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

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

23rd March 2008

Happy Birthday, Superman!

The Vancouver Sun has a nice article about Superman, in honor of the character’s 70th birthday next month.

Benjamin

Link: Superman at 70: The Septuagenarian of Steel

posted in Film & Television, Pop Culture, Superman | Comments Off

22nd March 2008

First Look: G.I. Joe (Snake Eyes)

From Victoriawood Reports:

Paramount Pictures has released the first two photos of Ray Park in full garb as Snake Eyes in the Stephen Sommers-directed film G.I. Joe, based on the Hasbro toy line.

G.I. Joe

Sommers tells USA Today that the character “is the world’s greatest ninja, but he’s also next-generation. He’s not afraid to use a sword one second, and a split-second later he’s pulling out his Glock. His chief nemesis is arguably the world’s other great ninja, Storm Shadow. The two grew up together, were blood brothers and now are mortal enemies.”

The film is an origin story and Sommers says he plans to explain various strange aspects - from Destro’s metal mask to Snake Eyes’ lack of speech.

Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Rachel Nichols, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Said Taghmaoui, Marlon Wayans, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Arnold Vosloo and Christopher Eccleston all star in the film opening August 7th 2009.

Benjamin

Links: Victoriawood Reports

posted in Film & Television, Pop Culture | Comments Off

21st March 2008

Video Games: The Incredible Hulk from SEGA

Videogame maker SEGA has two upcoming summer blockbuster movie videogames, Iron Manâ„¢ and The Incredible Hulkâ„¢. Here’s the impressive trailer for SEGA’s Iron Man game:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5faNahQJK0[/youtube]
Awesome!

And SEGA’s Hulk game looks quite promising.

HULK SMASH! And here are some screenshots that reveal the “impressive character model for everyone’s favorite green rage-aholic, The Incredible Hulk” according to SEGA rep Dana Whitney.

SEGA
SEGA
SEGA
Hulkâ„¢ Overview

One of Marvel®’s most powerful Super Heroes® unleashes epic destruction this June in Marvel Studios’ blockbuster movie, The Incredible Hulk. Along with the film, SEGA® releases an intensely realistic third-person action video game available on all major video-game platforms.Fueled with fury, SEGA’s The Incredible Hulk features key moments from the film, as well as additional plotlines and characters from the character’s rich comic-book universe. Players smash through New York City, battling gigantic enemies amidst soaring skyscrapers in a massive open world.

As one of the most anticipated entertainment events of 2008, The Incredible Hulk will have fans lining up this summer on both the big and small screens.

Both ‘3rd Person Action’ games will be available on all major platforms (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS, PS2 & PC). Iron Manâ„¢ is available this month and Hulkâ„¢ will be available June 2008.

Benjamin

posted in Film & Television, Hulk, Iron Man, Video Games | Comments Off

21st March 2008

L’il Batman’s Tour (Video)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVQ706JsA_4[/youtube]
This is a cute video with great super-hero costumes. It makes me want to visit Six Flags in Massachusetts!

I really love how seriously the actors portraying Justice League super-heroes take their roles!

Also, that Wonder Woman is some kinda gorgeous.

Benjamin

Links: Youtube Above Video

posted in Film & Television, Pop Culture, Random Musings | 1 Comment

16th March 2008

Wizard World: Show Report!

Wizard World L.A. happened this past weekend, and I attended on Saturday with my Mego buddies, Rob and Jay, who took the fun pictures in this blog.

When we arrived at the Convention Center, we came across artist Eric Michael Maruscak, who was on the floor creating a massive charcoal illustration:

Artist

Michael worked on his illustration over a three day period, and this is how it looked as of Saturday afternoon:

Artist

His work is amazing! If you want to see more of Michael’s work, check out his Web site: www.PepperInk.com.

Upon entering the show room, we were greeted by several righteous Betties, hired to promote various movies, TV shows and merchandise:

Honeys

I had to jump in on the action, and Jay snapped some shots for posterity:

Honeys and Imp

This is a great shot… don’t I just look pleased with myself? Oh, how pathetic.

Honeys and Imp

Incidentally, I want to point out the awesomely cool T-shirt that Mike Armes gave me for a present. This is a drawing by Bruce Timm (co-creator of “Batman: The Animated Series” among other things) from 2001, one I’d never seen printed anywhere, let alone on a sweet ringer tee:

Leggo My Mego

Leggo My Mego! Thanks, Mike. I love it.

There wasn’t much in the way of vintage toys. But, as with all comic book conventions, there were plenty of cos-players to be seen. Some of the costumes were really excellent, such as this pint-sized Jawa:

Jawa

Others were not as good, but showed tremendous passion, like Optimus Prime here:

Optimus

Still others were, well… I don’t really know what to say about Green Arrow here, except that I had to get a picture with this cat!

Green Arrow

All in all, it was a great day. I somehow convinced Jay and Rob to pose in the giant-sized issue of Wizard magazine. Jay was all for it, but getting Rob to do it was like pulling teeth. When in Rome, Rob! When in Rome!

Jay and Rob

Thanks to Jay for the killer pics.

Benjamin

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

posted in Collectible Toy Shows, Film & Television, Modern Toys | 3 Comments

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

8th March 2008

Kotobukiya Panel Added to Wizard World L.A.!

Boba Fett Earlier today, Wizard World Los Angeles announced that Kotobukiya, Japan’s number one toy company, will be hosting a special panel at 11 a.m. next Saturday (March 15) in Room 304, showcasing an exciting new line of statues.

The panel, to be presented by Kotobukiya’s Frank Supiot and moderated by ToyFare Editor Zach Oat, promises to give fans a first look at the manufacturer’s Marvel Comics line, including statues based on characters from the upcoming “Iron Man” and “The Incredible Hulk” movies.

Additionally, the panel will look at other statues from their amazing Star Wars, DC Comics, and other, random anime and video game licenses.

“This Kotobukiya panel is an amazing addition to our already jam packed weekend of events,” said Wizard’s Senior Vice President of Operations, Joe Yanarella. “Our fans are sure to love the sneak peek at what the amazing designers at Kotobukiya have in store for their 2008 product line.”

About Kotobukiya

With over 50 years experience in the toy industry, Kotobukiya has grown into Japan’s number one collector toy company, with a peerless reputation for quality and craftsmanship. Many international fans first learned of Kotobukiya from the famous line of Final Fantasy merchandise, and more recently, collectors have been thrilled by Kotobukiya’s high end line of Star Wars and Batman ARTFX Statues.

For more Kotobukiya Star Wars goodness, visit the company’s official Web site.

Benjamin

posted in Collectible Toy Shows, Film & Television, Modern Toys, Random Musings | 0 Comments

4th March 2008

MC Esoteric vs. Gary Numan (General Zod)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhO9XCETjgg[/youtube]

Seamus Ryan (AKA MC Esoteric) is a breakbeat producer and MC. He’s also a toy geek who makes really strange but amusing videos on Youtube, most of which feature vintage Mego and other action figures.

My favorite video is called “MC Esoteric vs. Gary Numan (General Zod)” and features Gary Numan’s brilliant “We Have a Technical” as the track’s backdrop. I love the samples, including (of course) Terrence Stamp’s General Zod.

It’s kind of hard to explain, but you can check it our yourself, above. If the video dosn’t play back properly, you can also visit Youtube to watch Esoteric slay them whacks and lay mad tracks on wax.

Benjamin

posted in Acknowledgements, Collectible Toy Shows, Film & Television, Mego Memories, Mego World's Greatest Super-Heroes, Modern Toys, Music | Comments Off

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