It’s strange how every time I post answers to a Muppet-related survey, something comes along almost immediately thereafter to change my answer. Recently I posted updated answers to The Muppet Mindset’s “Great Muppet Survey” and listed my favorite Muppet merchandise as DVDs and plushes.
Well, all that has changed again, because I recently received the Wembley and Cotterpin Funko Pop figures as a birthday present, and I find them more delightful than I would have thought possible.
If you’re not familiar with Funko Pops, they are small vinyl figures, approximately 3-1/2 inches tall, representing various film and TV characters. They usually have disproportionately large, cuboid heads with round, black eyes. Which, when they’re approximating human figures, makes them look cute and chibi. But since Muppets are already cartoony looking, and since we’re accustomed to seeing them with big googly white eyes (usually), the black-eye effect can be rather more grotesque than charming. For example, I used to have a Dr. Teeth Funko, but with those black eyes, he looked more like the creepy yo-yo man in this old Sesame Street sketch. My point is, when it comes to the Muppets, the Funko figures are hit and miss; some characters look really good as Funkos, and others come across as weird and uncanny.
I heard that the Fraggle Rock Funkos were going to be coming out last year. I appreciated that each one of them would come packaged with a Doozer, and I LOVED that Wembley and Cotterpin would be packaged together. Of all the “Cotterpin makes friends with Fraggles” episodes, I think the Wembley episode is the best.
I didn’t particularly feel that I needed or wanted Fraggle Rock Funkos, but when I opened my birthday present and saw them, I gasped with excitement and joy. If I had purchased any of the Fraggle Rock Funkos for myself, Wembley and Cotterpin is the set I would have chosen.
I think, generally speaking, that the Funko Pop design has improved since they started making Muppet Funkos. They used to be top-heavy and inclined to fall over, but my Wembley seems a lot more stable, although the fact that he has a tail might be a contributing factor. Wembley also has an articulated neck so that his head moves from side to side, although I was afraid to try it at first for fear I was mistaken about his articulated neck. That would be so like me to break a birthday present mere minutes after I took it out of the box.
Wembley’s design is very well done overall; his color scheme is perfect, his nose is proportionately bulbous, and he has a built-in smile on his face, which helps to mitigate the weird effect of what we might call the Funko Eye. So many of the Muppet Funkos come across as soulless with their black empty eyes, but not so with Wembley. I don’t know whether it’s because of the shape of the eyes or the bright color scheme, or just my affection for the character, but with the Funko eyes, Wembley actually gives the impression of the iconic smiley face (😃).
There’s an issue with Wembley’s head, however. Apparently, Funko couldn’t decide whether he was supposed to be a typical Funko Pop with a cuboid head or a Muppet figurine with a round face. So they compromised, apparently, and made him a Muppet in front, with a rounded face and a bulbous nose, and a Funko Pop in back. This gives him the effect of having plagiocephaly when viewed from the side and back, but that’s pretty easy to avoid.
But maybe my favorite part is Wembley’s shirt. Of course it has the iconic banana-tree motif, and the designs are unexpectedly detailed. Someone clearly put a lot of effort into researching and rendering that. Even when converted to DVD, Wembley’s shirt has never been depicted so clearly on TV.
If the Wembley Funko has flaws, the Cotterpin Funko is almost perfect. Since Doozers have beady black eyes at baseline, Funko Eye isn’t so jarring here. She’s approximately a third of Wembley’s size, about the size of a gummy bear. She’s got tiny detailing on her utility belt, her boots, and her hands; you can actually see her tiny fingers curled into fists (although I don’t know why that would be). It’s more detailed than I would have expected. The one criticism I have of Cotterpin is that her antennae are pink colored. Maybe they were pink on the show too, but they were so thin I could never really tell, and I guess I just assumed they were green. I wouldn’t mind so much if they were the same color as her nose, but they’re slightly lighter.
But overall, I’m absurdly happy with both of them. Now the question just becomes “where do I display them?” Do I want to keep them on the shelf with my Kermit and Ernie plushes? Or do I want to keep them separate from that and display them together somewhere else? I’m leaning towards the latter now, but I haven’t decided.
I guess that means that I’m wembling over my Wembley. Wocka wocka!