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

12th June 2008

Reminder: Father’s Day is Sunday!

A lot of guys in the hobby are dads themselves, but let’s not forget our own fathers, dads, pops, da-das, daddies, or whatever dumb name you called your old man.

I always called my dad “Ray.”

Long story.

Forgot? No problem. Send dad an Amazon Gift Certificate. They’re cool, plus you support WorldsGreatestToys. Woo-hoo!

Benjamin

posted in Acknowledgements, Random Musings, World's Greatest Toys | Comments Off

6th May 2008

Good-Bye, Old Friend

I’m ashamed to admit that I let time get away from me. I planned to start a particular Blog series some time ago, yet I continually put it off by making excuses. “It’s too much stuff,” I thought. “I want to wait until I have time to really dig into it,” I reasoned.

I will not put it off any longer.

While working on World’s Greatest Toys, I kept detailed notes in various Microsoft Word documents; discussions with lawyers, Mego chronology, even concepts for possible book designs.

One such document details my great fortune in meeting Danton (Dan) Burroughs, grandson of Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs. Following is a snippet from my datelined notes, from late 2006:

October 16, 2006. Publisher Emailed me with incredibly exciting news. “Just got off the phone with Danton Burroughs, or ERB, Inc. He called in response to my permission request, and said he doesn’t foresee any problems with having the Tarzan figure featured in the book. He was very friendly, and also said he’s got a file on the Mego stuff that he’d be willing to share for the book, and that you’re welcome to call him.”

October 17, 2006. Called Danton Burroughs and played Phone Tag for a few days.

October 20, 2006. Finally connected with Danton. Arranged to meet in person.

October 26, 2006. My first meeting with Danton. Went to his (amazing!) house. Took Danton to dinner in Tarzana. Ate steak and drank fine wine. At $270.00, the most expensive dinner I’ve ever had. Worth every penny! He gave me the original ERB Mego file to review and copy.

Edgar Rice Burroughs

Dan was a veritable “Rosetta Stone” in my archaeological book research. Dan’s detailed notes from the 1970s pointed me toward the “father of Mego WGSH” Stan Weston, whom I will discuss further in future blogs. Dan’s notes illuminated previously unknown facts about my beloved “1st Issue” Mego/Kresge cards. Dan’s notes explained Tarzan’s mysterious disappearance from the Mego line.

In my April 7th blog, I acknowledged Danton Burroughs and his illness, writing:

“I want to send a special shout-out to Danton Burroughs, the sweetest and most generous man I have ever met. Danton, who suffers from a chronic and progressive disease, doesn’t even have a computer (let alone read blogs), so he will never see this. Still, I want to broadcast my respect and appreciation of him. Danton, you took the Mego book to a ‘whole nuva levoh’, and I am forever indebted to you.

I wish you nothing but the best, my friend, and may every day be ‘a good day.’”

Danton Dan Burroughs passed away this weekend, after a long and difficult battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

I am heartbroken, and I wish I had made more time in my so-called ‘hectic’ life to hang out with and learn from him.

Upon learning of Dan’s passing, I was reminded of a touching song by Chris DeBurgh, entitled “Old Friend.” While I was hardly an ‘old’ friend, we were most definitely friends. Upon learning the sad news, I instantly recalled DeBurgh’s lyric about sharing a fine bottle of wine. The night I took Dan to dinner, he handed his precious Mego file to me and said, “I really believe you will carry on the legacy with your book.”

I don’t know if I managed to do that, but I hope the book helps keep the family legacy alive. Thank you for everything, Dan. Rest in peace.

And you made a wish…

When the years are heavy, and my heart is growing cold,
Well I wish when the evening comes that there’ll always Be…
Some old friend who’ll miss me too…”

Well I do, so friend I’m coming through…
Yes, for you I’ll always find the time,
we will have a bottle Of wine
old friend, I’m here by your side, oh, to the very end…

— “Old Friend,” by Chris DeBurgh

Benjamin

posted in Acknowledgements, Book Research, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., Mego Corporation, Mego Memories, Tarzan | 1 Comment

2nd May 2008

Mego 1979 Annual Report: Marty Abrams!

Courtesy of World’s Greatest Toys editor Rob Chatlin, here is a handsome photo of Mego President Marty Abrams, from Mego’s 1979 Annual Report.

I’m such a nerd, I actually zoomed in on the photo to see if I could make out any appointments in his date book, or read something in the New York Times laying on his desk! Sadly, I could only glean that the photo was taken in April.

Marty Abrams

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, Mego Corporation, Mego Memories, World's Greatest Toys | Comments Off

1st May 2008

Mego 1979 Annual Report: Toy Goodness!

Courtesy of World’s Greatest Toys editor Rob Chatlin, Mego’s 1979 Annual Report is filled with fantastic photos, including this splash collage on the very first page, promoting Mego’s wide array of toy offerings:

Annual Report

More pictures from this glorious bit of print-matter are coming soon. Thanks, Rob!

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, Hulk, Mego Corporation, Superman, Wonder Woman, World's Greatest Toys | 1 Comment

30th April 2008

Interview: Mego-Head F.J. DeSanto!

F.J. DeSanto is a film producer and certified toy geek. F.J. Emailed me a while back, inquiring about a tattered and well-loved toy he still has from childhood, which he thought might have been a Mego product. Turns out it is actually Empire Toys’ Batcopter toy vehicle (shown below, tricked out with an 8″ Mego Batman figure, from the 1977 JC Penney catalog).

F.J. DeSanto

F.J. has been involved in some very important film projects, most recently his very first co-producing effort: Will Eisner’s The Spirit.

And F.J. absolutely loves him some Mego! Discussing our shared passion, F.J. shared this amusing Mego vignette:

My aunt, who was the ‘cool’ aunt who bought all the ‘cool’ toys, once surprised me in the mall [by buying me] the Mego Hall Of Justice playset. I freaked out with the box, running around to anyone in sight yelling “SHE GOT ME THE HALL OF JUSTICE!!!!” This story is legendary in my family and one my 9 year-old nephew loves to hear. When I bought your book, I showed everyone, including my nephew, the photos of the Hall of Justice. This brought a lot of laughs.

F.J. further recalled:

Before the preceding story happened, my folks bought me a Mego Green Arrow figure, which I was very excited about, as my family and I were about to go on a trip. While at the airport, an older kid (probably late teens) was impressed with my figures, which travelled with me, of course. [The older kid] told me Mego was planning to make an 8″ Green Lantern figure. I suspected he was lying to me, but I secretly hoped he was right. I patiently waited for said figure, which never arrived. I thought that older kid was a dirty liar!!! Seems as though he was fooled by the HOJ artwork as well** (which I don’t remember cause I was probably too busy playing with it)! Poor guy. I wish I could apologize to him.

  • **Editor’s Note: F.J. was referring to a Hall of Justice mention in World’s Greatest Toys (page 186) which discusses Neal Adams’ addition of Green Lantern to the playset’s exterior artwork).

I think it’s safe to say all Mego-heads share F.J.’s Mego Green Lantern pain and disappointment. I recently sat down to talk turkey toys with F.J. and we enjoyed an… ahem… SPIRITed discussion:

WORLD’S GREATEST TOYS: You have been involved with a variety of super-hero/comic book properties, including “Batman,” “Constantine” and, most recently, “Will Eisner’s The Spirit.” What sparked your interest in super-heroes?

DESANTO: I think a lot of it had to do with the BATMAN TV series re-running when I was a little boy in the 70’s. I took it VERY seriously. That certainly led to my now thirty-five years of weekly comic buying. My mother tells me that by three, I was teaching myself to read comics; things like the Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams BATMAN run, because I was so frustrated having to wait for my dad to read them to me. Around the same time, my folks bought me the Mego Super Hero toys as well as the STAR TREK toys, which I also played with incessantly.

WGT: When did your appreciation of Mego begin? Are your passions for film and toys related in any way?

DESANTO: I couldn’t even tell you when but it was VERY early on. I honestly can’t remember my childhood without Mego toys being a part of it. Both are completely related. Film and toys sparked my imagination at such an early age that I knew. Super-Heroes, Star Trek and Star Wars all converged at the right time in my life. Without these things, my life would be very different. I certainly wouldn’t be producing movies based on comic books or writing Star Trek manga stories for Tokyopop.

WGT: What are some of your all-time favorite super-hero toys? Do you collect both vintage and modern toys?

DESANTO: I loved the Mego playsets: the Batcave, the Hall of Justice (which led to a very frustrating, and ultimately disappointing, search for a Mego Green Lantern figure!), the Star Trek Bridge. I was obsessed with the Wayne Foundation and would brag about the fact that I had a black Batcycle, which no one else I knew had! I have very clear memories of playing with that as a kid. I was also very big on the Corgi Batman vehicles. But literally, until “Star Wars” came out, I didn’t play with anything besides Mego Super-Heroes. I’m a Robin/Dick Grayson fanatic, so I played with my Robin figure more than any other figure. Today, my apartment is filled with original Robin/Nightwing related art from the likes of George Perez, Nick Cardy, Alex Ross and the late Marshall Rogers. Mego toys played a big part in all this.

I really don’t buy a lot of vintage or modern stuff now, mostly because I’m a pack rat and still have a lot of stuff, but I am a huge fan of the stuff DC Unlimited puts out. I just love what they do, and they capture that same feeling I had when I was a kid. What they do appeals to that same little kid who loved Mego.

WGT: Why do you think the Mego line continues to enjoy such popularity? I work in Burbank, CA (home to numerous studios), and I’ve noticed that a lot of hipsters in the film industry have a particular fondness for super-hero toys, and Mego specifically. Presuming you agree, why do you think this is true?

DESANTO: I think it’s very simple. The Mego toys influenced an entire generation of kids who, in the last few years, have become the adults making waves in the entertainment industry. The Mego Generation was able to play with a lot of their favorite heroes for the first time and take them on unique adventures. It had never happened before on that level. There was nothing like the Mego figures and I am sure they inspired many creative people and have provided many wonderful memories to people everywhere. There are probably hundreds of writers, directors, artists, etc. in the entertainment industry who grew up with Mego super-hero toys.

F.J. DeSanto

WGT: Your latest film project is “Will Eisner’s The Spirit,” which comes out on January 16, 2009 and already has fan-boys frothing at the mouth. What is your involvement in the project, and can you tell us why you, personally, are excited about the movie?

DESANTO: I’m a co-producer on the movie and what excites me most, besides the fact that movie is turning out wonderfully, is being able to work with people who truly love, respect and understand the world and characters that Will Eisner created.

WGT: Frank Miller is linked to two of the most unique, highly stylized films I’ve ever seen (”Sin City” and “300″). Can you reveal anything about his aesthetic or stylistic treatment for “The Spirit?”

DESANTO: I can’t reveal anything specifically, but I can say that people are going to surprised and excited by what Frank has done with this movie. He’s a true artist both in comic books and in cinema and “THE SPIRIT” is going to blow people away.

WGT: Do you have any exciting plans or promotions for Comic-Con in San Diego this year?

DESANTO: I think it’s going to be a very spirited convention this year…

WGT: Where can WGT readers learn more about your upcoming projects?

DESANTO: Stay tuned….

WGT: (Laughs). “Same Bat-Time, Same Bat-Channel,” eh…?

Many thanks to F.J. DeSanto, for taking time out of his incredibly hectic schedule to speak with us, and best of luck to the highly anticipated movie, Will Eisner’s The Spirit!

RELATED LINKS: Colouring Book Theatre: Will Eisner’s The Spirit at Plaid Stallions

posted in Acknowledgements, Batcopter, Film & Television, Green Arrow, JC Penney, Mego Questions, Pop Culture, World's Greatest Toys | Comments Off

2nd April 2008

Daily Mego Adoration: Poster Fun with 2nd Issue 1975 Marvel Cards!

Daily Mego Adoration Here’s our Daily Mego Adoration for Wednesday, April 2, 2008:

Poster Fun: 2nd Issue ©1975 Marvel Cards!

Here’s a new addition to my Poster Fun series. Today, we truly marvel (ahem!) at every Marvel character Mego issued on a 2nd Issue ©1975 card, in chronological order of release. Originally, I didn’t want to present this poster, because I cannot show the original, ©1975a card for each character.*

But Dan Crandall, whom we all can thank for most of the cards pictured below (thank you, Dan), suggested it would look cool anyway. So, this one’s for you, Dan. You were definitely right. There are 13 such cards. Enjoy!

*All cards below are ©1975a cards, except Spider-Man, Hulk and the Fantastic Four, which are the ©1975b cards.

Daily Mego Adoration

Want to learn more? Buy Mego 8″ Super-Heroes: World’s Greatest Toys! Just $32.97

Exclamation!In keeping with today’s Marvel theme, Brian Heiler has a great look at vintage Spider-Man goodness over at Plaid Stallions. It’s great stuff!

Benjamin

p.s. If anyone out there owns a ©1975a Spider-Man, Hulk, Thing, Human Torch, Mr. Fantastic or Invisible Girl, please send me pictures and I’ll update the poster!

Blog Credits and legal stuff: Images published by Benjamin Holcomb and TwoMorrows Publications. All rights reserved. Images may not be reprinted or published without prior written consent from the publishers.

posted in 2nd Issue Blister Cards, Acknowledgements, Captain America, Conan, Daily Mego Adoration, Falcon, Green Goblin, Hulk, Human Torch, Invisible Girl, Iron Man, Lizard, Mego Corporation, Mego Packaging, Mego World's Greatest Super-Heroes, Mr. Fantastic, Posters!, Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, Thing, Thor, World's Greatest Toys | 1 Comment

26th March 2008

Mego Wants you to “Go Ape!”

Go Ape! Mego Museum contributor Mego73 recently posted a link to this amazing blog on Hunter Goatley’s POTA site, which features scans of the circa-1974 “Go Ape!” promotional press book.

Among the promotional pages are references to Mego’s own promotional efforts supporting their line of Planet of the Apes action figures.
I love how the generic graphics (clearly pre-dating the digital age) implore readers to “Visit your local [MEGO] for details…”

Wow.

Benjamin

posted in Acknowledgements, Film & Television, Mego Corporation, Mego Memories, Planet of the Apes, Pop Culture | 0 Comments

18th March 2008

Pop Culture Embroidery

Craftzine

KnittingFrau Jillian (author of Big Girl Knits and the forthcoming More Big Girl Knits) sent this nod to Jared (”Effing”) Brown, a master embroiderer who creates wicked pop culture embroidery.

Link: Article on Craftzine.com
Link: Jared’s Work (Flickr)
Link: Knittingfrau’s BLog

Very cool!

Benjamin

posted in Acknowledgements, Art, Pop Culture, Random Musings | Comments Off

11th March 2008

FIRST LOOK: Punisher: War Zone

Fan expectation for a new Punisher flick may be (justifiably) low, but here are two reasons to believe we may be in for something good:

Punisher

(Above: Ray Stevenson is Frank Castle, AKA The Punisher, in PUNISHER: WAR ZONE)

Punisher

(Above: Scene from PUNISHER: WAR ZONE)

Most geeks agree Marvel’s first (no, wait! second. Sorry, Dolph, but… Enh! Jesus! You don’t count!) attempt at adapting Punisher to the silver screen was, well… abysmal. However, a so-called ‘reboot’ is in the works, which I believe holds great promise. With no official release date for “PUNISHER: WAR ZONE,” Lionsgate plans to eventually release a re-envisioned Punisher movie, which the producers describe with the following premise:

Waging his one-man war on the world of organized crime, ruthless vigilante-hero Frank Castle sets his sights on overeager mob boss, Billy Russoti. After Russoti is left horribly disfigured by Castle, he sets out for vengeance under his new alias: Jigsaw. With the “Punisher Task Force” hot on his trail and the FBI unable to take Jigsaw in, Frank must stand up to the formidable army that Jigsaw has recruited before more of his evil deeds go unpunished.

Starring Ray Stevenson (HBO’s “Rome”) as The Punisher, PUNISHER: WAR ZONE is directed by Lexi Alexander and produced by Gale Anne Hurd.

Granted, the images above constitute a very early look at the film, offering very little in the way of story or direction. I’m skeptical, of course, but I think the overall Art Direction is impressive, in a Bladerunner kind of way. The color story in each panel is distinctive and very comic book-y. I hope the consideration given to these two panels is truly indicative of the overall product.

Additionally, the presence of Producer Gale Anne Hurd gives me great hope for this flick, as she produced numerous, important sci-fi film films, including The Terminator, Aliens, Terminator 2: Judgment Day and The Abyss (Hmmmm. James Cameron much?).

I, for one, am looking forward to this.

Benjamin

Thoughts? Comments? Click the “comments” link below right, and be heard!!

posted in Acknowledgements, Film & Television | Comments Off

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