Back on January 30 2006, I got an Email from a gentleman named Raymond, seeking information about Mego Batman boxes. Finding my Email address on the Mego Museum, he wrote, “On Mego Web site I was able to find a toy item made in 1973 of Batman, however the web site states that it is a hard item to find. On the box I have Shazam is printed were Capt. America was. What is the value of this item?”
I explained what I knew about the different Batman boxes and their relative values, and figured that was the end of it. Instead, he struck up an Email conversation and we became friends. Eventually, I asked him how he had acquired the figure, and he said he bought it himself, about thirty years ago.
“I was living in Brooklyn, NY and worked for the NY Stock Exchange crazy place to work, and was dating this girl, who of course had a little brother…Anyway I stop at a toy store and thought I get it for him. When the weekend came (only time her mother let her go out) well I forgot to being Batman along..Good thing to as she went out with someone else…Batman stay at Grandma’s house were I had my trains HO setup put Batman by the controls and he stay there till 1977 got married, in the process of moving he got put in with the trains. Batman was strow away for 32 yrs, Moving to 3 different areas in NY and then to VA.”
Such a great story! I love his stream-of-consciousness writing. Every Email from him is like one long sentence!
When he expressed a desire to sell it, I told him eBay was the best bet. “I don’t trust e-bay as I was ripped off once before,” he said, asking if I wanted to buy it. At the time, I was missing only two Batman box variations, and told him I probably didn’t need it. He sent me some pictures, and sure enough, it was one I needed.
We agreed on a ‘fair-market’ price, and I bought the Batman. When I got it, I was pleased. A very nice Batman! I looked it over, not noticing anything out of the ordinary. It was just a sweet, crisp Type 1 Batman in a nice box.
Fast forward ten months. Fellow Collector John Rasmussen (T1Clegg on the Mego Museum message boards) posted a “Canvas Trunks” Batman for sale in the Marketplace. Not having a great picture of this variation for the book, I Emailed John asking if I could photograph it. John immediately mailed it out (thanks, John!).
The box arrived yesterday, and I was thrilled. I decided to shoot all three variations of Batman trunks together, and went to my MIB collection to grab one mint “nylon trunks” (typical of Type 1 figures) and one mint “polyester trunks” (typical of Type 2s) figure.
I grabbed the boxed Batman I got from Raymond and immediately noticed the trunks. “Waitaminnit. There’s no frickin’ way,” I thought.
I think you know where this is going…
Yep. This entire time, I owned a mint, boxed Batman with so-called “Canvas” shorts. For those keeping score, the figure is one of those transitional figures, just before Mego introduced the 5-digit item code and the Type 2 body. It’s a Type 1 figure with a super-pale complexion. Chronologically, the box is the fourth of six variants, the “4-digit/Old Logo” box.
Having never personally handled this variation, I was entranced. Here’s what I realized:
The “canvas” trunks are not actually made of canvas. The material is nylon, but it has different qualities from the original nylon trunks. While the original nylon trunks are ‘crinkly’ (kind of a stiff, shiny material), this material is quite soft. It has a pronounced bumpy texture and a dull finish. The original nylon trunks catch light and almost shine, while these absorb light. In fact — as evidenced by my completely missing the fact that I owned them — the difference is difficult to detect with the naked eye. Seriously, it looks a lot like the original nylon! However, the tactile qualities are unmistakable. Below is a photo of each version (I exaggerated the lighting to show texture, but the “canvas trunks” don’t ’shine’ as much as the picture suggests). Notice how the softer “canvas trunks” wrap around the pelvis without wrinkling, as the earlier “nylon shorts” tend to do:
|Above: The original “nylon trunks” material.
|Above: The transitional “canvas trunks” material.
|Above: The later-issued “polyester trunks” material.
So there you have it! The “Canvas Trunks” Batman (Mego also issued Aquaman figures with this material) is not actually canvas. It’s nylon. Mego used the material for a short period, between the nylon and polyester variations. Cool!