Fandom Rock: When Merch Is More Difficult To Find Than Traveling Uncle Matt

JOHN E. BARRETT/COURTESY THE JIM HENSON COMPANY

JOHN E. BARRETT/COURTESY THE JIM HENSON COMPANY

As we are currently in a golden age of geekdom, it’s easy to find merchandise and prop replicas from your favorite TV shows and movie franchises. But what if that weren’t the case? Our chief Muppet correspondent, Jonsey, shares her thoughts on experiencing a severe lack of fuzzies, both physical and emotional, in this editorial.

I am a Fraggle Rocker through and through. I have loved the show since I first saw it as a kid. I raced to get the DVDs when they were first released. As an adult I have watched and rewatched the series more times than I can count; there’s just something about it that has made me happy. During the Girl’s Night Podcast (parts one and two) I asked the girls if they had to give up all but one of their fandoms, what would they keep? My answer was Fraggles..

Lately, Fraggles have gotten some much-needed love The series is being remastered and will be airing on HBO. Initial reports said it would be airing by the end of the year, but there’s been no word on an actual date. In a recent conversation with Mighty Ink’s own Matt Peters, I confessed that what I hoped for most with the rerelease of Fraggles was to finally get some decent Fraggle Rock merch out of the deal.

In response to my statement, Matt asked: “how does it feel when your fandom is left out?” In a word: BAD. It somehow feels as though the industry doesn’t see there being a fandom at all. Does that somehow invalidate the love I have for those characters? I watch others indulge their fandoms, declare them through apparel and such. While I have plenty of fandoms I could showcase, I never get to showcase the one that means the most to me: the one that has been with me since I was a kid. At this point just about every cartoon have I watched as a kid has tons of merchandise available. The exclusion of Fraggles does really feel almost intentional and I’m not really sure I understand it. Seriously, all I’m asking is for the chance to throw my hard-earned money at something that I enjoy. Why won’t anyone take my money?

fr2For those who don’t know, Fraggle Rock merchandise is all but non-existent. Once upon a time, by which I mean their first run in the early to mid-eighties, we had it all: books, toys, apparel, Christmas ornaments, the works. Now? A t-shirt or two on a random website, one line of admittedly creepy looking plushes, and DVDs. No Funko Pops (Muppets and Sesame Street have theirs), no figures, no coffee mugs, and certainly nothing you’d call a selection in apparel. I’ve worked with Mighty Ink covering C2E2 for years and have yet to ever find a single piece of Fraggle merchandise at the event. I’m pretty sure if I did I’d end up skipping through hall out of sheer excitement.

So why do certain fandoms get left out in the cold? Why are some seen as not being money-makers? In the case of the Fraggles, there is a live action movie “in development” It’s been there since 2005. In 2015 it was announced that Joseph Gordon-Levitt had signed on to produce and star in it. That was the last we heard of the project. In 2012 the Fraggles were a part of the Ben Folds Five music video for Do It Anyways, which Chris Hardwick was instrumental in putting together (by the way, there’s an awesome shirt that Anna Kendrick wears in it. It was a fan created image found on café press and is no longer on the site).

Fraggles keep coming back. Obviously there are people out there buying the goods. So what is a fan to do when despite interfr3est, there is nothing out there? Some options usually include fanfiction and creative fans making their own merchandise through sites like Etsy. Sadly, in the case of Fraggles, while there are a handful of handmade items, Etsy is more like eBay lite. Most of the items listed are vintage from the Fraggles first go-around. What to do? I guess I just wait here, hoping whoever is sitting on the license, unaware of the potential in it, wakes up and releases items that will help me dance my cares away.

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