13th June 2008

Incredible Mego WGSH Auctions on eBay!

41 year-old Joseph A. Zyskowski is a real estate agent in Nevada, and he has one of the most incredible stories in the history of Mego collecting.

This week, Joe started auctioning his staggering collection of Mego WGSH figures. Joe started buying these toys as a prescient 11 year-old kid, way back in 1978. In just three years, Joe managed to acquire nearly every 8″ Super-Hero toy Mego ever produced, including several of the rarest packaging examples known to exist.

Joe’s childhood collection includes Window Boxes, one 1st Issue card (perhaps the rarest) and several 2nd Issue cards.

There are precious few holes in Joe’s collection, all of which befuddle him. I recently Emailed Joe, asking about Speedy and Kid Flash, two figures curiously lacking in his collection. Joe wrote back:

When I was 12 I wrote the words “1979 Hero Obsolite” [sic] on the bottom of this card and Wondergirl’s. The word “obsolite” [sic] was meant to indicate that the figures were discontinued and no longer being sold in stores. The Teen Titans figures were EXTREMELY difficult to find. I was only able to purchase Aqualad and Wondergirl and never found the rest of them in stores after that. Which was quite a bummer because I really wanted Speedy and Kid Flash, too.

Tonight, I replied to Joe, in an attempt to shed some light on his other mysteries. If he replies, I’ll discuss it further on the blog. Until then, here’s what I wrote:

Hi Joe,

Thank you for the wonderful response. I wanted to pass on some information I gathered while researching my Mego book, which you might find interesting:

First, the likely reason you were never able to find Tarzan as a kid, is that you started collecting in 1978. Due to contract disputes between Mego and Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. (ERB), Mego lost the rights to produce Tarzan figures in 1976… two years BEFORE you started collecting. Under the terms of the agreement, ERB allowed Mego to sell off existing inventory, but clearly the stores near you (wherever you grew up) had already run out of Tarzan inventory when you started hunting down Mego toys.

Second, regarding the other two characters you couldn’t find as a kid (Speedy and Kid Flash): The truth is, all four Teen Titans were poor sellers (aka ‘Peg Warmers’), and could be found on discount clearance at Toys “R” Us stores well into the 1980s. However, you purchased most of your figures through Heroes World (by the way, did you shop at one of their mall stores, or did you order figures through their comic book catalogs? I’m really curious!), and Heroes World evidently sold out most of their Titans inventory very early on: The Titans first appeared in the April 1977 Heroes World catalogs. By the time Heroes World issued their very next catalog, mere months later (Fall 1977), they offered only Speedy and Wondergirl.

Based on that fact, I’m surprised you were able to acquire Aqualad from Heroes World. I would have guessed Aqualad and Kid Flash would be the two you couldn’t find, but the point is that HW either: 1) Ordered lightly on the Titans wave; 2) Sold the figures briskly; 3) Sent you one of the last Kid Flash figures in their inventory or; 4) Some combination of the above.

Next, in your “1st Issue” (aka “Kresge”) carded Shazam auction, you commented:

“The funny thing about this figure is that I can’t remember Kresge’s at all! In my mind’s eye, I remember buying this figure at a K-Mart, but that obviously wasn’t the case. I must have been more concerned about where the toy isle was vs what store I was shopping at! Thanks for your interest in my collection.”

Your memory of buying this figure at Kmart is most certainly correct. S.S. Kresge (the five-and-dime store that created Kmart) was an early Mego supporter, ordering sufficient quantities to warrant ‘owned-brand’ packaging (i.e. true “Kresge” cards). However, by the time Mego issued your particular Shazam card, Kresge no longer ordered sufficient quantities to receive owned-brand 1st Issue “Kresge” cards. Kresge still offered Mego toys, but the lion’s share of inventory was routed to more profitable Kmart stores.

In other words, you don’t remember “Kresge” for a reason; you likely bought the toy at Kmart, as your memory suggests.

I hope this information sheds some light on the mysteries of your truly astonishing attempt to “Collect ‘em All” as a kid.

Finally, I would really love to correspond with you after the auctions are completed. I find your story absolutely fascinating, and I’d love to hear your memories, and document them on my book blog.

My fingers are crossed that Joe replies. I can’t wait to talk to him again!

Post your comments below. I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Benjamin

Exclamation Want to learn more about Mego and the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes?
Pick up a copy of Mego 8″ Super-Heroes: World’s Greatest Toys from Amazon.com today! All sales support the author and help finance the blog. How cool is that?

Current Music: ‘Til I Gain Control Again, Emmylou Harris

posted in 1st Issue Blister Cards, 2nd Issue Blister Cards, Daily Mego Adoration, Mego Memories, Mego World's Greatest Super-Heroes, S.S. Kresge, Tarzan, Teen Titans, Window Boxes, World's Greatest Toys, eBay Auctions | Comments Off

13th June 2008

Celebrating a Mego Birthday!

I spoke with Linda McNett yesterday. Between 1974-1978, Linda was (Mego V.P.) Neal Kublan’s Personal Assistant. Linda’s husband, John McNett — whom she met while working at Mego — was Mego’s Director of Design from 1977-1979.

Here are two shots of Linda working at Mego in the 1970s:

John and Linda McNett

Above Left: Linda in Mego’s ‘new’ offices at 41 Madison Avenue, NYC.
Above Right: Linda answering the phone in Neal Kublan’s office inside the ‘Old Building’ in 1975 (note the Mego Wants You To… Go Ape! poster in the background).

Here are two (never-before-published) 1978 photos of John, working and smoking* in his Mego office:

John and Linda McNett

Above: John, looking too-cool-for-school. They’re hard to make out, but there are the prototype Micronauts on his desk in the left-hand photo!

*Don’t smoke cigarettes, kids. Apparently, they’re bad for you. (NB: Smoking is still cool)

Both Linda and John helped me create the Mego book, improving it immeasurably. Early on, John critiqued my graphic design (he absolutely hated my type face… advice I really needed and happily accepted), while Linda shared her memories and photo albums of days spent working at Mego. I’m proud to say that Linda and John have become dear friends.

John and Linda McNett

Above: Linda, looking adorable in the “old” Mego office at 1 Madison Square Plaza, NYC; Linda McNett’s (Née “Larkin”) gold-foil Mego business card.

We hadn’t spoken in a while, and Linda called yesterday to check in with me, to see what’s up and ask how the book is doing. She told me that John recently celebrated his 70th birthday! Please join me in shouting-out-loud:

Happy birthday, John!

Thanks to Linda, we can be there in belated spirit. Here’s John, blowing out the candles on his 70th birthday cake:

John and Linda McNett

The Guest of Honor at John’s surprise party was none other than legendary Mego artist Sal Mucaro (whose son, Tory, also worked for Mego). I was thrilled when Linda Emailed me this photo of Sal Mucaro, chillin’ at John’s birthday party… and thumbing through the Mego book!

John and Linda McNett

Above: Legendary Mego artist Sal Mucaro perusing my book. Phew. How cool is that?!

Linda must be the coolest cat I know. Catching up on the phone, we talked about music and her love of Metal bands. Admittedly, I was taken aback by her musical tastes. Hell, the last time I discussed music with her, I was sending her bootleg CDs of vintage Harry Chapin concerts (courtesy of Mego-head Rob Chatlin). I guess I had her pegged for a ’70s folk music fan.

Lo and behold, Linda is a true aficionado of all things cool. She asked whether I am down with bands like Deftones, early Marilyn Manson, Disturbed, Godhead and Static-X (for you old-skool Mego-heads: Yes, I did tell her that Static-X story).

Linda’s favorite album? The soundtrack to Queen of the Damned. Right on! No folk music on that record.

Jeez. I already knew Linda was cool. I mean, she got to work at Mego, for the luv o’ Mike. She loves to paint. She loves to travel and constantly learn. She has the most enviable “Joie de Vive” I’ve ever witnessed. And now she’s gotta be a hard-core, hipster music geek, too?! It’s just not fair.

Linda even loves her some cheez-metal (a particular weakness of mine), as evidenced by this snapshot of a Tshirt she feverishly hunted down:

John and Linda McNett

Yep. That’s a freakin’ Skid Row Tshirt. Linda searched for a long time to find a Tshirt featuring Baz with the entire band. And she finally found it.

And she’s stoked.

When I grow up, I want to be cool like Linda McNett.

Mego Ben’s Related and Cool Links:

Post your comments below. I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Benjamin

Exclamation Want to learn more about Mego and the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes?
Pick up a copy of Mego 8″ Super-Heroes: World’s Greatest Toys from Amazon.com today! All sales support the author and help finance the blog. How cool is that?

posted in Acknowledgements, Articles, Book Production, Book Research, Daily Mego Adoration, John and Linda McNett, Mego Corporation, Mego Memories, World's Greatest Toys | Comments Off