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Manhattanites mob the Muppet Whatnot Workshop

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Manhattanites mob the Muppet Whatnot Workshop

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Christmas time in NYC means lines. All over the city this past Saturday, there were people standing in lines.

They lined up on the 8th floor at the Macy's in Herald Square in order to see Santa. They lined up along 5th Avenue in order to see Saks' holiday windows. They even lined up at Rockefeller Center in order to have their pictures taken in front of the Christmas tree.

Photo by Jim Hill

But you wanna know where I found the longest line in NYC on Saturday? It was actually outside of FAO Schwarz's flagship store right across from the Plaza. The line started at the store's entrance on 5th Avenue, ran down the block along 58th and then turned the corner onto Madison.

"And why were all these New Yorkers patiently standing in line outside of FAO Schwarz?," you ask. For a good many of these folks, it was because they wanted to get inside and reach the Muppet Whatnot Workshop.

Photo by Jim Hill

And what's a Whatnot? To quote Kermit the Frog, "Whatnots are those zany-looking extras you see in every Muppet production." And at the FAO Schwarz flagship store, you can create a Muppet of your very own by first picking a body color.

Copyright 2008 FAO Schwarz / the Muppet Studios, LLC

You then select a type of eyes, a style of hair. Yes, you even get to pick your nose (The people who work at the Muppet Whatnot Workshop just love that joke). Now select an outfit from the 14 types that are currently available ...

Copyright 2008 FAO Schwarz / the Muppet Studios, LLC

Now make one of the Workshop Muppet Makers aware of your selections and then watch as your Whatnot ...

Photo by Jim Hill

... is brought to life.

Photo by Jim Hill

Of course, if you're not the creative type, you can always select a pre-made Muppet from the Whatnot wall display.

Photo by Jim Hill

And if you want to commemorate your visit to FAO Schwarz's Muppet Whatnot Workshop, you can even pick up a souvenir t-shirt.

Photo by Jim Hill

What's that you say? You don't see yourself going to NYC anytime soon but you really, really, REALLY want your very own Muppet Whatnot? Not to worry. You can always order one through FAO Schwarz's Online Whatnot Designer (Which launches on February 15, 2009).

Or -- given how well the Muppet Whatnots have been selling at the FAO Schwarz flagship store (According to what Disney insiders have told me, sales of these make-your-own Muppets have far exceeding projections. They're literally selling at twice the rate expected) -- you might want to keep an eye out ...

Photo by Jim Hill

... for a Muppet Whatnot Workshop may be coming to an FAO Schwarz near you very, very soon. Perhaps as early as the 2009 holiday season. But you didn't hear that from me.

Your thoughts?

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Happy Holidays!

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  • This is a great idea, they should bring this to the Hollywood Studios.

    I've never liked 'Build a Bear', or 'Build a Dino', but this looks cool.

    I hope that they ship internationally.

  • Agreed, this would be a great fit for Hollywood Studios or even the re-imagineered Downtown Disney Pleasure Island area.  I'm a huge Muppet fan, the Muppets canon is so rich that I'd take it even further and create a Muppet themed restaurant (just not a Doc Hoppers!!!), but hey that's just me.

    As far as visiting an FAO Schwartz near me; I thought only the NYC, Chicago and Vegas stores remained after there financial failures.  I believe that they created a partnership with Macy's but I can't imagine that Macy's would devote a full fledged WhatNot Workshop in each of their stores.

  • Manhattanites? These types of things (Macy's, Rockefeller, Sak's, FAO) always struck me as the type of thing people traveled into Manhattan for, and the "natives" avoided... kind of like standing outside the Today show studios...

  • Wow, this is the first I've heard about this!  It's an awesome idea and one I've always wanted.  I used to be a puppeteer, and got puppets that were...similar to Muppets.  I'm definately going to have to go to FAO after work in the next week or two.  Thanks for the article.  too bad they don't have some of the more "famous" Muppets, but then, maybe that will happen down the line.  What I wouldn't give for a real Miss Piggy!

  • I've only lived in Orlando for two years now, but I can tell you that the crowds that I'm seeing in the parks right now are huge. If this is what WDW looks like during a recession during non-peak times, I have no desire to ever see it during peak times in a good economic situation. Downtown Disney has been a mob scene since before Thanksgiving, the Hollywood Studios have been slammed every night for the Dancing Lights (with waits for Toy Story going in excess of 90 min), and Magic Kingdom has been swamped. If things are as bad as they say they are, they have some awfully high expectations.

  • I'm sorry, I posted my previous comment in the wrong section...I'd love to move it to the Polynesian story if possible! :)

  • Is the Chicago store still open? 'Cuz it's not on their store guide, just NYC, Vegas and the mini-stores inside some Macy's: http://www.fao.com/custsvc/custsvc.jsp?sectionId=117

    Local-wise, Manhattanites will wait for hot Christmas gifts- especially toys. But it's my impression that since the 5th Ave stores are open year-round, they tend to go when it's less packed and no lines. Of course, the projections do suggest late Christmas 'waiting for deals' shopping so the lines may well be there.

  • I'm surprised they'd give FAO the contract to run this, instead of using it in Disney's own stores. Why didn't Disney do this in their own Manhattan world of disney store? Also, could they bring this program to the theme parks, or does FAO have an exclusive right to these setups?

  • Kind of difficult for it to come to a "store near you" when FAO only has two stores.

    They have some mini-stores inside of Macy*s shops, but the only ones that are of any significant size are at two of Macy*s flagship stores in Miami and Chicago, both with FAO's over 9,000 square feet.

    The rest are literally a 400 square foot corner in the kids department.

  • I've received several FAO catalogs in the mail, as I live only an hour from NYC, and I really, </i>want one.  I cannot, however, see those selling well in the average Macy's, Disney Store, or in most on-Disney-property locales; I say this from the perspective of someone in the toy business.  If they have a booth set up at ToyFair, I'm definitely checking it out.... though I doubt it, as it's exclusive to FAO.  I'll hope, though.

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