
Well, don't you know about the bird? Everybody knows that the bird is the word!
Is this the Muppet version of Snoopy and Woodstock?
Or perhaps this is Rowlf's niece, Hairy Potter.
It is easy to make your Muppet Dog speak. Just push the lever at the back of its head.
Your Muppet Dog will be happy if you give it a McDonald's Hamburger patty.
Watch out for the Muppet Monster!
All the puppet pieces in this set are interchangeable, so you can come up with some very colorful characters.
The Muppet Workshop Happy Meal found a very clever way to make mass-marketed, creative fast food toy puppets.
Feed your Muppet Monster some tasty McDonald's Cookies!
A fourth toy (a yellow "What-Not" Muppet) was available, but I was not able to get that one.
The Muppet Workshop McDonald's toys came with coupons for Muppet Workshop Craft toys and kits. And Cheerios, because I guess the Muppets like to eat Cheerios.
Each McDonald's puppet features an emblem of Kermit on the lever used to operate the Muppet's mouth.
Time to get to work and create some new Muppets!
I'm not sure how popular the Muppet Workshop toys were, but I don't think the brand lasted very long. Then again, the Muppets have changed hands (as in ownership) a few times since 1995.
Disney and FAO Schwarz opened up the Muppet Whatnot Workshop (here's a link to a story I did about it in 2010), where puppeteers can create their own custom-built Muppets. You can even order them online. These days, it looks like there are fewer parts and costumes to choose from, but the puppets are less expensive to create now.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Disney re-released "The Lion King" at about the same time "The Santa Clause" debuted. Burger King took the opportunity to re-issue the very popular Lion King toys that had sold out quickly in the Summer of 1994. I'm not sure what McDonald's was promoting at the time, but Subway restaurants promoted The Santa Clause.
The world was a very different place in 1994, and I had no idea that The Santa Clause was at Subway. There were no commercials. For many years, Subway only promoted its Kids' Pak meals using posters at the restaurants, and the toys were typically not shown.
I happened to find some Santa Clause Subway toys at a Flea Market in Louisville, Kentucky sometime in the late 1990s.
This 3D Puzzle is noteworthy because it sports a caricature of Tim Allen.
The cartoon Santa Clause characters remind me of animated movie titles seen in front of many live action films in the 1980s and 1990s.
The main elf in the film was played by David Krumholtz, and was a familiar face at the time thanks to his role in "Addams Family Values."
The rest of the elves in The Santa Clause were played by younger children.
The toys in this set, like the ELFS Action Figure, were very simple.
The Comet the Reindeer toy was not even promoted with the other toys in the set.
Comet was an "Under 3" toy that had to be specially requested by Subway customers.
To my knowledge, the Subway toys were the only merchandise made for "The Santa Clause."
Tim Allen's show, "Home Improvement", was a huge hit on TV when "The Santa Clause" hit theaters. One year later, he could be heard in Pixar's "Toy Story" as Buzz Lightyear.
The Santa Clause was so popular that a sequel, "The Santa Clause 2: The Mrs. Clause" debuted in 2002. This was followed by "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause" in 2009. All the Santa Clause films have become holiday viewing rituals for many people.
Can we expect more sequels? Maybe! Keep your eyes open for "The Santa Clause, Deadliest Catch: The Crab Clause".