It wasn’t so long ago that action figures, trading cards, plushies and posters were regular impulse buys on my trips to the comics shop or convention. Animation cels and special edition books, I ate them up too. Yup, I had the collecting bug pretty bad for a while there and if I hadn’t curbed the habit, I’d probably be broke and up to my neck in blister cards and boxes (True fact – I have box of unopened Star Trek: TNG action figures under my grandma’s house). There are still a few nerdy collectibles that I cherish, like my Sandman bookends and Harley Quinn production cel, but most of the rest of those collectibles I passed on to the next generation, donating to my cousins or other friends/family with kids. (I haven’t seen Toy Story 3 yet, but I have a feeling I’ll relate all too well).
Even though I’ve kicked the collecting habit, I still get a vicarious thrill looking at cool toys and treasures at stores and online, and ever since I started working on Return to Labyrinth, I’ve dreamed about seeing merch made for characters that I created. RtL as an intellectual property belongs entirely to the Jim Henson Company, so whether or not official merch is ever made is entirely up to them (and should it happen, I’d get no royalties anyway, but I’d still like to see it!). In the meantime, with the series ending, I wanted to do something special for my inner-collector to mark the occasion. In this era of etsy and blossoming DIY geekery, there’s no reason to let that stop me! And so I scoured the webs for an independent artist who could help make my dream a reality.
The artist I ended up working with is Jennifer Lin, aka Meowchee, a new but super-talented member of the Japanese-style plushie community (like those chibi stuffed dolls you see at the back of any anime/manga/otaku store). She has a blog and a deviantart page. Why did I pick her? Because of her amazing Jareth plushies, of course! She’s made him in several costumes, each more impressive than the last.
For my commission, I asked Jennifer to make Toby from the volume 2 cover and Moulin from the cover of volume 3. Moulin’s costume is pretty clearly presented on the cover, but for Toby, Jennifer had to do a fair amount of extrapolating, and I love what she did, adding a design based on Jareth’s amulet to the back of his vest. Moulin is definitely my favorite, with her adorable raincloud companion Nimbus and trusty book! (Both accessories feature magnets so that they’ll snap to moulin’s hands). I also asked for one of her “Magic Dance” Jareths. So cute!
These are one-of-a-kind commissions, so I’m afraid I can’t sell them to you, but I will have them at the booth at Comic-Con (Booth O-08 in the small press pavillion), so if you’ll be in San Diego next week, do stop by to give them a hug. Of course, you’re welcome (encouraged even!) to commission plushies of your own from Jennifer. Details and price estimates on her blog.
While I’m so excited to see and hold these pro-quality Return to Labyrinth dolls, I won’t be keeping them. They’re gifts for the wonderful folks that helped make Return to Labyrinth happen. And maybe, just maybe, someone will see them and decide to make some official merch.
UPDATE: Additional pics and commentator from the plushies’ creator at Jennifer’s blog.