Aloha CHUniverse and welcome back to Ageless Toys! This week we talk Mego, one of the most valuable and long collected set of toys out there. We will keep it comic related this time around as there are a ton of Mego toys for all different things like Planet of the Apes, Happy Days, KISS, Wiz of OZ, etc….. Mego collecting does not just include the standard 8” figures there are vehicles, pocket heroes, coin banks, bendables, super softies, play sets, die cast, magnetics, and stretch elastic figures as well. I personally don’t own any of the Megos, I would love too but you need a mountain of cash to start collecting. Regardless this is good garage sale flea market knowledge to have wether you collect or just like making money. So let’s talk toys!
In 1972 Mego took Action Jackson figures bodies and parts to create the World’s Greatest Superheroes toy line. The first toys were sold for Christmas at New York area Five & Dime EJ Korvettes. The first line contained Superman, Batman, Robin, and Aquaman in solid boxes. Later in 1973, three new heroes were added in time for the holidays, Spiderman, Captain America, and Tarzan made their way into the toy line. Solid boxes were replaced by retailer friendly window boxes as well as Kresge carded figures. 1974 Was a big year for the WHSH toy line, with the addition of Supergirl, Batgirl, Wonder Woman, Shazam, Riddler, Mr Myx, Joker, and Penguin. Also the first vehicles and playsets were released the Batmobile, Batcopter, and Batcave. Come 1975 Hulk, Iron Man, Lizard, Falcon, and Green Goblin were released. Fist Fighters Mego toys launched as well including Batman, Robin, Joker, and Riddler. 1976 saw the additions of The Invisible Woman, Mr Fantastic, Thing, Human Torch, Conan, Isis, and Thor to the series. In 1977 Wonder Girl, Aqualad, Kid Flash, and Speedy were added Wonder Woman and Tarzan were dropped from the line. No new figures were added after this but some of the packaging and art changed over the years. There is also extremely rare exclusive to Wards secret identity figures for Peter Parker, Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson, and Bruce Banner.
One of the things that makes collecting Megos hard is all the packaging changes. Solid Boxes are the earliest boxes Mego used for it’s “Worlds Greatest” lines, the first Monsters, Old West, Tex WIller and Superheroes came in this type of package. The first four Superheroes (Aquaman, Batman, Robin, Superman) are extremely hard to find in Solid Boxes. Look at the distribution in the original cases of these Megos below you can see that Robin and Aquaman are that much rarer. But they are all extremely pricey and not for sale very often. Retailers complained about kids damaging them to see the figure inside and quickly changed to a window format. Making solid box first edition toys that much rarer. The earliest window boxes feature Aquaman, Tarzan, Batman, Superman, Robin and Captain America in the header. Later boxes remove Captain America and replace him with Shazam. Captain America and Spiderman then received their own packaging first featuring only them and then later featuring newer marvel additions on the side. Future Window box releases were line specific, such as Super Gals, Super Villains and the Later Marvel and DC Launches.
One of the more underrated figures in the World’s Greatest Superheroes line is Falcon. This Mego is one of the first if the not the first black superhero toy. The Falcon was the most comic accurate of the Mego toys to date. However Mego did seem to miss the fact that Falcon had gloves in the comics. Many of the Falcon figures had hands from Planet of the Apes toys. Mego was recycling parts from the canceled Mego Ape line. Regular hand versions of the Falcon can be found as well. This is a good priced entry level Mego can be found with the box below $100. The carded figure pictured below goes for a good amount more then its window box counterpart.
“I’m not a huge boxing fan, but you don’t have to be to appreciate Ali. There has been much said about this towering figure in recent American history, and I’m really not in a position to add anything else, but I do admire the hell out of a sports hero who had fierce principles and who stood up for them without apology, regardless of consequences. Arrogant, talkative athletes are nothing new, but few of them today go beyond “Show Me The Money”, “Stay in school”, and “Don’t do drugs”. Ali put his money where his mouth was, losing his title and three years in his prime for refusing the draft and condemning the Vietnam War. Further, the outspoken Champion was blisteringly frank in his opinions on race, and no amount of titanic celebrity and popularity could change Ali.” From the Mego Museum…..
The reason I have Ali on the comic write up is you can actually recreate the iconic Bronze Age Treasury issue cover of Ali vs Superman. Mego also did make a boxing ring but it’s very rare. A lot of the vehicles and playsets weren’t in very many stores and had to be ordered from a catalog. Anyone old enough to remember ordering from the JC Penny catalog and waiting months to pick your stuff up? My how Amazon has changed the world.
While not too comic related I know a lot of us here at CHU are fans of horror toys. The monster series was made up of Wolfman, Dracula, Mummy, and Frankenstein’s Monster. The Mego Monsters came in Solid and window boxes, as well as Kresge cards. They were re-released in 1980 under the Lion Rock name. The eyes and hands both glow in the dark making these a very unique toy for the time period. Look to spend $500-$1000 a piece for the solid box versions.
The first vehicles released as mentioned above are the Batmobile and Batcopter later followed by the second wave of vehicles Americar, Batcycle, Arrowcar, Jokermobile, Spidercar, Mobile Batlab. You may actually have this Mego ad pictured below in some of your Bronze Age comics.
The last wave of vehicles are a little more advanced and quite frankly ahead of their time. The radio controlled Hulk off road vehicle, voice command Vette, and Hulk helicopter pictured below are a good representation of how Mego toys evolved over time as a toy company. Today’s real Corvettes actually have voice command. Mego also released a toy line called super softies (haha) stuffed animal type superheroes that talk with a pull string. They ended up being really bad sellers back then and were quickly discontinued. Now it’s a very common thing we see with talking toys and stuffed animals again ahead of their time.
In 1979 Mego was starting to loose its grip on the action figure market. The traditional 8” size figure was losing ground to the new 6” figures from other toylines. On top of that Remco was able to get superhero toy licenses in 1979 creating competition with their Energized Heroes line. Also Star Wars toys were new and fresh at this time. Mego tried to make a new toy line called Elastic Heroes, pictured above and below. The toy line consists of Hulk, Spiderman, Superman, Batman, Plastic Man, Casper, Mickey Mouse, and Donald Duck. However Kenner sued Mego for knocking off their Stretch Armstrong toys putting a quick end to the Mego Elastic Heroes toy line. This makes these toys that much rarer and more expensive in today’s market. These can fetch thousands unopened in the box.
After the first playset the Batcave was a hit Mego later released more playsets. The Supervator was a string attachment toy that made your characters fly. The Great White Shark was a Aquaman playset that is amazingly cool. Theres a changer machine for Banner and Hulk. Then you have the big playsets the Hall of Justice, the Wayne Foundation, and the Fortress of Solitude for the smaller Pocket Heroes all of which contain Neal Adams art on the box and actual art on the toys. The Hall of Justice you could put your figure in the chamber, as shown on the box below. Then slide the door closed, and when you reopen it the hero has disappeared.They reappear behind the disaster screen. By sliding the levers along the toy you can change the “scene of the disaster”, which is essentially a thin piece of plexiglas with disaster graphics affixed to it. The hole in the middle of the graphic reveals the Hero.
A very rare item , the Wayne Foundation is 4 floors tall and has an elevator. This will cost you a huge chunk of change if you can even find one. This playset was designed by DC Comics and it’s shown in it’s attention to detail. From the giant penny and dinosaur on level two to a cameo by Bat Mite, this is the best Batman playset ever produced. The elevator doesn’t work very well so Land your Batcopter on top instead. All the playsets for Mego are going to be very rare as they are mostly made of cardboard.
Mego also produced a line of collectible coin banks based on the popular World’s Greatest Superhero Megos. Until recently most Mego collectors didn’t even know these existed as most were sold in Canada. Almost impossible to find unopened still in the baggie pictured below. They consisted of Joker, Penguin, Superman, Batman, and Spidey.
First released as the Comic Action Heroes and later retooled with straight legs and renamed as Pocket Heroes in 1979. These particular toys pictured below are the great grandfathers of our modern day action figures. There was also a set of vehicles as well as the Fortress of Solitude playset mentioned earlier.
The figures came on three different card backs Red, White, and Jean denim pictured below. Zod, Jor El and Lex Luthor were released only in the first wave and didn’t sell well. Meaning not as many produced. These three are also loosely related to the first Superman movie.
The Diecast Megos only had four characters in the toy line Spidey, Batman, Superman, and Hulk pictured below. They stood 5.5 inches tall had added joints and were the first toys to be labeled limited edition to increase sales now a common practice in toys. There’s also magnetic versions of these toys that were only available in Italy.
Micronauts Chromantron is a one of kind toy, literally. Only one known figure in existence and currently it’s for sale on the bay for 5 grand. Was it a promo, a prototype, made for a bigwig at Mego no one really knows. What they do know is there’s only one and it has been owned by 4 people since it’s discovery from asking around for Micronauts toys at a flea market in North Carolina 15+ years ago.
Now for the bad news, much like old Magic cards and sports cards (and now even store and incentive variants in comics apparently) there are fakes in Megos. And like old Magic cards and old sports cards no one thought they would be worth the money they are today so very little anti-counterfeit measures if any were used. The sports card market tanked because eventually the available printer technology surpassed what was used in originally making the cards. So when the fakes get so good that they can’t be told apart by experts and are in sense a perfect duplicate, like what’s happening to vintage Magic cards today the bubble eventually bursts. Blame Michael Jordan’s rookie card for all of this. Megos can be faked or altered in a number of ways. There’s straight up home created custom toys and boxes made to look vintage pictured below to show the high quality a fake or custom figure can look like. There’s fake card backs and boxes for every Mego readily available on eBay as well as fake accessories, clothing and body parts for Megos. So when buying a loose Mego it could have a reproduced head or knock off outfit or whatever was missing is able to be replaced by fakes without you knowing or even the seller knowing sometimes. You could have the body of a first series Mego Batman with the head of a later one making it incomplete. The safe bet would be buy the unopened toys, but even now the home printing technology is so far advanced, people are making perfect copies of boxes and repacking loose toys. Because of this, the carded figures fetch better prices in some cases then the boxed versions. One day, we won’t need to buy any toys, our future 3d printers will pop out perfect exact copies toy, box, and all. So do your research first before buying any highly collectible vintage toy.
Like to give a big thanks to the Mego Museum and all their knowledge readily available in one place, hopefully I didn’t plagiarize you too much 😜. Like I said earlier I don’t own any Mego toys but after researching for this write up I would feel a little more comfortable knowing what I’m bidding on now. Hopefully this info will do the same for you. If I’m wrong on anything please let me know and correct me in the comments. Next week Marvel Secret Wars, I feel we needed to get Mego, DC Super Powers and Secret Wars out the way first since when it comes to comics those are the big vintage comic toy 3 and contain many first appearance toys. I’m an active collector of Secret Wars so I won’t need any help writing that. We may revisit Mego again in the future to talk about some of the other non comic toys but until then……Thanks for reading and happy hunting!