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Forums: Index > Article Content > Sack-body Muppet cleanup

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Sack-body Muppetβ€Ž is one of our iffier pages for several reasons (even the title appears to be a coinage, compared to other instances where builders or performers have confirmed the usage or wording). But the biggest issue is it keeps leading to guesswork. With most of the others, it is something we can just determine visually, since you can tell if a character uses live or rod hands or is a full-bodied suit. But the definition on the page is having a "sack-like body, where the glove-like hand of is directly attached to the body with no distinct arm sleeve between." (Although there's no cited quote or source for that definition either, and it's not one of the pages where known designers supplied the info; it was started in 2011, so later than most iffily sourced pages).

So according to whomever or whatever ws the source for that definition, the sleeve issue determines it (Murray the Monster was on the list, and I myself would have assumed he belonged, but this shot shows a sleeve. In a few rare instances, like Honkers and Dingers or the Two-Headed Monster, their inclusion in museum displays or such can be used to help determine. Right now, rather than a list based on what it looks like, I'm thinking a gallery of relevant images demonstrating if a character meets the criteria would work. Remove the list, but maybe include text passages if a behind the scenes crew member or observer who we trust (we have a few of those here and we know who they are) can confirm other characters. Right now, we're back to removing sight guesses added by users, albeit different from the same user who kept adding them before.

Looking at the page, there's appropriate pictures for Cookie Monster (almost any shot with him and David Rudman), Oscar the Grouch (it looks like it might have varied over the years), and Rowlf the Dog which could go there. The Herry Monster picture here shows sleeves, so that's contrary to the definition; right now unless they redesigned him later (possible), it seems like another guess. For Baby Bear, it comes from a statement on his page that's probably true, but we need to double check who added that. Or does it even depend on not whether the arm sleeve is but "how distinct"? (With almost any live-hand character, it's attached, but Ernie and Fozzie Bear show sleeves that go up higher). Right now, the whole thing looks a bit like a mostly unsourced artifact that might be best just merged as a note on Live-hand Muppet. Almost nothing links to the page, except a "see also" on the live-hand page and debates with other users, apart from Baby Bear, Telly and Telly, the user pages of two of the most active editors to it, and two sandboxes. Right now, merging with pictures of the ones we can pin down without it being subjective seems the best approach. -- Andrew Emoji-drool.gifAdminsig.png 02:29, October 9, 2020 (UTC)

I say merge it with Live-hands. It really isn't a unique kind of puppet like rod hands, costumed puppets, or Waldo-style ones; they're just a type of live-hand puppet. - Shane latest?cb=20200820192427 (talk) 02:51, October 9, 2020 (UTC)
Yeah, the only other sites I can find that even use "sack-body Muppet" or puppet copied us, or it's Muppet Central chatter again going from the page here. Telly Monster Through the Years refers to an alternate version distinct from the sack-body one, vaguely worded as having "live-hand arms" which probably means sleeves, so maybe for Oscar and Herry it's just a matter of different versions, but that just feels like another reason to merge. A single print book, 2016's The Sesame Effect: The Global Impact of the Longest Street in the World uses "sack puppet" for Cookie Monster and Zikwe but seems to have used Muppet Wiki as the source (it's an anthology so sourcing is inconsistent per author). -- Andrew Emoji-drool.gifAdminsig.png 02:56, October 9, 2020 (UTC)
I agree it could be merged as a section on the Live-hands page and avoid the arbitrary (and unnecessary) listing of every puppet (especially when some characters have existed in multiple forms or some are so fleeting it's hard to really tell the overall construction of the puppet). The term "Sack-body puppet" (and also occasionally "bag puppet") is used by the wranglers and puppeteers in multiple episodes of Below the Frame and Puppet Tears podcasts when talking about puppets like Cookie and Oscar. -- Brad D. (talk) 15:21, October 9, 2020 (UTC)
I also agree with the Live-hand Muppet merger, but would strongly plead for a subsection listing, or even a gallery as Andrew suggested, since these puppets are unique to perform. The two puppeteers need to be closer together (almost "spooning"), as they're both "reaching into the sack," if you will. Both images linked above (Murray and Herry) actually show that both puppets are proper sack-body puppets; what might initially make it look as if sleeves are involved, is that the main performer regularly has to to stick their head out from under in order to properly be able to see the monitor or any props they might need to grab. If you look closer, you can tell that no "external" sleeves are involved, it's just the heads obstructing the outward-funneled bodies, and both of these puppets (at least these versions shown) certainly belong in the (sub-)category. The same goes for Zikwe and possibly other characters that have since been removed from the page. I can't quite tell with Alfa though... might be one of those cases were two versions existed.
But I do find things like Baby Bear's transition from sack-body to sleeves, and Tiffy's transition from detached hands to sack, quite interesting and noteworthy on a page that specifically delves more into the behind-the-scenes aspects of things. That being said, I've wondered before if there's anywhere to note that a few of the Muppets (Sesame for certain, possibly others too) are built with exchangeable arms, which might even count as yet another subsection altogether, though would be much harder to track, as you would have to feel for the "mechanism": Preston is one of those that comes with both a set of rod-arms and one of live-hand sleeves, cleverly attachable and detachable through some pretty nifty kind of double-push-button joint, sewn into his shoulders on both the body and the four sets of arms (one of the reasons Travis and I chose him for the puppet workshops we taught in 2013). β€”Julian Emoji-search.giflatest?cb=20200820192427 (talk) 17:24, October 9, 2020 (UTC)