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  • Jbrangwynne53
    Jbrangwynne53 closed this thread because:
    clear consensus on this; compromise met on categorization
    10:31, September 12, 2013

    Just a brief note that I took "Muppet Characters" out of '80s Robot. We had Muppets vs. Creatures way back and decided to use aesthetics, so some characters built by the Creature Shop but in generally Muppety projects (i.e. The Ghost of Faffner Hall) still counted. But '80s Robot neither fits aesthetically nor was he made by Henson, the Creature Shop, Sesame Workshop, Puppet Heap... Legacy Effects built him, which is also a factor into whether he'll ever be used again (I personally doubt it, plus unlike Walter, there was no arc about him joining the gang). We have some puppets from Sesamstrasse made by outside companies and so we don't categorize them as Muppets.

    We still have him in the movie character category (and in "The Muppets" category as a universe, which is a little trickier since we don't apply that to say Doc Hopper, but we do to the likes of Bernie and Gags Beasley, so in a way it does feel fair). If anyone disagrees, feel free to mention it, but I think changing the category helps make it clearer so we don't have well-meaning users changing text to say he's "a Muppet robot."

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    • I disagree.

      The puppet is performed by Matt Vogel who is credited as a "Muppet Performer" in the film, and the character of 80s Robot is listed right along with other Muppets characters performed by said Muppet performer in the ending credits. I'd say the film makers are somewhat calling the puppet a Muppet by grouping it with the others.

      As far as there being no arc about him joining the troupe in the movie, as Kermit's butler since the 80s, I assume he's somewhat already apart of the Muppet family. And other "Muppet characters" aren't part of the performing troupe (such as the hobos and the Moopets.)

      Company of origin aside, while the puppet doesn't fully fit the aesthetics of the most traditional soft puppet Muppets, other non-traditional Muppet puppets (such as Gary Cahuenga, Duke Remington, Limbo, the Fuzz Brothers, Mr. Foot, The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, etc.) are still classified as Muppets.

      We include Waldo C. Graphic who was a digitally animated puppet (not a soft puppet) in a Muppet production and was built by Pacific Data Images (not the Muppet Workshop). Why not include 80s Robot who is a hard puppet character in a Muppet production (not a soft puppet) and was built by Legacy Effects (not Puppet Heap)?

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    • I disagree with your disagreement. :) Nothing in the Muppet Performer designation makes him a Muppet, it's just easier than giving Matt Vogel a different credit for one character to be listed separately. Waldo was designed by Henson, we have a full detailed history of Jim Henson's creation of him, of the design stage, of the use of the waldo device, just they had no actual animation or digital house at the time so PDI was called in to help with the final rendering (so that makes it a collaboration but not like dumping a project to India and letting them come up with a character). 80s' Robot is outsourced. So I really think we're just confusing people if we have text calling him a Muppet. Whether he shows up again or not, that's a different matter (this was sort of addressing the earlier "Will 80s' Robot be in the new movie" question; we have no reason to suppose that, or that the hobos or Moopets would either, but that's a different issue). Again, we've applied this logic to Leonie Lowenherz, and I raised the issue on Talk:'80s Robot before the movie came out. We just never got around to changing it.

      So no, company of origin, utterly designed and made by someone else, does make a difference. Just like we don't count characters in Creature Shop movies made by outside companies, with absolutely no Henson involvement at all in those characters (like the sheep in Babe, as opposed to occasions where the work was shared between Henson and other houses). Puppet Heap doesn't seem to have really done anything as far as new characters versus maintenance on the movie anyway, the credits mostly emphasize Henson. We discussed how to handle Puppet Heap before anyway but they were designated as specific handlers of the Muppets (official at the time, but not the only one now it's clear, since they're still going back to Henson at least for the movie and such).

      Also, when an outside company (Legacy or Vee) does versions of existing Muppet characters (i.e. "Muppet Man"), that's also different.

      We want to promote and state facts, not misconceptions or how one may personally prefer to perceive the character. You're free to do that and that's why I left "the Muppets" universe category as I said, but we already cleaned up international Sesame Street characters provably not built by Muppet people or with final designs approved (still a few that need to be verified in that area, I think; I'd found definite proof that Zé Das Latas was just designed and built entirely by a local artist, but I'm not that convinced about Funga Funga either) so I don't see why 80's Robot should be an exception just because we like him.

      None of the aesthetic examples you give either are meant to be real versus representational. Or in this case, a real depiction of a 1980s robot toy, or as close as could be done without lawsuits (I never brought up hard or soft, it has to do with a *combination* of being done by an outside firm and not fitting aesthetics and our community agreed upon definition of a Muppet; see Muppets vs Creatures, where for that matter our first sentence is "The term Muppet is used on Muppet Wiki to define the group of puppet characters created by Jim Henson and the Jim Henson Company," so it feels odd to try to argue that a character who fails that definition is a Muppet and opens up a huge slippery slope; as is, we also answered an earlier question from someone saying a friend insisted the Sesame Street Muppets weren't Jim Henson's ever but made by an outside company, so trying to class an outside company's characters in this way doesn't help as far as preventing misconceptions and false statements.)

      He really is closer to a Creature but we couldn't classify him as that either, compared to experimental puppetry or just a popsicle with googly eyes; if I found that Popsicle had been inexplicably made by Rick Baker and loaned out, I might question it too. Or Mano. Mr. Foot is okay since Muppet folks performed him and dressed him. Mano is performed by an outside puppeteer as his own showcase on Sesamstrasse, so we can call him a Sesamstrasse character but not a Muppet.

      Really this argument is closer to saying Bruce Schwartz' puppets should be classified as Muppets, or Khriusha the Pig (only real difference that I can see is that the robot was made for the movie). We even make a distinction on Arnie the Alligator between the animatronic for Muppet Movie (made by we don't know who but we do know other effects houses are credited) and his "Muppet form" in Kermit's Swamp Years.

      So this isn't a bizarre new concept, just a belated clean-up and clarification, which I did once a user changed the first sentence to read "'80s Robot is a Muppet robot." It would be easier of course if there had been no sale and no moving around as to who makes what, but we work with what we have.

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    • Oh, for the record, here's the edit history to show what prompted the change.

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    • He is a The MuppetsTM character, certainly. The most recently evolved definition of what a Muppet is consists of being built for Disney's troupe of characters falling under that franchise name. If/when they ever stop using Puppet Heap, the definition would not change. Should that exclude Legacy Effects?

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    • I think he's a Muppet Character.

      There are a lot of possible comparisons, and Andrew and Brad have done an amazing job laying out all of the different precedents. What I get from the discussion is that '80s Robot is a new thing that we haven't seen before.

      He's a character played by a Muppet performer, in a supporting role in a Muppet film. He's a physical character who appeared on set (as opposed to digital). He was designed and built by an external company, not connected to the rest of the puppet designers and builders. I don't think we have another example that fits that description -- there are some close analogues, but they're digital (Waldo, Rhubarb the Grouch) or biological (Mr. Foot).

      Andrew, your analysis is based on logic and precedent, but you're still addressing an aesthetic question -- does the character feel like a Muppet? The guidelines and decisions that you've brought up are based on determining how close this character feels to the others that we call Muppets. When a new situation comes up, we get a gut feeling about it, and then we come up with a rational guideline that explains it.

      My gut says that '80s Robot is a Muppet. He's a puppet(-ish) character with a Muppet performer, playing a role that otherwise would have gone to Beauregard. He's not a prop, or a cartoon, or a human in a suit.

      I think the only thing that keeps him from fitting perfectly into the category is that he was designed and built by an outside vendor instead of the usual Muppet builders. As Scott said, we've already extended our definition to include Puppet Heap-built characters. I think this is just a further extension of that concept.

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    • Yeah, it's the fact that we defined them as characters from either Jim Henson, or the Jim Henson Company pre-sale. My biggest concern is especially with it as a first sentence. As a compromise, would it work better if we classified him as a Muppet but put Legacy in the intro? I really don't like seeing "Muppet robot" like that, because I think it *does* make people assume "Oh, Henson made him" (until articles about the movie and credits came out, we had no reason to suppose an outside effects house made him either) and I'd like to prevent that, thus why I removed the category. So that's now my biggest issue (the other points clarified things a little better, and we can work them into guidelines as you said).

      P. S. We don't class Rhubarb the Grouch as a Muppet either, for the record. So that's another reason I've been so leery and want to get guidelines straight, I don't want this to set a bad precedent, and would feel better if the page could make it a little clearer about what makes '80s Robot different when (as seems to be consensus) he goes back into the category.

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    • I say he should go back into the Muppet Character category.

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    • As I said, I'm willing to compromise on that. But I still don't like the idea of people seeing or writing "he is a Muppet robot" as the very first thing to confront our readers, and thus assuming that means he *was* made by the usual Muppet people. So I'd like to either prevent that kind of statement or make it more obvious in the intro that he *is* a special case, and list the actual effects company.

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    • So can you make a good statement like that in the article and put him back in that category?

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    • That's what I'm asking. I'm asking for input and a consensus before I make any changes.

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    • I agree with everyone who says yes. He is, indeed, a physical Muppet character who actually exists and is actually a puppet, not a CGI or prop, as Danny said.

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    • Oh, yeah -- I totally agree that "he's a Muppet robot" is not a good first sentence, but it would be bad whatever character it was. "Miss Piggy is a Muppet pig" is an equally bad sentence.

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    • Heh, true. But also, and this may be paranoia on my part, to get back to my initial point, I was really concerned about misinformation. We recently banned a loony who seems to have spent a lot of time adding fake info on Wikipedia and their own crazy wikis claiming Timmy the Tooth puppets were Muppets and so on. No, we don't and shouldn't let the loonies dictate to us, but as I said the legitimate "Who made this" question came up on these forums too, and a lot of people (not the loonies, just the not as discerning sometimes) try to change Wikipedia or other sites to match everything we say here. So this may seem like over caution, but I'd like it to be a lot clearer at the start that he's *not* made by Henson or the Muppet Workshop or anything. Either mention it in parentheses (we don't really need those extra credits in right now about Legacy Effects, it's all on their own page) or even a designer template. Then re-add the category and, however other people want to argue about 80's Robot or perceive him, I won't feel so much like we're perpetuating a rumor. (I checked the presskit to see if it said anything, but it didn't bother to mention him at all). Does that sound good?

      Just a couple postscripts (this has been a good discussion, by the way). I did note the ComingSoon.net quote we have on the character's page also questions if he should be called a Muppet at all (but they did so *because* he wasn't foam or felt, not because he was a replica of a real style of robot, which was my feeling, so ignore them). Also, we don't know for sure if 80's Robot will be in the new movie, *but* Legacy's website says they did effects for it, so that increases the likelihood (and the continued use of them for this kind of thing *does* better support the comparison to Puppet Heap). (Sadly I can't access the actual presskit when it comes out this time, because Disney changed who they use for that, and although the new site, a general clearinghouse not maintained just by Disney, has a notch to click for "freelance writer," they also have "switchboard telephone number for employer," something that goes to an actual office and not a single home or place number, apparently even businesses without any kind of "press 1/if you know the extension" filter don't qualify! In 2013, that's pretty darn odd as a mandatory demand.)

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    • Yeah, well, as for him not being made by Henson Company, that doesn't matter to me. Disney owns the Muppets, and Disney officially had '80s Robot in the movie as a character performed by a Muppet performer, so them having had the character designed seems just as good as Henson Company or the Muppet Workshop having him designed. I think Disney's Muppets and Henson's Muppets are equally official.

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    • You don't get my point, which isn't about what matters to us personally, but to avoid perpetuating rumors. Thinking of them as just as good as or just as official isn't the same as claiming he *is* made by Jim Henson Company, who did do quite a bit of work on the movie via the Creature Shop and also Jane Gootnick's involvement), as it happens (and Disney didn't design the character either, but that's potentially another misinterpretation; an outsourced effects company was pretty much given carte blanche based on the script, no doubt with some input and oversight, but), and that's what I was concerned about with the "Muppet robot" sentence and what I want to fix in the intro. It's clear what the consensus is as far as putting the category back, but enough falsehoods get spread around without us adding to it, even just through not being clear enough. That was my point at the very beginning, and that's what I'm trying to get an answer to now.

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    • Yes, I totally agree that we should make all of this clear on the article page. It's good for us not to mislead people. And more importantly, it's just interesting information about the character, the design process, and the way that the old "workshop" concept has changed.

      So why are you spending time explaining it on this thread, when you could be adding all of this text to the page? :) Go for it, it's good stuff.

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    • Clearly the definition of "Muppet" has evolved over the years. It is not as simple as "a puppet made by Jim Henson." It could be a puppet made by Henson, or the Muppet Workshop, or the Henson Creature Shop, or Puppet Heap, or PDI, or Legacy Effects, and so on. And Henson's sale of the Muppets to Disney has only complicated it.

      Even when the Henson Company was the main manufacturer of Muppets, there were cases of puppets being outsourced to other firms (such as Puppet Heap making Muppets for Bear in the Big Blue House, Sesame Street and Elmo's World long before they even became the official workshop of Disney's Muppets).

      I agree we don't want people to see 80s Robot classified as a "Muppet" and assuming "Oh, Henson made him." But I don't think "Muppet" means "made by Henson" anymore. We have Walter classified as a "Muppet" and the Henson Company and Workshops had nothing to do with him.

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    • The Muppet Workshop still did, according to the credits, as supervised by Jane Gootnick (just this time a mixture of Jim Henson's Creature Shop, for costumes, Puppet Heap, and some general old hands). But at this point, I'm tired of discussing it. Danny is right, I shouldn't have asked for permission (it feels like outside of him, other folks weren't understanding it) I'm just going to make the necessary change (and again, Brad, I'm *not* talking about what it means to us, I'm talking about what it can easily mean when users see it and choose to copy; you brought up credits earlier, the movie made a point of keeping Legacy's credits separate from the actual Muppet Workshop crew at top, mostly on-set people, and then Jim Henson's Creature Shop (Costumes) and Puppet Heap (Muppet Design and Build) in that order. This is becoming stressful.

      Also Brad: Paul Andrejco designed those while he *was* a Henson employee only and formed Puppet Heap *after* but since he's the founder he considers those to be part of the Puppet Heap portfolio, but I'm dropping this and tired of correcting stuff. The page is fixed. And as I keep saying (over and over; your last message repeats half the things I said myself, and PDi didn't *make* Waldo strictly), you and everyone can think whatever you want, I just want our statements to be factual and not openly encourage incorrect assumptions if we can help it (they happen enough as is). This is really starting to upset me (I know, it's my own fault for worrying about accuracy) so hopefully the current version satisfies.

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    • I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make this stressful or upset anyone.

      Perhaps I didn't find the right corollary and was looking for a perfect character analogy that doesn't quite exist (yet).

      I guess I'm just not fully understanding what the harm is with calling him a Muppet. The fact that some people may misinterpret the Muppet moniker as meaning Henson built the puppet is unfortunate and can be explained/clarified in the article – but, my point is, just as not all Henson puppets are Muppets, not all Muppets are Henson puppets anymore. I think the definition has evolved, and will continue to evolve, as Disney's ownership develops and grows.

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    • Sigh. I really want to drop this, and it has been making me cry. Brad, Danny said the agreed upon solution was fine, he's categorized as a Muppet. I really don't feel like you needed to add anything after his last response. The point I've been trying to repeat over and over (and you keep bringing up stuff like PDI which isn't the same) is that *other* people (not you or 100 Year Old Onion), like the person who added "is a muppet robot" to begin with, *they* still think Muppet equals Henson. That's exactly why I didn't want that sentence and stated so at least five or six times in this thread (and we still state that Muppet equals Henson on Muppets vs Creatures so feel free to change that, rather than keep arguing here). You're incorrect about your outsourced PuppetHeap claim on Bear and Sesame, but I already gave in on the category, all I had was one simple request on phrasing to avoid false stuff being copied to Wikipedia. You won!! So please drop this. It's giving me the shakes (literally) and makes me want to never bring up anything for discussion again.

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    • Again, sorry, I didn't mean to antagonize - I was just trying to discuss the definition of what makes a Muppets. I apologize for any thickheadedness on my part - consider the whole thing dropped.

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    • Sorry I didn't add to this earlier, but I think Andrew's text change works fine. I don't want to repeat any points but while the character may be a (Disney) "Muppet"(TM) in a rather loose sense, categorizing him as a "Muppet Character" overall works for me. At any rate, a compromise has been reached for now, so unless Danny or Andrew want to re-open this at some point, I'll be closing the thread.

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