Toy Review: Jim Henson
Over the span of Palisades Toys’ 5 years creating figures based on Jim Henson’s Muppet characters, the company would create several incarnations of such famous characters as Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, & even Fozzie bear. They would even bring to plastic life, such Muppet Show characters as Uncle Deadly, & the flamboyant Muppephone player, Marvin Suggs.
And then, in 2004, there was Jim Henson.
During the 1970’s, Muppeteers Henson, Frank Oz, & Jerry Nelson, would puppeteer Muppet versions of themselves on several different programs. Though originally nameless, they later took on the first names of their human counterparts.
Of these three, it was the Henson figure that Palisades decided to create. However, they had to use their imagination when it came to one crucial part of the figure: like many of the Muppets, Jim’s figure had never originally been crafted with anything below the waist.
Palisades solved this dilemma, by dressing the figure in blue jeans, with a brown pair of loafers.
The original release of the figure was made available at a 2-day event in Brooklyn, NY, titled Muppets, Music & Magic: Jim Henson’s Legacy. Along with screening classic pieces of film that Henson had worked on, people who had also worked with Jim were also on hand to meet guests.
Once the event was over, the remaining stock was placed on Palisades’ website, which is where I got mine from. The original price for the figure has been lost to time, but I do remember that it wasn’t cheap to get Jim.
Still in the throes of eeking out a living at the time (and paying off student loans), I had observed many of the Muppet figures from afar, but couldn’t justify the funds to sink into fully collecting all the figures (let alone getting involved with getting all those super-exclusve-limited-edition pieces that cost hundreds of dollars!). At the time, I only bought a few of the convention-exclusives, like Adventure Kermit, and Super Beaker. Jim’s figure would be one of my last Palisades figure purchases.
What really stands out about this release, is how much care and attention-to-detail was put into the piece. For example, let’s start with the packaging:
Bringing up memories of the red curtains on The Muppet Show, the box opens up to reveal Jim, and an assortment of accessories.
The inner front of the box also tells about The Jim Henson Legacy, which was created in 1992 by his family and friends, as a way to preserve Jim’s contributions to the world, and share that knowledge through their website, videos, museum exhibitions, and more.
The sides of the box are flanked with images of Jim, with a border of Muppets along the bottom. On the back of the box, a small summary of Jim’s life is written. Along the right side, a credits list tells who worked on this product, as well as a long thank you list, including members of Jim’s family.
After opening the box and going through several twist-ties, Muppet Jim was free. And as expected, the quality of the figure is incredible!
Jim’s face and hands are textured to resemble the cloth that he’s made from. Even more notable is his hair. The sculpting job has numerous layered facets, looking like unkempt hair material. I love the detail on his head of hair, with several strands sticking out.
Just like the Muppet he’s based off of, this figure of Jim comes with a fringed leather jacket. The frayed pieces are actually just sculpted detail, but very well done. There is even sculpted stitching on the collar areas of the jacket!
Jim’s arms feature 4 points of articulation, with an added mid-bicep rotation.
Fringe is also included along three points of the arms. It almost feels like Palisades could have cut corners and not included this. Even though the fringe won’t always line up when one poses the figure, it’s an additional part of the sculpt that is commendable.
The lower body of the figure also sports some nice paint applications, notable on Jim’s blue jeans, that include some white-paint texturing.
Of course, what is a figure without accessories? And, Jim comes with several, both new and old.
Jim comes with several musical instruments, one of them being a tambourine (with little zils that make sound when you shake it!).
And of course, a familiar instrument for Jim’s character: a banjo!
Jim also comes with an old-fashioned microphone, so that his warbling can be heard by the people in the back. A figure-sized copy of June 1977’s issue of the Muppet Magazine is also included,showing the Muppet figure of Jim, and smaller images of Frank & Jerry.
The Director’s Chair that comes with Jim, uses the same accesory mold as the one for the Muppet figure release of Clifford (the purple-colored host of the short-lived Muppets Tonight prime-time show). However, this version comes with the familiar Jim Henson signature on the back.
It’s been almost 10 years since I first obtained this figure, and it’s still one that I am still greatly satisfied with. The attention-to-detail and quality of the figure, serve not only as a tribute to a man who made felt puppets emote like never before, but also serves as a tribute to the quality of the now-defunct Palisades Toys.
Just before the company would shutter its doors, it had managed to obtain the rights to make figures based on the Henson-associated properties, of Fraggle Rock, & Sesame Street. Pictures of several of those unreleased figures are floating out in the internet, and it makes one wonder if one day, the company could have made figures to other Henson properties, like Labyrinth, or The Dark Crystal.
This is my favorite way to pose Jim Henson: strumming his banjo, as Kermit (in his Adventure Gear) sits and plays the tambourine. In my mind, I can hear them both singing “Rainbow Connection.” Can you?