Having covered 1973 and 1974 in previous Blogs that begin to reveal Mike Armes’ wondrous family photos, we skip forward yet another year. 1975 was a stellar year for Mego.
In World’s Greatest Toys! I discuss the success Mego experienced that year, and the impact it had on the company. Here’s a snippet from the book (page 145, for those reading along), followed by a scan of the cited page-spread:
Along with the new Fist-Fighters, Mego introduced two new vehicles during 1975: the Mobile Bat Lab and the Joker Mobile. According to Sol Harrison, then Vice President of DC Comics, the Joker Mobile was developed in the pages of Batman comics with an eye toward toys and merchandising. “I’ve been able to talk to the editors and get them to think in terms of products for merchandise using our characters,” said Harrison in a January 1976 interview. “The Joker Van was created and Mego Toys [sic] made a vehicle similar to it.” Mego sold the Joker Mobile for three consecutive years before cancelling it in 1977 and reintroducing it in 1979 (see price sheet, below right). “We are now working on a Wayne Foundation building, which could become a playset,” Harrison concluded. Later that year, his prediction came true; the Wayne Foundation was first available on December 16, 1976, and nationally solicited at Toy Fair in February 1977.
According to Mego warehouse manager Ray Demato, 1975 was the year that the WGSH exploded. If 1974 was lucrative (it was the first year the revamped Mego was in the black), 1975 was colossal. Mego’s third quarter net earnings vaulted from $1.9 million (in 1974) to $4.5 million by the same period in 1975. Mego, publicly traded on the American Stock Exchange (AmEx), sold at 3Â¾ per share at the beginning of 1975. By February 1976, the price jumped to 14 â….
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Mego’s tremendous success is largely attributable to families like the Armes. Today, Mike is an avid monster/horror fan. I think his choice of Halloween costume that year provides a little insight into his adult tastes, so let’s get this picture party started in October 1975:
(Above: Mike (right), dressed as the monstrous shark, JAWS, while Mike’s little brother (left) makes cool like coooool, as Fonzie from Happy Days)
By the time Christmas rolled around, Mike had evidently compiled a massive Wish List for Santaâ€¦ who delivered. Big time.
(Above: Mike cracks a minty fresh, Mego Star Trek Spock from its Mego Mailer Box)
(Above: Needing a play environment for his new Spock figure, Mike cracks a crisp Mego Star Trek Enterprise playset from its Mego Mailer Box, which is visible in the lower right corner)
(Above: Mike with his little brother, father and grandfather, enjoying some quality time with the freshly opened Mego Star Trek Enterprise playset. Is that Cookie Monster chillin’ on the couch?)
(Above: Later that Christmas morning, Mike mugs for the camera with his Planet of the Apes mask and generic Tommy Gun.)
The incredible photo above reveals all kinds of Mego goodness, including:
(Above: Details of Mike’s MIB Shazam, MIB Mad Monster Castle, loose Mobile Bat Lab and loose Joker figure)
Mike and I laughed at the fact that, just like his MIB Robin from Christmas 1974, the Shazam box insert is already missing! We were also intrigued that Shazam has a Mego mini-catalog stuffed into the front of the box. Commenting to Mike that I have never seen that particular packaging variation (the 5-digit/Old Logo) with a Mego mini-catalog, Mike theorized that his father may have taken the mini-catalog included in the Mad Monster Castle playset, and tucked it into the Shazam box. It’s interesting to note, regardless. And you’ve gotta love that poor Joker figure, just slammed face-first into the righteous, ’70s earth-toned shag rug!
Even more Mego goodness from 1975:
(Above: Presents all opened, the Armes boys dig into the spoils of the season)
This final picture from 1975 is incredible. It’s a shame that it’s torn, but closer inspection reveals some wonderful visual treats, including:
(Above: Mike prepares his Mego Batman and Robin for adventures in the Mego Mobile Bat Lab)
(Above: Now we know what happened to Shazam’s blue box insert. At this point, the insert hadn’t been discardedâ€¦ but it was well on its way to a trash bag)
Feel free to post your thoughts and comments on the Mego Museum message board (NB: links to a specific thread about this subject). If you’re not already a member of the Mego Museum, now is the perfect time to join!
I have more great blogs lined up for the near future, including at least one more “Mike Armes’ ’70s Christmas Spectacular” entry. Until then, Iâ€™ll see you on the boards!
Blog Credits and legal stuff: Images published by Benjamin Holcomb, Mike Armes, Mike Armes, Sr., Jeri Lyn Armes and TwoMorrows Publications. All rights reserved. Images may not be reprinted or published without prior written consent from the publishers.