Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Oz: Clash of old and new.

So... I guess "The Wizard of Oz" doesn't only mean 1939, Technicolor, Over the Rainbow and Judy Garland anymore, right?. Heh. Fair warning:  This post is going to be a little bit image-heavy, so be patient while pictures load. Believe me, there are some cute ones you might want to check out ;D!!

My history with the Wizard of Oz begins –as most of everyone else's– during my childhood when I first watched the 1939 movie on TV. I was hooked instantly and insanely obsessed with Glinda's dress, floating bubble, the magical characters, the amazing scenery and of course, with Dorothy's Ruby slippers. I knew it was older than my time, but I proudly sported my Oz lunchbox to school and it seemed widely known by all, even the teachers. Lots of happiness everywhere!

Years went by and I kind of moved my fandom for Oz to the back burner of my mind. I mean, there were so many other things to ship and fangirl over during the 80s!! HAha. Then, during the 90s I  became obsessed with all things anime and Japan, which moved me further away from my old fandoms. It wasn't until the mid-00s is when I finally came in touch with Oz after randomly watching the movie at home. I remembered how beautiful and well made it was, how cute the characters were and how much happiness it had brought me. BAM! Instantly re-hooked. I started collecting the 75th Anniversary dolls, a few posters, and such. My full-on collector mode began somewhere in 2008 when I was actively browsing eBay for the goodies.

The thing about the Wizard is that there are 80+ years of collectibles out in market, and there's no single company or single line of dolls that are super recognizable that every collector NEEDS to own in order to have a worthy collection, or at least, not that I know of. Vintage figurines like MEGO are a must for doll collectors, but I personally don't find them very attractive. I'm all about the ruffles, the colors, the interesting designs, the sparkles and the pretty sculpts. Just because some dolls are old, doesn't mean they make good collectibles. Also, I deeply enjoy the different approaches to the stories. The books have been around for more than 100 years, fans all over the world have been making their own illustrations and designs for the characters and places. I find these items just as collectible as any of the "official merch" out there. Some are even cuter than what we already know. I've decided to also include in my collection a few other types of items that have interesting designs, for example these ornaments and the bento bag I had shared before:

I also found this vintage set of ceramic figurines on eBay. I tried to buy them but the seller "lost" the figurines after I bought them (I got a refund tho). What I really like about these is that they look almost like a hand-drawn illustrations and not sculptures, right? They're small but the details are so amazing, from the buttons on Tin-Man to The hair strands on Dorothy's pig-tails. Very eclectic and artsy, don't ya think? Cute!

But just because I like these different approaches, doesn't mean I don't like official merch based on the movies! I actually quite enjoy them! I have a few dollstoys, and posters I've showed off here before. but here are a few I haven't posted about yet. One of my favorite series, is the 2009 retro-inspired trifecta designed by Bill Greening (I think), and have not only the 50s style paint on their face, but also their costumes have been redesign to fit the era as well. I wasn't a huge fan of vintage Barbies until I saw these girls. It finally hit me how elegant and classy they are.

Other two items I really really wanted to get my hands on are the Tonner Wizard of Oz Dolls. These are actually quite contradictory of what I've been saying about alternate approaches because they are SPOT ON with every detail of clothing and accessories with the 1939 movie, but seriously, amazing dolls. Glinda is my favorite. Her dress is soooo puffy and I know you can't see it in these pics, but her dress is full of sparkles and stars (CYCYNBAIT!). Dorothy is lovely too, the face sculpt is a newer version that resembles Judy Garland a bit more than the first one. Her clothing is pretty accurate and I don't think I even have to mention how in love I am with her Ruby Slippers. Simply stunning.

When I heard this movie was coming out, I promised myself I'd read each one of the 14 books in series beforehand, but as you might imagine, I didn't read but two of them, the Original Wizard of Oz book and the Marvelous Land of Oz. The movie made by Disney was an original story written exclusively for the movie using only certain elements from the books, but mostly they based it directly from the 1939 movie itself. At first I wasn't super excited judging by the previews but as it came closer I started to get pumped up. The problem is that the movie didn't really deliver storywise. It wasn't based on any book, so I felt they were just pulling random elements outta nowhere and it was poorly constructed and executed.

I'm just going by memory here (I only watched it the one time), but one of the hideous plot lines that stick out the most is that –SPOILER ALERT– Theodora (Mila Kunis) started out as an overly innocent gorgeous young witch who knew nothing of deceit and heartbreak. She falls in love with the Oscar and practically forces him to promise her riches and to be the queen of the Emerald city, but he ultimately dumps her for another witch and she becomes so devastated that she turns evil. See, I really don't think a heartbreak is strong enough for one to go on a psycho evil rampage. I've had my heart broken many times. I KNOW THESE THINGS. The plot was overly forced to make her turn evil. Like they just HAD to make the pieces fit so that by the end she's the green witch we all know and fear, but this one didn't feel scary, she was more vulnerable and weak to me. It felt exactly like watching Anakin Skywalker change to Darth Vader over a simple series of tantrums and crying fits. Also, the magic part didn't seemed to be very explored. It would be great to know the specific powers and limits of the witches. Sure, Glinda used mist, Thodora uses fire, Evanora uses thunder, but even the kids at Hogwarts can do way more simple incantations than just fly. Flying on brooms was, like, in year one XD!

Also, there are a few inconsistencies that kind of made me cringe a bit. For starters, the Land of Oz already had a king before Oscar ever arrived, I don't understand what Evanora was doing acting as a provisional ruler instead of ruling over her own land in the East. Oz stole the throne and banished its rightful heir, so this whole thing about a prophecy (so tired of them in movies) and how easily he got the throne looks like it took about 5 minutes to write. There are many other thing's I'd like to go in detail but I just don't have the energy to do it. The flying monkeys (without the use of the golden cap), Finley being a flying monkey but not part of the flying monkeys (huh?), China Girl's city being destroyed (but it was fully intact when Dorothy arrived there later), Glinda and the Wizard hooking up at the end (WHAT WHAT?), The Wicked Witch of the East and the West not ruling over their own respective lands, mid-air witch light fight (Waaaaay to "look at our flashy scenes buy tickets for this Hollywood-blockbuster" for such innocent books.), etc. Also the graphics were pretty lame. I remember Final Fantasy CGI looking better in 1998 than those giant opening flowers. There's a scene where they're walking by some colored horses, I thought it was cute that they were going to reference the horse that changes color from the original movie, so I stared at them waiting for the color to change, but not only did they stay the same, the animation is the most terrible thing I've seen. Like they completely forgot to properly animate that scene and left the preliminary render preview there instead. How? In a Disney movie? What a shame. Green screen galore.

But it's not all bad. Luckily some of the characters were better developed than others, for instance, Oscar's faithful companions China Girl and Finley. Glinda was pretty cool too and I enjoyed all the Munchkins and side comedic reliefs as well. But yes, China Girl definitely stole the movie with her super cuteness, very believable animation and Joey King (the voice actress) did a great job giving her life. The set designs were super awesome as well. Art Deco fot the Emerald City and the costumes from this era too. The music was done by Danny Elfman, and while it did feel a bit "Edward Scissorhandsy" at times, it still had a great, magical feel.

I was excited to watch this movie the very day of the premiere because of reasons. I rushed to Wal-mart, bought a wand and crown to get in the Glinda state of mind and hurried back home to put on my red sparkly converse which I've always related to Wizard of Oz. Unlike my regular sparkly converse which I use for my Twilight events, I've never actually had any Wizard of Oz events to attend to with these shoes, so this was a first, and let me tell you, I was TEH EXCITED :D!


Merchandise-wise...yeah, I pretty much went wild with the Oz shopping. Even though I'm not a huge fan of the movie, I AM a huge fan of the dolls and toys and I needed to have them in my collection! About a week before the movie's premiere, China Girl was up for sale on the Disney Store. Granted, I had no idea at this point that she was going to be such a cool character, but after reading the original Wizard of Oz book, I knew where this doll had come from and why she looked the way she did (the residents of China Town break really often, they're so delicate) and I just thought she looked gorgeous. So I bought the Limited Edition of 500 and was pleasantly surprised she was so pretty! And not only that, but I believe this is a 1:1 scale, because it is HUGE (about 19 inches). She looks as large in my arms as she does in James Franco's arms! She's made out of resin, but she is very delicate. Her articulations on neck and joints aren't very flexible which make her look rather stiff, but this isn't the kind of doll you'd want to play around with anyway. Looking at her is good enough for me. xD!

Here is a comparison between the Jakks Pacific dolls vs. the LE China Girl. Obviously she's larger, but the face of the mass produced plastic doll is actually cuter that the hand painted LE one and I like how the cracks from the smaller doll are a bit more discreet that the resin one which are actually painted with black lines. But I do love the large size, the material and scarily accurate dress of the LE doll. It's like... How did she pop out of the movie?! D: The plastic version has a cute charm included, a monogram of the initials Cg (China girl) I like it because they remind me of my own initial. Teehee!

And here are a few pics of the rest of the dolls I bought. Yes, yes, I went overboard with the WoOz collectibes, but I love them all so much I couldn't help myself ;_;!! I bought toys and dolls from Both Jakks Pacific and the Disney Store. They're both great in their own ways, but the Jakks head sculpts look a little friendlier. The Disney Store ones packaging is sooo classy and their clothes are super well made and fabrics are perfect! I think this is why they cost close to $30 USD each which is a little high. Worth it if you just want to stare at them (like me!), plus they're all super sparkly... again, CYCYNBAIT

Also, as a Sailor Moon collector, I am infatuated by magic wands and shinny objects. Glinda's props happen to be all sparkles and shines and they are very refined, her crown screams of art deco all over, she's an interesting mix.  I love the themes each character has in this movie. Oz has a bit of Victorian flare to him,  even when he's in his "mad scientist" moment, you can see bit of Steampunk influences in there. The glasses used for the premiere are a little bit like Oz's goggles, and they have "Oz" written on it, what's not to love!? :D 

And that's it for this update on my WoOz collection and tiny review of Oz, the Great and Powerful movie. As far as I know, they ARE planning a sequel, but I'd much prefer they concentrate on the other 13 books of the series, there is so much material there to make a good movie, and I really really would love to see OZMA (one of my fave characters) and maybe even buy some dolls? I HOPE SO! :D  

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