by Mike Boon
First, let me get this out of the way: I have a wee bit of an obsession with The Muppets. I also get a kick out of seeing them in non-traditional form, which is what first got me hooked on Vinylmation and why I even purchased the bizarre Pook-a-Looz Muppets.
I was excited when Funko announced the Pop! Vinyl Muppet figures and, overall, I’m not disappointed. Sure, there are some nagging issues with all of them, but they look smashing on my shelf. Word is that they are already working on a second wave and I cannot wait to see who they have coming up next (fingers crossed for Beaker and the Swedish Chef).
But first, let’s look at what we have available right now:
Great, reliable Kermit is perhaps the easiest Muppet to transition to another form. Slap his trademark eyes on anything and you’ll know exactly who it is. With this figure, Funko wisely moved away from their traditional black-eye look (more on that below) to stick with his usual peepers. The square head is unique and in-line with many of the others in the set. Small quibble: His eyes are nicely over sized for emphasis but could have sat a little higher on his head. Big quibble: I simply cannot get my Kermit to stand up. Which means he’ll always be leaning on the back of the shelf instead of out front where he belongs.
Let’s just ignore the fact that they spelled his name as “FOZZY” on the side of the box (product shot above is from Funko and not Mike’s box) and focus on the figure itself. Overall, I like the design. Great depiction of his hat and tie, plus he has a slightly raised eyebrow that works well with his character. The square head and tilted ears go well when paired with Kermit. Mixed feelings on the black eyes though. I realize this is part of the usual Funko design but the purple eyelids draw a bit too much attention. Could be worse though (see next).
Piggy is one of the most difficult Muppets to reinterpret and this design, much like Muppets Vinylmation Series 1, certainly doesn’t argue the fact. Her mouth and nose are a nice proportion, but her eyes really hurt the character. If you are going to remove Piggy’s trademark blue irises for black Little Orphan Annie eyes, you should at least put a little more shape into her eyelids. Tilting each slightly or adding some roundness (as on Fozzie) would have likely made her seem more friendly. Plus, her ears are too long and too far back on her head. Purists will no doubt balk that her gloves are red instead of purple, but the Marilyn Monroe-type pose is the best thing going here.
Definitely one of my favorites of the bunch and not just because I can actually – shockingly – purchase a Mahna Mahna figure in 2012 (the character goes back to a 1969 appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show). He stands well, his hair is a lot of fun and since his eyes are traditionally black, no “empty soul” issues here.
Also a big fan of this one as it goes very well when paired with Mahna Mahna on the shelf (and who would want a “Mahna Mahna” without a “do doo do doo doo”). The squareness to the head is appropriate and subtle. The designers opted for pupils with this one, which is highly appreciated. Black eyes would have looked very odd with the black mouth. Only issue: You may need to spring for two.
The details on the body here really work well, particularly the tiny drumsticks in his hands and the broken chain around his neck. The black eyes don’t look too bad here, especially since he’s always been wild and this adds a little edge to the often cuddly character. His eyebrows are nicely stylized too, but it would have been nice to see a little definition between where the eyes end and the eyebrows start. Oddly, Animal is missing the more pronounced square shape to the head as seen on the others.
Like Piggy, Gonzo also has a tendency to go very very wrong. The designers got many details right (three fingers, purple tux, crook in the nose), but his square head is too pronounced, he is missing a tongue and his eyes are all wrong. Gonzo’s eyes are supposed to pop out rather than sit flat on the face, plus they are too small and with too much space between then (they should touch in the middle). I’m all for different designs, but it all seems a little too “Zombie Gonzo”.
A real treat and hopefully a sign of more Electric Mayhem members with the second wave. I really dig the lopsided hat, the feather, the round body design and the detailed outfit (even if he is missing his rings). The wide smile and prominent nose look great. Also, Teeth has the best looking black eyes of the bunch. They almost look like dark shades, which just makes him seem that much cooler. Based on this design, Zoot, Floyd and Janice would look fantastic as Pop! Figures.