As for 'puppets' and such, I cannot see neither Del Toro or Peter Jackson producing anything less then a Hollywood Blockbuster for this movie. And I'm all for the Muppets, but these days I don't think that's what everyone is looking for in the hit new movie.
The thing I just can't imagine is Smaug as a puppet and not looking ridiculously cheesy. I understand that many children are clinged to this book and are probably looking forward to the movie as well... but... what child doesn't
like to see the eye candy that is graphically animated fire burning down Laketown to rubble?
Perhaps that's just me, but anways. I think the cheesy comics and the previous cartoon movie of the Hobbit could suffice to the children, I believe they should and will bring out something for the Tolkien-Lovers.