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?
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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

10th June 2008

1977 Mego Giveaway!

Neato Coolville has posted a fun blog showing a vintage ad, a 1977 promotion between 16 Magazine and Mego.

Check out the blog!

Neato Coolville

Benjamin

posted in Mego Corporation, Mego Memories, Mego's Glory Days, Random Musings | Comments Off

9th June 2008

Site Redesign, plus “Mego Item Numbers” Article!

Next to MegoMuseum.com and its community of Mego collectors, the most helpful resource I had while researching the book was “Papa Mego-head” John Bonavita’s out-of-print* magazine-style publication, which reprinted many vintage Mego product catalogs.

There are plenty of other potential resources and guides — documentation I didn’t have access to while creating the book — that I ended up creating myself. I wish I could have included all of this new documentation in the book, but I simply didn’t have the space. One such guide I always wanted is a comprehensive list of every Item Number Mego used for WGSH products.

It’s not the kind of document one casually peruses (though it includes plenty of cool tidbits and fun Mego trivia), but should you ever find yourself wondering what the proper Item Number for the carded 8″ Lion Rock Western Heroes Assortment is (#51369), or you get curious which Item Number Mego re-used the most times (#51317)… or how many times Mego used that number (thrice!)… well, this list is indispensable.

Also, I finally redesigned the non-blog pages of WorldsGreatestToys.com, so this article is a perfect way to introduce the redesign. At last, the entire site has a cohesive design.

*John Bonavita graciously gifted his last remaining case of these magazines to World’s Greatest Toys. Mego collectors can receive one free copy with the purchase of a TwoMorrows-exclusive Collectors Edition of the book.

Without further ado, I present the first of many articles:

Everything you ever wanted to know about Mego WGSH Item Numbers but were afraid to ask (didn’t really care)

Item Numbers

(Read the article and check out the redesigned site)

Covering every WGSH product between 1972 and 1982, it’s a fun look at Mego’s product planning and decision-making. Read the article here.

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 Articles, Daily Mego Adoration, Mego Corporation, Mego Packaging, Mego World's Greatest Super-Heroes, World's Greatest Toys | 1 Comment

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

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

9th April 2008

Daily Mego Adoration: Mego Spring 1975 Catalog (pp1-2)

Over at Plaid Stallions, Brian has posted a cool Evel Knievel toothbrush ad. Meanwhile, we have a little Evel memorabilia that is not so dentist-friendly!
Daily Mego Adoration Here’s our Daily Mego Adoration for Wednesday, April 9, 2008:

Mego Spring 1975 Catalog (Part 3 of 5)!

1975 Catalog All week, we are revealing pages from the scarce Spring 1975 Mego Catalog, which comes courtesy of the Edgar Rice Burroughs (ERB) estate’s private Mego archive.

When Mego produced the Spring 1975 catalog — during 1974, actually — they did not yet have production samples for several of the products being promoted. An example of this is the Evel Knievel toy line the company planned.

By the time Mego completed the Final 1975 catalog, they had procured a plethora of Evel-related bicycle goodies (as demonstrated by the Final 1975 Catalog page, shown at right).

Prior to that, however, Mego lacked actual production samples and opted to mock-up a simple page, using a peculiar-looking kid and the promise of a few ill-conceived freezer treats. Surprisingly, Mego actually offered the strange “Sky-Sicle” and “Motor-Sicle” molds in the Final 1975 Catalog. Wow.

As evidenced by the Spring 1975 catalog’s back cover (see yesterday’s Blog), Mego did not receive production samples for the Bend N’ Flex Super-Gals or Bend N’ Flex Super-Foes in time to include product photography. But Mego did receive samples of the Bend N’ Flex Planet of the Apes toys in time… so those are depicted.

Below are pages 1 and 2 of Mego’s Spring 1975 catalog (click images to embiggen):

Spring 75 Catalog Spring 75 Catalog

Check back tomorrow for the next two pages from Mego’s Spring 1975 catalog!

Benjamin

Links: Plaid Stallions MegoMuseum.com 1975 Mego Catalog 1975 Mego Catalog - WGSH (Mego Museum) 1975 Mego Catalog - Evel Knievel (Mego Museum)

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

posted in Daily Mego Adoration, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., Mego Catalogs, Mego Corporation, Mego Spring 1975, Planet of the Apes, World's Greatest Toys | Comments Off

8th April 2008

Daily Mego Adoration: Mego Spring 1975 Catalog (Covers)

Daily Mego Adoration Here’s our Daily Mego Adoration for Tuesday, April 8, 2008:

Mego Spring 1975 Catalog (Part 2 of 5)!

All week, we are revealing pages from the scarce Spring 1975 Mego Catalog, which comes courtesy of the Edgar Rice Burroughs (ERB) estate’s private Mego archive.

Mego actually produced and distributed the Spring 1975 catalog during 1974, with the intention of offering an early preview of the products they would ultimately offer at the following Toy Fair (in February 1975).

Comparing this early catalog to the Final 1975 Catalog reveals that certain items were still in development at the time the Spring ‘75 catalog was printed!

For example, Mego planned to offer Bend N’ Flex Super-Gals and Bend N’ Flex Super-Foes in 1975, yet they did not have any production samples to show. Thus, they were forced to use box-art illustrations and a promise of “Super Coming Attractions” to represent those lines.

The front and back covers of Mego’s Spring 1975 catalog look like this (click images to embiggen):

Spring 75 Catalog Spring 75 Catalog

If you review the Final 1975 catalog, you’ll see that Mego received production samples of the new Bend N’ Flex figures between production of the Spring 1975 and the Final 1975 Catalog.

Check back tomorrow for more pages from Mego’s Spring 1975 catalog.

Benjamin

Links: MegoMuseum.com 1975 Mego Catalog 1975 Mego Catalog - WGSH (Mego Museum)

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

posted in Book Research, Daily Mego Adoration, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., Mego Catalogs, Mego Corporation, Mego Spring 1975, Super-Foes, Super-Gals, World's Greatest Toys | 0 Comments

3rd April 2008

Glory Days: Star Wars and Mego’s New Corporate Office!

Daily Mego Adoration

Here’s our Daily Mego Adoration for Thursday April 3, 2008:

Star Wars and Mego’s New Corporate Office!


Glory Days!
Martin B. Abrams, president, Mego International, Inc. and Lewis Rudin, executive vice president, Rudin Mangement Corp. shake hands after the signing of a lease for new corporate headquarters for the toy manufacturer in the New York Merchandise Mart, a Rudin building. Mego has taken approximately 20,000 square feet on 11½ floors with an option to acquire an additional 8,000 feet, as well. Standing in the rear are Judson H. Spencer, executive director of NYMM and Harvey Richer of Harvery Richer, Inc., exclusive rental agent for the building.

In 1975, Mego was riding high. With exponential growth and success, Mego was forced to move to larger quarters. I love this April 1975 photo… just look at Marty’s pride! Yet, interestingly, I opted to use this photo in the 1977 chapter of World’s Greatest Toys!

The irony is the fact that I took one of Mego’s happiest, most successful moments, and juxtaposed it against one of Mego’s greatest failures:

Not acquiring the George Lucas/20th Century Fox “Star Wars” license.

From World’s Greatest Toys!:

World's Greatest Toys!

An ad in the February 1977 issue of Toys mentions Mego’s showroom in the New York Merchandise Mart. Originally located at 1133 Broadway, Mego first relocated to 1 Madison Square Plaza. In 1975, Mego signed a 15-year, $2.3 million lease for approximately 20,000 square feet on 11½ floors in the New York Merchandise Mart, located at 41 Madison Avenue.

This new office was the setting for Mego’s legendary failure to acquire the Star Wars license. To protect the Micronauts line, all Mego executives enjoyed plenipotentiary authority to approve any science fiction license. Legend has it that both Marty Abrams and Neal Kublan were out of the state when the Lucasfilm representative showed up at Mego’s office.

Differing recollections obfuscate whether it was Mego patriarch D. David Abrams or merely a front desk receptionist who greeted Charles Lippincott, the Lucasfilm representative. In any case, Lippincott was turned away, only to take the elevator up one flight… to the office and showroom of Kenner toys.

During the “MegoCon” convention in June 2004, Marty Abrams discussed the profound misstep of losing the Star Wars license. “I believe that ‘to thine own self be true,’” Abrams confessed. “[The owner of] Kenner did a better job with Star Wars than we would have done. Because what he did was, he did not ship the product. He shipped empty boxes. We would have shipped the product. And so that means we would have been behind the movie curve, rather that at the movie curve.” Alluding to fact that Kenner did not ship the original toys until 1978, months after the movie was released, Abrams added, “He created demand for product, and so opportunity came out of the problem. He was so late, he couldn’t ship the product.” Considering the benefits of this timing, Abrams concluded, “There was nothing to fill the pipeline to hit the craving… so that combination worked. It was almost a magical explosion.”

Ever the Mego cheerleader, Kublan dissented. “See, I don’t agree. I think we would have done much better.” Collectors love to speculate how Mego would have handled the license.

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

Benjamin

posted in Book Production, Daily Mego Adoration, Mego Corporation, Mego Memories, Mego's Glory Days, Star Wars, World's Greatest Toys | Comments Off

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