Best Puppet Ever!
In the August 2012 edition of the Pentecostal Evangel, I wrote a two page article on my experience and use of finger ring eye puppets, commonly referred to as Oobi eyes or Peepers.
I have years of experience working with these amazing puppets that usually are seen more as accessories than puppets, but they have the ability to turn a hand, or anything else for that matter, into a puppet.
What’s an Oobi?
Oobi was a famous children’s program here in America created by Little Airplane Productions
Geared toward toddlers on up to about 5 years old. My daughter loved watching Oobi for years.
Josh Selig, the developer of the series, created Oobi shortly after leaving Sesame Street, which he had a creative hand on since its first season. He developed the idea for Oobi while watching bare-handed puppeteers audition for Ulica Sezamkowa, the Polish version of Sesame Street.
The series features famous Muppet performers Tim Lagasse, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Noel MacNeal, and Tyler Bunch in starring roles.
This show actually popularized the use of the finger ring eye puppets, but they had a history long before the show.
It’s not a nostalgic history, but a good one nonetheless. The original purpose of these eyes was to train puppeteers without having to use quality investments to do so. Also, you can see how they are moving their hand inside the puppet, so this allows you to catch common mistakes as they are noticed with the bare fingers before they get noticed with a puppet, such as star gazing; you can notice fingers slowly positioning upwards before you will a puppet.
To this day, I still try to train my students with these before I let them even try on another puppet.
Can Get In Just About Anywhere
Not so much of late, but for years I often could be found with a pair of these eyes in my pocket. I have pulled them out in restaurants and made dinner rolls into puppets, I have pulled them out on a plane to Russia and entertained kids that couldn’t even speak English, I have have handed them out to people as gifts to spread the love of puppetry.
There are many places that you can’t get into with a large puppet, but since these things are so small and innocuous, you can take them just about anywhere.
It’s not just Oobi
Here is a YouTube link to a master puppeteer named. His use of these eyes in different sizes is amazing to watch.
I will often times, have my puppeteers make their own eyes to work with. It gives them a sense of ownership plus it allows them the creativity to add their own character to the eyes. Just looking at the pics, you can see that there isn’t anything complex about the construction, as long as it fits in a way that you can animate your hand (or foot) without them falling off unintentionally, then you are good.
However, if you want to buy them, there used to be a website that was www.Oobieyes.com, but it has since been taken down and now will lead you to a fandom page that still pays homage to the show. Now you can pick up inexpensive knockoffs on Amazon. Most are really small as they are designed for children’s fingers. Don’t get me wrong, these are awesome because you can buy them in bulk and pass them out to kids to hopefully spurn a new generation of puppeteers, so I encourage you to pick some up and just carry handfuls around with you to pass out. There are some out there for larger finger that are still pretty inexpensive compared to what they used to cost to get them from the official Oobi site.
If you can get your hands on a 2012 copy of the August edition of the Pentecostal Evangel, my article was well worth the read and in fact my first officially syndicated piece translated into multiple languages (So proud lol).
Have at least one pair in your arsenal of puppet and puppet accessories.