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Dissecting a Muppet Whatnot Puppet

  • et cetera
  • By Jay Nielsen

FAO Schwarz wants you to believe that their Whatnot puppets are real, genuine Muppets. After tearing mine to shreds, I’m almost certain these puppets have very little in common with the real deal. We received this particular creature as an award from Instructables for our fox puppet pattern design. In the spirit of DIY, we set out to dissect our new friend and hopefully demonstrate how to reverse engineer a Muppet. I started by hastily ripping off the facial features, tearing a large hole in the face in the process.

whatnot facial features removed

That was when I realized how flimsy the fleece was, and so took it much easier on the puppet from then on, starting by carefully removing the wig.

removing the wig

Off with his head!

whatnot muppet

whatnot head removed

The head was loaded with poly-fill.

whatnot head

Inside of the head was a small pocket sewn to the mouth where one’s hand would go.

whatnot inside head

I removed the ears, finished picking apart the head seam, and did my best to patch up the hole I ripped earlier with a piece of tape.

whatnot muppet face

Here’s a view from the back.

whatnot face interior

And again with the back of the hand pocket removed.

whatnot hand pocket

The mouth plate was only attached in four places, and so came out rather easily.


The mouth, face, and hand pocket were all sewn together.


Here is the extracted mouth piece, front and back.

whatnot muppet mouth

whatnot muppet mouth rear view

Here is the face piece with most of the mouth and hand pocket removed. The little strip of yellow fabric you see there was holding the pocket to the face.


Here is the face piece from the front, all other parts removed.

whatnot muppet face pattern

These are all of the head pieces exploded for your viewing pleasure.

whatnot muppet head exploded

This is a view of every part from the hand pocket.

whatnot muppet hand pocket

The arm tube came out easily enough.

whatnot removing arm tube

This part is pretty self explanatory, so I didn’t pick it apart any further.

whatnot arm tube

Removing the torso lining.

whatnot torso lining

Removing the torso foam.

whatnot torso foam

Here is the foam by itself…

whatnot muppet torso foam

…and the remains of the body.

whatnot muppet body

These are the front and back torso pieces, with the arms and neck lining removed.

whatnot chest and back pattern

Taking apart the arm.

whatnot muppet arm

The arm piece laid out.

whatnot arm pattern

Peeking inside the puppet hand.

whatnot inside puppet hand

A closer look at the pose-able wire frame.

whatnot puppet hand wires

One final look at all of the hand pieces laid out.

whatnot puppet hand parts

And that’s all there is to a Muppet Whatnot! I hope you find these photos inspirational in designing your own puppets. To be honest, I don’t much care for this pattern, but it’s not a bad starting point. There are some good ideas throughout, particularly in the face piece. If I were to recreate this puppet, I would probably skip the whole hand pocket biz and bulk the head with foam instead of poly-fill. The solid plastic mouthpiece is also difficult to manipulate. A piece of foam glued to some stiffened felt would be much better. I also found it strange that the rod pocket in the hand was the same shape as the entire hand. All it needed to be was a square piece of fabric. But what do I know?

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