The book World’s Greatest Toys: Mego 8″ Super-Heroes will be a chronological history of Mego Super-Heroes. After two years of diligent research and study, I concluded I had enough information to commence production of the book. I decided to create the book in the same order Mego produced the toys, beginning with 1972 (the year the Super-Heroes were introduced).
Doing this has given me a profound appreciation for the explosive growth the small company experienced. Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t the Super-Heroes that made the company successful. In fact, it wasn’t even Action Jackson that “made” the company (another commonly-held belief). Numerous inside sources credit the company’s meteoric rise to Maddie Mod, Mego’s line of fashion dolls and outfits. But I will expand on this subject in the book, as I’m already getting off-topic.
The book includes myriad high-resolution scans, to support the original photography. There are Christmas catalogs, product catalogs, store circulars, foreign advertisements… there is no shortage of Mego marketing material to cover.
Mego was founded in 1952. For some 30 years, the company stagnantly distributed cheap, imported toys. Founder D. David Abrams was an old-school salesman. Good at closing the deal, the patriarch was not apt to create the deal. When eldest son Marty graduated from NYU with a Marketing degree, everything started to change. Everything.
This evolution became very clear to me as I painted a picture of the “Birth of the Line” (chapter 2 of the book). With very little interest in the non-proprietary “88Â¢ promotions” that defined the company before Marty graduated, I pick up the story just before the arrival of the Prodigal Son.
It occurs to me that Marty’s arrival was not unlike Dorothy’s arrival in the Land of Oz.
From the outset, Mego was mired in black-and-white. They sold a respectable number of plastic “Greyhound Bus” and “Walking Astronaut” (shown at right, from the 1971 Mego catalog) toys. The late, amazing Neal Kublan (who went on to become vice president of Research and Development), joined Mego in 1960 as a paste-up artist for newspaper ads.
Black-and-white newspaper ads.
During these years, the margins were microscopic, the costs troubling. Mego struggled to find success in discount bins and the checkout racks designed to relieve exasperated moms shopping with bored, miserable children.
Oh, joy! This pitiful header appears in the 1970 Mego catalog… page after page of cheap, grey products. Seriously, it’s all a bunch of crap. Utter crap.But then Marty arrived. And Marty took over. Paradigms didn’t shift, they were shattered. Mego made a killing with Maddie Mod. Mego entered the Boys’ Toys market with Fighting Yank. Mego put the industry on notice with Action Jackson.
Then Mego created the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes.
And just like that, Mego was basking in the illumination of business magnificence. Bright lights and technicolor glory. It wasn’t only evident in the marketing materials. It was international respect and admiration. It was bounteous profits. It was staggering license acquisition. It was flashy Toy Fair exhibitions. And success. Mind-boggling success.The industry dominance had begun.
But Marty was not Dorothy. And Mego was not Oz. However, in that moment in time — shortly after Marty’s arrival — the story becomes very reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz… at least Dorothy’s arrival in the fantasical Oz.
Three years after the Super-Heroes took off, Mego cashed in on a license to produce Wizard of Oz toys. I find that success to be very appropriate.
Perhaps even more fitting is the way both stories end. It was a magical, wonderful ride for Dorothy and for Mego. But when it was over, people questioned what had actually occurred.
I hope this book helps people appreciate the significance and importance of the Mego corporation.