(CNN) — Another year, another summer movie schedule overflowing with big-budget CGI blockbusters.
Moviegoers' cravings for fantastical spectacle are being fulfilled by giant robot warriors in "Pacific Rim," comic book superheroics from "The Wolverine" and "Man Of Steel," and explosive action in "White House Down."
But in the days before CGI, special effects virtuosos had already sculpted far-flung worlds and incredible creatures using only miniature models, optical illusions and good old-fashioned puppetry.
Even today, the big screen's puppet stars from E.T. to Kermit the Frog can claim to have made an emotional connection with audiences that CGI still aspires to emulate.
To celebrate the achievements of the special effects pioneers from cinema's past, we take a look back at film's most impressive and moving puppet heroes. Check out the gallery above.