Several weeks ago, Super7 announced that we would be seeing Sesame Street product from them. For full disclosure: Sesame Street is one of my most-wanted action figure lines. Period. So, to say that I am “E” for “excited,” would be an understatement. So, allow me to get a bit ahead of myself.
I know Sesame Street ULTIMATES! have not even been announced. We have not gotten a lot information since that general announcement save for some product pages for Supersize Grover and Count von Count figures at BBTS. I have some Supersize figures from Super7 and they are a lot of fun, so I am positive those will be great. But what else will there be? With a relatively untapped license within the collector market like Sesame Street, I think it is safe to assume that we will likely see a full push via several of the company’s form factors. So, most obviously, and in addition to the Supersize releases, that tells me we will ReAction figures, and ULTIMATES! at the very least. I like ReAction, and I collect many of them, but for today, I am going to focus on my first love with the potential ULTIMATES! figures.
Frankly, I think this is wide open, and if they go this route, it could be a fun and deep line. Sesame Street brings some serious iconography to the Super7 stable, and at the same time, it has been around for so long that certain aspects fit into the Super7 “ethos” when it comes to branding and design. This applies to everything from character selection, to era(s), to designs, and on and on. I feel like many of those choices would seem obvious to people who are Sesame Street fans, and are familiar with the Super7 style and patterns.
So, if ULTIMATES! are going to happen, and I know we all hope they will, what will they look like? How will the style feel? This is all conjecture, of course, but it is kind of fun to try to feel some of this stuff out without knowing anything. I think there are some primary categories we can explore just for the sake of the “fun of it,” and if a U! line is announced, it will be interesting to see if anything was even in the same, ahem, NEIGHBORHOOD of reality.
Let’s take some thought on a few things, and hopefully, at the very least, the logic will play itself out so some of this makes sense.
Sesame Street is the original Old School, you know? This program has been around for over 50 years, so there is ample time to cover when it comes to an action figure line. This might steer the whole ship, at least at first, so if there is going to be a specific era that is going to be the focus, that will influence just about every choice that is made for the line. Frankly, I have a strong belief that, unless the licensor dictates they do, there is no way Super7 goes with a “licensing assets” (materials that are used for standards regarding current looks, etc.) look for this line. I believe that they will be era specific, and that Super7, at least at first will focus heavily on the mid-70s to mid-80s.
In simple terms, that era would likely cover the most ground in terms of “the era” of most potential Super7 Sesame Street customers. I fit right into the later portion of it (and a bit beyond), so just from a selfish standpoint, this would be about perfect. I think this will dictate character priorities, designs, aesthetics, and everything else. I feel that era was the most fertile in terms of the number and variety of characters, and so many of the sketches and vignettes that are still popular today were born during that era.
That is not to say it will be exclusively that nostalgic era. There are characters before and after that will be on a lot of people’s radars, and if the line is successful, different eras help stretch refreshes for key characters later on. At the end of the day though, the vast majority of the core Sesame Street characters thrived during this time, and the creativity of the original brain trust still at their peak teased out amazing episodes and themes that are still relevant today. So yeah, we will probably eventually see Elmo and some of the newer characters, and that is GREAT, but I don’t think that more recent iteration of SS will be the focus. At least at first.
S is for SCALE!
Scale is a tough one, and the thing I wrestled with the most. It wasn’t due to working out the logic in my head, it was just that I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going in a specific direction just because I want it to happen. So, even if I subconsciously reverse-engineered it, I am at peace with where I am going to suggest the scale of this line be, even as it walks hand in hand with what I want. But U! figures are 7-inch scale, so that is easy, right? Well, not so fast.
If you collect ULTIMATES! you know that the 7-inch scale can mean a lot of different things depending on what you base it on when planning a line. ThunderCats is pretty straightforward, but the Simpsons figures feel HUGE by comparison, simply because its a basis of building that scale on different things, and I don’t think anyone would say that those two lines really scale together. So yes, ULTIMATES! are 7-inch scale figures, but that is just the starting point. But what does that mean for Sesame Street? Do they go the Simpsons route and feel gigantic? Or do they take the Disney route?
I am betting on the latter. If you take an average size character like Bert or Ernie, I feel those are going to be more in the 4-6 inch range. Now, if you have been collecting for a bit you might see my greediness pop in here because that would put them in perfect scale the with old Palisades Muppets line (PLEASE LET THAT HAPPEN), but at that “average” Muppet size, that allows for room to maneuver up and down for characters who need that flexibility to be realized properly. So, in short, I do no think Ernie will be the size of Moe, but maybe Robin Hood is closer.
Look, a Sesame Street line is gonna need everyone from Slimy to Big Bird and everyone in between. So when considering how to reasonably do that, you have to have those plans in place right from the start. Everyone wants Big Bird to be big, but there is a cap to that for cost, display space, and simply being reasonable, so it is tough to wrestle with. Plus, if we are really gonna talk Sesame Street, we have to realize that Muppets weren’t by themselves on the street, and the street itself is almost just as important, but more on those points in a bit.
B is for BALANCE!
Balance! Not the obvious kind of balance. I mean, I want all potential figures to be able to balance and stand well on their own, but I am talking CHARACTER balance. Even at this early stage, I have heard some rumbling that the character selection for a potential line like this will be divisive. I think a lot of people are looking at the Simpsons and Disney lines and are predicting that SS would follow suit, but I am not so sure. The Simpsons and Disney have had some turns in the action world, but Sesame Street really hasn’t.
So what does that mean? Well, while I think there are many great variations on main characters to be done in a line like this, I think that iconic versions of core characters, coupled with some deep-cut fan favorites is the way to go. Give me the Bert and Ernie I have wanted since I was a kid. Count Von Count in his classic suit is a MUST HAVE. A deluxe Big Bird? You better believe it. These are the anchors that need to happen to really kick start the line. There should be plenty of time for “Explorer” B&E, or orange Oscar, or Super Grover a bit later in the line, but let’s get those classic looks first.
Plus, we need them to anchor series so we can get the characters that have always made Sesame Street special. Guys like Sherlock Hemlock, Don Music, Forgetful Jones, Mr. Johnson (Fat Blue), Prairie Dawn, The Amazing Mumford, Roosevelt Franklin, the Honkers, and on and on and on need to be front and center in this line as well.
Who are the people in your neighborhood?
And by people, I mean PEOPLE. I am pretty sure we all default to the Muppet characters when we think about action figures, and that is most certainly the most important part. However, what if – WHAT IF – the human cast was on the table for something like this? I would most certainly never say no to such possibilities. For every Grover and Telly, there was always Bob and Gordon. And Maria (I STILL sing the first 10 numbers when I count in Spanish), and Luis, and Susan, and Mr. Hooper. Dear Mr. Hooper. I think when you have a line that has flexibility like this, and if you set the scale correctly, the key human characters would be very welcome on our Street. This would be a good time for Super7 to dip into face/portrait printing as well so those likenesses would be solid. Plus, with some of our old friends not with us anymore, these would be a fun tribute.
Sesame Street? You mean that show about the puppets who live in the barrio? I love that show.
Dwight Schrute couldn’t recall the name of the show, but he most certainly remembered the premise, and the PLACE. Remember: Sesame Street began and remains true to one of its core edicts of helping to educate and entertain children from all walks of like and all homes and neighborhoods. Sesame Street through the 1980s was so perfectly dynamic in that the street actually felt like a neighborhood in New York. The types of stores and businesses and the apartments always felt authentic, and I think that was VERY important.
Unfortunately, I feel the show has gotten away from that just a bit in recent years, and everything is brighter and well, cleaner. However, again, I feel like we can get some of the actual street in an ULTIMATES! line. Palisades played with those possibilities, but getting Oscar’s trash can environment, or the steps to 123, or the front facade to Hooper’s Store would really be something in bringing this all to life. What about the ubiquitous brick wall that was standard for so many sketches? These seem like lesser things, but it is Sesame STREET for goodness sake, and Super7 has not been one to shy away from vehicles and play sets, so maybe it is possible.
You can’t tell a hero by his size.
Of course I was not going to turn this into a specific character wishlist, there will be PLENTY of time for that later. And it’s gonna happen. But remember, so many Sesame Street characters came in all shapes and sizes, and honestly – some are just PERFECT for pack-in friends. Sure, I would expect Slimy to come with an Oscar. Or rubber ducky with Ernie. But maaaaaan, Teeny Little Super Guy is one of the absolute best SS characters, so I would love to see him included in a release. Twiddle Bugs! Getting Letters and Numbers with each release would be ever so perfect, too – so please Super7: If you are going to do this line, don’t for get the little guys! They are important fill in the corners so well.
Look, I know we don’t really know anything at this point, or if an ULTIMATES! line will even happen, but I am too excited not to day dream. Sesame Street is a license I have been wanting to collect for a very long time, so I have some high hopes. The show and its characters mean a lot to me, and I know many others feel the same, so I am really looking forward to what is going to come of all of this. I can’t wait to see the people that we meet each day!