Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sesame Street Fisher Price Little People

(Sesame Street Little People Playset, mid-1970s)

The Sesame Street Little People are to be blamed for my psychosis. I grew out of the Fisher Price Little People in the late seventies when I was supposed to, just like the other people in my Gen-X-ish cohort. We moved on to Star Wars figures and G.I. Joe and blowing things up with firecrackers and torturing ants and other wholesome activities. So I "grew up," started college, and went into the real world.

I was innocently working at my job at the newspaper in downtown Salt Lake City, when a friend named Janet brought in a handful of the old Sesame Street Fisher Price Little People to show me. I was known around the office for my love of Sesame Street and Muppets, and she just thought she'd show them to me. Well, at the time, being unattached and not having any children, and with eBay just hitting its stride, I decided I needed to Collect Them All. There was no big "twang" sound of something inside my brain snapping, no wide-eyed bloodlust across my youthful countenance...but something certainly changed that day.

In between eBay and a local swap meet with a startlingly scratchy-voiced woman who was very sweet, I started picking up Sesame Street and other Little People. And soon I had, indeed, collected them all. The Sesame Street Playset, which recreated the famous apartment building at 123 Sesame Street plus the courtyard, Hooper's Store, the Fix-It Shop and Big Bird's nest was mine. Produced more than thirty years ago, I still think it's the best representation of Sesame Street in toy form...someone needs to step up. Fisher Price? Hasbro? Anyone?

I also picked up the Sesame Street Clubhouse, which was never seen on the show, but has a lot of play features like a revolving door, tire swing, slide, and trapdoor. Plus scandalous grafitti, like "David Loves Maria" and "Bert Loves Pigeons" and "Cookie Monster for President." Coming out of the Nixon years, we would have elected pretty much anybody.

Ernie and Bert with updated stripes

Super Grover

Mr. Johnson and Waiter Grover (poor guy never got a decent meal...)

My old Little Bird (circa 1997) and my new Little Bird (circa this morning)

Grungetta, Oscar the Grouch, and Slimey the Worm

Of course the real appeal of these toys for me wasn't the buildings, but the Little People themselves. Bert, Ernie, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Grover, Count Von Count, Oscar the Grouch, Mr. Hooper, Gordon and Susan were all pretty easy to find...the more obscure ones, like Snuffleupagus, Roosevelt Franklin, Prairie Dawn, Sherlock Hemlock and Herry Monster all took more time and money. It's amazing today to think that Fisher Price even made those characters, but the seventies were a magical time. For everything but music. Anyway, back to the Little People. Within about two months of Janet showing me her collection, I had equaled it. It wasn't enough.

The Amazing Mumford, Barkley, Betty Lou, Farley, and Guy Smiley, with Lefty and Little Bird on the stairs.

Forgetful Jones, Telly, Count (with updated tux), "Yip-Yip" Martians, Kermit the Frog

This was roughly the same time the Tickle Me Elmo craze hit stores, and even though I wasn't Elmo's Number One Fan, I liked the little guy. So I made him. And then Zoe. And then Kermit the Frog and Telly and the Amazing Mumford and...a lot more. I tripled the number of the original Sesame Street Fisher Price Little People.

Rosita, Big Bird, Abby Cadabby, Elmo, Zoe, Baby Natasha, Baby Bear

This first foray into customizing Little People wouldn't stop for several years, and by the end of it, I had made over 700 Fisher Price Little People into my own creations. There was a bit of a learning curve, and in many ways the Sesame Street Little People I made were some of the worst. I hadn't ever used Sculpey or any other kind of modeling clay since elementary school, and I was learning how to sculpt at the same time I was learning to paint. So there are some pretty crude renditions of characters there. But I was having a great time doing it. Hopefully you'll enjoy seeing what else I've created; I've certainly had fun making them.

The whole Sesame Street Gang, with the exception of a few MIAs (Cookie Monster, Snuffleupagus, a few others). I blame children. They'll turn up. Right? You get bonus imaginary points if you spot the Twiddlebugs in that photo.


  1. Those are amazing. I don't think I ever saw the whole collection before. Your additions really round everything out. Like you, I'm still waiting for someone to pick up the ball that Palisades almost had. Oh, and don't knock 70s music! :)

  2. Those are so awesome. Now I wish I had them too. Must stay away from eBay! But no music magic in the 70s? I beg to differ with you there...

  3. I love them all - but the Yip-Yips are definitely my favorite! They're awesome!!! (:

  4. Lovely. (Geek that I am, I spotted the Twiddlebugs right away...)

  5. We had that play set back in the day. We still have a Bert, Ernie and Cookie Monster from Mike's childhood.

  6. Do you have a set with Elmo for sale?