Rare Collectibles: Wizard of Oz, Updated 1 May 2023
New collectible, still available as of 1 May 2023: Funko does it again, with a new, comparatively gigantic Wizard of Oz collectible, the first in a "poster" series. I don't know how well this will go over with collectors: The larger Funko Pop! figures don't usually do that well over time. However, because of the Oz theme, this one may have a better appreciation in value. It's a risk, but at the right price, a reasonable risk.
The introductory price of this is $60 + shipping, and that's what Funko is charging. On that big auction site, you may find it much cheaper, with free shipping. For some reason, the auction site had a large stock of these before Funko did; early on, they were sometimes half of the official introductory price with free shipping (that's how I got mine, at $27).
is here. Don't delay; these items sometimes don't last, especially since Funko has destroyed so many items rather than keep them stored in expensive warehouses.
Among the more expensive but frequently available Wizard of Oz collectibles are the various Funko Pop! film characters released in 2011. One of the most desireable is seen at the left: The "Winged Monkey" metallic figure available only at the 2011 San Diego Comic Convention. Only 480 pieces were available, and today, there are more collectors who desire this Monkey than those who own it. For 2023, the going price average is about $1400+, in top condition. To fetch the highest price, the box must be in perfect condition. I obtained my piece--not in absolutely perfect condition--several years ago for a fraction of today's price...and I doubt I'd be willing to pay today's price for such a collectible. The Wicked Witch metallic version (480 pieces) was also available at the same convention. In 2023, it has surpassed the price of the Monkey, averaging $1600+ for a near-perfect item.
Another variation Funko Pop! that is commonly available is the limited-production "flocked" version of the Cowardly Lion. Unlike the smooth-surface production version, this limited version has a furry-velvet surface. A perfect version retails for just under $300 so far in 2023 (the version seen here would be rated perfect).
As with the soap figures above, this boxed Wizard figure is extremely rare to find...and it's the box that makes it unique. The figure itself is easy to find and is not especially valuable. The boxed figure shown, however, is practically impossible to find...and a lot of collectors do not know that it exists.
The Mego Wizard could also be purchased separately for the remaining years the set was available, but it was delivered in a cellophane wrap inside a plain, marked cardboard box, shown at right.
Another variation that exists with the Mego collection is the Cowardly Lion: There is a lion that has a golden coat; and there is a lion that has a greenish coat. I've heard that a second variation also exists: a lion that has large feet (rare) and the usual lion with smaller feet.
One-of-a-kind Autograph Book, with Video (Upgraded "Bunny" clip 24 February 2023)
On this show was a little girl, real name Sheri, who played "June", one of the Brownies. In real life, after filming was completed, Sheri went around the studio gathering autographs of all the people who either starred in the show or worked behind the scenes. This is that autograph book, now owned by MargaretHamilton.com.
Note: The "Watch Now" video was upgraded to higher definition 24 February 2023. Note that "June" is the long-haired blonde Brownie in the front row at her far left.
20 Munchkin Autographs
by Stephen Cox
Each one of the little people and child Munchkins were unique and wonderful in their own way. And I was so fortunate to have had a nice relationship with them over the decades. During the 1990s and early 2000s, I attended quite a few Oz festivals, conventions, and personal appearances of the little people. I must admit, that I traveled mostly for selfish reasons—it gave me the opportunity to visit with the Munchkins, in private, and make some more memories. Each year, there were less and less of the little ones, and I never regretted even one visit with any of them. Some, like little Margaret Pellegrini, would insist I come to her hotel room after her full day of appearances and wind down with some hot coffee and a snack. I treasure those private visits where we would laugh out loud and recap the day.
Along the way, I was also blessed to have been able to acquire some rarities, like this signed photo. I didn't have many of these extraordinary pieces signed by so many of the Munchkins, but this is one of them, all autographed in person. This is history, right here on paper."
author, The Munchkins of Oz
Note: The above was written exclusively for MargaretHamilton.com, which is the current owner of the autographed photo. In addition to the The Munchkins of Oz, Mr. Cox has authored several books on television and movie history, some of which are listed here. We sincerely appreciate his generous contribution to this web site and his unique, personal insights involving the Munchkins of Oz. Thank you, Stephen!
Autographed items from Maggie tend to be in greater demand if they are Oz related, but not always. I especially liked this one because not only is The Daydreamer a wonderfully entertaining movie, it also co-stars her Oz buddy, Ray Bolger.
Maggie was a sport about signing photos for fans. She often signed them "WWW", "Maggie", her full name, or she omitted her name completely (those are difficult to have authenticated).
There are a lot more autographs out there than Hamilton actually signed—in other words, forgeries—some better than others, all worthless. Quite often, the seller swears they are legitimate or that they were friends with Maggie, all rubbish, all lies. These sellers, no matter how perfect their feedback, have no problem taking your money...and sometimes running.
Word of advice: If you are thinking of buying an autographed item of Maggie or any other celebrity, don't buy it unless it comes with a COA (Certificate of Authenticity) from a reputable service, such as PSA/DNA, OR, the seller agrees to pay expenses if the item doesn't pass authentication. Most COAs are not worth more than the paper they're printed on, and the vast majority of signed items on Ebay are fakes. If you buy an item, have it authenticated immediately...don't wait.
On the left is a photo with forged signatures that was peddled by an Ebayer who is still selling today (click the caption to see a close-up). Many years ago, he sold a ton of Oz-related and other photos, all inscribed to "Mike", mostly with fake Hamilton and Bolger autographs. I even saw one of his forgeries at a store in the Forum Shops in Las Vegas (incidentally, that store is known for selling fakes), priced in the multiple hundreds. Mike (his real name) is out of New York and is a first-class liar...with a 100% feedback rating.
He tells Ebayers that he worked in a place frequented by many famous people, became friendly with them, and asked for their autographs (I can't see any celebrity signing a few dozen photos for any one person, can you?). He then says that he's now selling those photos "to fund my retirement." Even though this was many years ago, I see Mike's worthless photos being resold today, repeatedly, on Ebay.
What. A. Snake.
Tony Cottonaro and Jerry Maren
Interestingly, this is the only event where Cottonaro is posed in the Munchkin make-up and costume worn in the movie. No production stills exist that show him in this attire.
Both autographs were obtained in 2000, but at separate locations. Cottonaro died in 2001; Maren was the last surviving Munchkin for many years, but died 24May2018 at age 98.
The most famous movie featuring the Hermine Midgets was the 1955 Danny Kaye musical comedy, The Court Jester. Tommy Cottonaro was one of them.
Pictured at the left is Kaye with some of the Hermine Midgets; I'm not sure if Cottonaro is one of them shown (likely not, as he was taller than most of the other little people). He left show business after this movie was completed, went into a non-entertainment management position in New York, and did not participate in Oz-related conventions for the rest of his life.
If you purchase a Bolger-autographed item especially on the auction site, and the provenance would be iffy to a future buyer, get the item authenticated immediately. If it comes back a fake, you can file a claim against the seller and claw back your purchase price. You might be out of the authentication fee (it will cost you around $60.00 to authenticate an 8-by-10), but that's better than losing your purchase-price money and the fee.
If you purchase a forgery, after getting your money back, be sure to raise heck for the seller by using negative feedback, and file a complaint with the hosting website. Tell your credit-card company, too, if you have problems (American Express is especially good about intervening on your behalf). You can also file a complaint with the US Postal Service; they frown on people who use the mail system in order to commit fraud. The threat of a USPS complaint might be a good way to claw back your lost authentication costs.
Munchkin Posters, Autographed
The owner of Totally Collectible did indeed know the Munchkins, and the posters (both versions discussed here) are legitimate. For years, the last surviving Munchkin was Jerry Maren, but he died 24May2018. Because of his long life, and because he had signed so many different Oz memorabilia, the value of his autograph is diluted compared to other Munchkin autographs.