Muppets are they Ventriloquist Figures ??

For quite some time now there have been a deluge of Muppet puppets listed on eBay by a maker from the United States and then there are other soft figures with the listing of Ventriloquist in the title made in England and they list them by the hundreds. I have no problem with these being labeled as Muppets and or puppets but why do they use the word ventriloquist when in fact that is not what they are.

The Muppets in no way were ever used as a ventriloquist figure. The puppeteers were never visible and no one was ever seen throwing their voice. The characters all moved by way of a puppeteer and voices were all their own. Jim Henson was a wonderful puppeteer and he never ever used the words ventriloquist or ventriloquism when talking about his creations.

I really hate it to see so many listing which flood the ventriloquism pages of eBay when in fact they are not ventriloquist puppets. Just an observation by a ventriloquist figure collector!!



Dan Willinger is a ventriloquism enthusiast and ventriloquist figure collector. He has been collecting for over 25 years. He created the Ventriloquist Central Collection. It now has over 100 ventriloquist figures and over 50 of them are Frank Marshall figures. Because of his love for the art of ventriloquism, Mr. Willinger created the website Ventriloquist Central. For more information about the website, go to:

Copyright 2010 by Dan Willinger

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8 Responses to Muppets are they Ventriloquist Figures ??

  1. Lee Dean says:

    Muppet hand puppet is short for mop puppet. using mob fibres for hair, also rod puppet where sticks used to control arms. There are so many types of puppets and ventriloquist dummy is one of them.

  2. Lee Dean says:

    I just did a google search on \ventriloquist\ and like you said up came all of the vent puppets, so somebody should send ebay the definition of puppet and tell ebay to narow its listings.

  3. Philip Grecian says:

    I always heard that Muppet was a portmanteau word formed from marionette and puppet, and was also a registered trademark.
    It’s just a guess, but I figure ebay must bunch hand puppets, marionettes and vent figures together for the sake of marketing. They likely figure that someone who is looking for vent figures might also be looking for hand puppets or marionettes.
    I think, too, it’s a matter of just not caring to split hairs on some things…for, after all, Lambchop is a hand puppet used by a ventriloquist…and, to an outsider, isn’t Lucas’s Buffalo Billy just a really big foam hand puppet?
    It’s possible that splitting hairs could cost them a sale.
    Just a guess.

  4. Bob Conrad says:

    Phillip is right, \Muppet\ is a trade mark and not a type of puppet. Jim Henson once said it was the combination of marionette and puppet, but latter admitted it was just a word he like the sound of, and his registered trade mark. Soft puppets or mouth puppets date way before \The Muppets\, as does Lamp Chop. Full figure soft puppets (with legs) can be called vent puppets, I would say that hard figures are really vent figures. Although there are many puppets, marionettes with wooden or hard heads. But the term \Muppets\ is a trade mark and shouldn’t be used.

  5. David Thrasher says:

    Unless a figure is specifically used as a vent figure, I would say it is a puppet. Without the ventriloquist in sight not moving his or her lips, it is hard to claim the puppet is a vent figure. What these listing should say is that these puppets CAN be used as a ventriloquist figure, not that they are necessary designed to be that. Looking at the listings on eBay I see way too many soft figures listed as vent figures and I suppose this is such because they are easier to make and there is such a demand from beginning ventriloquists for something they can afford when they are just getting started.

  6. bob abdou says:

    I actually spoke to Jane Henson about ventriloquism in Jim’s life and she said that he LOVED ventriloquism and that the first muppet movie was dedicated to Edgar Bergen and he and Candice both appeared as the main star on the Muppet show. Jim never owned a vent dummy, go figure. With all his money and love for vent, he never tried own one. He was not into memorabilia. In fact when Oscar the grouch was orange in the first sesame street show, Jim did not like it and instead of just putting the puppet in a box or file for future display, He tore it up in pieces and started all over again using Green fabric material instead.

    I guess the sellers on ebay put the word “vent” with these muppet type puppets is for more exposure and more sales. Hey even Buffalo Bob Smith had an LP promoting ventriloquism and he was never a vent or promoted it on the Howdy Doody Show.

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