Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Bradford Exchange Yellow Brick Road Adventures Plate Collection

Beautiful new plate series with original art by Steve Chorney.    First issue in the collection is If I Only Had a Brain featuring a Scarecrow sculpture surrounded by a montage of film scenes.   Measures 6 1/2" in diameter.   $39.95 plus shipping. 

Friday, April 14, 2006

Must Reads for 2005

One of the truly great Oz books was written by one of the MGM film's original Munchkins. Anticipation was high and this book did not disappoint. With the assistance of Lt. Daniel Kinske, Munchkin Coroner Meinhardt Raabe has proven himself an engaging raconteur. They have organized Mr. Raabe's memories into a charming novel that belongs on every Oz enthusiast's bookshelf. Mr. Raabe regularly appears at Oz events, but for those of us that are unable to attend, this book is the next best thing.

Mr. Raabe's real life is just as colorful as his adventures in Oz. He vividly describes the challenges he faced as a little person and he more than rose to every occasion with grace and good humor. His fond reminisces of Judy Garland are very touching and a joy for Judy Garland fans to read.

The book is lavishly illustrated with never before seen photos and original art work by many of the leading modern artists.

As far as Munchkin fandom goes I am very embarrassed to admit that I'm a late bloomer. For the most part, Oz for me was Judy Garland and Toto. This book sure helped to change my attitude. I am very grateful to Lt. Daniel Kinske and to Meinhardt Raabe for sharing his memories, wit, and heart with all of us. Mr Raabe himself is a treasure and this book is a gem that outshines any ruby or emerald.

I think the other big book for 2005 was The Grimmerie by David Cote. Named for a book of spells, it is a nice history of the Broadway Musical Wicked that's been casting it's own spell on sell out crowds for almost 3 years now. It's a great keepsake for fans of the musical, but be aware this book is full of spoilers. If you haven't seen the show yet and want to be surprised, then The Grimmerie may not be for you just yet.

I got a sense that the author of this book and the creators of the musical were sensitive to and respect the origins of Oz. The Oz timeline was a nice inclusion and I thought the scattering of illustrations from the original Oz books throughout the Grimmerie was a nice touch as well.
Hopefully it will inspire more people to explore the world L. Frank Baum created.

My biggest disappointment was that few photos were original to this book. Most have already been seen in the souvenir program, the cd booklet, and the official website. But I found the section where the actors give their perspectives on the characters they play very enlightening.

Overall, the Grimmerie is an enjoyable tome delving into the creation of Wicked the musical.

Lions 'N' Tigers 'N' Bears!

I absolutely love Wizard of Oz teddy bears. I love teddy bears anyway, but my resources are entirely devoted to Oz collectibles. When Oz characters are made I then have an excuse to buy teddy bears. Quite a variety of teddy bear related items was seen in 2005.

The plush bears made by Boyds were released late 2004. These were a big hit with many stores selling out their stock. The bears of the four main characters were featured on afghans, wall hangings and pillows and a set of stickers was made with all 6 plush characters.   

In addition to the plush, Boyds also a successful resin line of figurines. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Shoebox figurines are jointed for posing. This is a darling little set especially if you've missed Boyd's previous resin pieces.

Cuddle Factory has produced one of the best plush teddy bear sets. This set of 7 based on the MGM characters is huggably soft and each has the Wizard of Oz logo embroidered on their foot. The costuming is really detailed and they measure 9 inches tall when seated. Toto and the Cowardly Lion are especially adorable as teddy bears in disguise.

Enesco's Cherished Teddies Wonderful Wizard of Oz set was offered as Avon exclusives. These 2 1/2 inch resin figurines made up a really cute set. Again, if you missed the 1999 set of Cherished Teddies, this is a nice substitute.

The big surprise came in mid-September from Build-A-Bear. The store where you can fully customize your own teddy bear had a line Wizard of Oz costumes and fully dressed bears as part of their Halloween line. Most stores only stocked the Tin Man and Dorothy costumes, but all of the outfits and fully dressed bears could be purchased from Build-A-Bear's website. The dressed Dorothy and costume were sold out by Halloween, but the website still has most of the other characters available.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Collectible Review 2005 Hallmark Ruby Slippers

The Ruby Slippers have become a whole new collectible entity unto themselves. A plethora of Ruby Slippers merchandise has flooded the market to drain pocket books. Salt & Pepper shakers , jewelry, umbrellas, suncatchers, music boxes, flower pot feet, banks, two documentaries, and a full length novel; all devoted to the shoes. One build an entire collection centered on the ruby slippers. They've gone from a pretty $13 pair of footwear to a cultural phenomenon. There seems to be more than a bit of mania surrounding the slippers. Sadly, a pair was even stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in June and have yet to be recovered.

There's something magical about Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments too. A holiday institution since 1973 Christmas just isn't Christmas without the purchase of at least one Hallmark ornament. Hallmark has produced an array of Oz ornaments since 1994, but it's the ruby slippers that seem in constant high demand. A set of miniature ruby slippers from 1999 are listed in a Hallmark value guide at a whopping $84, but can be had on eBay for around $20. However, around the holidays the price tends to rise.

Hallmark made a larger pair of light up ruby slippers for 2005 available only to Hallmark Keepsake Club members. They completely sold out by October and unfortunately many Hallmark and Oz collectors missed out. Many orders placed early in the year were lost due to a computer glitch, but this ornament has been selling for an average of $54 on eBay.

This year there is another miniature ornament of the ruby slippers accompanied by Glinda's accoutrements. These will be available beginning July 15th along with two other Oz ornaments. Be sure to mark your calendars!!!!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Mythical Fantasy Figurines!!! Warriors of Oz - CANCELLED

Warning: This is probably more appropriate for the 18+ crowd as Dorothy is a bit scantily clad. Not too bad, but still and if you don't like alternate visions of Oz then this is not for you. 

I just now found this this looking for info about something else. I think these are just really cool! I'll have to look into getting a Dorothy for myself for sure.

Breaking Hallmark News

The Magic of Glinda is a set of three miniatures; Glinda's wand, crown, and the ruby slippers. They are priced at $15.00

Glinda the Good Arrives is Glinda in her bubble also priced at $15.00

The Magic ornament is Dorothy and the Munchkins. Dorothy stands atop a spiraling yellow brick road that lights up while Munchkins peek out from the foliage. Dorothy speaks and the Munchkins appear and disappear as Dorothy rotates. This piece is $32.00

I didn't see another date specified so I assume these ornaments will be available in July.

Hallmark also brings us a Wizard of Oz tablepiece this year. "I'll Get You My Pretty" is the Munchkinland scene of the Wicked Witch threatening Dorothy. It lights up and moves. This is priced at $65 and will not be available until October. This is a Hallmark Gold Crown exclusive.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

2005 Oz Collectible Review Figurines

For those not familiar with Charming Tails, they are Fitz and Floyd's adorable line of figurines of mice and other forest dwelling critters inspired by the area artist Dean Griff grew up in. Mice played a pivotal role in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz so I guess a mouse Oz figurine is more than appropriate. "May Your Shoes Bring You Home Again" is a part of the Charming Tails with Sole collection which has mice and ladybugs with various footwear. These darling figurines are hand painted resin and 3 inches high. The ruby slipper is encrusted with little red "jewels". The little mouse is holding a basket with a gingham cloth inside. This piece is such a delightful homage to Oz.

Dept. 56 is a company that truly has something for everyone. They are probably best known for their resin and ceramic miniature buildings that make up their Christmas villages. Many pieces illuminate and are animated in one way or another. Dept. 56 also offers an extensive Halloween line, national landmarks, and hot licenses such as Disney, M & M's, Peanuts, Coca Cola, and the Wizard of Oz. The Dept. 56 Oz pieces seem to be some of the must haves of 2005.

"We're Not in Kansas Anymore" shows Dorothy's tornado battered farmhouse with the ruby slippered feet of the Wicked Witch of the East jutting out from underneath. The house lights up and is accompanied by 3 figurines of curious munchkins. It's companion piece is "Follow the Yellow Brick Road", a figurine of Glinda and the Munchkins bidding Dorothy farewell as she and Toto start off on their journey.

"Want to Play, Scarecrow?" makes a unique scene not often seen in collectibles. The Wicked Witch makes a menacing figure on the roof of the Tin Man's cabin as she prepares to hurl a ball of fire at the frightened trio of the Tin Man, Dorothy holding Toto, and the Scarecrow while a fighting apple tree looks on. The Tin Man's cabin is also a light up piece.

Next we have "The Spooky Forest", a scene depicting the fearful foursome and Toto as they plod through the Haunted Forest to do battle with the Wicked Witch. Toto is standing at the base of the Haunted Forest sign looking up at the gnarled tree where vultures and owls are perched. Dorothy is looking at her three jittery companions; the Tin Man holding his trusty axe and shouldering a large wrench, the Cowardly Lion holds tight to his net and witch remover while being held in mid-air by his two friends, and the Scarecrow is holding a staff. It's companion piece is the formidable castle of the Wicked Witch of the West. A Winkie stands on the drawbridge guarding the entryway to the castle. The Witch, in all her beautiful wickedness, stands high up in a turret commanding the winged monkeys that are hovering overhead. The castle lights up and the monkeys actually rotate. 

All of the pieces have the quality you can expect from Dept. 56. Recently, a figurine entitled "We're Off to See the Wizard" was added to this collection and I hope to see more releases later this year. 

Westland Giftware has been producing a wide range of Oz collectibles. Some of their best is their new Wizard of Oz alphabet series. They are 3 to 4 inches tall yellow brick road letters outlined in red with a character or object representative of each letter. There is also a 23 inch tall display shelf to showcase your entire alphabet. This is a very cute item to teach little Oz lovers their A-B-C's or something a teacher may want for the classroom. You could get your initials, spell your or your favorite character's name. An Oz fan could have a lot of fun with this set.

Some of my very favorite Oz collectibles are of other established popular characters putting their own lovable spin on the wonderful characters of Oz. These pieces really add a touch of whimsy to the Oz collection. Hello Kitty, Betty Boop, Jessica Rabbit, Precious Moments, and the Muppets are just a few well loved figures who have taken a detour down the yellow brick road. Now the Hamilton Collection brings us "There's No Place Like Springfield."

In lieu of the Emerald City, Springfield's nuclear power plant serves as the base to this set. Monty Burns peers ominously from the smoke billowing from the stacks. Bart is the Scarecrow, Homer is the Cowardly Lion, Marge is Dorothy, Maggie is Toto, and Lisa is the Tin Man. This is wonderful for Simpsons fans, Oz fans, or anyone with a great sense of fun. I don't have this piece myself just yet, but it looks hilarioz and I want to add it to my collection soon and I hope many of you will consider doing the same.

Lenox usually produces fine Ivory china figurines with 24 K gold accents bearing little to no color. They started the Oz series in 2003 with Dorothy produced in muted tones. However they would have chosen to issue this series, I was very much looking forward to adding a Lenox piece to my collection, but I am very glad they opted for some color. Without a hint of hues the pieces would have appeared more suited to the drabness of Kansas than the vibrant land of Oz.
Dorothy was followed by the Scarecrow, the Wicked Witch, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion. In 2005, Lenox continued their superb line with Glinda.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Department 56 Spring Intros

I interrupt our regularly scheduled 2005 re-cap to bring you breaking Oz collectible news.
New from Dept. 56........

The Bejeweled Collection now has 7 Wizard of Oz pieces. They are hinged enamel boxes with real lead crystal accents. Priced from around $40 to $55 they are the witch's castle, Toto, Wicked Witch (melting), Emerald City, Dorothy's house, Wizard's balloon, and Yellow Brick Road (Dorothy and munchkins).

There is also an addition to the Hot Properties collection. The We're Off to see the Wizard figurine captures Dorothy, Toto, and friends arm in arm on the yellow brick road.

To see the rest of Dept. 56's bejeweled collection please check out  Storyland Collectables.

There's more great Dept. 56 items on this page and please check out the rest of the site. Lots of curiozities there to add to the collection!