Great! Puppets, right? Well, the first thing that popped into my head was the George Lucas/Jim Henson collaboration, Labyrinth starring Jennifer Connelly, David Bowie, and "The Junk Lady" - who seems a lot like the backpacking alien above.
Check this out this clip (and, no, I don't endorse or know what the website at the top of the clip is all about)...
Pretty cool, in my humble opinion. If Abrams is as big of a fan as he says in the first clip, expect to see more wonderful nods to great classic films within the next chapter of SW. After all, it's embedded in Star Wars to reference the past.