An Interview With Playset Customizer Lance Cardinal
April 24, 2011


 A few weeks ago I was forwarded a link from a fellow collector that blew my mind.  I’m sure many of you have seen it as well, as it really started making the rounds even ending up on and   The link showed what looked to be a super-human feat of creating a custom playset.   But not just any playset – the Muppet’s Theater.   On the off chance you have not seen this 8th wonder of the world, go here, be amazed and then come back and finish reading this.

OK, are you back now? 

I’ve always said that while I love Super Hero action figures,  one of my favorite toy lines of all time was Palisades’ Muppets line.  The figures were all on model, they were in a relative scale (some things were cheated to add value) and they had a ton of cool, fun, well thought out accessories.   It’s still in my top 3 lines-to-beat for shear awesomeness.  Of course with any mass retail line there are some things that a company just can’t produce or make at an affordable price point.


Enter customizer Lance Cardinal.  Lance is the perfect storm of design, theatrical background and love of the Muppets.  And the result of that trifecta is one amazing custom playset.   It would be one thing if it was just a cool custom facade, but Lance went a dozen steps farther and included things like working curtains and fly system, working footlights, a trap door, AND made it in scale with the other Palisades Muppet’s playsets, so that they can sit inside it like "sets."  He also built it to be compatible and connectable to the Palisades’ Muppets’ backstage playset.   There is so much TLC in this playset, no detail was omitted.  I’ve never seen it equal, and neither has the former staff at Palisades or at the Henson studios.  Both of which have now seen the playset and commented on it at Lance’s blog.

We thought it would be fun to reach out to Lance and find out what it took to make this custom marvel and what’s up his sleeve next.  Lance was also kind enough to let us show you some of his work in progress shots of the making of the custom Muppet’s Theater playset.

Let’s take a peek inside the mind of Lance Cardinal and find out where all of that talent and creativity came from, and how he is using his powers for good:

(Click on the title to read the full interview.)

Daniel Pickett
Daniel “Julius Marx” Pickett has been around toys his whole life. The first line he ever collected was Mego’s World’s Greatest Super Heroes line back in the 70s. He has been surrounded by collectables ever since. In 1999 he was confounded by a lack of information and news about some of his favorite toy lines he was collecting. Since he couldn’t find the information he decided to pursue it himself thinking other people might also be interested in the same news. He started writing a weekly column on the toy industry and action figure for a toy news site and in a years time he tripled the sites daily traffic with his updates, reviews and product features. He built relationships with every major toy manufacturer and many sculptors, painters and mold makers. He grew his hobby into a world wide expertise that the industry has embraced. In 2004 he teamed up with his toy buddy Jason “ToyOtter” Geyer and they created their own website Daniel has been quoted in both industry and mass media press outlets. Over the years Daniel and AFi have been sought out as experts in the field. Daniel was regularly featured on “Attack of the Show” on the G4 network as the primary contributor to their “Mint On Card” segment, and our front page has been linked to from USA Today’s “Pop Candy” Blog twice. Daniel’s content has also been featured on,, The Wall Street Journal, The Saturday Evening Post,,,, Boing-Boing,, Ain’t It Cool News, the Official Star Wars blog, Geekologie, G4, CNet and Toy Fare magazine, among many others. He has consulted on toy lines, books, documentaries and TV shows. But all of that really just sounds snooty and “tootin’ his own horn” – the long and short of it is that Daniel loves toys and he LOVES talking about them.
Read other articles by Daniel Pickett.




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