Nick Chopper, The Tin Woodman is one of the more important personages in the Land of Oz. The Tin Woodman was a man made out of tin.
He is a man made entirely of tin, cleverly jointed together, although he rattles and clanks a little as he moves. He is tireless and has no need for food or drink, but he was prone to rust before he was nickel-plated. With or without a heart, he was all along the most tender and emotional of Dorothy's companions (just as the Scarecrow was the wisest and the Cowardly Lion the bravest). When he accidentally crushed an insect, he was grief-stricken and, ironically, claimed that he must be careful about such things, while those with hearts do not need such care. (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz)
The Tin Woodman was once a meat man, and he remains alive, in contrast to the windup mechanical man, Tik-Tok. Nick Chopper was not turned into a machine, but rather had his "meat" body replaced by a metal one. Far from missing his original existence, the Tin Woodman is proud (perhaps too proud) of his untiring tin body.
His appreciation of his heart notably contrasts with the Scarecrow's pride in his brains, reflecting a common debate between the relative importance of the mind and the emotions. This, indeed, occasions philosophical debate between the two friends as to why each one's choices are superior. Neither convinces the other, but they remain the closest of friends.
The Tin Woodman is so well-loved that the "Shining Emperor Waltz" was written in his honor by Mr. H.M. Wogglebug, T.E. When the Wogglebug later asked about his genealogy, he claimed, "I am a Tin Woodman and you may enter me in your book under the name of Smith, for a tin Smith made me, and as Royal Emperor of the Winkies, I do not care to go back to my meat connections."
The Tin Man was originally a Munchkin named Nick Chopper. His father was a woodman who chopped down trees, and when Nick grew up he became a woodman as well.
After his parents died, Nick decided to marry, and fell in love with a beautiful Munchkin girl named Nimmie Amee, who worked as the servant of an old woman. This old woman did not want to lose Nimee Amee, so she paid the Wicked Witch of the East two sheep and a cow to prevent her marriage to Nick. The Witch enchanted his axe to chop off all of his body parts one by one. After each accident, a tinsmith replaced the lost part with a tin one until eventually his entire body was made of tin. But his new tin body had no heart, so he lost his love for Nimee Amee.
Some time later he was caught out in the forest during a storm and rusted solid. He stood there for a year until Dorothy and the Scarecrow found him. He decided to join them in their journey to the Emerald City and ask the Wizard of Oz to give him a heart. The Wizard sent them to destroy the Wicked Witch of the West, and after they succeeded the Winkies asked the Tin Woodman to be their ruler. He chose to return to the Emerald City with his companions where they discovered that the Wizard was a humbug. The Wizard cut a hole in the Tin Woodman's chest and inserted a silk heart stuffed with sawdust, which proved to be very soft and tender. (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz)
This tenderness remained with him even after he became Emperor of the Winkies, as evidenced when he refused to let a butterfly be killed for the casting of a spell. (The Patchwork Girl of Oz)
When Dorothy returned home to her farm in Kansas, the Tin Woodman returned to the Winkie Country to rule as emperor. He had himself nickel-plated and later had his subjects construct a palace made entirely of tin — from the architecture all the way down to the flowers in the garden. The grounds also feature tin statues of the Emperor's personal friends. (The Road to Oz)
The Tin Woodman has had many other occupations as well as that of Woodman and Emperor. He commanded Princess Ozma's army and was briefly turned into a tin whistle. (Ozma of Oz) He also served as defense counsel in the trial of Eureka the kitten. (Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz)
Nick Chopper finally set out to find his lost love, Nimmie Amee, but discovered that she had already married a man constructed partly out of his own discarded limbs. For the Tin Woodman, this encounter with his former fiancée is almost as jarring as his experience being transformed into a tin owl, meeting another tin man, and conversing with his ill-tempered original head. (The Tin Woodman of Oz)
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz(first appearance)
- The Marvelous Land of Oz
- Ozma of Oz
- Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz
- The Road to Oz
- The Emerald City of Oz
- The Tin Woodman of Oz
- The Royal Book of Oz
- Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz
- Lost in Oz
- Lost in Oz: Rise of the Dark Wizard
The Tin Man was a major character in the comic page Baum wrote with Walt McDougall in 1904-05, Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz.
Baum's successors in writing the series tended to use the Tin Woodman as a minor character, still ruling the Winkie Country but not governing the stories' outcome. Two exceptions to this pattern are Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz, by Ruth Plumly Thompson, and Lucky Bucky in Oz, by John R. Neill.
- Chef Boyardee Commercials : A series of 2006 television commercials which features The Tin Man, largely as depicted in the 1939 movie, except that he's also a large can of Chef Boyardee soup which the children are persuing. See the description below for details.
In the novel The Tin Man, by Dale Brown, the eponymous protagonist is a power-armored vigilante whom the media and police have dubbed The Tin Man for his physical resemblance to the Wizard of Oz character.
The Tin Woodman is a minor character in author Gregory Maguire's revisionist novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, its Broadway musical Wicked and Maguire's sequel Son of a Witch. In the book, Nessarose, the Wicked Witch of the East, is seen enchanting the axe to swing around and chop off Nick Chopper's limbs. She does this for a peasant woman who wishes to stop her servant, probably Nimee Aimee, from marrying Nick Chopper. This seems to be close to the Tin Man's origin in the original books, but from the Witch's perspective.
In the Musical adaptation of Wicked The Tin Woodsman is revealed to be Boq, a Munchkin whom the Wicked Witch of the East, Nessarose, fell in love with when they were at school together. When she discovered his heart belonged to Glinda, she botched a spell that was meant to make him fall in love with her, but instead shrunk his heart to nothing. To save his life Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West was forced to turn him into tin. Not understanding her reasons, he pursues Elphaba with a single-minded vengeance for his current form.
Peter Schulenburg provides a treatment of the Tin Man's unique home in The Tin Castle of Oz.
Depictions on Stage and Screen
The Wizard of Oz stage performance
In 1902, Baum helped to adapt The Wizard of Oz into a wildly successful stage extravaganza. David C. Montgomery played the Tin Woodman opposite Fred Stone as the Scarecrow, and the team became headliners.
1939 Movie Adaptation
In the classic 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, the Tin Man was played by actor Jack Haley. Buddy Ebsen was originally cast to play the role, but the character's makeup originally contained aluminum powder; Ebsen accidentally breathed the powder into his lungs and was rushed to a hospital. This forced him to give up the role. Haley based his breathy speaking style in the movie on the voice he used for telling his son bedtime stories.
Other Film Versions
The Muppets' Wizard of Oz
The Muppet Gonzo the Great plays a similar role, the Tin Thing, in 2005's The Muppets' Wizard of Oz. In this version he is the Wicked Witch of the West's research assistant, transformed into a robot to prevent him wanting a day off to marry Camilla the chicken.
Beef Ravioli Commercials
In 2006, the Tin Man was the protagonist in a pair of television commercials for Chef Boyardee brand canned Beef Ravioli, in a costume identical to the design used in the 1939 Oz film. In the commercials, the Tin Man (played by Australian actor David Somerville) is pursued by groups of children due to the fact that an oversized Beef Ravioli can label has been affixed to the back of his cylindrical torso (which he doesn't notice until the midpoint of the first commercial); thus, he appears to be a very large, mobile can of ravioli. In the first ad, the Tin Man escapes from his pursuers only to discover that the building he ducked into is an elementary school cafeteria full of hungry children. The second ad begins with the Tin Man running through a residential neighborhood, accidentally adding to his pursuers when he stumbles across a backyard birthday party; after fleeing across a golf course (while dodging balls from the driving range), he is cornered in another backyard and threatened with a garden hose (playing on the Tin Man's classic weakness of rusting). As the scene shifts to the image of a Beef Ravioli can, sounds of water hitting metal and the Tin Man's cries for help are heard.
Tin Man (miniseries)
In 2007, the Sci-Fi Channel released a three-part miniseries titled simply Tin Man, which was a reimagining of The Wizard of Oz.
In this story, the Tin Man character was not actually made of tin, but was a human detective named Wyatt Cain; He was part of a police force known as the Tin Men. Additionally, Cain is first encountered locked in a tin container as a cruel form of punishment, quite similar to the immobile state in which Dorothy encountered the Tin Woodman. While imprisoned in the tin suit, he was forced to watch his family's massacre over and over again by Azkadelia, an evil sorceress and this story's version of the Wicked Witch of the West.
- The Wizard of Oz (1902 stage show): David C. Montgomery
- The Wizard of Oz (1925): Oliver Hardy
- The Wizard of Oz (1939): Jack Haley
- The Wiz (1978): Nipsey Russell
- The Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005): Gonzo the Great
- The Wonderful Wizard of Ha's (VeggieTales) (2007) : Larry the Cucumber
- Tin Man (2007): Neal McDonough as Cain
References to the Tin Man in Popular Culture
- In the song "Tin Man" by the band America, the lyrics state that "Oz never did give nothin' to the Tin Man, that he didn't—didn't already have." This is an obvious reference to the fact that the Tin Woodman was a very caring character, possessed of much figurative heart, if not a literal one.
Sources of the Tin Man image
Economics and history professors have published scholarly studies that indicate the images and characters used by Baum and Denslow closely resembled political images that were well known in the 1890s. They state that Baum and Denslow did not simply invent the Lion, Tin Man, Scarecrow, Yellow Brick Road, Silver Slippers, cyclone, monkeys, Emerald City, little people, Uncle Henry, passenger balloons, witches and the wizard. These were all common themes in the editorial cartoons of the previous decade. Baum and Denslow, like most writers, used the materials at hand that they knew best. They built a story around them, added Dorothy, and added a series of lessons to the effect that everyone possesses the resources they need (such as brains, a heart and courage) if only they had self confidence. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was a children’s book, of course, but as Baum warned in the preface, it was a "modernized" fairy tale as well.
The Tin Man was a common feature in political cartoons and in advertisements in the 1890s. Indeed, he had been part of European folk art for 300 years. In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the Tin Woodman is described as a worker, dehumanized by industrialization. The Tin Woodman little by little lost his natural body and had it replaced by metal; so he has lost his heart and cannot move without the help of farmers (represented by the Scarecrow); in reality he has a strong sense of cooperation and love, which needs only an infusion of self-confidence to be awakened. In the 1890s many argued that to secure a political revolution a coalition of Farmers and Workers was needed.
In an 1890 editorial cartoon, President Benjamin Harrison wears improvised tin armor because he wanted a tariff on tin. Some interpreters argue that this shows the figure of a "tin man" was in use as political allegory in 1890s.
The oil needed by the Tin Woodman had a political dimension at the time the story was written because Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company stood accused of being a monopoly (and in fact was later found guilty by the Supreme Court.) In the 1902 stage adaptation the Tin Woodman wonders what he would do if he ran out of oil. "You wouldn't be as badly off as John D. Rockefeller," the Scarecrow responds, "He'd lose six thousand dollars a minute if that happened." (Swartz, Oz p 34)