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

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

4th April 2008

Daily Mego Adoration: Poster Fun with 1st Issue Gals!

Daily Mego Adoration Here’s our Daily Mego Adoration for Friday, April 4, 2008:

1st Issue Kresge Super-Gals’ Card Backs!


The whole point of my so-called “Poster Fun!” series is to showcase analogous Mego photos that I could not fit into World’s Greatest Toys!

My unabashed adoration of “1st Issue” blister cards is no secret, so I’ll probably devote quite a few Blogs to that particular packaging style. Today, we enjoy the card-backs for each of the 1st Issue/1st Version (Kresge-branded) Super-Gals cards (documented on page 97 of World’s Greatest Toys!). Enjoy!

Super-Gals

Gorgeous. Every last one of ‘em. And I dare say they look even more impressive when lined up together.

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, Batgirl, Catwoman, Daily Mego Adoration, Mego Packaging, Posters!, Super-Gals, Supergirl, Wonder Woman | 0 Comments

25th March 2008

Daily Mego Adoration: Poster Fun with 1st Issue Cards!

Daily Mego Adoration Here’s our Daily Mego Adoration for Wednesday, March 26, 2008:

Poster Fun: 1st Issue Cards!

Here’s a new addition to my Poster Fun series, wherein I create large, composite photos of appropriate groupings of Mego figures and packages. These are the types of images I couldn’t fit into Mego 8″ Super-Heroes: World’s Greatest Toys!, but they’re an awful lot of fun to look at!

Mego issued numerous “1st Issue” card variations, yet manufactured just 17 characters using this exquisite packaging style. Here’s a composite of all 17 characters produced on 1st Issue cards, in chronological order of release. Enjoy!

Daily Mego Adoration

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

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, Aquaman, Batgirl, Batman, Book Production, Captain America, Catwoman, Daily Mego Adoration, Green Arrow, Joker, Mego World's Greatest Super-Heroes, Mr. Mxyzptlk, Penguin, Posters!, Riddler, Robin, S.S. Kresge, Shazam!, Spider-Man, Supergirl, Superman, Tarzan, Wonder Woman, World's Greatest Toys | 8 Comments

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

13th March 2008

Daily Mego Adoration: Kresge Aquaman!

Daily Mego Adoration I plan to post a daily blog series, entitled “Daily Mego Adoration,” which will give me an opportunity to discuss and show fantastic images of Mego toys (not just Super-Heroes, either!).

This first entry is a personal favorite of mine: the 1st Issue “Kresge” carded Aquaman. I once owned an example of this packaged Mego, but I regrettably sold it a while back. I’m on the hunt to re-acquire it!

I discuss this rare packaging variation in World’s Greatest Toys! Here’s a snippet from the book (page 60, for those reading along), followed by a scan of the cited page-spread:

“Original Kresge” 1st Issue/2nd Version (DC) Card—August 1973 (Hc1-DC-4h-Kv1-O)

This was the very first blister card produced explicitly for Kresge and Kmart stores. Several codes appear on pre-printed price stickers. One code is the “initial in-store” date. A long-time Kmart employee confirmed that the “8-3” on the price sticker means “eighth month, third year” (i.e. August 1973). This date code relates to Kresge’s original purchase order and plays a vital role in explaining seemingly anachronistic anomalies (e.g. later issued 2nd Version “Gals” and both “Foes” Kresge cards, bearing the same date code).

The other code on Kresge price stickers is a set of three hyphenated numbers. This code was abandoned shortly after the introduction of 1st issue cards, and only the first two versions have it. The first number determines which department the product goes into (e.g. “4” is the toy department and “5” is hardware). The second number is a department subcategory (e.g. “1” is dolls and figures). The third number is the product/manufacturer code (e.g. “26” is Mego products). The immediate popularity of the 1st Wave made Kresge assign each figure separate product codes for subsequent orders.

While the date code asserts these cards were not available until August 1973, it is very likely they were shipped earlier than that. The earliest costume variations (such as Removable Mask Robin and Large “S” Superman) are found on this card, yet the same variants are not found either the 2nd version or 3rd version boxes, released around the same time. Thus, these cards were actually produced and shipped prior to the intended receipt date. Furthermore, the 3rd version Kresge cards (see page 94) were expected in-store by February 1974, and it’s difficult to believe Kresge could receive three distinct orders in four months.

Surprisingly, there is no Mego logo anywhere on the card. This omission supports the theory that blister cards were created especially for Kresge, since every box created at the same time features several Mego logos.

Want to read more? Buy Mego 8″ Super-Heroes: World’s Greatest Toys! Just $49.95 (sadly, Amazon recently raised the price!)

World's Greatest Toys!

Here’s your Daily Mego Adoration for Thursday, March 13, 2008: Kresge Aquaman!

Daily Mego Adoration

Benjamin

posted in 1st Issue Blister Cards, Aquaman, Book Status, Daily Mego Adoration, Mego Corporation, Mego Packaging, Mego World's Greatest Super-Heroes, World's Greatest Toys | 2 Comments

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