|Here is our Daily Mego Adoration for Wednesday, March 19, 2008.
|This is one of my favorite Mego subjects, so strap in, and let’s talk about Mego’s awesome Counter Display Boxes!
Mego first promoted the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes line with a late addition to their 1972 Toy Fair catalog.
Mego staffers inserted a photographic one-sheet (shown at right) into leftover copies of the original, bound ‘72 catalog. The page features the actual prototype Superman figure (see page 17 of the book for a detailed view of the Superman prototype).
Given the impressive WGSH sales generated by Mego’s ‘test marketing’ (conducted at stores operated by retailer E.J. Korvette during Christmas 1972), it’s not surprising Mego scrambled to promote their sizzling new line as quickly as possible… even if it meant manually inserting a one-sheet into each catalog distributed throughout the year (after Toy Fair, which was held each February).
From the outset — before the other three original figures were developed, even — the one-sheet reveals that Mego planned to: 1) sell figures in individual Solid boxes (i.e. no acetate window) and; 2) ship each case of 24 boxed figures inside an “Overall Printed Counter Merchandizer” (AKA the “Counter Display Box”).
By the time the next Toy Fair rolled around in February 1973, Mego’s WGSH line had already proven to be tremendously successful, and the company was finally able to show the entire range of four characters (shown below), which included Batman, Robin and Aquaman, in addition to the Superman figure depicted in 1972 (note the earliest costume variations, including the Large ‘S’ Superman emblem, ‘Skinny’ boots, Robin’s cloth belt and the removable masks for Batman and Robin):
Mego was also able to show the revised Counter Display Box. The prototype Counter Display Box depicted in the post-1972 Toy Fair catalog (shown below left) includes just eight individual boxed figures, while the 1973 catalog (below right) boasts a fully-loaded Counter Display. Interestingly, Mego modified the die-cut opening between 1972 and 1973, as demonstrated in the comparison below.
Just look at all those Solid Boxes! Like, Zoiks, Scoob!
Mego’s 1973 WGSH Assortment Number (1310) was identical to 1972, as was the case-pack assortment:
Now you know why Aquaman is the rarest of the early Mego Super-Heroes!
By Toy Fair in 1974, Mego had expanded the super-hero offering to include four new characters: Captain America, Tarzan, Spider-Man and Shazam. Mego granted this 2nd Wave of Mego Heroes a new Assortment Number, 1311.
Mego also modified the Counter Display graphics, to accommodate all eight heroes:
Above: the 1974 1310/1311 Counter Display box, as depicted in the 1974 Mego catalog (left) includes a strange assortment of boxed figures, including 2nd Wave heroes Captain America, Spider-Man, Shazam and Tarzan, along with three of the four Super-Foes wave (no Joker) and one Batman. The same Counter Display from my personal collection (right) is filled with a slightly more appropriate combination of 1310 and 1311 figures.
The 1974 Assortment Numbers are as follows:
Note that the quantity of Superman figures dropped from nine to four… in just one year! Until the “Superman” movies started appearing, the Mego Superman figure just was not as popular as collectors once assumed.
(4) Captain America
Note the confidence Mego had in Spider-Man (half of the entire assortment!), not to mention the ambivalence Mego suffered in guessing the other three characters’ potential popularity. “4… and 4 and, ummm… 4? Yeah, that sounds good.”
Mego’s 1974 “1310/1311″ Counter Display Box looks great either open or closed (below):
1974 also marked the first year Mego promoted their new Super-Gals and Super-Foes lines.
In 1974, Mego offered retailers the option of receiving Super-Gals packaged in 1st Issue blister cards or window boxes, the latter of which included a wonderful Counter Display Box:
The 1974 boxed Gals Assortment (1340) included the following case-pack quantities:
(7) Wonder Woman
Now you know why Supergirl is the rarest of the four Gals!
That year, Mego offered retailers the same packaging options for the Super-Foes:
The 1974 boxed Foes Assortment (1358) included the following case-pack quantities:
(4) Mr. Mxyzptlk
Oh, if only Mego had predicted kids’ distaste for Mr. Mxyzptlk. Riddler might not be so rare today!
||The Counter Displays for both the Gals and Foes waves are extremely rare: an example of the Super-Gals Counter Display, auctioned on eBay on February 9, 2008, sold for $7,100; an example of the Super-Foes Counter Display, auctioned on eBay two days earlier, sold for a whopping $9,600.
I really adore the Mego Counter Display Boxes. Adding one to my collection was a significant moment in my life as a toy collector. I discuss Mego “Shipping and Counter Display Boxes” in World’s Greatest Toys.
Here’s a snippet from the book (page 233, for those reading along), with a scan of the cited page:
With each case of 24 boxed figures, Mego shipped a graphical Counter Display box, designed to help retailers merchandise the figures. To prepare the box for display, retailers took the following three steps: 1) Remove and discard the perforated portion (see photo 1); 2) Fold the exposed front and top flaps together (see photo 2) and; 3) Tuck the front flap behind the figures, allowing the top flap to stand upright, becoming a display header card (see photo 3).
All very scarce, there are at least eight* different Counter Display boxes:
1] 1972/73 1st Wave (#1310)
2] 1974 1st and 2nd Wave (#1310 and #1311)
3] 1974-76 Gals (#1340/51340)
4] 1974-76 Foes (#1358/51358)
5] 1975/76 DC Assortment #1 (#51310)
6] 1975/76 Marvel Assortment #2 (#51311)
7] 1975/76 Marvel Assortment #3 (#51312)
8] 1976 Assortment #4 (#51313)
Most boxes are white. 1975/76 Marvel Assortment #2 (Spider-Man, Captain America, Lizard and Green Goblin) boxes are reportedly orange, while 1975/76 Marvel Assortment #3 (Hulk, Tarzan, Falcon and Iron Man) boxes are sky blue. 1976 Marvel Assortment #4 (the entire 4th Wave), boxes are tan.
*If one differentiates boxes with “old” versus “new” Mego logos, there are likely eleven variations. It is unknown whether Mego created Counter Display boxes for the 1975/76 Fist-Fighters (#51601); if so, there is likely only one such version, with the “old” Mego logo.
Want to read more? Buy Mego 8″ Super-Heroes: World’s Greatest Toys! Just $49.95
Perhaps it’s the cool graphics on each Counter Display Box. Perhaps it’s the scarcity of surviving specimens. Or maybe it’s just the fact that these utilitarian packages were intended for retailers to merchandise the products… not for kids (or adults) to covet and collect.
Regardless of the reasoning behind their desirability, Counter Display Boxes are very special. And I just love ‘em all.
Now if I could just Collect ‘Em All.
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.