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Beyond Kansas: The Wizard of Oz players are exceptional, collectible characters. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Wednesday, 16 October 2013 10:33

The Wizard of Oz has gotten the Yellow Brick Road treatment from Steiff.
Sold out at Steiff USA, the 11.42-inch version of Dorothy was a scene stealer.
Dorothy was issued by Steiff in an apt 1,939 edition, honoring the film’s 1939 release.
The bigger Steiff Dorothy had a great-looking ruby red ID on her paw.
Only standing 5 ½ inches tall, the tiny Oz rendering from Steiff is available for 9.
Toto has been unleashed by Steiff.
Sold out, the Steiff version of the Wicked Witch had collectors sweeping down to grab her up.
In 2014, the “Wizard of Oz” cast will have been linking arms and crooning for 75 years.
The Kurt S. Adler company created the four memorable travelers in soft-art form.
Two sides of magic—good and evil. The Wicked Witch and Glinda were made by Kurt S. Adler.
The Cuddle Toy company re-created the heartthrob Tin Man.
The Scarecrow was searching for a brain—he was actually bright all along! This version was made by Cuddle.
Cuddle Toy worked its witchcraft with the ferociously magical Wicked Witch.
Meet the characters that have enchanted and enthralled for 75 years—the NABCO renderings of the Oz folks.
The Yellow Brick Road is more than just a glorified set in a movie. It’s geography that means the world to fans all over the world.
The Wizard of Oz has gotten the Yellow Brick Road treatment from Steiff.
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Back in 1938, money had different value. Sure, a quarter was worth 25 cents and a nickel was the same as five pennies, but the buying power for each dollar was mind-blowingly tremendous as compared to today.

Keep that in focus when you hear that the “Wizard of Oz” film cost anywhere from $2 million to $2,800,000 to produce! (That’s around $40 million to $47 million in today’s parlance.) The executives at MGM thought they had a winner with the musical and figured they would promote it heavily—even though they had to “settle” for Judy Garland as Dorothy. (Louis B. Mayer wanted Shirley Temple for the lead part and agreed to let the workaholic, always-reliable Judy try her hand at the role.)

The Oz film had its share of backstage drama—Buddy Ebsen as the Tin Man had to drop out because of an allergic reaction to the silver paint, swinging open the door for Jack Haley. Bert Lahr and Ray Bolger, who were used to the star treatment on Broadway, constantly butted heads with one another and did everything in their power to try to hog the screen when given the chance. (Movie mavens say to watch the quartet as they dance down the Yellow Brick Road. You can practically see the Scarecrow and the Lion giving Dorothy subtle, and not so subtle, nudges. Judy had to fight hard to stay center stage.)

Despite pre-release jitters, the publicity machine rolled out the red carpet for the film’s premiere in 1939, and the reviews were heavenly. Box-office receipts turned a profit, but not as much as the executives had hoped. When it was re-released in 1949, ten years later, then the coffers rang to the tune that made the MGM folks happy.

In 1956, “The Wizard of Oz” aired for the first time on TV, and then didn’t return to the small screen until three years later. In 1959, on its 20th anniversary, it played on CBS as an early Christmas special. The ratings were enormous. After that, the movie became an annual expectation.

This year—2013—marks the 75th anniversary of its making, and 2014 will be the 75th marking of its public release. As you can imagine, the Oz fanciers are “Over the Rainbow” with happiness. Oodles of collectibles are being fashioned to venerate this screen classic. It’s been dubbed the “world’s most viewed film,” and that is probably true, not just hyped PR fluff. With its legion of vocal and passionate fans, the movie is perfect for making memorabilia and mementoes.

Steiff has lovely brand-new tributes to the Oz characters. “Dorothy, the Wizard of Oz Miniature Bear” is a delight in her recognizable gingham pinafore and her adorably glitzy ruby red shoes. Priced at $149, she is absolutely a scene-stealer.  She’s 5 ½ inches tall, made of cream mohair, and limited to a very apt 1,939 pieces!

Also coming to the Cineplex of your heart is Steiff’s interpretation of the “Wicked Witch of the West.” Measuring 11 inches, made of green mohair, the witch has already sold out of its 1,939 edition pieces. Collectors are having to search auction sites and secondhand sellers for a chance to capture this green meanie. The “Wicked Witch of the West” debuted at a $275 price tag.

Still in stock at Steiff USA is their Toto. Also issued in 1,939 pieces—you see the theme—the charming canine is still for sale at $125. However, Toto’s owner, Dorothy, in her larger 11.42-inch version, has sold out.

Steiff has a wonderful lineup with its Wizard handiwork, and it’s not alone in having saluted some of the beloved film’s major players.

Over the years, soft-toy manufacturers, like NABCO, Cuddle Toy, and Kurt S. Adler, have fashioned salutes to the newfound friends who band together to meet a wizard, beat a witch, find their inner strengths, and discover their heart’s content.

And, like Dorothy so memorably utters at the movie’s heart-tugging conclusion, “And this is my room, and you’re all here. And I’m not going to leave here ever, ever again, because I love you all!  And . . . oh, Auntie Em, there’s no place like home!”