Folkmanis’ Sea Serpent Stage Puppet


We’re not sure who wrote this review as that seems to gone walkabout.

Folkmanis has gained an excellent reputation in recent decades for its overwhelming array of puppets. The plushies range from eerily lifelike to utterly fantastical. Right now I’m holding the Sea Serpent Stage Puppet in my hand. Well, okay, I’m wearing it on my hand. . . is that so wrong?

Fun facts gleaned from the tag:

Made in China for Folkmanis, Emeryville, CA
Contents: Polyester fiber, polyurethane foam
Care: surface washable with cold water; air dry

This little sucker has incredibly well-articulated features for a plush puppet, and lots of different elements: beanbag-filled flaps (ears? horns?); nostrils deep enough to play around with — pull out as though puffing and huffing, or push deep in, which gives the Serpent a look of deep concentration; eyes with great range of movement, though I could never quite figure out how to manipulate them with the interior ring which begs to be toggled, explored, experimented with. I imagine someone could become quite proficient with enough practice at the eye ring — eyes bulging, goggling, recessing . . . overall an intriguing addition to the puppet’s functionality.

The hide’s scales are a rich lustrous aqua, and the fins have a delicate rippled quality to their accordion pleats along the spine and “hands” (flippers? the attached play calls them fins — more about the play in a moment). This is a very shiny, sparkly puppet. The scale pattern is printed into the fabric rather than sewn, and there’s mercifully little glitter fallout; it’s not at all like playing with one of those toys which seem to herald the glitterpocalypse.

For a smaller hand, it might be tricky to manipulate multiple elements at once — the flippers, the eyes, the mouth. And unless you’re willing to experiment with both hands, it would be impossible to use all the manipulable features at the same time — the tongue (oddly the most satisfying part of the puppet: forked and bright red and very expressive), the jaw (typical open/closed puppet style, though with two great soft rubber accent teeth — fangs? — one on each side of the mouth), the eyes (goggling; recessed; recessed & goggling). At least it’s a nice, long puppet, reaching nearly to my elbow, so with a little practice one can achieve some great serpentine motion, like a sea creature riding waves. My brief forays into two-handed use produce some lovely undulating neck motion.

Attached by a small cord about the neck is a play, “Help Wanted.” (Opening: “Sea Serpent is center stage looking around nervously. Enter Cat . . . “)

A brief synopsis of the play:

Cat asks Serpent for a resume and display of typing skills, neither of which the Sea Serpent can offer due to the lack of hands (the Serpent explains). When asked for a list of useful skills, Serpent replies, “Well, I’m great at capsizing large ships, I can eat 20 sailors per minute, I am very good at creating giant whirlpools on short notice . . . and I am highly impervious to evil.”

Serpent describes past employment, including a Mermaid: “for about two hundred years, mostly just chauffeuring her around on my back and eating her enemies,” though there were also “more menial tasks, dredging harbors and whatnot.”

A bargain for gainful employment is eventually struck at the pay rate of five trunks of pirate treasure per year, with benefits.

The end.

More about Folkmanis and the Sea Serpent Stage Puppet at the site.

(Folkmanis, 2015)

Diverse Voices

Diverse Voices is our catch-all for writers and other staffers who did but a few reviews or other writings for us. They are credited at the beginning of the actual writing if we know who they are which we don't always. It also includes material by writers that first appeared in the Sleeping Hedgehog, our in-house newsletter for staff and readers here. Some material is drawn from Folk Tales, Mostly Folk and Roots & Branches, three other publications we've done.

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