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

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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 May 2008

Mego Price Stickers: Kresge vs. Kmart!

In World’s Greatest Toys (page 59), I discuss retailer S.S. Kresge, and their transition into Kmart:

Founded in 1899, S.S. Kresge was a five-and-dime retailer. In 1977, the company officially changed its name to Kmart Corporation, but Kresge stores operated in America until 1987.

During the 1970s, Kresge and Kmart orders were fulfilled through several different consolidation facilities, such as See-Pak in New Jersey. Orders came from “the individual stores,” recalled Mego warehouse manager Ray Demato. Mego’s warehouse employees would stage the entire order, separated by region. To fulfill orders for East Coast and Midwest stores, for example, Demato explained that Mego would “put them on a See-Pak truck that went to a Kmart breakdown point. See-Pak handled a specific region of the country,” adding, “There was a ‘See-Pak,’ a ‘See-USA,’ and others. [Kmart] had like five distribution points” covering the entire country.

Since the retailer’s transition occurred during Mego’s heyday, it’s fun to track the varying prices and toys offered by the two (very different) stores. In all my years of collecting, I have encountered relatively few “Kmart” price stickers, while I have seen countless examples of “Kresge” stickers, thank to the Kresge-branded “1st Issue” cards.

Kresge ordered ‘owned-brand’ packaging (i.e. pre-printed price stickers) for only a few years (1973-1975), but they continued to sell Mego products for years afterward. Here’s a cool comparison of a “Kresge” and a “Kmart” price sticker, both of which appeared after Kresge stopped buying ‘owned-brand’ packaging:

Price Sticker

The $3.33 “Kresge” sticker (above left) is affixed to a “1st Issue” (6th Version) Robin card (see page 189 ofWorld’s Greatest Toys), while the $3.97 “Kmart” sticker (above right) is affixed to a 2nd Issue “©1977b” Batman card (see page 225 of World’s Greatest Toys).

The packages were issued about a year-and-a-half apart, which explains the $0.64 price increase.

posted in Batman, Daily Mego Adoration, Mego Memories, Price Stickers, Robin, S.S. Kresge | Comments Off

16th April 2008

Daily Mego Adoration: Mego Price Stickers - S.S. Kresge!

Daily Mego Adoration Here’s our Daily Mego Adoration for Wednesday, April 16, 2008:

Mego Price Stickers - S.S. Kresge!

Continuing yesterday’s examination of Mego price stickers, we turn our attention to S.S. Kresge, one of the most significant U.S. retailers of Mego products.

Skipping past the original Kresge-branded “1st Issue” cards that feature pre-printed price stickers, we instead look at the “1st Issue” card variation that marks the end of Kresge’s history of ordering ‘owned-brand’ (i.e. Kresge-branded) Mego packaging.

Neither of the final two “1st Issue” card variations are marked with Kresge branding (see page 149 of World’s Greatest Toys! for an explanation and additional information). Despite this, Kresge — which evolved into Kmart — continued to sell Mego figures packaged on Mego’s original card style. This shift resulted in different (affixed, rather than pre-printed) Kresge price stickers.

Today, we compare two different examples of the 5th Version “1st Issue” card (depicting Shazam in the masthead), each featuring unique, affixed Kresge stickers. As mentioned before, I discuss this particular packaging variation on page 149 of World’s Greatest Toys!

Here are two different specimens of the Superman card, which Mego started distributing (approximately) around Spring 1975:

Price Sticker

On the left, the original price sticker, reads:

  • KEY 1
  • 2-75
  • $2.47

This sticker utilizes Kresge’s original “date code” scheme, suggesting Kresge expected delivery by February 1975 (2-75). Presumably, this particular toy hung, unsold, on Kresge’s peg-display for some time, since the retailer ultimately added a reduced-price sticker (actually, they accidentally affixed two of the same sticker), which reads:

  • KEY 1
  • 49-52
  • $1.68

Judging by the price of the second specimen (pictured above right), it’s safe to assume Mego sent additional quantities of the identical packaging style before Kresge sold out of the original run! The sticker on the later-issued specimen (above right) reads:

  • KEY 1
  • 1 4 75
  • 4367
  • $1.68

While the nomenclature does not match typical Kresge “date code” schemes, it’s possible the “1 4 75″ refers to “April 1975″. I’m not so sure about that, but it’s a plausible assumption. I know that Kresge eventually abandoned the “date code” scheme, I just don’t know exactly when they did so.

However, understanding that retailers only ever marked products DOWN (they never RAISED product prices), coupled with the differing sticker codes, it’s safe to assume that the first specimen (above left) was marked DOWN to meet the subsequently released specimen’s (above right) price of $1.68.

Pretty cool!

By the way, I want to thank Mego-head Don Cassetori, who already sent me several amazing price sticker photos for my Price Sticker Library! I will post those pictures in a future blog. You rock, Don!

I am still actively seeking contributions to my Price Sticker Library, so if you have access to vintage price stickers affixed to Mego toys, I want to hear from you! Please post in the comments below, or send me an Email.

Benjamin

posted in 1st Issue Blister Cards, Daily Mego Adoration, Mego Corporation, Price Stickers, S.S. Kresge, Superman, World's Greatest Toys | 0 Comments

25th March 2008

Daily Mego Adoration: Poster Fun with 1st Issue Cards!

Daily Mego Adoration Here’s our Daily Mego Adoration for Wednesday, March 26, 2008:

Poster Fun: 1st Issue Cards!

Here’s a new addition to my Poster Fun series, wherein I create large, composite photos of appropriate groupings of Mego figures and packages. These are the types of images I couldn’t fit into Mego 8″ Super-Heroes: World’s Greatest Toys!, but they’re an awful lot of fun to look at!

Mego issued numerous “1st Issue” card variations, yet manufactured just 17 characters using this exquisite packaging style. Here’s a composite of all 17 characters produced on 1st Issue cards, in chronological order of release. Enjoy!

Daily Mego Adoration

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

Benjamin

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 1st Issue Blister Cards, Aquaman, Batgirl, Batman, Book Production, Captain America, Catwoman, Daily Mego Adoration, Green Arrow, Joker, Mego World's Greatest Super-Heroes, Mr. Mxyzptlk, Penguin, Posters!, Riddler, Robin, S.S. Kresge, Shazam!, Spider-Man, Supergirl, Superman, Tarzan, Wonder Woman, World's Greatest Toys | 8 Comments

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