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Tag Archive: Mego action figures


Back for another four episodes, the documentary-style series about toy lines and toy companies of the past The Toys That Made Us is now streaming on Netflix with its Season 2.  As with the first four episodes reviewed here at borg.com in January, the series really isn’t a show for kids, but a behind-the-scenes account of the good and the bad of the history of the toy business.  Because of the toy lines covered in this short Season 2–LEGO, Transformers, Hello Kitty, and Star Trek–expect a more international flavor to the show’s coverage than of Star Wars, G.I. Joe, Barbie, and Masters of the Universe.  You can’t get around the fact that this is about business and business politics, with the added opportunity for those who just want to spot their very favorite toy of their youth to shout out during at least one of the episodes, “I had one of those!”

Back is the sugar-coated dialogue of the enthusiastic narrator Donald Ian Black.  The series continues to be of value mostly for the gold nuggets nestled within its lighthearted framework.  Excerpts of an interview with former Mego President Marty Abrams tops the list.  Despite the high highs and the low lows of his days leading Mego, Abrams seems to have been in the middle of a great time for the toy biz, seen in the first of the new episodes, where he admits passing up the deal to secure the valuable Star Wars account, supposedly for being out-of-town at the time.  The episode of Transformers is surprisingly emotional, including interviews with Optimus Prime himself, lo-o-o-ong-time animated film voice actor Peter Cullen (who was also the voice of Winnie the Pooh’s Eeyore), and the much revered Hideaki Yoke, the Japanese company Takara’s lead designer responsible for the brilliant puzzle-piece designs of the vast Transformers line of characters.  As with Masters of the Universe, comic books were important to the development and success of Transformers, and viewers will learn Hello Kitty originated with comic book artists.  The most unexpected storytelling may come from the Hello Kitty episode.  Hello Kitty, a Japan-originated phenomenon turned international craze not tied to any book, TV series, or film, benefited from the coup of celebrities using the products publicly (without paying endorsement fees).  The discussion of the Japan cultural concept of kawaii and its relationship to the development of the Hello Kitty brand, character, and mythos will come as a surprise to most.

For Star Trek fans the episode featuring the franchise’s toy pursuits might have a few surprises.  Yes, that crazy Spock and Kirk helmet from the 1960s rears its ugly head again.  It’s too bad the show feels the need to explain what each franchise is first (we probably wouldn’t be watching if we didn’t), because fans would probably instead rather hear more about subjects the show creators didn’t leave time for.  We were looking for a discussion of the advance release of a line of Star Trek Generations action figures with costume styles that were changed before the film was released (a rare mishap), coverage of the very extensive (and once popular) line of attractive 12-inch scale action figures, the scope of the segment of Playmates company toys featuring characters from not only the series (discussed) but the movies through Star Trek: First Contact, and a little about the “why” of decisions behind toy releases, like why every NextGen line seemed to have two different Worf figures.  From the LEGO segment viewers learn a comprehensive overview of the company, plus some interesting bits like the fact that the early color scheme was directly inspired by the artist Mondrian, and that the outer space series caused the modern line of toys to really take off.  LEGO goes back some 80 years, and the history of the town that made it famous and impact of the brand is a great piece of history.  As with the rest of the episodes business and marketing trends are a great focus, and the 1958 LEGO patent for the interlocking brick–and loss of the patent–is part of that.

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jonny-quest-figures

We’ve been raving about the three and three-quarters inch scale Kenner-style action figures from Funko’s ReAction line here at borg.com for a few years now.  If style and nostalgia are your jam but not necessarily screen-accurate sculpts, it’s hard to beat the myriad of licenses that Funko has secured.  What you may not have seen is that Figures Toy Company has been producing a similar series of figures reflecting the larger, eight-inch Mego action figure line also popular in the 1970s.

batcave

Like Funko, Figures Toy Company has secured licenses of brands, movies and TV shows you’d never think would surface again, like Evel Knievel, Dukes of Hazzard, DC Comics, KISS, Shazam, Batman TV series heroes and villains, Super Friends, Scooby Doo, Tarzan, Dallas, The Monkees, The Three Stooges, Gilligan’s Island, and most recently Jonny QuestAlso like Funko, don’t expect Sideshow Toys’ level of detail.  The appeal of these lines is pure nostalgia, and packaging is half of the value.  The company also didn’t forget accessories and playsets, like a great set of Batman weaponsthe Batbus and Batlabclassic style carrying casesGotham GCPD bus, professional wrestling accessories, the Teen Titans bus, and the classic Batcave.

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Your editor with the original Mego Robin figure, and at right the new Figures Toy Company version.

The toy company has also stepped ahead into more recent licenses, creating a line of Mego-style Harry Potter action figures.  Some of Figures Toy Company’s action figure lines are also offered in a 12-inch and 18-inch version.  Many lines were released in limited editions and exclusives, and some can only be found on Amazon and eBay, and many are still available with new figures released frequently.  Not only do many have the Mego-style retro packaging, others have the Kresge Stores-style packages your parents could pick up in the 1970s as point-of-sale purchases at checkout in local dime stores across the country.

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Mego retro bridge diamond select

For those fans of the original Star Trek series who remember playing with the classic Mego action figures decades ago, the image of the classic Enterprise bridge playset brings back plenty of memories in this 50th anniversary year of Star Trek.  Thanks to Diamond Select Toys and Entertainment Earth, those who never completed their collections now can fill in gaps with reintroduced action figures, or build their own collection from scratch for a new generation.

First off, the bridge is back, complete with all the features of the classic playset.  Interchangeable view screens, vanishing transporter room–it’s made from vinyl and cardboard construction, designed in the original fold-up style with carrying case.  And it’s created for the original and new 8-inch cloth-uniformed figures.

You can also pick up three 2-figure sets of the Mego-style figures.  Choose from Mr. Spock and original series-style Khan from the episode “Space Seed.”  Or check out the brand new sculpts for a background Red Shirt security crewman and Cheron from the episode “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield.”  This Cheron has reversed coloring compared to the prior version released by Diamond Select.  And the Red Shirt is issued in two versions, one with brown or black hair, plus officer markings.

0004123_star-trek-tos-retro-cloth-spock-khan-action-figure-asst_300   Sulu and Gorn

The third action figure package includes a Gorn from the episode “Arena,” and Lieutenant Sulu.  Like the Cheron and Red Shirt, these sculpts have never been released before.

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