Sunday, November 13, 2011
Steppin' Out Rowlf
For years, Animal was my favorite Muppet. But, as I grew older, I changed my mind. That honor now belongs to Rowlf and I finally decided I've been without an action figure of the character for far too long.
Performed by Henson himself, Rowlf was the first of the major Muppets. Originally appearing in a dog food commercial in 1962, he picked up a recurring gig on The Jimmy Dean Show a year later. Whether or not it was intentional, I always felt like this informed his character on The Muppet Show and the movies. While the others seemed worried most of the time, Rowlf was generally more laid back. He seemed to have a better grasp on show business, like he'd been in the game longer. Kermit and Piggy always felt like they were struggling to build up their careers, but Rowlf always felt like his time had passed, like he was a part of the fading vaudeville era the Muppets are a tribute to. Although he never came off as bitter or upset, I always felt like there was a melancholy subtext to his character.
Well, years and years ago, Palisades produced a "Steppin' Out" Rowlf figure, which was available at comic, toy, and some other spots for a while. I'm sure I came across him once or twice - this would have roughly corresponded to when I'd just started collecting toys - and passed him by. Yeah. Live and learn.
I found this one loose on Ebay. He had all his original accessories, with the exception of his stand (identical to several others I have, anyway). He wasn't cheap, but he was more reasonable than what packaged ones are going for. My wife, also a lifelong Muppets fan, didn't object, so I bit the bullet and ordered the figure.
The figure himself is great, both in terms of sculpt and paint. The articulation is on the low side, but he has enough to pull off the poses you need. His ears are articulated, which I like.
As a result of being used, my figure has several paint scuffs on him, but that's the cost of buying used. At some point, my wife and I might see about cleaning him up, but I took pictures of him as he is.
In some ways, the accessories are as impressive as the figure himself. The figure came with two things: a scale bust of Beethoven and a scale grand piano. As awesome as the bust is, I don't think it'll surprise anyone to hear the piano is my favorite of the two accessories. Actually, in this scale, it might be my single favorite accessory ever produced.
This came disassembled, both when I bought it and in its original packaging. The legs snap in securely and hold the body up. The top opens and is held in place by a moving peg. In addition, the keys are protected by a hinged cover, and the music stand flips up or down. The whole thing is made of hollow plastic, but it looks fantastic. Once again, there are some paint scuffs on the piano, as well as the figure.
The bust is accurate to how I remember it portrayed on the show.
Given what the toy I'm looking at cost me, I'd rather not consider how little it was when originally released. Years ago, when these first hit store shelves, this would have run you about eight bucks. Now, used, it ran me $56 with shipping. That's how it goes sometimes. If I'd wanted one in the package, I'd have been looking closer to a hundred bucks - ouch.
But it was worth every penny.