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photo: Michael Kirby Smith AM New York


Spa'am, one of several characters built by Kip Rathke

Kip Rathke (Philip Kevin Rathke) is a puppet, toy, and themed entertainment designer who began his career gluing feathers on Big Bird for Kermit Love.

He later spent several years with 3/Design Studio, working on Eureeka's Castle (building Moat Twins; designing the Halloween special's monster) and the Howie Mandel film Little Monsters. Freelance projects included Kyle and on The Puzzle Place. Returning to the Muppets, he created puppets and props for Sesame Street, built the original Bear head and Treelo for Bear in the Big Blue House, and Spa'am for Muppet Treasure Island. He also contributed project designs to The Muppets Big Book of Crafts. Kip won a 96/97 Daytime Emmy Award as part of the Henson team on Elmo Saves Christmas.

Additionally, he has created graphic materials, set pieces and merchandise for the New York-based theater company, Circus Amok and a line of greeting cards for the legendary foam-haired diva, Orangeena.

He has spent more than 25 years as Creative Director at Sesame Workshop overseeing the design of all Sesame Street themed entertainment and licensed toys—recently moving on to find new creative adventures.

Rathke has worked on several toys including the Super Grover Action Figure by Palisades Toys, toys for the Fisher-Price/Mattel and Hasbro line including TOTY Award-winner Big Hugs Elmo, as well as Sesame Street Pop! Vinyl figures for Funko and the Sesame Street ReAction figures and Supersize figures from Super7.

In themed entertainment, Rathke helped develop the award-winning Oscar's Wacky Taxi rollercoaster and Cookie's Monster Land at Sesame Place, the immersive, interactive Sesame Street Land at SeaWorld Orlando, Sesame's Forest of Fun and Safari of Fun at Busch Gardens, the award-winning dark ride Street Mission at PortAventura in Spain—a great collaboration between the park, Sesame Workshop, The Jim Henson Company and Sally Dark Rides, and Sesame attractions at Universal Studios Japan and Universal Studios Singapore's dark ride, Sesame Street Spaghetti Space Chase. And Feld Entertainment's recent Sesame Street Live.

He continues to contribute designs for Sesame Street, including Chipowski, Miss Fortune and Figby in Smart Cookies, as well as Abby's new brother Rudy.