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  • Hi, Mitch! I reverted your edit to Gerd Duwner. Here are my reasons why, but if you have evidence to the contrary (some toy images not currently on the Wiki, for example), please share, especially since now I'm not so sure (I based my ID on the images on the Wiki and what looked like the best match)

    First, the year of the picture is 1973, which is when the Sesamstrasse co-production and dubbing started. That's when Questor took over. They could be old toys, of course, but it seemed to match this picture more than it does this. But that may not be the best representation of the Topper puppet (they seem to be so rare that our page on them is markedly flimsy, visually).

    Secondly, this picture. Actually the Ernie does look a little different from that angle but Bert seems to match here (although the angles differ and there's no good Topper pic for comparison).

    Finally, outside of timeline, the Big Bird puppet on Wolfgang Draeger's page, is identical to the Questor version.

    So what do you think?

    EDIT: And actually, while I'd still like your opinion on the others, and want to see what you based your opinion on, I'm beginning to think you're right. Here's another Duwner and Ernie pic: http://www.v-like-vintage.net/de/foto_details/114248_foto_Gerd+Duwner+-+Synchronsprecher+fuer/fotoalbum/3711_noName/

    The hands resemble the long, frankly slightly disconcertingly curved fingers of Topper, and not the apparently chubbier Questor fingers. Big Bird still looks like a Questor, though (the one fuzzy Topper pic we have for Big Bird looks like nothing on earth, really).

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    • Oh, and here's the German Grover finger puppet I found. This might show that the hand puppets were probably sold in Germany. But there's not enough evidence to prove it.
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    • I added some more pics to the three (!) article pages we have on these sets:

      It's a tricky bit of Sesame merchandise history, because it all went through several different companies and subsidiaries, and there were design changes at different points.

      This is the history as far as I can put it together:

      1971 -- Topper created the first set of 5 puppets: Big Bird, Ernie, Bert, Cookie Monster, and Oscar. Ernie and Bert have vinyl heads, and Big Bird is a full-body stuffed doll/puppet. Some of the puppets have pull rings that make the arms move.

      1972 -- Topper adds a 6th character, Roosevelt Franklin, and changes the box design.

      1973 -- Questor takes over the license, and releases a very similar set, plus they add a 7th character, Grover. The "how to play with your puppets" art on the back of the box looks very similar to Topper's equivalent. The puppets are released under Questor's Child Guidance label. They seem to have lost the pull rings, but some of them come with an arm rod.

      1974-1977 -- Sometime in this period, Questor changed the design of some of the puppets. Ernie and Bert got fabric heads instead of vinyl, and Big Bird was remade as a hand puppet. (Roosevelt Franklin kept his vinyl head.) They also introduced 3 more characters -- the Count, Anything Muppet and Herry Monster.

      1978-1981 -- CBS Toys buys Questor/Child Guidance, and continues the line under Gabriel Toys/Child Guidance. They cut the line from 10 characters to 6 -- cutting out the Count, Herry, Anything Muppet and Roosevelt Franklin.

      So it's tough to tell some of the puppets apart unless you've got the box, or an inside label with the manufacturer and copyright date. If you have the 1972 Topper Big Bird, the 1973 Questor Big Bird and the 1977 Questor Big Bird, you'd think that the 1972 and 1973 toys were made by the same company, not the 1973 and 1977.

      I'm really glad you guys brought this up -- I'm having a lovely New Year's Day afternoon adding pictures and squinting at copyright dates. :)

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  • Hi, welcome to Muppet Wiki! Thanks for your edit to the Kermit's Swamp Years page.

    Please leave me a message if I can help with anything!

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