A finger puppet is a sheath of rubber, cloth, or paper that sits over just one finger and is animated by wiggling. It typically has no moving parts and is often used as a toy. Around 1950, Howdy Doody finger puppets were used in The HowdyDoody Show. Two of the three puppets were based on earlier marionette figures that previously appeared on the popular show. Joining them was a mini version of a human character called Clarabell the Clown. It was a demonstration of how aggressively the show was geared towards younger viewers.
These figures are three-dimensional made out of either clay moulded on a wire shape or plastic and carved wood. The puppeteer shows the puppets performing various movements and records each move on one frame of film. The film is projected at high speed, which creates an animation effect. The California Raisins are clay figures that the California Raisin Advisory Board employ as merchandising and advertising characters. Will Vinton Productions developed the characters that were caricatures of African American R&B acts. They’re often presented with Marvin Gaye providing the soundtrack.
Typically made out of cloth, a hand puppet is a glove-like, flexible structure. The puppeteer places his hand inside the figure and manipulates it by moving his wrist and fingers. The method was used in prehistoric times, with storytellers using their hands to form shadows when illustrating their tales. This method later incorporated sophisticated objects made out of fabric, paint, plastic, and wood. Around 1954, elves were used as mascots by Kellogg’s in an advertising campaign for Rice Krispies. They were based on the works of cartoonist Don Margolis and illustrator Vernon Grant. The characters were given their names due to the sounds made when milk splashes onto the cereal. The puppets were originally offered to consumers in exchange for collecting tops from the cereal boxes.
The characters from the Muppets were borne out of Jim Henson’s imagination and creativity. Henson’s involvement in puppetry dates back to his years in high school. The Muppets, first seen in the 1950s on a number of different television shows, are known for their distinctive and outlandish looks, and absurdist and Zany humour. Henson called them “Muppets” just because he liked how the word sounded. For the children’s television show Sesame Street, Henson created a make-believe neighbourhood where lived his collection of zany Muppets. The majority of them were hand-rod puppets that demonstrated life lessons to the young viewers, such as Bert and Ernie’s friendship, and trash-loving Oscar the Grouch feeling the effects of antisocial behaviour. In 1983, new Muppet characters appeared in the TV show Fraggle Rock. While high-spirited and comic, the show explored such issues as the environment, personal identity, and social conflict. Boober Fraggle disliked frivolity and was annoyed by Red Fraggle’s energy, athleticism, and optimism.