Friday, May 26, 2006

Best of 2005 Wrap-Up

I've decided to end 2005 with a couple of real stand outs. The first is something unique and beautiful that should delight most, if not all, Oz collectors and the second should charm the little ones. Okay, the big ones too!!

Bradford Editions brings us the Wizard of Oz Illuminated Mobile Collection. This is exactly the type of collectible that I love to see. It forgoes the stale Oz imagery and gives us something fresh and creative. The mobile will definitely be one of the focal points no matter how many pieces you have in your collection.

I have not seen the mobile in person yet, but Robyn Bodine was kind enough to provide a picture of her partial mobile. Other that own this piece have been giving it rave reviews. (Click on the picture to see it larger)

Five sets complete the mobile that measures two feet long when fully assembled. Set number one is your mobile display hanger of the Emerald City with a luminous rainbow arching overhead. The Emerald City is followed by strands of "jewels" with Oz characters or icons. Amongst all the strands is spiraling yellow brick road in the shape of a tornado. I think incorporating the tornado shape into the yellow brick road was a very clever way to get across two ideas at once. Except for the Wizard, all of the major Oz characters are included.

This gorgeous piece is sure to be on many collectors' want lists.

Thank you Robyn for sharing the pic of your mobile. Those interested in purchasing may contact Karen Owens of Storyland Collectables at

Most Oz items in recent years have been geared toward "collectors". There doesn't seem to be much Oz merchandise that is really meant for play. L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Block Buddies allows children to re-enact scenes from the book or the movie or they can create their own Ozian adventures. Mega Blocks' playset is sure to stimulate imagination. This 15 piece musical set has been honored with awards from the National Parenting Center and Creative Child Magazine. Included are light up articulated figures, the Emerald City, yellow brick road, and Wicked Witch's tower. It is priced around $30 - $40 and looks like a great alternative to computers and t.v.

This concludes my review of 2005. By no means is this a complete list of last year's releases. I wanted to highlight several collectibles that I felt were particularly outstanding and many of the product lines carry over into this year. There's already been some exciting announcements for 2006 and I know there will be surprises to keep us on our toes. Please keep checking back for 2006 news.

Friday, May 19, 2006

New From Boyds

New for Fall 2006 Boyds has issued another set of plush Wizard of Oz ornaments. Good news for those that missed the first set which was a QVC exclusive. The QVC set only included Dorothy holding Toto, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion and was a quick sell out. Those of us that missed them the first time around will be delighted with the new set which includes Dorothy sans Toto, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, Glinda, and the Wicked Witch. They come in an attractive gift box. From what I can tell from the Boyds site, aside from the omission of Toto, these look to be miniature versions of the plush 8 inch bears and look just as darling.  

Friday, May 12, 2006

Judy Garland Stamp

By now most of you already know of the Legends of Hollywood Judy Garland stamp scheduled for release on Saturday June 10th. The stamp will debut in New York City and will only be available there on the first day of release. The stamp should be available in post offices around the country on Monday June 12th. Judy Garland has been featured on a USPS stamp before as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. It's nice to see Judy Garland honored as herself. I'm sure this will be very popular.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

THE Must Have of 2005

The land over the rainbow glimmers with more dazzle and brilliance than ever before. The ultra resolution process has done wonders for an already wondrous film. The ruby slippers have never shone rubier, the sparkles on Glinda's dress are mesmerizing, and enough can't be said of the luminous Judy Garland. No matter how many times you have seen The Wizard of Oz, you have not SEEN The Wizard of Oz until you've feasted your eyes on Warner Brothers' new treatment of the beloved classic.

The Wizard of Oz was treated to a lavish three disc collector's edition complete with re-prints of rare magazines, photos, and promotional items. The audio commentary is worth several listens to take in all the trivia and interview clips. The extras will keep even the most casual viewer enthralled for hours.

The movie itself gets and A+. The radiance of Oz defies imagination. The extras I give two grades depending on the audience. For the budding Oz enthusiasts and average film buffs, I give the extras an A. But for the hardcore Oz fans, I give the extras a B-. I loved the extras, but in my opinion the new documentaries were not long enough. As far as I'm concerned Warner Brothers could release a boxed set of Oz documentaries. I thought the absence of a Judy bio was really odd. How could they have a bio of every major cast member except her?

Nit picking aside, Entertainment Weekly's number 1 DVD of 2005 should be part of every DVD collection.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Oz Comics

Oz the Manga by Antarctic Press is one of my favorite Oz comic series. I love the manga art and I'm so happy to see the characters represented in this art form. Right now I have issues 1 - 3 and the epilogue. So far these comics follow 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' well taking few liberties such as the introduction of the Wicked Witch of the West in the first issue where in the original novel the witch didn't appear until much later. Suitable for all ages this would serve very well as an introduction to Baum's original tales. My only minor complaint is that the illustrations are in black and white, but they are nonetheless, still very charming. There are 8 issues all together and one epilogue. A pocket sized graphic novel is due for release this summer.

Alias comics brings us OzF5: Gale Force graphic novel #1. I do hope there are more issues. Objectionable material is very slight if at all. The Wicked Witch of the East looks like a bikini clad Amazon Queen and the Cowardly Lion tears off the face of a Kalidah. No harsh language. I would guess this would be appropriate for the younger teens and up.

One of the striking features of this comic is the cover. It is printed on heavy stock and the Oz characters have a glossy finish while the rest of the cover is a matte finish. Very nice effect. The artwork overall is striking with vivid colors that pop from the pages.

I really enjoyed the clever nuances in this comic. The comic starts out in a sepia toned Oz as the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion fight the Winkie armies commanded by the Wicked Witch of the East. After the Gale farmhouse has vanquished the witch Dorothy arrives in technicolor brandishing a water gun ready to do battle. The Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion have been given nationalities which oddly enough really seem to suit the characters while they still retain the original qualities Baum gave them. There's a little twist at the end that I'll leave for you to discover.

The pacing was a bit too fast, but that is supposed to be corrected in future issues. I also would have liked the Wicked Witch of the West to have been a more formidable foe. All in all, this graphic novel is a delight and the story has been given a new sense of fun and whimsy.

The wizards at Illusive Arts Entertainment bring us a sleek sci-fi trek through Oz simply entitled 'Dorothy'. Without the benefit of a yellow brick road to guide her, Dorothy's journey is anything but simple. The sweet farmgirl we are all familiar with has been turned into an angst ridden teenager suddenly plucked from her seemingly dismal life to face some outer planetary realm fraught with peril at every turn. This comic series is not for the younger sci-fi or Oz enthusiasts as it does contain course language and drug references.
Painstaking work is put into every issue, from the costuming and make-up to the digital photography and graphic art. It takes approximately two months to produce a single issue. Tentative plans call for twenty issues for the entire series. A graphic novel comprised of issues 1 - 4 was released recently and Chapter 5 arrived at comic shops not long after.
As of this writing, I've only read Chapter 3 where Dorothy is attacked by a large serpent in a cave. This incident is reminiscent of a chapter from L. Frank Baum's 'Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz' where Dorothy and her companions encounter a family of hungry dragons inside the bowels of a mountain. Though I've read only one issue, I find the plot intriguing. It has the same basic premise as 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' of course, but it also takes wild liberties that make this story a compelling re-imagining of a classic fable.

Unfortunately, only 7 issues and one trade paperback were completed.  Please see these links for more information: