This year, the Legoland Discovery Center in Crown Center decided to commemorate the 75th anniversary of “The Wizard of Oz” with life-size Lego models of Dorothy and Toto.
But before Dorothy (and her little dog, too) could click her ruby red slippers and come home to Kansas City, she had to be designed and assembled by master builders at Lego studios in California and Denmark.
Using a wax figure of Judy Garland as their reference, builders in Denmark drafted a design for a model that mimicked the petite actress’s proportions. The first design for the model just 4 feet, 11 inches tall looked just like Dorothy, down to the pigtail braids, crisp white blouse and ruby red slippers.
There was just one problem: Her dress was solid blue.
“You can’t have Dorothy without a checkered dress,” says Elizabeth Mathews, Legoland marketing coordinator. “It’s iconic.”
To mimic that “iconic” gingham frock, the builders in Denmark alternated blue and white 1-by-1-inch Lego bricks, which made the one-of-a-kind model harder to assemble. It took 32,000 bricks and 122 hours to complete the Dorothy model, which is now on permanent display in the Oz-themed Miniland at the Legoland.
From a distance, the Dorothy model looks just like Judy Garland, with her saucer-like brown eyes and cute upturned nose.
Close up, her face is even more amazing: The eyelashes are black Lego hinges, and the rest of her face — from the cheeks to the white teeth and red lips — are flat Lego tiles.
The model is made of pieces you’d find in any Lego kit, explains Legoland master model builder Jeremiah Boehr, who works in Kansas City and collaborated on the Oz models’ design.
Boehr says he’s most impressed by Dorothy’s face, which was designed and assembled in California.
“Anytime you’re working with square bricks, it’s hard to get facial features right,” Boehr says, “so I have a lot of respect for their craftsmanship.”
As for Toto, he was crafted in Denmark along with Dorothy’s body. The builders made two versions of the cairn terrier — one black, one gray. Boehr picked the gray version because he thought it looked the most authentic.
Toto, displayed near Dorothy’s ruby red slippers, is composed of 2,200 bricks. His tongue is a pink Lego tile, and his white teeth are round 1-by-1 pieces. Triangle-shaped roof tiles give the dog’s fur its wavy texture.
Toto and Dorothy are affixed with hidden metal rods to a 475-pound stand. The models are held together with a superstrong Lego glue called Kragle.
It took three men and a forklift to install Dorothy and Toto in their home in the Oz corner of Miniland, which features models of Dorothy’s house, Munchkinland, The Emerald City and the Wicked Witch’s castle.
Push the button by the ominous-looking castle, which has flying monkeys overhead, and you’ll hear the Wicked Witch moan “I’m melting!” as her tiny Lego figure sinks into the floor.
Another button makes Dorothy’s house spin like it’s being sucked into a twister.
“Adults love this area because it takes them back,” Mathews says, “but it scares quite a few kids.”
But there’s nothing scary about Dorothy or Toto, who came from Lego world headquarters with very specific instructions.
“Toto only likes red 1x1 Lego bricks in his food bowl,” the instructions read, “and he likes to be walked twice a day.”
A closer look at Dorothy and Toto
Go to Kansascity.Com to see a 360-degree video of the Dorothy and Toto models at the Legoland Discovery Center, 2475 Grand Blvd.
Help us go over the rainbow
Calling all (real) Dorothys and Toto dogs … and anyone else who’s a big fan of the 1939 movie.
The Star is celebrating this month’s 75th anniversary of “The Wizard of Oz” movie with a story every day.
Here’s how you can participate:
A group picture: Dress as your favorite “Oz” character (or object) and come to the Kansas Speedway at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 16. The Star will take a group photo and aim for the record books. There will be raffles for prizes and, of course, lollipops. Let us know you’re coming by registering at http://wizardofozrecordbreaking.eventbrite.com.
“Oz” memories: Share a personal anecdote about the movie. As a kid did you flee the living room when the flying monkeys attacked? Did your family watch it on TV every year? Email your story (no more than 150 words, please), along with your name, phone number and city, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Oz memory” in the subject line. Deadline for submissions: 11:59 p.m. Aug. 18.
Local Dorothys: If your name is Dorothy, we want to hear from you. Tell us how you came to be a Dorothy and about life with that name. Send an email to email@example.com and include your name, age, city and phone number. Put “Dorothy” in the subject line. Deadline: 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.
Toto dogs: Do you own a cairn terrier or a dog named Toto? We want to see your pictures! Upload them into our photo gallery at Mingle.KansasCity.com. Make sure to tell us your name, city and contact information. If you submit your photo by Wednesday, we might select it for the print edition as well.
Coming Sunday in House + Home: How to incorporate “The Wizard of Oz” into your decorating.