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Muppets made to order


Customization isn’t just for grown-ups: Build-A-Bear Workshops and Ridemakerz show that that kids are keen on this trend, too. Capitalizing on this, Muppets and FAO Schwartz have teamed up to build the Muppet Whatnot Workshop. For those not familiar with Muppet vocabulary, a Whatnot is a generic extra used in Muppet productions. And the workshop gives customers the chance to design their very own classic hand-rod puppet to their own specification, taking their pick of body style and colour, eyes, nose, hair and outfit. As of late October 2008, customers can drop in at FAO Schwartz’s New York store and design their Muppet of choice using a design kit. Staff assistance is on offer, along with video tutorials delivered by famous muppet characters, displayed on screens around the workshop. Customers watch their Whatnot being constructed, which takes about 20 minutes, before taking it home along with the design kit as a souvenir. Designing and ordering can also be done through FAO’s website. Pricing is USD 110 from the FAO store or USD 90 if designed and ordered online. For USD 130 there’s also the option of the Whatnot gift service, a mail order system that ships a design kit to the recipient and covers manufacturing costs. Gift customers currently have to collect their design from the New York store, although from February 2009 they can submit orders online. The Muppet Whatnot Workshop is a great example of one way that manufacturers can revive interest in age-old products and brands. The engaging user experience that comes from involvement in design still has huge potential for a range of businesses and industries. Spotted by: Miriam Brafman



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