A word of warning. If you want to not care about something, do not give it to me. I will assign it a personality and make it into something. My family has learned this the hard way, as various socks and belts that were destined to be thrown out suddenly grew personalities of their own and made it really hard to get rid of them.
These get thrown out anyway, of course.
I have a long history with puppets and puppetry. To some extent, my assigning personalities to the various Lego minifigures is a form of puppetry, to the extent that it is the same skill set necessary to make a believable puppet. But I suppose that the first time I really used a puppet for an audience was sometime during my high school years. I was the puppeteer for a rabbit at my church’s VBS for the summer, and sometime during the spring I was given the puppet to work with, so that I was comfortable with the movements and could make the rabbit really believable. I took the rabbit everywhere, getting as much practice in with it as I could (if it is not clear by now, I don’t do things by halves). I took a fair amount of ribbing from other students when I brought it to school, but that was not uncommon – I was always taking ribbing for doing unusual things. I do remember one of my teachers wondering why I “had my hand up a rabbit’s @**;” that was something that I was rather flustered in explaining. But the performances went very well, so I was well pleased with the results of my efforts.
Of course, puppets didn’t stop with the rabbit. I’ve had several puppets over the years, including a very nice bobcat puppet that, snuggled in my arms, has convinced several people that she is, in fact, a real cat. The secret, of course, is to have the puppet work come second nature – just have your hands doing cat-like things while you hold conversations unrelated to the puppet.
Puppets have made their way into my various scout projects, as well. Mr. Bellamy was a pirate puppet that I taught my son how to work, and I built a stage for Mr. Bellamy for day camp one year. King Aethelred the Red and Ready joined the gang of puppets, although he never really made an appearance at camp.
My favorite puppets are the ones that are not puppets at all, but stuffed animals with enough elasticity that I can make them move and dance as they will. Beanie Babies are really good for this, especially the original cat design; I have had many of them do the “Beanie Baby Dance,” something that gets odd loks every time it is performed.
Papageno the Penguin, however, is probably the most developed personality that I have given to a (non-puppet) puppet. He is a stuffed penguin that I bought for my (then girlfriend, now ex-wife) many years ago; after we separated, he came to live with me. He is still dancing and sledding and generally being a nuisance to this day.