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bubble card

Mego Corporation

The Mego Corporation was a toy company that dominated the action figure toy market during most of the 1970s. The Mego Corporation was founded in the early 1950s by David Abrams and was mostly known prior to 1971 as a producer of dime store toys.

Golden age

Starting in 1971, Mego began purchasing license rights to a variety of successful motion pictures, television programs, and comic books, and started producing lines for Planet of the Apes, Star Trek, and the Wizard of Oz. Mego used various licensed Marvel and D.C. superhero characters to create their World's Greatest Superhero line, which became their most successful toy line. They also produced an original character, Action Jackson, an unsuccessful competitor of Hasbro's G.I. Joe.

The secret of Mego's success was that their action figures were constructed with interchangeable heads. Generic bodies could be mass produced and different figures created by interposing different heads and costumes on them. Mego also constructed their figures primarily in an 8 inch scale - setting an industry standard in the 1970s.

Mego also created the Kresge style card (named for the Kresge (later KMart) store chain, for whom they were originally produced), now commonly referred to as the "Mego Bubble Card." This style of card placed the clear plastic bubble containing the action figure in the middle of the card.Celebrity, Fashion and Movie Dolls

Mego first attempted a fashion doll line in the early '70's to rival Barbie with Maddie Mod, who had an extensive wardrobe, and her boyfriend Richie. The line was not a success. They also created a poseable eight inch scale of a Barbie-like doll, 1973's Dinah-Mite.

In 1975, Mego launched a highly successful 12 1/2 inch celebrity doll line, to directly compete with Mattel's Barbie doll. The first dolls were Sonny and Cher, with Bob Mackie designing an extensive wardrobe for Cher. Then Mego added the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman doll line in 1976. Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith, Diana Ross, Suzanne Somers, and The Captain and Tennille dolls followed in 1977.

From 1976-1980 they produced a popular line of lucite 3" fully articulated figures called Micronauts to compete with Kenner's Star Wars line.

Mego added 12 1/2 figures from the Superman movie in 1978, as well as the members of the rock 'n' roll band Kiss. A specially molded doll head of Gene Simmons was made to show the tongue sticking out.Military figures A small collection of military-themed action figures were also released in the early 1980s, called "Johnny Action or Combat Man" in the US, they were also marketed in other countries (France, Italy, Germany, Australia, United Kingdom) released in 1976 under different names. Using the same 6 inch format, they were produced after the 12-inch G.I. Joe figures had lost their popularity and before the revival of the G.I. Joe line in 3-3/4" format and also to compete with Spain's Madelman line of soldier figures. The 6-inch combat line was not a success, and knockoff figures were also released for companies like Woolworth's (or Woolco in Canada, where the line was known as "World War Two Heroes, Brave Soldiers, Jest Force").

Decline

In 1976, David Abrams rejected a deal to license toys for the upcoming motion picture Star Wars. This decision set Mego up for its eventual collapse, as the movie was extremely popular and competitor Kenner Products sold substantial numbers of Star Wars action figures.

Following Star Wars' great success, Mego attempted a comeback by negotiating the licenses for the manufacturing rights to any and all potentially successful motion picture and television shows, in hopes of finding a similar hot property. They produced 12-1/2 inch figures for Moonraker, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Black Hole, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Unfortunately, none of these were as successful as Kenner's Star Wars products. In 1982 Mego filed for bankruptcy, and by 1983, the Mego Corporation ceased to exist.

Collectibles

Today, Mego action figures and playsets are highly-prized collectibles, with some fetching thousands of dollars on the open collectibles market. The World's Greatest Superhero line, the Elastic Superheroes figure line, the Wonder Woman doll line, the Cher doll (as well as certain rare Bob Mackie designed outfits), and the Kiss dolls are deemed as prized collectibles.

In 2005, * The Mego Museum began issuing promotional trading cards featuring each individual World's Greatest Super Hero 8 inch figures, followed by Star Trek and Planet of the Apes cards. The cards have become sought after collectibles among Mego fans and trading card collectors.

Other uses

In recent years, Mego's 8-inch figures, particularly the superhero line, have found new life in Twisted ToyFare Theater, a humorous photo comic-strip appearing in Toyfare: The Toy Magazine. Toyfare staff pose and take photos depicting the figures in bizarre situations, with added dialogue bubbles. The series is well-known in comic book and collectors' circles for its distinctive, off-the-wall sense of humour. The strips (renamed, formerly "Twisted Mego Theatre") have even been printed separately in their own collection.

Toys similar to Mego action figures are used in the Cartoon Network Adult Swim show, Robot Chicken.

Legacy

In 2001, good quality reproductions of Mego bodies, heads, and accessories were made in China by Dr. Mego. Collectors could now repair their broken or incomplete Megos as well as make new custom action figures.

In 2005, a company called classictvtoys.com began producing poor quality 8-inch figures similar in design to Mego's. Various lines manufactured include replicas of Mego's Mad Monster, Merry Men, Western Heroes and Super Pirates. These figures were made in India and were made up of too much recycled plastic which caused hands and feet to crack and break easily.

They also manufacture licensed, classic television characters packaged on blister cards. Among the many included in the line: Married... with Children, Happy Days, The Munsters, The Brady Bunch, and professional wrestler André the Giant. Unfortunately the sculpting of the heads were harsh and lacked Megos charm. These figures were quickly discounted by CTVT and can be found for 1/3 of their original retail price on ebay.

In 2006, EMCE Toys brand (pronounced "MC") was founded by Paul "Dr. Mego" Clarke and Joe Sena to bring back Mego toys with the blessing of Marty Abrams - former CEO of Mego Corp. Made in China, the new Star Trek figures have the high quality of the Dr. Mego parts, matching the original action figures. Working with Diamond Select Toys - holders of the Star Trek and Planet of the Apes licenses, these figures have been selling in comics shops and quickly selling out. Following their success, new characters are currently being produced that Mego did not made, such as Lt. Sulu, Ensign Chekov, and "Space Seed" villain Khan.

The Gorn that Mego produced was a brown lizard head on a brown ape body wearing a Klingon outfit. Fans have frequently wished that Mego had made a TV accurate Gorn. EMCE Toys and DST are making a new green Gorn based on the TV episode "Arena".

EMCE Toys was even able to get the Mego packaging artist Harold Schull to draw new artwork for Sulu, Chekov, Khan and the Gorn.

Each year, Mego collectors have a convention in Wheeling West Virginia called * Mego Meet this occurs every June.

References

  • Mego Action Figure Toys, 3rd Edition (2001) by John Bonavita

Notes

External links

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