8th November 2009

Mego Memories: Scott Neely’s 1974 Christmas!

{EAV:f6f317fdffca24bd} My publisher recently received an Email from the very talented Scott Neely. Scott is an approved “Scooby-Doo” and Cartoon Network artist, working on such licensed properties as “Dexter’s Laboratory,” “Cow and Chicken,” “Johnny Bravo,” “Courage The Cowardly Dog,” “The Grim Adventures of Billy And Mandy,” “Powerpuff Girls” and “Ed, Edd, and Eddy”. He has also worked on “Pokemon,” “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” “Winnie the Pooh,” “Strawberry Shortcake,” “Bratz” and “The Lil Learners Club.”

Scott wrote:

When I was down in Baltimore for the con I bought a bunch of books from Eric at the booth and got this INCREDIBLE Mego Toys book by Benjamin Holcomb. What a tremendous book it is! I scanned these pics of myself from pics at Christmas time in Dec of 1974 when I got the batcave and quite a lot of figures from Santa. I though Benjamin might like to see them since I also work for DC Comics on the side as well. Ha! I’ve attached them so you could see them.

Here are his FANTASTIC images depicting vast Mego Super-Hero goodness, including Batman, Robin, Superman, Spider-Man, Penguin, Joker and Riddler, as well as the Bat-Cave, Batmobile and Batcycle. Quite the haul, but Scott! No love for Aquaman or Mr. Mxyzptlk? Hey, you weren’t the only one. Heh.

-b

posted in Batcycle, Batman, Batmobile, Christmas Memories, Joker, Mego Batcave, Mego Memories, Penguin, Riddler, Robin, Spider-Man, Superman, Vintage Toy Photos, World's Greatest Toys | Comments Off

16th June 2008

New Article: Mego Retailers!

Today, we gather the collective knowledge of Mego Museum members, who contributed their memories in an effort to catalog every retailer that sold Mego toys back in the day! Sadly, most of these stores are long-gone, but that’s partially what makes visiting the past so much fun… it’s the only way we can go back in time.

I recently blogged my compilation of Mego WGSH Item Numbers, which is a helpful resource for collectors, fans and historians alike. While that article may be interesting only to hard-core collectors/historians, I believe this new article is fun for anyone (those raised in the ’70s, at least) to browse.

Without further ado, I present:

Mego Retailers: Stores from the Good Ol’ Days!

Retailers

You can 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 Daily Mego Adoration, Mego Memories, Mego Packaging, Mego Retailers, Price Stickers, World's Greatest Toys | Comments Off

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” on the bottom of this card and Wondergirl’s. The word “obsolite” 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 1977. Due to contract disputes between Mego and Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. (ERB), Mego lost the rights to produce Tarzan figures in 1976… the year 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 “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

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?

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 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?
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, 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

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

12th May 2008

Mego Price Stickers: Target!

It’s kinda the same as Wal-Mart, except Wal-Mart isn’t cool.

Target is cool.

Target is so hip and cool that some call it “Tar-zhay,” affecting an irritating French accent.

Based in Minneapolis, MN, Target is a retail giant. Originally a relatively small, regional chain, Target has grown to become one of the largest chains in the world; it is so large, in fact, the parent company (which also owns “Mervyn’s California”) recently changed its corporate name to “Target, Inc.”

And back in the day, Target sold Mego toys. Suh-weet.

Can you imagine walking into a Target TODAY and finding a freakin’ Mego figure?!

Back in 1976, some kid did just that, scoring a sweet MIB Human Torch. Sadly, it took a while to sell the figure, as evidenced by the “Clearance” price sticker affixed to this specimen:

Price Sticker

The original sticker reads:

TARGET
861 652
013
$2.99

The second (Clearance) sticker reads:

TARGET
861
013
CLEARANCE
.75

Pretty cool. At $2.99, I probably wouldn’t buy that MIB Mego Human Torch figure, either.

But for $0.75? I’ll take ‘em all.

posted in Daily Mego Adoration, Human Torch, Mego Memories, Price Stickers | Comments Off

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

29th April 2008

Vintage Photos: Mego Christmas 1976

Our collection of Mego Christmas photos is growing!

Scott Tipton is an author and scholar — a life-long comics N’ toys geek — who operates Comics 101, which includes his amazing “Comics 101 with Professor Scott Tipton” blog. These fun, informative sites are definitely worth bookmarking, if you haven’t already.

Thanks to Scott Tipton, we now have these wonderful memories of his Mego Christmas in 1976. Below, we see Scott (with red hair), holding the Mego Supervator playset, the Mego Robin box and the Mego Batman box, while his brother, Dave, opens Kenner’s Six Million Dollar Man and a Mego Spider-Man box.

Scott Tipton

Scott Tipton

Scott Tipton

Scott Tipton

Scott Tipton

When Scott sent these photos, he wrote:

“The great thing was, my entire interest in comics and toys was all kicked off by my getting the Mego Batman and Spidey, and the fact that it was captured on film is amazing.”

Indeed.

I like the fact that Mego’s Supervator playset, issued in 1974 only, was still hanging around toy stores in 1976. I guess it really WAS a peg-warmer toy!

Thanks for the great memory pics, Scott!

posted in Batman, Captain America, Christmas Memories, Mego Memories, Robin, Scott Tipton, Spider-Man, Vintage Toy Photos, Window Boxes | Comments Off

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