Cons: Mattel hates quality, so they discontinued it.
... and of course, it's gone. I hate Mattel.
Two years ago when my daughter was first diagnosed with Sensory Integration Dysfunction, we were told that her fine motor skills were severely delayed. We went on a hunt to find anything that would encourage her to work on these skills, but unfortunately, she inherits her stubborn nature from her mother, and she wanted no part of it.
However, she saw the Mattel Wizard of Oz Playset at a friend's house and fell in love with it. I was willing to get anything that would help her to work on her fine motor skills, so off I went to buy the set.
~&~ The Basics ~&~
The Mattel Wizard of Oz Playset is a plastic playset measuring approximately 11 inches wide by 8 inches high by 6¾ inches deep based on the movie The Wizard of Oz. The Mattel Wizard of Oz Playset is a miniaturized version of the entire movie set, from Munchkinland to the Wicked Witch of the West's castle to the Emerald City.
The left-hand side pops open to reveal a small cottage with a roof that raises and a platform that pops out of the roof, a small lily pond with pink and purple bricks around it, and the large Munchkin cottage opens to reveal a red bubble for Glinda's entrance. Step up to the center section, and you have the beginnings of the Yellow Brick Road, Dorothy's house with the Wicked Witch of the East's legs sticking out, and next to Dorothy's house? The cornfield with a spot for the Scarecrow. Farther down the road is the Tin Woodsman's part of the forest, complete with an axe in a stump and a spot for him to stand.
From there, open the right side of the playset, and there are blue steps heading down into the entrance to the Witch's castle. The trees are there (albeit tiny and purple, blue, and deep green rather than brown), and the castle itself flips open on top to show the Witch's lair, with hour glass, crystal ball, and a trapdoor. Place the Witch on the trapdoor and push a lever down... a false bottom pops up to show a black puddle of robes, and the Witch figure will disappear to the door in back of the castle.
Continuing on the Yellow Brick Road, there is a small area to signify the Cowardly Lion's part of the forest with a place for him to stand, and then you are at the Emerald City. Open the doors in the center to fold out and you have places to reenact all the scenes you remember. The left side opens to three areas to complete the beautifying of Dorothy and friends (complete with a swinging polisher for the Tin Man), the right side opens to reveal the Wizard's balloon, and in the center is the Great and Powerful Oz himself. The control booth for the Wizard is there, complete with a curtain that swings open like a door, along with the Wizard's closet of awards opposite. In the center is a green throne, and above it, an image of Oz with flames that moves when you flick it back and forth with the lever.
A small tree in front of the Emerald City depresses to set one of three light-up modes for play: press once and Glinda's bubble lights up; press a second time and the Witch's crystal ball lights up; and press a third time for Glinda's ball, the crystal ball, and two flames on each side of the Wizard's throne.
Also included with the playset are ten tiny figures: three Munchkins, Glinda, the Wicked Witch of the West, the Wizard, and Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion. There is also a balloon that detaches that the figures can go into.
The Mattel Wizard of Oz Playset runs on two "AA" batteries.
~&~ Parent Perspective ~&~
I'll be honest; I fell in love with this playset just as hard as Beanie did. The tiny figures, bright colors, and completeness of the scenes did me in. I love anything teeny tiny, and you can't get much tinier than this set.
I loved that pieces moved, like the bubble that closes and opens to let Glinda in and out and the "melting" Witch. The detail on this set and the figures is amazing considering the size, right down to the lollipops in the Munchkin hands.
Even with such tiny details, this playset is amazingly durable. The giant flower in Munchkinland and the trees in the forest are a softer rubberized plastic to keep them from snapping off, and the plastic even on the small pieces like the doors on the Wizard's control booth is very sturdy. This playset has been played with as well as dropped repeatedly over two years and it's still intact. The only issue we've ever had is the top of the small cottage popping off, but it snaps back on very easily.
~&~ Beanie Says ~&~
This is still one of Beanie's favorite toys, even two years later. Right now her figures are missing and we are on the hunt for them, but when we have them with the set, she plays with it daily. Best of all, she hasn't realized that she's been working on her fine motor skills playing with such tiny figures and working the small levers in this set.
~&~ Overall ~&~
I wish I'd bought another of these sets when I found this one, because I should have realized that Mattel would never keep a quality product that they'd made on the shelves for long. The Mattel Wizard of Oz Playset is a big hit in this house with Beanie and Mommy alike, and I really wish that Mattel would either bring it back or come up with a new one with a similar design because we'd snap it up as soon as it hit the shelves.
You can still occasionally find this set at toy liquidator stores.