25th February 2008

Mego Bizarro: A Mr. Mxyzptlk Trick?

Bizarro

“Bizarro want make Mego marketing decision today!”

For years, vintage super-hero action figure enthusiasts have engaged in heated-but-healthy discussions surrounding Mego’s decisions regarding the characters included in their magnificent World’s Greatest Super-Heroes line, especially within the wave of World’s Greatest Super-Foes, which gave us Penguin, Joker, Riddler and Mr. Mxyzptlk in 1974.

Mr. Mxyzptlk One of the more controversial figures in the entire line is Mr. Mxyzptlk, particularly since the underutilized DC character ended up being the only 8″ Superman villain Mego ever produced.

Fans may not be crazy about Mr. Mxyzptlk (either the character or the Mego figure), but Mego clearly put a lot of effort into developing Mr. Mxyzptlk, ultimately sculpting two different heads (shown at left) for the character.

Note to collectors: Mego produced the “Smirking” head (far left) first and it is considerably scarcer than the revised version (near left).

I discuss the issue of Mr. Mxyzptlk, in relation to other Super-Foes, in the book, World’s Greatest Toys! (currently in-stock and available for purchase through Amazon.com; Amazon pays me for purchases made through my blog, so I thank you in advance for buying it here).

Here’s a snippet from the Mr. Mxyzptlk chapter of the book, followed by a scan of the spread (starting on page 136, for those reading along):

Collectors question Mego’s decision to produce Mr. Mxyzptlk, a relatively minor character. Mego clearly sought to capitalize on kids’ interest in Superman; the original packages proclaim “Superman’s Arch Enemy” in large type. Still, the character seems an odd choice compared to better-known Superman villains, including Lex Luthor and Brainiac. When pressed for an explanation in a 1998 interview, Neal Kublan offered “The [1978 Richard Donner] film had Lex [Luthor], but the comics had a lot of [Mr.] Mxyzptlk. The comics had a lot of it. And we did Superman before the first film.” A salient point, as Mego’s choice of Superman villain debuted four years before the movie opened.

Mr. Mxyzptlk

On a side note, the snippet above bothers/intrigues me, because my original manuscript cited Bizarro instead of Brainiac. Yet somehow, through myriad edits, Bizarro was replaced with Brainiac. I have no idea how or when this happened. The revision is unfortunate because, even while working on the book, I was aware of the fact that Mego once submitted a fascinating trademark request: Bizarro

Following is Mego’s canceled USPTO submission, along with a clever “Superfriends” custom:

Bizarro

Bizarro

As referenced in my recent Mego copyright and trademark Blog, Webbed-Hand Aquaman: Search for Atlantis?, which details a fleeting interest in all-things aquatic, Mego apparently also discussed the idea of a World’s Greatest Super-Hero Bizarro figure, possibly on several occasions. At least once during the 1977/1978 production meetings documented in Brian Heiler’s amazing interview with Mego artist Vinny Baiera, Mego considered expanding the original wave of four Super-Foes… as evidenced by Baiera’s own 30-year old meeting notes (shown at right).

It’s interesting to note that Baiera jotted these concepts and ideas at least two years after Mego submitted the trademark request for bizarro!

What could this mean?

Bearing in mind that Mego often submitted trademark applications well after a toy was produced (sometimes years later), this could suggest that Bizarro — presuming the trademark referenced the DC Comics character (and what else could it be?!) — had also been considered for the original wave of World’s Greatest Super-Foes!

Surely this is a trick perpetrated by that vengeful, arrogant little bastard imp from the 5th Dimension! (By that I mean Mr. Mxyzptlk, not me. I was about 3 years old when this Queen-Mother-Of-All marketing travesties occurred).

As a collector today, what amuses me is that, had Mego known about the inferior materials they used toward the end of the line — resulting in the dreaded, grey “Zombie” head — they were but a sticker and revised blister card-back away from issuing a Bizarro Superman anyway (below)!

Bizarro

Feel free to post your thoughts and comments on the Mego Museum message board (NB: links to a specific thread about this subject). If you’re not already a member of the Mego Museum, now is the perfect time to join!

I have more great blogs lined up for the near future. Until then, I’ll see you on the boards!

Benjamin

posted in Book Production, Book Status, Copyrights and Trademarks, Mego Corporation, Mego Memories, Mego Questions, Random Musings, United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), World's Greatest Toys | Comments Off