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

3rd April 2008

Glory Days: Star Wars and Mego’s New Corporate Office!

Daily Mego Adoration

Here’s our Daily Mego Adoration for Thursday April 3, 2008:

Star Wars and Mego’s New Corporate Office!


Glory Days!
Martin B. Abrams, president, Mego International, Inc. and Lewis Rudin, executive vice president, Rudin Mangement Corp. shake hands after the signing of a lease for new corporate headquarters for the toy manufacturer in the New York Merchandise Mart, a Rudin building. Mego has taken approximately 20,000 square feet on 11½ floors with an option to acquire an additional 8,000 feet, as well. Standing in the rear are Judson H. Spencer, executive director of NYMM and Harvey Richer of Harvery Richer, Inc., exclusive rental agent for the building.

In 1975, Mego was riding high. With exponential growth and success, Mego was forced to move to larger quarters. I love this April 1975 photo… just look at Marty’s pride! Yet, interestingly, I opted to use this photo in the 1977 chapter of World’s Greatest Toys!

The irony is the fact that I took one of Mego’s happiest, most successful moments, and juxtaposed it against one of Mego’s greatest failures:

Not acquiring the George Lucas/20th Century Fox “Star Wars” license.

From World’s Greatest Toys!:

World's Greatest Toys!

An ad in the February 1977 issue of Toys mentions Mego’s showroom in the New York Merchandise Mart. Originally located at 1133 Broadway, Mego first relocated to 1 Madison Square Plaza. In 1975, Mego signed a 15-year, $2.3 million lease for approximately 20,000 square feet on 11½ floors in the New York Merchandise Mart, located at 41 Madison Avenue.

This new office was the setting for Mego’s legendary failure to acquire the Star Wars license. To protect the Micronauts line, all Mego executives enjoyed plenipotentiary authority to approve any science fiction license. Legend has it that both Marty Abrams and Neal Kublan were out of the state when the Lucasfilm representative showed up at Mego’s office.

Differing recollections obfuscate whether it was Mego patriarch D. David Abrams or merely a front desk receptionist who greeted Charles Lippincott, the Lucasfilm representative. In any case, Lippincott was turned away, only to take the elevator up one flight… to the office and showroom of Kenner toys.

During the “MegoCon” convention in June 2004, Marty Abrams discussed the profound misstep of losing the Star Wars license. “I believe that ‘to thine own self be true,’” Abrams confessed. “[The owner of] Kenner did a better job with Star Wars than we would have done. Because what he did was, he did not ship the product. He shipped empty boxes. We would have shipped the product. And so that means we would have been behind the movie curve, rather that at the movie curve.” Alluding to fact that Kenner did not ship the original toys until 1978, months after the movie was released, Abrams added, “He created demand for product, and so opportunity came out of the problem. He was so late, he couldn’t ship the product.” Considering the benefits of this timing, Abrams concluded, “There was nothing to fill the pipeline to hit the craving… so that combination worked. It was almost a magical explosion.”

Ever the Mego cheerleader, Kublan dissented. “See, I don’t agree. I think we would have done much better.” Collectors love to speculate how Mego would have handled the license.

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

Benjamin

posted in Book Production, Daily Mego Adoration, Mego Corporation, Mego Memories, Mego's Glory Days, Star Wars, World's Greatest Toys | Comments Off

19th May 2006

1973: Black and White and In Color

The book World’s Greatest Toys: Mego 8″ Super-Heroes will be a chronological history of Mego Super-Heroes. After two years of diligent research and study, I concluded I had enough information to commence production of the book. I decided to create the book in the same order Mego produced the toys, beginning with 1972 (the year the Super-Heroes were introduced).

Doing this has given me a profound appreciation for the explosive growth the small company experienced. Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t the Super-Heroes that made the company successful. In fact, it wasn’t even Action Jackson that “made” the company (another commonly-held belief). Numerous inside sources credit the company’s meteoric rise to Maddie Mod, Mego’s line of fashion dolls and outfits. But I will expand on this subject in the book, as I’m already getting off-topic.

The book includes myriad high-resolution scans, to support the original photography. There are Christmas catalogs, product catalogs, store circulars, foreign advertisements… there is no shortage of Mego marketing material to cover.

Astronaut
Mego was founded in 1952. For some 30 years, the company stagnantly distributed cheap, imported toys. Founder D. David Abrams was an old-school salesman. Good at closing the deal, the patriarch was not apt to create the deal. When eldest son Marty graduated from NYU with a Marketing degree, everything started to change. Everything.

This evolution became very clear to me as I painted a picture of the “Birth of the Line” (chapter 2 of the book). With very little interest in the non-proprietary “88¢ promotions” that defined the company before Marty graduated, I pick up the story just before the arrival of the Prodigal Son.

It occurs to me that Marty’s arrival was not unlike Dorothy’s arrival in the Land of Oz.

From the outset, Mego was mired in black-and-white. They sold a respectable number of plastic “Greyhound Bus” and “Walking Astronaut” (shown at right, from the 1971 Mego catalog) toys. The late, amazing Neal Kublan (who went on to become vice president of Research and Development), joined Mego in 1960 as a paste-up artist for newspaper ads.

Black-and-white newspaper ads.

During these years, the margins were microscopic, the costs troubling. Mego struggled to find success in discount bins and the checkout racks designed to relieve exasperated moms shopping with bored, miserable children.

Color

Oh, joy! This pitiful header appears in the 1970 Mego catalog… page after page of cheap, grey products. Seriously, it’s all a bunch of crap. Utter crap.But then Marty arrived. And Marty took over. Paradigms didn’t shift, they were shattered. Mego made a killing with Maddie Mod. Mego entered the Boys’ Toys market with Fighting Yank. Mego put the industry on notice with Action Jackson.

Then Mego created the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes.

WGSH

And just like that, Mego was basking in the illumination of business magnificence. Bright lights and technicolor glory. It wasn’t only evident in the marketing materials. It was international respect and admiration. It was bounteous profits. It was staggering license acquisition. It was flashy Toy Fair exhibitions. And success. Mind-boggling success.The industry dominance had begun.

But Marty was not Dorothy. And Mego was not Oz. However, in that moment in time — shortly after Marty’s arrival — the story becomes very reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz… at least Dorothy’s arrival in the fantasical Oz.

Three years after the Super-Heroes took off, Mego cashed in on a license to produce Wizard of Oz toys. I find that success to be very appropriate.

Perhaps even more fitting is the way both stories end. It was a magical, wonderful ride for Dorothy and for Mego. But when it was over, people questioned what had actually occurred.

I hope this book helps people appreciate the significance and importance of the Mego corporation.

Viva Mego!
______________

posted in Counter Display Boxes, Mego Catalogs, Mego Corporation, Mego Memories, Mego Packaging, Mego World's Greatest Super-Heroes, Mego's Glory Days, Wizard of Oz | Comments Off

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