Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Collector's Story

Many collectors can recall their first introduction to The Wizard of Oz with perfect clarity.  I have no such memory.  It's just always seemed to be a part of me and my family life like birthdays and Christmas.  At that time, The Wizard of Oz was shown on television only once a year, but our parents made sure Oz wasn't any farther than our fingertips.  The books and records that survived my older brothers were handed down to me.  
Reilly and Lee hardcover white editions circa 1964 - 1965

I'm not sure if these came down from my brothers but they do pre-date me.  Walt Disney Records 1969 and  Original Soundtrack Recording 1970
Family Christmas 1969. The younger of my two older brothers with his Remco Tin Man Robot.  Unfortunately, I didn't get my hands on it.  It was only fairly recently I realized what was in these photos.  

Remco Tin Man Robot 1969
Photo Courtesy
Throughout my childhood, I was given toys and books which I had meant to keep forever regardless of how tattered and torn they became. Until one day some misguided adult tossed my beloved memorabilia into the trash.
This is an old eBay photo. These I've yet to replace but these were the beauty sets I had.  Maybe the bath beads as well.  I thought the art work on these kits was so beautiful.  I still think these are some of the  most nicely packaged items.  Ansehl Company of St. Louis 1976
My most beloved Oz books.  Thank goodness these are not terribly hard to find.  

Craft House 1979
Souvenirs from the Land of Oz theme park in North Carolina  1970 - 1980.  My brothers went in 1971 and I'd go 8 years later.  Miraculously, these were spared the fate of my Oz books and toys. 
Some of my very favorite dolls and a BIG favorite among Oz collectors.  Mego 1975, but they were sold into the 1980s.  I went through two sets and an Emerald City.
Here's another really gorgeously illustrated Oz item.  Cadaco board game 1974 - 1989

Then the ultimate horror............I was just out of high school and I thought maybe I should let go of Oz.  Time to be an adult. I didn't discard the precious few items I had left, but I didn't seek to add more.  That hiatus was about two years. I didn't realize what a void there was until I started collecting.

My epiphany came via a stranger wearing a Looney Tunes tie. Yes. A grown man wearing a Looney Tunes tie.  I was slogging through another day of working fast food and there he was. Something in that tie struck me.  I couldn't say what it was, but in that moment I knew it was okay.  Bugs Bunny is okay. Mickey Mouse is okay. THE WIZARD OF OZ IS OKAY!!!! I was flooded with such relief and joy.  There are many roads in life. Why should I not pave one with yellow brick?

But where to start? A 1989 issue of Hollywood Studio Magazine nudged me in the right direction.  There were ads for newsletters and The International Wizard of Oz Club. Then came the publication of The Wizard of Oz Collector's Treasury by Jay Scarfone and William Stillman.  In it's pages I saw many of my former playthings and thus was given a definitive answer. I would start by replacing what I'd lost. 

I went to my first doll show in search of  The Wizard of Oz Mego dolls. I came out with the newly released Judy Bearland by North American Bear.  However, I did make a contact and was able to acquire the Mego dolls and Emerald City playset later. 

Judy Bearland by North American Bear 1993
I decided early on I wanted to be a very engaged collector rather than a passive one.  There's so much more to collecting than putting an item on a shelf.  I looked everywhere for Oz. Antique malls, gift shops, and flea markets.  I studied every doll, toy, and collectible book and magazine I could get my hands on.  I wanted to learn about not only the collectibles, but the companies that made them.  With the advent of the internet, it was easier to be interactive.  First with other collectors in various forums, eBay, specialty online retailers, and eventually with my blogs.  

I have a keen interest in everything Wizard of Oz and I showcase as much as possible on my blogs, but it's Dorothy and Toto I cherish above all.  High value and rarity, though sometimes nice, aren't that important to me. I like anything that makes my heart melt so I'll collect whatever catches  my fancy.  I can't pick any one piece as a stand out, but dolls are a definite focus for me.  I currently have 139 Dorothys alone. I also have two Thomas Kinkade framed canvases that are a great source of pride. 

Some of my older items:

I don't know much about her, but I'm just fascinated with actress Anna Laughlin, the first real live Dorothy. This is a 1904 magazine clipping.
First Edition Road to Oz by L. Frank Baum    1909

1939 magazine

Some of my newer additions:

Madame Alexander Dorothy Arrives in Munchkinland   2014

Jim Shore releases June 2015    

Hallmark Itty Bittys  2015

Couple of shelves from my Oz room:

Madame Alexander Cissy  Edition of 500   2003,  Franklin Mint Dorothy 2000,  and Franklin Mint  1987 - 1990s.  My picture does not do these dolls justice. 

Some of my Tonners and Wilde Imaginations
Some of my Madame Alexanders
My Dorothy shelf
My Toto shelf

Wizard of Oz collecting ebbs and flows like everything else. Interest in collecting in general has waned some, but all things do come around and everything old will be new again.  The Wizard of Oz is so ingrained in our culture it never really goes out of style.  There's Oz characters on the hit television show Once Upon a Time,  a forthcoming live telecast of The Wiz, rumors of an L. Frank Baum biopic starring an Oscar winning actor.  Before we know it, the 80th anniversary of the most beloved film of all time will be upon us.  Oz awareness will peak as never before and the collector's market will take notice. Even during a lull, no one really strays too far from Emerald City.  I know I won't ever again.  

Thank you to 
for suggesting this blog entry. Invaluable hosts the world's premiere auctions. Many Wizard of Oz auctions featured right now in their memorabilia section including an original script and pressbook!!

Thank you to my Dad for sending me family photos across the country!!! 

Thank you to Mathew Wallis for making my photos presentable.

Thank you to Scarfone and Stillman.  Oz collectors would be lost without you! 

Links to collectibles featured in this blog entry:

And this book is a must, must, MUST for anyone interested in Wizard of Oz collecting:

I love, love, LOVE to research for my blog.  Here are some of my favorite blog entries:

Ruby Slippers at the Smithsonian and collecting Ruby Slippers:

Tarina Tarantino:

McDonald's Happy Meal Toys:

Thomas Kinkade:

Dylan's Candy Bar:

Ugly Doll:

Friday, August 07, 2015

Hallmark Itty Bittys Shipping August 10th

The eagerly anticipated limited releases of Toto and the flying monkey are slated to begin shipping to stores on August 10th.  They are $6.95 each.  Shortly after an Itty Bitty collector's case will be in stores for $19.95.  The new case has just enough slots to hold the entire Oz collection.  

Also due in stores any day is the 2015 gift line.