1 The Muppet Mindset: Muppet Vinylmation Fan Art (and More!)

Sep 6, 2011

Muppet Vinylmation Fan Art (and More!)

Today we have a really cool spotlight on a very talented Muppet fan artist, Mike Boon. His work is incredibly inspired, including his magnificent Muppet Alphabet piece and two different series of Muppet Vinylmation (the popular, characterized Disney figures available at Disney Parks and Disney Stores) personally designed as a fun project for Mike, but the fan response was so great that it really took off. So... we're extremely excited to present an exclusive first look at Mike's Muppet Vinylmation Series 4, which is premiering here on The Muppet Mindset. Mike and his work are amazing. Be sure to check out his blog, Muppet Mania as well. Enjoy it!

Mike Boon - I've always been a huge fan of the Muppets but I'm not ashamed to admit that my appreciation had dwindled over the last 10 years or so. Sure, I'd always catch the Muppets when they were on TV and readily grabbed any DVD when it was released but the lack of product based on the core characters from the original TV series mostly left me with only memories to focus on.

That is until Bohemian Rhapsody came out. The viral video really hit the nostalgia sweet spot and I started really taking in everything that was being written about and speculated on about the Muppets. And then, once I started seeing Muppet merchandise hitting the shelves (only a smattering of it, but still), all of a sudden my kids were getting Muppet shirts as gifts and my geek flag started to fly.

I've never considered myself an artist by any means, but I came upon the idea for the Muppet Alphabet one day. So I loaded my old Adobe Illustrator from 1998 (made me feel ancient) and thought I would try it out using some key characters first (P, B and Z). It was so much fun that it led to a full alphabet and I was really inspired by the positive feedback I got from all sorts of Muppet fans.

For some reason, I get a real kick out of seeing a bunch of Muppets on my shelves, even if they aren't necessarily in traditional form. Which is where the Muppet Vinylmations became my undoing. I don't live near any of the Disney parks, but I happened to take a Disney cruise where they were selling Series 1. Every day I would tell myself to just get one or two more and by the end of the week, I had cleared out their shelf. Since then, I've dug in and purchased all of Series 2 as well (I particularly dig Floyd and Janice). Even if some of them are weirdly visualized (Lew Zealand and Sweetums), oddly designed (why are Scooter’s ears above his glasses?) or just plain off (Pepe's eyes are way too small and Series 1 Piggy has far too much space between her eyes and nose), I can't help but want every one.

Without any more 3" Vinylmations to buy though, I was still left with wanting more. There were so many possibilities out there, even if they wouldn't necessarily have as much demand outside the Muppet community as the first two sets. So I decided to create my own, with the added restriction that I needed to try to take perceived printing limitations into consideration and avoid accessories (like hats). First up was Series 3, in which I envisioned the Jim Henson Muppet as the chaser. I must admit that I got quite the kick when this showed up on Muppet Wiki as an official series 3, even if it has since been removed. Check it out below!
I've since put together a Muppet Vinylmation Series 4 that I hope goes over as well as Series 3. Originally, I pictured the adult Skeeter as the chaser but once I designed '80s Robot, I knew he would be a better choice. He would be printed on a clear mold like Waldo was in Series 2. Also, I never would have imagined putting Wayne and Wanda on here (after all, I once considered them X-Muppets in the alphabet) but after seeing them prominently in trailers for The Muppets and the OK Go video, I knew it was their time to shine. You can see all of Series 4 below:
Along the way, I've also done a few other minor pieces. Drawn Together was done as part of the Threadless contest. It was inspired by the thought that since the Muppets always come together to beat the odds, it may be fun to draw them together as one image, with one character transitioning smoothly into another. It was an admitted rush job based on limited time. Doc Hopper's Other Ideas was a quick little piece based on a fun idea I had. Neither are all that great but I can't help myself--the Muppets are such inventive creations that ideas keep kicking around in my brain until they can see the page or the screen.

I guess that is a testament to Jim Henson and crew that 35 years after the launch of The Muppet Show, this motley group of characters still inspire me and many others to put pen to paper (or hand to mouse) to try to visualize our appreciation for their offbeat sensibilities, endless sense of oddball invention and unwavering sense of community. Speaking of community, be sure to check out some of the Muppet works over at www.deviantart.com. A lot of the pieces there put my minor efforts to shame. Check it out regularly--it always seems like there are more and more Muppet goodies from artists all around to inspire and entertain.

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, ryguy102390@gmail.com

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