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

22nd May 2008

Mego Price Stickers: Fedco, Inc.

I know very little about Fedco, inc., except to say that they sold Mego WGSH. And that’s enough for me! Here’s a diminutive Fedco sticker, affixed to a 4th Version (4-digit/Old logo) Tarzan box:

Price Sticker

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, FEDCO, INC., Price Stickers, Tarzan, Window Boxes, World's Greatest Toys | 0 Comments

20th May 2008

Mego Price Stickers: Mervyn’s (California)

Back in the ’90s, I worked as a Graphic Designer (for the “In-Store Marketing” department) for Mervyn’s California, so this price sticker is especially cool to me. It is affixed to a 3rd Version (4-Panel) Tarzan box:

Price Sticker

The sticker reads:

  • MERVYN*S
  • 878 10 3
  • 83
  • $1.88

I just wish that, while I worked there, I’d had the sense to investigate whether the company had any archival photos of their stores back in the ’70s. Can you imagine seeing a vintage photograph of a Mego end-cap at Mervyn’s?! Sigh.

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, Mervyn's, Price Stickers, Tarzan, Window Boxes, World's Greatest Toys | 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

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

24th March 2008

Daily Mego Adoration: Poster Fun with Loose Mego WGSH Figures!

Daily Mego Adoration Here’s our Daily Mego Adoration for Tuesday, March 25, 2008:

Poster Fun with Loose Mego WGSH Figures!


I wish I had been granted more pages in the Mego book, Mego 8″ Super-Heroes: World’s Greatest Toys!

At 256 pages, it’s already chock full of Mego goodness. But had it been longer, I would have included a whole bunch of other Mego goodness, such as large, composite photos of appropriate groupings of Mego figures and packages.

Sigh.

Since I didn’t have enough room to include such indulgences, I have decided to start a new Blog series to showcase my intended goodness, and I’m callin’ it Poster Fun!

Up first, a composite of every 8″ Mego World’s Greatest Super-Hero figure, in chronological order of release. Between 1972 and 1982, Mego issued 37 different Super-Heroes. 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 Aqualad, Aquaman, Batgirl, Batman, Book Production, Captain America, Catwoman, Conan, Daily Mego Adoration, Falcon, Green Arrow, Green Goblin, Hulk, Human Torch, Invisible Girl, Iron Man, Isis, Joker, Kid Flash, Lizard, Mego World's Greatest Super-Heroes, Mr. Fantastic, Mr. Mxyzptlk, Penguin, Posters!, Riddler, Robin, Shazam!, Speedy, Spider-Man, Super-Foes, Super-Gals, Supergirl, Superman, Tarzan, Teen Titans, The Fantastic Four, Thing, Thor, Wonder Woman, Wondergirl, World's Greatest Toys | 6 Comments

19th March 2008

Daily Mego Adoration: Counter Display Boxes!

Here is our Daily Mego Adoration for Wednesday, March 19, 2008. Daily Mego Adoration
This is one of my favorite Mego subjects, so strap in, and let’s talk about Mego’s awesome Counter Display Boxes!

Mego Catalog 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 Catalog

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.

Mego Catalog

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:

(9) Superman
(9) Batman
(4) Robin
(2) Aquaman

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 Catalog

Mego also modified the Counter Display graphics, to accommodate all eight heroes:

Mego Catalog

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:

Asst. 1310:
(4) Superman
(10) Batman
(6) Robin
(4) Aquaman

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.

Asst. 1311:
(4) Captain America
(4) Tarzan
(12) Spider-Man
(4) Shazam

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):

Counter Display Box

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:

Mego Catalog

The 1974 boxed Gals Assortment (1340) included the following case-pack quantities:

(7) Wonder Woman
(3) Supergirl
(7) Batgirl
(7) Catwoman

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:

Mego Catalog

The 1974 boxed Foes Assortment (1358) included the following case-pack quantities:

(8) Penguin
(8) Joker
(4) Riddler
(4) Mr. Mxyzptlk

Oh, if only Mego had predicted kids’ distaste for Mr. Mxyzptlk. Riddler might not be so rare today!

Sidebar 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:

World's Greatest Toys!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.

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 Aquaman, Batgirl, Batman, Book Production, Captain America, Catwoman, Counter Display Boxes, Daily Mego Adoration, Joker, Mego Corporation, Mego Packaging, Mego World's Greatest Super-Heroes, Mr. Mxyzptlk, Penguin, Riddler, Robin, Shazam!, Spider-Man, Super-Foes, Super-Gals, Supergirl, Superman, Tarzan, Wonder Woman, World's Greatest Toys | 6 Comments

1st November 2006

Mego Sketch Pad — Tarzan

I do a lot of rough sketches for the book, both on paper and digitally. Oftentimes, the sketches are merely a way to organize and balance imagery with text. Other times, I try to examine a composition or explore an idea. As with all things, some ideas seem fantastic, only to find that they just don’t work in reality.

I’ve been very excited about Tarzan lately, and started sketching ideas for a possible splash page. Here is one of the rough concepts, although I doubt this particular idea will pan out. Regardless, it is fun and evocative, and I enjoyed working on it.

Tarzan

Tarzan is cool.

Benjamin

posted in Book Production, Daily Mego Adoration, Random Musings, Sketch Pad, Tarzan, World's Greatest Toys | 2 Comments

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