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Electric Mayhem Deluxe Box Set

Muppets Select
by yo go re

Diamond Select Toys was brave enough to be the first company to try making Muppets figures after Palisades. I didn't get into them, because they were a different scale from the existing collection, but one of the exclusives offered in honor of this year's cancelled San Diego Comic-Con was a box set of The Muppet Show's house band, the Electric Mayhem.

I missed out on Palisades' Electric Mayhem figures, and that entire line goes for big money these days, so DST dropping the entire band in one fell swoop was too good to pass up. They're sold in a truly humongous box that re-creates their stage from the original show, risers and all, and is set up in such a way that allows you to see all five figures at once.

We'll begin with the group's bassist, Floyd Pepper. Although Dr. Teeth is the nominal leader of the band, Floyd is its face. He's the most vocal member of the band, and not just because he's often the one singing: Floyd is the most likely to appear in other skits on the show, or backstage interacting with the other Muppets. Despite his laid-back attitude, he's got a slightly antagonistic relationship with Miss Piggy, taking any opportunity to poke fun at her for her haughty attitude.

Pep's Palisades figure came in the second series, and included a variant: the normal figure wore a red jacket, the variant wore blue. No such shenanigans here, because red was all he ever actually wore on the show. The jacket has epaulettes with gold fringe and a fancy threaded design on the chest. The jacket, like his last name, is a reference to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and he wears a green military-style cap with it. The lower sleeves of the coat are ripped away, exposing grey shirt sleeves beneath them, and he wears tall brown boots over blue jeans.

Floyd is a "human" Muppet, at least as much as any Muppets are humans - ie, he's not a bear or a frog or an eagle or what have you. He has a big bulbous nose and bushy eyebrows above his... are those eyes, or glasses? His orange hair is pulled back into a ponytail, and grows into a mustache/sideburns combo. His skin is pink - that's right, he's a pink Floyd. Reference joke!

Floyd's got his guitar, the the strap is designed for him to play it right-handed - he has played it that way in the past, but more often, he's a lefty. The figure's hands would work better on the guitar that way, too: The slightly curled right hand would be able to hold the neck of the guitar, while the flat left hand could strum. He moves at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, thighs, knees, and ankles.

Next, on lead guitar, we've got Janice. Her most common appearances outside the musical numbers were playing Nurse Janice in the "Veterinarian's Hospital" sketches. A flower child with a valley girl voice, she's the band's backup singer, and has a close relationship with Floyd (though in the first season, she was often paired with fellow bandmember Zoot in the "At the Dance" segments).

Though her name sounds like it's refereing Janice Joplin, she doesn't look, sound, or dress like the woman. She doesn't even look like Janet Joppler, Janey Jimplin, or even Jackie Jormp-Jomp. Janice wears a shapeless brown hat with a gem and a feather on it, a pink tank top, a denim skirt, and silver wedge sandals. Like Angela (and Belle, weirdly), Janice is here to party.

Janice has orange skin, and looks like someone evolved a Pac-Man: her face is like 90% mouth, and she doesn't even have real eyes - just eyelids that never open. The original concept for the character who became Janice was actually a male: the overbearingly big lips and thin body were based on Mick Jagger, but everyone kept assuming the design was a she. So they just went with it.

Like Floyd, Janice moves at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, thighs, knees, and ankles. Having swivel/hinge knees and swivel thighs is redundant, though. She plays her guitar the proper way (again, she's left-handed), and the set also includes her tambourine and a harmonica - she's a girl of many musical talents! Harder to hold those, though.

At last we have him: the man, the myth, the legerdemain; the foundling father of the Electric Mayhem, the one and only inmitigated Dr. Teeth! After leaving home at the ripaceous age of 14, he transversed his way to Tupelo, Mississippi, where he made the acquiescence of a voodoo princess named Tiana who gave him a gold tooth and lessons in the rhythym of love. He does provide some vocals for the band's songs, but only incandescent assists, not a major lead - he's continent to be a band leader who lets others take the spotlight.

Dr. Teeth (at one point in development known as "Leon 'Doctor' Eltonjohn Dontshoot") was based on New Orleans jazz pianist Dr. John - Jim Henson's original sketch for him showed him wearing a white suit and a wide-brimmed hat, and it was only later revisions that brought in the flashy colors he wears today. He has a long-furred vest, a stripey shirt, bright blue jeans, an old pair of fringey boots, and an ornate scarf serving as a belt. The large lacy cuffs around his wrists help accentuate his movements as he plays.

Beneath his floppy pink top hat, Dr. Teeth has orange hair and green skin. He grows the hair into a beard, but no mustache - it probably wouldn't be visible behind his nose anyway. His eyes are wide open, though he doesn't often look it: his glasses act like eyelids, so he seems perpetually sleepy. The frames of the glasses are black, while the lenses are purple.

The real Dr. Teeth has extra-long arms, so that one puppeteer can work his body while another plays the piano (the lace cuffs also help hide the second guy's arms). The toy's arms are even thinner than Janice's, and he still has the same articulation as everyone else. His accessory is a big dual-leveled keyboard, which is sized perfectly for him to squat dynamically behind. It's hollow, to keep the weight down, but looks excellent standing on its angled legs.

This version of the Electric Mayhem does not include Lips the trumpet player, so the entire horn section is just one man: Zoot. He's the band's typical burnout character, seemingly always unaware of what's going on around him unless it involves playing his music - in The Muppet Movie, he even forgot his own name. He may also be homeless, probably because he forgot to pay his rent (or maybe just forgot where his home was).

Zoot dresses very simply, with black sandals, loose jeans (the only pair of pants he owns), a V-necked tunic shirt, and a pointy blue hat. Palisades' Series 3 Zoot had a variant showing him wearing a red shirt instead of his usual mustard-colored one, but again, Diamond isn't playing those kinds of games - if you want an imaginary look for Zoot, buy him and paint him yourself. To me, Zoot looks like Steve Van Zandt, but apparently he was based on Argentine jazz saxophonist Gato Barbieri, and named after American Zoot Sims.

The figure's likeness isn't quite as good as the other figures' have been: he's got the blue skin and the yellow nose, which is accurate enough (he's changed back and forth between blue and green over the years), but his glasses sit a little too high on his face and his mouth should be more of a frown. The glasses sre separate, so they may be fixable if you can unglue them.

He's got the same articulation as the other figures, though his elbow swivels are surprisingly loose. The hinges work fine, but boy do those arms want to swing side-to-side! Get his hands onto his saxophone, though, and it pretty much ceases to be an issue. Though his saxomaphone looks like an alto sax, it sounds like a tenor - right until the final note of the Muppet Show closing themesong, where it drops down and plays a single off-key baritone note. Magic instrument! Who knew a lifetime of drinking and drugs could alter reality so concretely?

And finally, the only Electric Mayhem character we did review from Palisades, Animal. Of course, that was a con-exclusive variant, while this is a normal version. Or at least, as "normal" as Animal gets. He is, as the saying goes, one wild and crazy guy! There are many claims about who Animal is based on - Keith Moon, John Bonham, Ginger Baker, Mick Fleetwood, Pip farting on a snare drum - but honestly, he's not any of them. Like Buddy Rich said in his Muppet Show appearance, all drummers are animals; so Animal isn't anybody, he's everybody.

Animal dresses like a wild man, with tattered clothes that look like they were a struggle to get on, so nobody's going to try to take them back off again. He wears a red and yellow belly shirt, and brown pants with the lower legs ripped away. The pants are held up by a knotted rope belt, and there's a black cloth tied around his left wrist. He wears a studded collar with a real metal chain - Floyd is his handler and often times treats him like a pet, including teaching him some basic dog training commands.

Unlike the other band members, Animal is not a human. He's... some kind of beast, perhaps? He has orange skin, darker than Janice's, and thick red fur covers his entire head. His wild eyes are framed by thick black brows, and while his nose may be bulbous, it sticks out to the front instead of hanging down like everyone else's. Plus, he's got sharp fangs instead of flat teeth.

His articulation is a little bit different from the others. Like, he doesn't have thigh swivels (which is fine, since the swivel/hinge knees take care of that anyway), but he does have swivels where the shins poke out of the pantlegs. Plus, he gets a hinged jaw, so you can change his expression! Sadly, DST did not copy Palisades' idea of doing articulated eyelids. That was seriously one of the best points of articulation of is entire decade, and it's missed here.

But DST's can actually bend his knees and sit on his included stool behind his full drum kit: two bass drums with articulated kick pedals, a floor tom, snare drum, one tom-tom, a hi-hat, and two cymbals, probably a crash and a ride. Animal also has a pair of drumsticks that can fit in his hands.

The set includes four mic stands (with removable microphones, surprisingly) and three speakers. Presumably that means a mic for everyone except Animal, who's not much of a singer anyway, and amps for the guitars and... saxophone? Keyboard? Which one of them is more likely to need amplification to be heard? Maybe they all share? The insert behind the tray in the box looks like the Muppet Show's stage, which will be nice even for Palisades collectors, and there's a translucent plastic Electric Mayhem logo up near the top where light can come in.

Animal was available in Muppets Select Series 2 with his drums (though only one bass, and a different pattern on the front). Janice and Floyd were available together in Series 3, with music stands, sheet music, and a poster. Dr. Teeth and Zoot were supposed to be in Series 4, but that got cancelled, so this is your only opportunity to get them. If you alrady bought the previous releases, this set won't have as much appeal to you, but for those of us who don't have any of the band at all? It's amazing! Plus, since you could order this year's DST exclusives through your local comicshop, getting it was no hassle at all.

-- 08/29/20

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