5th May 2008

USPTO: Fist-Fighters!

Fist-Fighters As collectors, it’s easy to get down on Mego for failing to further expand the WGSH line. Despite Mego’s then-unprecedented production of 37 unique characters, we wish there were even more!

“Where’s our Flash?” we plead. “Why didn’t Mego make a Green Lantern? Or a Dr. Doom?!” we lament.

As the line started to die around 1977-1978 (no, that’s not a typo), collectors now question why Mego failed to push the envelope in an effort to revitalize the line… especially during that critical period exacerbated by George Lucas’ introduction of “Star Wars” to the Pop Culture lexicon.

In fact, Mego did attempt to ‘flip the script’ at least twice. But neither concept had much of an impact on children of the 1970s. Mego’s final attempt at pumping life into a fading line was the introduction of “Fly-Away Action,” a contraption included with some 12″ WGSH figures, which allowed action figures to traverse a zip line.

Several years earlier, while the Mego’s WGSH line was arguably in its prime, Mego also went outside the proverbial box in developing a brand new body style intended to enhance play-value. Mego introduced the “Fist-Fighting Power Fist” Super-Heroes in 1975.

Fist-Fighters

I love Mego’s submissions to the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), and I have previously discussed this informative documentation. In World’s Greatest Toys, I discuss the Fist-Fighters (page 147) as well as Mego’s dealings with the USPTO (pages 7-9), depicting just one of the four USPTO Fist-Fighter submissions.

Here is Mego’s “Fist-Fighter” submission in its entirety (NB: Click Images to EMBIGGEN toward legibility!):

PAGE 1 and PAGE 2:

USPTO

PAGE 3 and PAGE 4:

USPTO

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 Batman, Captain America, Copyrights and Trademarks, Falcon, Green Arrow, Iron Man, Joker, Lizard, Riddler, Robin, Spider-Man, Superman, United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), World's Greatest Toys | Comments Off

23rd March 2008

Daily Mego Adoration: DC “2nd Issue” Cards (part 3)

Here is our Daily Mego Adoration for Monday, March 24, 2008.
Let’s finish up with these lovely 2nd Issue DC Cards!

This post wraps up my 3-part series of Daily Mego Adoration blogs about Mego’s “2nd Issue” DC cards. Today I want to show ‘detail’ photos of each card’s distinguishing features, which I discussed in yesterday’s blog.

On the front of each card, Mego printed a “Country of Origin” statement, a legal requirement for all goods manufactured outside the United States. These statements comprise some of the packaging distinctions, as demonstrated below. Most notable is Mego’s cessation of the phrase “THE BRITISH COLONY OF” from later cards.

Note, too, the ©1977 Wonder Woman’s “Country of Origin” statement; the typography is unlike any other card! Incidentally, the trademark (â„¢) on the Mego logo helps chronologically place the mysterious Wonder Woman card before the ©1979 card.

2nd Issue DC Card-Front Variations: Country of Origin
Above: ©1976 “Country of Origin” Statement
Above: ©1977a “Country of Origin” Statement
Above: ©1977b “Country of Origin” Statement
Above: ©1977c “Country of Origin” Statement
Above: ©1977 2nd Issue Wonder Woman “Country of Origin” Statement
Above: ©1979 “Country of Origin” Statement

On the back of each card, there are three areas of distinction: Batgirl’s purse, the WGSH masthead and Penguin’s coloration. Following are pictures that demonstrate the differences between Batgirl purses and WGSH mastheads.

Batgirl’s purse started out yellow-on-gray. The ©1977c card is red-on-black, while both the Wonder Woman and ©1979 cards are black-on-red.

The trademark (™) on the WGSH mast started out white. On the ©1977c card, it is black, while both the Wonder Woman and ©1979 cards replace the trademark with a white registration (®) mark.

2nd Issue DC Card-Back Variations: Batgirl Purse and WGSH Masthead
Above: ©1976 card
Above: ©1977a card
Above: ©1977b card
Above: ©1977c card
Above: ©1977 Wonder Woman card
Above: ©1979 card

The Penguin illustration in the lower right corner on the back of each card also changed along the way. With the introduction of the ©1977c card, Mego finally added the character’s skin color that is missing from earlier packaging variations:

2nd Issue DC Card-Back Variations: Penguin Coloration
Above ©1976 card Above ©1977a card Above ©1977b card
Above ©1977c card Above ©1977 WW card Above ©1979 card

Want to learn more? Buy Mego 8″ Super-Heroes: World’s Greatest Toys! Just $49.95

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 2nd Issue Blister Cards, 2nd Issue DC Cards, Batgirl, Batman, Copyrights and Trademarks, Daily Mego Adoration, Mego Corporation, Mego Packaging, Mego Questions, Mego World's Greatest Super-Heroes, Penguin, Robin, Wonder Woman, World's Greatest Toys | Comments Off

21st March 2008

Daily Mego Adoration: DC “2nd Issue” Cards (part 2)

Here is our Daily Mego Adoration for Friday, March 21, 2008.
Let’s continue talking about 2nd Issue Cards!

Expanding on yesterday’s Daily Mego Adoration Blog, which shows the front and back of every Mego “2nd Issue” DC card, I want to discuss the elements that distinguish each variation. The next blog will show photo details of each distinction, but for now I want to compile the information that is scattered throughout the (chronologically ordered) book into one place.

“1976″ 2nd Issue/1st Version (DC) Card—Spring 1977 (c2-DC-76)

DC 76 Mego created this new card, consolidating their entire DC offering onto a uniform package design. This card is marked “1976,” the most recent year DC updated their copyrights. As with all the window boxes that preceded this packaging style, the copyright information includes the phrase “in the British Colony of Hong Kong.”

Mego discontinued both Wonder Woman and Tarzan prior to releasing this package. Every other 8″ DC character is available on this card.

Characters Issued
  • Superman
  • Batman
  • Robin
  • Aquaman
  • Shazam
  • Penguin
  • Joker
  • Riddler
  • Mr. Mxyzptlk
  • Supergirl
  • Batgirl
  • Catwoman
  • Green Arrow
Instant Identification
  • Front features “1976″ DC artwork
  • Copyright year below WGSH masthead reads “1976″
  • Penguin has no skin tone, colorless face and wrists
  • Batgirl has light gray outfit and purse with yellow Bat symbol
  • Country of Origin reads “in the British Colony of Hong Kong”

“1977a” 2nd Issue/2nd Version (DC) Card—Summer 1977 (c2-DC-77a)

DC 77a This card was produced between the ©1976 and the ©1977b card, which includes more characters. The card has a 1977 copyright and new illustrations, but bears the same Country of Origin statement as the ©1976 card. The graphics on the back of the card remain identical to the ©1976 card. These elements suggest it preceded the more common ©1977b card.

This variation has several striking differences from every other 2nd Issue card. First, the card stock is glossy only on the front; the back of the card has an uncoated matte finish. This card also boasts a peculiar “butterfly” peg hole not seen on any other WGSH package. The die cut shape is different than the Teen Titans’ butterfly peg hole.

To date, only four characters are confirmed to exist on this variation: Batman, Robin, Shazam and Green Arrow. Presuming these are the only characters produced on this card, one guesses Mego issued these cards to fill an immediate need for those characters. For this to be true, it would mean that inventory of the ©1976 cards was depleted. This is not unreasonable, given the relatively low production quantities of both Shazam and Green Arrow. The existence of Batman and Robin is surprising, but could reflect the immense popularity and constant demand for them. Only time will tell if other characters appear on this extremely rare card.

Most of the new “1977″ artwork is redrawn from the work of legendary comic book artist Neal Adams. A testament to his popularity, this is among the most popular artwork used on Mego packaging.

Characters Issued
  • Batman
  • Robin
  • Shazam
  • Green Arrow
Instant Identification
  • Front features “1977″ DC artwork
  • Copyright year below WGSH masthead reads “1977″
  • Country of Origin reads “in the British Colony of Hong Kong”
  • No copyright text in white stroke around card
  • Peg hole is unique “butterfly” shape
  • Card stock has glossy front, matte back

“1977b” 2nd Issue/3rd Version (DC) Card—Fall 1977 (c2-DC-77b)

DC 77b This is the primary 1977 DC card, as Mego issued eight characters, compared to four for the preceding ©1977a card, and just three for the subsequent ©1977c card. All artwork is identical to the ©1977a, except for Batgirl, whose card uses the “1976″ artwork. The Country of Origin statement reads “…Hong Kong” instead of “…British Colony of Hong Kong.”Prior to production of this card, Mego cancelled Supergirl, Catwoman, Mr. Mxyzptlk and Green Arrow.

By this time, Mego secured a distribution deal with Harbert, based in Milan, Italy. It is unknown what happened to Baravelli, the Italian company that distributed Mego figures in the mid-1970s. Over the next several years, Harbert purchased massive quantities of WGSH. In fact, their inventory was so large, they still offered figures in their 1983 sales catalog, more than a year after Mego discontinued the line.

To accommodate Harbert’s immediate inventory needs, Mego sent an unknown quantity of the most popular characters in the line (including Superman, Batman, Robin and Spider-Man) to Italy, with a Harbert sticker covering the WGSH masthead. These rectangular stickers are white and feature the character name, Harbert’s item number and logo. There are also examples of round white stickers (see ©1975b Spider-Man card on page 83), which are considerably scarcer than the rectangular stickers.

Characters Issued
  • Superman
  • Batman
  • Robin
  • Shazam
  • Penguin
  • Joker
  • Riddler
  • Batgirl*
Instant Identification
  • Front features “1977″ DC artwork*
  • Copyright year below WGSH masthead reads “1977″
  • Country of Origin does not include “in the British Colony”
  • No copyright text in white stroke around card
  • Card back artwork is identical to the ©1976 Card

* Batgirl has “1976″ artwork on the front


“1977c” 2nd Issue/4th Version ©1977c (DC) Card—Spring 1978 (c2-DC-77c)

DC 77c Mego only issued Superman, Batman and Robin on this 3rd Version of the ©1977 Card. Large quantities of ©1977b cards went to Harbert for distribution in Italy. Superman, Batman and Robin were top sellers in the line, and it’s possible there weren’t enough ©1977b cards produced to satisfy both Harbert and U.S. retailers. Another contributing factor could be the ©1978 Hulk and Spider-Man cards produced at the same time. Additional quantities of the equally popular DC character would add variety to casepack assortments.

This variation is the most common ©1977 card for Superman, Batman and Robin. It is unlikely other characters were issued on this variation.This card represents the first appearance of a Registration (®) mark within the WGSH masthead of a DC card, replacing the Trademark (â„¢) symbol used on all previous packaging. The printers filled the white Trademark symbol with the red background, printing the black Registration mark on top. The black Registration mark is significant, as it helps determine the chronology of other 2nd Issue cards, such as the ©1978 “Marvel” Card, and various foreign cards. Additionally, Mego added the licensor copyright information within the white border on the card front.

The card back exhibits two minor modifications. Mego finally added flesh tone to Penguin, and Batgirl features a black costume (instead of gray) and a black purse with a red Bat symbol.

Characters Issued
  • Superman
  • Batman
  • Robin
Instant Identification
  • Front features “1977″ DC artwork
  • WGSH masthead has Registration mark printed in black
  • Copyright below WGSH masthead reads “1977″
  • Penguin has skin toned face and wrists
  • Batgirl has black outfit and black purse with red Bat symbol
  • Licensor copyright information printed within white border on card front

The ©1977 Wonder Woman Card— (Spring 1978-Spring 1979)

2nd Issue Wonder Woman The mysterious 2nd Issue card combines graphical elements Mego used between 1977 and 1979, but never simultaneously. The front character illustrations match the ©1977 cards while the coloration on the back matches the ©1979 cards, in particular, Batgirl’s red purse. Unlike other ©1979 cards, however, the Wonder Woman card back includes the word “Official” above the masthead. Also, the registration mark (®) is printed in white ink, a distinction Mego did not introduce domestically until the ©1979 cards.


“1979″ 2nd Issue/5th Version (DC) Card—Spring 1979 (c2-DC-79)

DC 79 This was the last official card issued for DC characters. It came out sometime between fall 1978 and spring 1979, and was produced until Mego cancelled the line in 1982. The copyright year is 1979 on all cards, except for Batgirl, which is incorrectly marked “1977.”

Along with the updated copyright year, the Batgirl illustration features inverted colors on the purse (red purse with a black Bat symbol). Additionally, Mego changed the color of the Registration mark in the masthead from black to white. Incidentally, the packaging for the mysterious 2nd Issue Wonder Woman card exhibits design elements placing its creation directly before this card.

Incredibly scarce today, this is the first Aquaman package Mego issued since the ©1976 card. Unlike Thor and Conan, who were featured in the Spring 1979 Mego catalog, Aquaman was not included. Mego issued all three characters in limited quantities.

Mego discontinued Riddler around this time. Their inventory of ©1977b Riddler cards lasted through the production of this card. While unconfirmed, a yellow ©1979 Riddler card may exist and would be extremely rare. Mego later packaged unsold Riddlers on generic Red cards, alongside remaining Aquaman, Batgirl and Green Arrow figures.

Characters Issued
  • Superman
  • Batman
  • Robin
  • Aquaman
  • Shazam
  • Penguin
  • Joker
  • Batgirl*
Instant Identification
  • Front features “1979″ DC artwork
  • WGSH masthead has Registration mark printed in white
  • Copyright year below WGSH masthead reads “1979″*
  • Batgirl has black outfit and red purse with black Bat symbol

* Batgirl has “1977″ marked year of release.


Want to learn more? Buy Mego 8″ Super-Heroes: World’s Greatest Toys! Just $49.95     Â

Stay tuned: In Monday’s “Daily Mego Adoration” blog, I will post a pictorial blog, detailing the distinguising aspects of each “2nd Issue” DC card!

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 2nd Issue Blister Cards, 2nd Issue DC Cards, Aquaman, Batman, Copyrights and Trademarks, Daily Mego Adoration, Mego Corporation, Mego Packaging, Mego Questions, Mego World's Greatest Super-Heroes, Robin, Superman, World's Greatest Toys | Comments Off

20th March 2008

Daily Mego Adoration: DC “2nd Issue” Cards (part 1)

Here is our Daily Mego Adoration for Thursday, March 20, 2008.
Let’s talk about 2nd Issue Cards!

Mego developed a wide variety of packaging styles for their “World’s Greatest Super-Heroes” toy line, so collectors have embraced nicknames to define each style. The earliest packaging style, which Mego introduced toward the end of 1972, is known as the “Solid” box. Mere months later, Mego modified the “Solid” box by adding a thin, acetate window that allows a view to the toy inside. Such packaging is known as a “Window Box.”

Around the same time, Mego developed a blister card-style of packaging, called “1st Issue” cards. This tall card (6″ x 12″) features a plastic blister that is sealed to the bottom-center of the card.

Sidebar Some collectors still refer to “1st Issue” cards as “Kresge” cards, simply because the term was coined at a time when collectors believed such cards were available exclusively through S.S. Kresge and Kmart stores. Nowadays, collectors know Mego produced plenty of “1st Issue” cards, available through other retailers, that lack any reference to S.S. Kresge. Thus, “1st Issue” is a more accurate nickname for any card that measures 6″ x 12″.

In Spring 1977, Mego ceased production of all boxes and “1st Issue” cards, introducing a new blister card-style of packaging that is wider and shorter than the original card. Measuring 7″ x 10″, the plastic blister is sealed to the bottom-right of each card. Not surprisingly, these cards are known as “2nd Issue” cards.

Sidebar Collectors once referred to “2nd Issue” cards as “Standard” cards, a term that does not recognize the numerous, seminal “1st Issue” card variations. Collectors also once referred to these packages as “U.S.” cards, presumably unaware of the myriad ‘foreign’ packages — available outside of America — which utilize the same packaging style. Thankfully, neither term is used much anymore.

Between Spring 1977 and December 1982 (when Mego cancelled the WGSH line), Mego produced five different “2nd Issue cards” for DC characters in the United States… six, if one includes the truly unique Wonder Woman card, which many collectors assume was developed for the Australian market. While marked “©1977,” the solitary “2nd Issue” Wonder Woman card was evidently produced sometime between Spring 1978 and Spring 1979.

One feature I could not fit into the Mego book (but really wanted to include) is an expository breakdown of the different “2nd Issue” cards. I have received a lot of questions about the different packaging variations Mego produced, so I will use this blog to expand on the information… using tons of pictures, of course.

Today, I will introduce each of the “2nd Issue” DC cards. Of all the DC characters Mego produced, only Batman and Robin represent each of the five U.S.-issued “2nd Issue” cards. I present all five cards in the Robin chapter of World’s Greatest Toys! (page 40 and 41), but now I will add the “2nd Issue” Wonder Woman card, too!

Here are Mego’s “2nd Issue” DC cards, in chronological order of release!

2nd Issue DC Card Variations:
©1976, ©1977a, ©1977b, ©1977c, ©1977 (1978) Wonder Woman, ©1979
Above: ©1976 card front Above: ©1976 card back
Above: ©1977a card front Above: ©1977a card back
Above: ©1977b card front Above: ©1977b card back
Above: ©1977c card front Above: ©1977c card back
Above: ©1978 Wonder Woman card front Above: ©1978 Wonder Woman card back
Above: ©1979 card front Above: ©1979 card back

Want to learn more? Buy Mego 8″ Super-Heroes: World’s Greatest Toys! Just $49.95

Stay tuned: Tomorrow, I will post a blog explaining the defining aspects of each “2nd Issue” DC card. After that, I will post a pictorial blog, demonstrating the differences.

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, 2nd Issue Blister Cards, 2nd Issue DC Cards, Book Production, Copyrights and Trademarks, Daily Mego Adoration, Mego Packaging, Mego World's Greatest Super-Heroes, Robin, Super-Gals, Window Boxes, Wonder Woman, World's Greatest Toys | 0 Comments

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

23rd February 2008

Mego Mad Monsters: The Creature (From the Black Lagoon)?

We had a lot of fun discussing the mysterious “Webbed-Hand” Aquaman (if you’re interested in Mego’s Aquaman, I encourage you to read the related Mego Museum thread, which is filled with interesting thoughts and ideas, well beyond my original blog), so let’s talk about another web-handed character that Mego considered manufacturing.

You already know this thread is about The Creature, but allow me to set the stage first.

In World’s Greatest Toys, I discuss Mego’s introduction of the term “Official,” an attempt to differentiate Mego products from their competitors’ similar products. Here’s a snippet from the book (page 91, for those reading along):

Mego Ad“With the introduction of the Super-Gals, the toy line received a revised name. “World’s Greatest Super-Heroes” became “Official World’s Greatest Super-Heroes” (the Super-Gals were called “Official World’s Greatest Super-Gals.”) This amendment surely happened as a reaction to other companies’ relentless mimicry of Mego’s licensed properties. Tomland, Lincoln, AHI and Remco (which was acquired by AHI in 1974) were very effective at producing ‘knock-off’ figures. The particularly blatant AHI even issued their “Official World Famous Super Monsters” on blister cards nearly identical to Mego’s 1st Issue card. AHI also issued ersatz Western Heroes and Apes figures, looking to win the proverbial race for second place.

There was little flattery in the shameless imitation by its competitors, and it caused endless grief to Mego executives. But Mego did have a good sense of humor about it. When Mego introduced the Micronauts’ principle ‘bad guy’ character, Mego Director of Design John McNett named him “Baron Karza”. McNett recalled, “Karza is [Mego’s primary competitor Marvin] Azrak spelled backwards. I cooked it up as a joke but Neal and Marty loved it. They quickly trademarked Nivram, Smarba, Nalbuk, Ytram, Laen, and many other backward names to forestall any retaliation from Marvin Azrak.” Records confirm that Mego filed to trademark the name “Baron Karza” on July 21, 1977, then filed to protect the name “Ogem” (’Mego’, backward), on September 1, 1977.

In promoting the Super-Foes, Mego placed comic book ads [shown above] exclaiming, “Look for this emblem for the real thing” next to the new masthead. Inexplicably, the 1st Issue cards for the Super-Foes, released around the same time, do not feature the word “Official”.

Mego did not hesitate to file lawsuits against those who infringed upon their licenses, and doing so apparently solved the problem.”

Between January 1974 and January 1976, Mego submitted paperwork with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), in an effort to protect their line of “Mad Monsters” line of characters, including Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy and the Wolfman. Mego created these generic toys without a license from Universal Studios, widely recognized as the Intellectual Property owners of these famous characters. Following are Mego’s USPTO submissions:

Dracula
Frankenstein
Mummy
Wolfman

As discussed in the book, Mego fought a constant battle with competitor Azrak-Hamway, Int’l (also known as AHI, which Mego-Heads pronounce AH-HEE). The struggle is best exemplified by AHI’s “Official World Famous Super Monsters” packaging design, a blatant rip-off of Mego’s 1st Issue blister card design.

AHI Monsters

AHI CreatureI don’t know the exact chronology of Mego and AHI’s respective Monster lines, but given the AHI Monsters’ use of the term “Official,” I’m guessing the AHI Monsters were intentionally designed to mock Mego’s attempts to protect the words “World” and “Super” in the action figure trade. And yes, AHI president Marvin Azrak and Mego president Marty Abrams were mortal enemies on a professional level. They really did ‘duke it out’ in the toy industry…

… a lot.

Throughout the entire 1970s, in fact.

The order in which the Mego and AHI toys were distributed is potentially important, because AHI also created the (particularly rare) “Creature” figure [shown at right].

Why is it an issue? Because Mego submitted — then subsequently abandoned — a fascinating trademark request: The Creature

Mego Creature

I created the ‘artist’s rendtion’ pictured above, by altering a Star Trek “Neptunian” figure (a character Mego invented, which bears an uncanny resemblance to a certain inhabitant of a certain Black Lagoon). I removed the wings, changed the tunic color and added a “Creature” head from a wholly different toy.

But you get the idea.

So, what’s the deal here?

Did Mego intend to create a fifth character for their Mad Monsters line? Did Mego scrap the idea because AHI beat them to market with the same character? Had Mego already done some development on this toy? If so, did Mego re-work the existing toy into a brand-new Star Trek alien?

Benjamin

posted in 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

21st February 2008

Webbed-Hand Aquaman: Search for Atlantis?

AtlantisOne of the great Mego Mysteries is the origin of Mego’s fascinating and unique “Webbed-Hand” Aquaman figure.

Only one specimen is known to exist today, but the figure (perhaps the same specimen) features prominently in Mego’s own 1978 product catalog, not to mention a hand-drawn appearance in the Fall 1978 “Heroes World” catalog (shown at right).

In both catalogs, the bizarre hands are attached to an 8 inch Mego Aquaman figure, ostensibly sold in conjunction with a battery-operated toy shark, under the title “Aquaman vs. The Great White Shark” (alarmingly, no Webbed-Hand specimens have yet surfaced in “Aquaman vs. The Great White Shark” playsets, to corroborate Mego’s intentions). Mego’s “Aquaman vs. The Great White Shark” is a fascinating toy that continues to garner heated discussion and speculation among collectors.

According to Brian Heiler’s amazing interview with Mego artist Vinny Baiera, the concept of underwater-themed toys came up several times during 1977/1978 production meetings, as evidenced by Baiera’s own 30-year old meeting notes:

Vinny Baiera

Note the highlighted areas, including references to TV’s “Man from Atlantis,” (DC’s) Aquaman and (Marvel’s) Prince Namor, The Sub-Mariner.

I discuss this subject in World’s Greatest Toys! several times, including the Aquaman chapter:

Aquaman

And here is yet another Mego factoid to confound the issue: A mysterious United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) submission from Mego: “Search for Atlantis”

With a Filing Date of November 4, 1976, Mego claimed a ‘First Use’ date of July 26, 1976 (falsely, since it was never produced), under the category of “Dolls, Doll Clothing, Playsets and Equipment Sold as a Unit for Playing a Game.”

Even more interesting is the trademark citation, “Registered November 29, 1977,” which places the mysterious toy well within the chronological boundaries established by Mego’s 1978 distribution of their “Aquaman vs. The Great White Shark” playset.

Atlantis

Does this USPTO submission have anything to do with Mego’s mysterious “Webbed-Hand” Aquaman figure? Does it explain Mego’s creation of a strange, battery-operated Shark? Or does it simply corroborate the fact that Mego was interested in underwater themes at the time? 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 several similar blogs lined up for the near future. Until then, I’ll see you on the boards!

Benjamin

posted in 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

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