The Muppet Whatnot Workshop was an outlet of FAO Schwarz which allowed customers to design their own Muppet Whatnot from a series of bodies, hairstyles, eyes, noses, and costumes. The online store at FAO.com opened on October 22, 2008, and the in-store Muppet Whatnot Workshop opened in the FAO Schwarz flagship store in New York City a week later, remaining a fixture until the store's closure on July 15, 2015.
The FAO website featured a video explanation of Whatnots narrated by Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy. At the time of opening, customers were able to choose from three body types, 12 eyes, 12 noses, 13 hairstyles, and 14 costumes (including The Statue of Liberty and a baseball uniform resembling that of the New York Yankees). Muppet Whatnots could be designed either online or in-store, or through a kit which could be purchased from the FAO Schwarz catalog or website.
The in-store experience featured a video guide to creating your Whatnot hosted by Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker displayed on flat-panel TVs around the boutique. Customers were able to choose from the same body parts and accessories as the online retailer. The in-store area was decorated with Muppet pictures and fixtures - including lights that resembled a pair of Whatnot eyes and a nose.
In May 2009, toy retailer Toys "R" Us, Inc., the largest chain in the United States, acquired FAO Schwarz. Toys "R" Us announced plans to continue operating FAO Schwarz's retail stores in New York and Las Vegas under the same name, along with their websites. After the acquisition, The Muppet Whatnot Workshop online experience and the online store was put offline, while a new e-store was developed. The in-store experience remained available throughout the online store's hiatus.
During the online relaunch planning phase, Lylle Breier announced updates to the Muppet Whatnot Workshop at D23 in September 2009. These included new parts such as beards, mustaches, as well as monster eyes, noses, teeth, and fur. Further, an expansion of the workshop to new sites in the Disney parks was also planned.
In late October 2009, an updated version of the store was put back online, but featured less options to choose from (3 sets of eyes, 3 noses, 3 hairstyles, and 6 costumes were retired). By 2010, the Whatnot outfits alone could be purchased through the FAO website.
To coincide with the promotion for The Muppets, The Muppet Whatnot Workshop Kits were sold at Toys R Us stores in late 2011. Materials differ slightly, to allow interchanging facial features with Velcro.
In the summer of 2013, two new body designs (purple and yellow) were added to the line, as well as two color variations of already existing outfits (Broadway show girl, cheerleader with hair bow). Three outfits were replaced with new color variations (Hawaiian shirt with lei, bowling shirt, mod dress with head scarf). In late 2013 an afro wig, a multi-color wig and a handful of new outfits were added, namely a police officer uniform, a firefighter uniform, a chef coat and hat, and a pink Whatnot hoodie.
By January 2015, the monster accessories (fur, eyes, etc.) were retired. The green and yellow tall body types were also discontinued at this point, and replaced with a smaller yellow type that resembled the existing blue and purple puppets. With the closure of FAO Schwarz's flagship store on July 15, operations of the Muppet Whatnot Workshop, both online and in-store, ceased entirely.
FAO Schwarz flagship store, New York
- ↑ Bloomberg: "Toys "R" Us Acquires FAO Schwarz, Fifth Avenue Store." May 28, 2009
- ↑ Muppet Stuff: "No More Monsters at Muppet Whatnot Workshop!" January 29, 2015