Original Sighting: May 17, 1900
Original Format: “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” a novel by L. Frank Baum
Version represented in Lego Dimensions: “The Wizard of Oz” a film directed by Victor Flemming, starring Judy Garland.
Wizard of Oz Fun Pack – Contains the Wicked Witch and Flying Monkey
In Lego Dimensions, things get a bit out of hand when portals start opening up left and right, pulling heroes and villains from their worlds and landing them smack in the middle of other worlds. The heroes of our little tale, Batman, Gandalf and Wild Style, find themselves having to travel to these worlds as a means of putting the pieces back together and discovering who is behind this new threat. The very first world they visit is a little land called Oz.
When the first copy of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” was published, author L. Frank Baum put together the pages and binding by hand and then gave it to his sister as a gift. “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” was a success from the first time it hit shelves. Full distribution started in September of 1900 and by October, the first edition which had 10,000 copies printed had already sold out and much of the 15,000 second edition copies were gone as well. By 1902, there was already a full stage play of the story. By 1938, nearly one million copies of the book had been sold and only 20 years later, that number had tripled. The book had been turned into three silent films by 1939, but all would be forgotten as Judy Garland and a beautiful technicolor dream of amazing special effects and delightful songs spilled onto the silver screen. It is the world from this film in which we find ourselves now, in full techniLego.
One such location that is visitable upon landing in the Wizard of Oz dimension is the shimmering Emerald City. Baum often spent his summers in Holland, Michigan where a large castle building stood in the middle of a small community known as Castle Park. Many believe that this was the inspiration for the City itself. The little road leading to this City though, were found somewhere else entirely in Peekskill, New York, where Baum attended military school. At the time, there was an actual road there, which was paved with yellow bricks. As for Oz? Baum said simply that it came from a label on his file cabinet marked O-Z. Whether he was just being funny or not, we may never know. Many historians however believe that Oz is actually based on the continent of Australia, which Baum alluded to as a likely setting for his books in the novel “Ozma of Oz.”
One of my favorite places to visit in the Wizard of Oz world, we actually fell into…no, we literally fell into it. If you happen to fall off the world at one of its many edges, your Lego heroes won’t die. Oh no. They fall and the world starts to change color around them, becoming brown and grey and sepia, until you land in Kansas. Once here, the only way to get back to Oz is, of course, catching a rid in a tornado. That’s part of what makes this game so special, the stunning level of detail that abounds every corner of every world. “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” was actually thought of as the first American fairy tale. It specifically talked about American locations like Kansas and Ohio while maintaining a high fantasy, whimsical morality tale at its heart.
While it was never confirmed by Baum, many historians believe Wizard of Oz to be an allegorical tale about America at the time and the Utopia that could solve its rich amount of problems. This all gets a bit deep so try to stick with me here. Oz is separated into four countries, North, South, East and West. The national capital of The Emerald City is separate from these four. Not only this, but these four quadrants are separated into color schemes which reflected America at the turn of the century. In the East, we see the color blue, denoting the blue collar workers in the Eastern U.S. at the time. The South is red, obviously marking the location of the redneck or farm worker. Yellow was to the West. At the time a great gold rush was happening along the West Coast of the U.S. North is Purple and was made to represent the Northern workers. The Emerald City is filled with green to represent the money in the capital.
From the Witches who represented the powers of the East and West to the good witches who represented the hopes and dreams of the workers in the North and South to the tornado which represents political upheaval, many believe that every aspect of this film is a representation of something political at the time. While there’s no proof, I think it’s safe to say that this was the case. After all, intentionally or not, I think all writers subliminally write about the struggles of their own time. We write what we know.
The Wizard of Oz series has made a deep impact in the world as we know it. It has been adapted time and time again and the characters have found their way into all sorts of subcultures, from steam punk to gothic. The popular stage musical “Wicked,” based on the book of the same name by Gregory Maguire, recounts the story of the Wicked Witch of the West and just how she got to be so ‘Wicked.’ There’s even a sequel. All sort of prequels and sequels and new takes and ‘inspired by’ stories have spawned from Wizard of Oz. There’s even several comic book series based on the books. All of this leads us to one place. The place we always knew it had to go. After all, a series isn’t considered popular until it’s been Lego-ized…right???
As for the toys, I really like playing as the Wicked Witch. She has some great green magic powers that are good for blasting and she also has th ability to mind control her unsuspecting enemies…well more like janitorial workers who can open doors for her. Her monkey has three transformations and as he levels up, he becomes able to fly and move faster while also playing music and shooting projectiles at his foes.
His first form is fairly useless though.
His second form addes the ability to wave a club? No, not really. He actually can’t even fly until you upgrade him to his second form. He just waddles around like a drunk gorilla until then so upgrade him and do it fast. Oh, also, you get the ability to change his hat color so…that’s important.
At last, he puts that silly club to good use and plays it as a trumpet. He leaves his old monkeying days behind and becomes a player of jazz and…no he mostly just plays Wizard of Oz music, but it hurts people and makes Batman dance so it’s totally not useless.
All of this comes in one handy dandy pack that you can get in addition to the main game. It won’t add a story level, but it will give you full access to Oz and all the land holds.
Thanks for joining me on this Wizardy, witchy, ruby slippery filled adventure this week. Next week we’ll venture into the unknown, a place of wonder, a place of trials. A place of cake? Hmm. Sounds sketchy but I’m game if you are.
Next week: Portal