Today’s review is HUGE. Literally, it’s the biggest thing I’ve reviewed since opening this site and probably will remain so for the foreseeable future. Today we’re taking a look at Gonzo! Gonzo is one of the oldest and perhaps well known Muppet characters. Ask anyone to name a Muppet and you’ll probably get Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie the Bear and Gonzo… Usually in that order.

Gonzo is also sometimes known as Gonzo The Great as he often appeared on the original Muppet Show. Originally Gonzo was a very weird and almost manic Muppet bouncing around and constantly getting himself into trouble. Kind, sincere and never quite fitting in anywhere, Gonzo has matured as the years have went on to become one of the more level headed Muppets today. That’s not to say that Gonzo still isn’t strange, but he’s taken an elder statesman role in the Muppets. Now he plays the straight man more often than not to Rizzo the Rat.

As a child of the 80’s much of my impressions of the Muppets were formed in the awesome cartoon, Muppet Babies. Some true blue Muppet fans may not like the way the Muppets were portrayed on that show, but it left an indelible mark on me and shaped the way I view the Muppets today. That’s a good thing, because as a grown man I’m not afraid to admit, I love the Muppets. The Muppets are everything that’s right with the world.

In 2008 Master Replicas tried their hand at making a replica “photo puppet” of Gonzo. Master Replicas is a company that’s known for making tons of very accurate, really well done replica props from many different movies and franchises. They made the awesome lightsabers, etc… For those that don’t know, there are a few types of Muppets, but the two most common are the actual puppet Muppets and the Muppets used for photos only. One is for actual puppet manipulating and one is for still photos or scenes where the Muppets won’t be moving. Gonzo was Master Replicas third and final replica photo puppet.

So what makes this weirdo of the Muppets so cool?

This isn’t your standard review, nor is this your standard package. For starters you get a large outerbox for shipping. I was blown away by the size of this thing. No joke it’s huge. I’ve received a lot of big boxes in the past few weeks from various toy purchases but they all paled in comparison to Gonzo’s box.

The box is heavy but not too cumbersome. The label on the outside says it weighs a full 18 pounds. Once you cut that open you’re immediately greeted with a cartoon picture of Gonzo. It’s quite the sight.

Removing the final bits of tape and opening the flaps we see that Gonzo’s inner box is really well protected. Eight very sturdy corner pieces of Styrofoam keep the Great One from jiggling around. If you smell what the Gonzo is cooking.

Master Replicas must be commended for how well they treated this box. As good as the outside box is packaged though, it’s the inner box that really is impressive. This thing is just beautiful. It reminds me of the kind of box you’d see a ventriloquist keep his dummy in.

The entire box is visually stunning from top to bottom. It has a really bright set of colors, well done art and it’s made of a very heavy thick stock of cardboard. This isn’t some flimsy disposable box. You’re going to want to keep this thing for years and years and it’ll hold up too.

Inside it’s almost like Gonzo’s coffin, which is somewhat creepy I must admit. Again though, Master Replicas has really went through a lot of trouble to get this guy in pristine condition when you open him up. His inner box is twice encased plastic and although the top is relatively easy to remove, you know that he won’t get damaged in shipping. You could probably ship this Gonzo around the world and back and not a single hair on his head would get ruffled.

Poor Gonzo almost looks like he’s gasping for air inside the box. Get him out! Let him breathe!

“Yeah stop talking about the box and let me get some fresh air!”

Also included right above the plastic is your Master Replicas certificate of authenticity as well as some basic handle and care instructions when it comes to Gonzo. The star treatment has really been done for this whole set and it’s quite impressive.

Once you’ve gotten Gonzo out, you have to get his doll stand out. Master Replicas spared no expense and have included a really nice doll stand for him. It’s adjustable and you can use it prop him up wherever you’d like. This is of course, if you don’t want to have him out and about. Remember, this is a photo puppet, not a statue so you can pose him around the house if you’d like. Live alone? Now you can have a couch buddy.

The stand fits together easy and is of a high quality plastic. There is also a metal engraved nameplate that tells about the limited edition (only 2,500 of these made) as well as more authenticity seals.

Let’s be honest, you probably don’t care about the box that much. Still I wanted to highlight how impressive it was because this next section will mostly deal with Gonzo altogether. If you’re wondering what Gonzo is made of, he’s a plush material but made of the same authentic stuff that the real Gonzo is. Except for one area, which I’ll get to in a moment.

Articulation wise, Gonzo is articulated head to toe. He’s made of a heavy duty wire underneath, which means his “skeleton” is fully poseable. With all wire things you have to be careful not to constantly bend him back and fourth or he’ll break, but Gonzo is plenty sturdier than your typical bend-ems figure. The wire armature skeletons inside a Muppet is really quite good. Even his fingers are poseable.

Let me jump right into the “controversy” that many hardcore Muppet collectors originally had with this figure. Master Replicas found that the actual foam cells that Gonzo’s nose and mouth are made or degenerate rather quickly and had to find a solution to this problem.

If you look at one of the puppet versions of Gonzo you can see that his nose is almost a sponge like material. Looking at these pictures closer you can see that his eyes are made of this same material. However, his nose and mouth are not on this replica. Why? Because the material just won’t stand up to the test of time. A few movements and you’d probably snap Gonzo’s nose right off.

Although there was a lot of whining and crying and some silly suggestions like make his nose out of plastic, Master Replicas made the right call here by making his nose out of a different material. It’s basically a soft plush material with a netting over it painted to match the foam. It looks a lot like evenly-sized foam cells. Perhaps it does make him .2% less accurate, but it also makes him able to withstand years of movement and play. Personally I wish they’d made his eyelids out of something else too because they’re just asking to fall apart.

Beyond that Gonzo is made from the exact same materials and follows the official Muppet patterns. This is the same sort of Muppet that the real Henson crew would use on a photo shoot. Gonzo is one of the few Muppets who really has changed his look a lot in the past 30+ years, so not every photo of Gonzo you see makes him look the same, but this replica truly captures the spirit of Gonzo.

Everything about this little blue dude is done really well. His patented purple tuxedo is represented in all the elements. Not cheaply either. Often on these sorts of dolls you see faux shirts, pants, etc… Not here. Gonzo is wearing a full tuxedo tailored to his 2 1/2 foot body.

He has fancy patent leather shoes that shine. They have real laces. These could probably fit your baby!

Even better, Gonzo has dress socks! Yeah, he has socks. That’s all sorts of awesome. Plus all of this stuff is removable. Which means you can dress Gonzo however you like. I plan on getting him some outfits, just because. Gonzo is one of the few Muppets who changes clothes and almost always wears clothes.

It is a bit difficult to pose Gonzo so that he stands on his own, but I don’t think it’s impossible. Still the included stand works wonders and it’s not too intrusive. Simply slide Gonzo’s neck into position and work your own magic. I had Gonzo using the phone in minutes.

No amount of pictures can explain to you just how cool it is to look across the room and see this little blue dude. I haven’t quite figured out where I plan on displaying him yet, because I’m certain my cats want to eat him. We’ll see, but expect to see Gonzo pics popping up on the site from time to time.

Gonzo also has his authentic ostrich feather hair. They say you’re supposed to be careful with it. Needless to say it moves freely and blows in the wind. Gonzo’s mouth can close, but not all the way. It wants to be open and that’s okay, he looks best with it slightly open anyway.

Gonzo is one cool dude.

Additional Notes:
There is something about Gonzo that I’ve always really loved. I’m not sure if it’s just his misfit personality, his wackiness, his strange sense of humor, but if I was a Muppet, I’d be a Gonzo. I used to have some old Gonzo plush dolls but they never made a lot of them and this really blows anything like that out of the water.

Muppets From Space remains one of my favorite Muppet movies. The story centers around Gonzo and while that Bear guy steals the show as the absolute funniest, it’s nice to see our strange beaked weirdo get some big screen love. Plus it’s got Hollywood Hogan in it, what more could you ask for?

My GF let out a big “What the F***?” when she saw Gonzo. She then proceeded to tell me it was weird to have a lifesize Gonzo. That’s okay, she’s probably right. It might be a little weird… But I never claimed to be normal, now did I?

By the way, Gonzo is big. He’s like a little person. I’ve included this pic to show off some scale…

Blue dudes unite!

I’m not sure if Gonzo really comes with accessories in the traditional sense, but you do get a lot when you buy this guy. Certainly a helluva lot more than I got with my “Replica Critter” that I saved up all summer for one year and bought out of the back of a Fangoria magazine for $50… That thing sucked. It was like a rubber mask! Anyway, Gonzo comes with the aforementioned box and stand as well as a very nice satin cloth that’s inside the box with him. My girlfriend thought it was his cape and it certainly could be used as such.

You don’t have to use it, but you can.

Everything is real buttons, laces, straps… No cheap velcro clothes here.

Plus all of his clothes could be considered an accessory. Before this Master Replicas released a Kermit who came with nothing and a Animal (who didn’t look very good IMO) that came with little to nothing as well. Gonzo really gets the star treatment with all his clothes.

The certificate of authenticity is also a nice little package. This isn’t just some cheap slip of paper. They make it so that this feels important. Everything about this guy is A+ in the presentation department and on high end collectibles thats just as important as the item itself.

Master Replicas doesn’t make anything cheap. Actually I believe they’ve went out of business, which is really too bad. Anyway, Gonzo originally retailed for a whooping $300! That’s nothing to sneeze at. However this isn’t some mass market toy that can be stamped out in a mold and made over and over. Each one of these guys had to be painstakingly hand crafted by following the original Muppet designs. That’s costly, but it definitely pays off in the finished product.

However due in part to Master Replicas going out of business, you can now get Gonzo for much cheaper. He runs about $100 shipped, which I must tell you is an absolute STEAL. Yes, this guy definitely feels worth $300 and if you’re like me and could never bring yourself to drop $300 on any single item that’s not an electronic device, then you should get one of these Gonzos while you can.

Score Recap:
Packaging – 10
Sculpting – 10
Articulation – 10
Accessories – Clothes, Silk Blanket, Box
Value – 10
Overall – 10 out of 10

Gonzo is a 10 out of 10. He couldn’t be any less if he tried. He’s just a ton of fun. Sure, he’s EXPENSIVE fun… Even at the reduced price this won’t be for everyone. However, if you’re even the slightest bit a Muppet fan, you owe it to yourself to get one of these guys. Now I just need a Rizzo!

Good news for fans is that EFX collectibles is now planning on making Replica Photo Muppets to pick up where Master Replicas left off. That means Fozzy the Bear as well as a new Kermit and others may be in the works. I know they already have a Rizzo on the way! Sign me up!

Of course it wouldn’t be any fun if I didn’t take a few slightly inappropriate Gonzo pictures. Afterall, Gonzo has a style of porn named after him, right? Anyway I love Henson’s Muppets, so no disrespect is intended.

“You know, Joe Camel was a good friend of mine. Love that cool smokey, full bodied flavor!”

If you enjoyed this review, please Digg it or tell your friends and visit everyday for more exciting toy reviews, movie news and anything that’s cool! I’m off to have an adventure with my new pal Gonzo!

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