For the Love of Bean

When it comes to picking favorites, I was always that person who could never pick the obvious choice.  Out of all the incredible basketball players that have come through the University of Kentucky, my all-time favorite is Tony Delk. My favorite on the current roster is the now-injured Willie Cauley-Stein.  I was not an Anthony Davis girl, nor did I think Nerlens Noel was all that.  I like the underrated and underappreciated.  This is why I think Fredo is the best.  It is why Dumbo is my favorite Disney movie.  It is why I never like to root for the obvious or bet on the favorite.

I ordered something off Amazon the other day that epitomizes this obsession with being a contrarian.  So, my best friend from childhood works at Disney World, which means one of the lovely perks when I visit is free trips to the park.  On each of these visits, I lament to her my frustrations at being unable to attain enough Dumbo merchandise or why Figment at Epcot Center deserves a higher profile position within the empire.

What I mostly bitch about though is The Muppet Ride and Bean Bunny.  If you’ve been to Disney World in the past 15 years or so, you’ve likely opted to check out this show in an attempt to get out of the sun.  You’ve probably also wondered who that bunny in a cardigan is. He’s Bean.

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Bean first came into existence back in 1986 in the Jim Henson non-Muppet character special “The Tale of the Bunny Picnic”, which is a riff on Peter and the Wolf combined with the story of the Trojan horse (strange, I realize, but the music is damned catchy). With bunnies.  Bean is the star and the bunny who cries wolf, or in this instance, dog, and constantly finds himself in trouble with his kin.  After the success of Bunny Picnic, Bean was incorporated into the Muppet cast of characters.

The whole schtick of Bean is that he is cute to the point of insufferability.  The other Muppets draw attention to his cuteness in a wholly negative manner, but keep him around for reasons I haven’t quite figured out yet.  Henson and company even went so far to incorporate Baby Bean into the Muppet Babies cartoon in the later seasons, where he was voiced by none other than Uncle Joey, Dave Coulier of Full House fame.

Most people hate Bean because he doesn’t have much going for him besides his sharp cardigan and his unerring precociousness.  Being three years old when Bunny Picnic was released, I was obsessed with Bean and would get rather impatient with the other Muppets bagging on him all the time.  He just wants to be cute and have friends, and young me didn’t understand the humor in the obnoxiousness of his cuteness once removed from the Bunny Picnic setting.  Over time, I grew to love the schtick, but still maintain unironic love for Bean, who seemed to always be getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop in various Muppet capers.

Eventually, the Henson company seemed to give up on making Bean happen.  The Jason Segel reboot of The Muppets did not include him, yet managed to include every other Muppet that ever existed.  I normally give Segel carte blanche to do whatever he wants, as he is super talented, but not cool Marshall, not cool. 

I get similarly irritated that the Muppet attraction at Disney World, developed in the early 1990s in the peak of Bean-dom prominently features Bean in the attraction, including an adorable, fuzzy animatronic version of him, but once you get to the gift shop, there is no Bean to be found. Not a stuffed toy, not a t-shirt, not a pencil, nothing.  The best friend has to deal with my ire every time we are there, even though her role within the Mouse corporation has nothing to do with retail inventory.

My love for furry cute things others find obnoxious extends to the Star Wars universe as well.  Return of the Jedi is WAY my favorite of the movies and it is mostly to do with the Ewoks.  In actuality, my favorite Star Wars universe movie is Ewoks: Battle for Endor, but I try not to say that out loud too often, as it would ruin any nerd/film nerd street cred I have left.  This is purely a nostalgia thing.  The two Ewoks movies played on the Disney Channel constantly growing up, so I simply watched them dozens of times more than the original franchise, kind of like how kids now are obsessed with Clone Wars, but could care less about the movies.

What I am getting at here is that I love Wicket.  He is my favorite.  That pudgy, furry little bear cub of a creature is the best and one of the more underrated characters in the Star Wars universe if I do say so myself.  Like I said at the beginning, I realize these characters are pretty unredeemable to everyone else. I’m sure most think of them as the Cousin Oliver of their respective franchises, but I don’t care.

Today, the greatest figurine in history arrived at my doorstep.  I discovered it on Amazon a few months ago when I was typing “Bean Bunny” into the search function to prove to Lindsay he was neglected.  Instead, I found a figurine issued for a special Disney Star Wars weekend last year celebrating the 30th anniversary of Return of the Jedi (coincidentally the same year I celebrated the 30th anniversary of me).  This, ladies and gentlemen, is Bean Bunny dressed up as fucking Wicket. Damn straight:

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I don’t know who did the research and figured out that those folks who love Bean Bunny probably love Wicket for the very same reasons.  Perhaps it was just a happy coincidence or perhaps these people invaded my wildest dreams and tried to satisfy them with this unbelievable concoction.  Either way, there is probably no one on Earth as excited that this thing exists as I do.  In a world where fandom and its offerings are becoming increasingly more precise, I am still beyond floored that this exists, that is how off the wall it is.

Amazingly, I did not buy this thing right away, as I am an adult and have to have a pretty good reason to drop $30 on a toy.  I added it to my Amazon Wish List though and, as I continued to check on it, the price continued to drop.  Once it dipped below $20, I decided it was time to pull the trigger not because I was a collector or because I needed an action figure that badly, but because someone needs to love Bean Bunny and Wicket and I am just the contrarian to do it.

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