Having your own website means being able to indulge your favorite subjects. And aside from all the comics stuff we do here, I’m a big, big, big action-figure guy. I don’t write about it all that much because there’s just so many hours in the day, but one thing I always try to make time for is Megos.
Whether it’s the originals or what Figures Toy Company has been putting out, I’m a sucker for those figures. As it turns out, so is Marc Buxton, one of our regulars here at the ol’ 13th D. Marc and I struck up a conversation about those plastic wonders, so join us for a little reminiscence.
Dan: What’s your earliest Mego memory?
Mark: I can’t tell what my earliest Mego memory was, because Megos have always been there for me.
I think I inherited my brother’s old dolls, and I remember having them in my toy box from my earliest recollections. I know I had 8-inch Batman, Robin, Superman, Aquaman, Shazam!, Spider-Man, Hulk, Thing, Invisible Girl, Mr. Fantastic, Falcon, Captain America, Conan. Mr. Mxyzptlk, Batgirl, Joker, Riddler, Penguin, Lizard, and Green Goblin.
I had the Captain Americar, but that is the only vehicle I remember. I had all the Pocket Heroes, as well as the Batmobile for the little guys. I remember all this because I vividly remember taking them everywhere.
Batman was on every afternoon in upstate New York, and after I would watch an episode I would pull out all the Batman characters and have a West/Ward-esque fight scene with the Bat Villains.
Another amazing memory: I used to always play in the woods behind my house. It was a shared property with the other houses on the block, and one day I found the Mego Star Trek Bridge playset and inside were the entire Star Trek crew and all the aliens up to the second series. The Cheron became my favorite toy I owned. Yes, some poor kid left his collection in the woods and I ganked it.
The poor guy may be reading this and is going to show up on my doorstep asking for them back.
Dan: I can’t believe you stole some kid’s Megos! Anyway, I always dug the Cheron figure, though I’ve never had one. Maybe I should get one and pair it with the Riddler.
My earliest Mego memory was being over at a friend’s house and seeing Batman and Robin standing on his dresser. Batman had the removable cowl and Robin had the removable mask. This was around 1972 or so. I was about 5. It was like the skies opened and a light shone down. As soon as my mother picked me up, I probably was talking a mile a minute about them. I remember getting Batman in short order, also with the removable cowl. It might even have been that night.
Actually, I need to amend that: My earliest Mego memory was getting Action Jackson. I think he was dark-haired and bearded. I remember going through a few of those. My mother didn’t want me to have G.I. Joe because she didn’t want me playing with war toys. I don’t know if that had anything to do with Vietnam or not. It’s not like my mother was a hippie. Far from it. But that was the earliest Mego encounter.
It’s amazing but I remember the when and where for a lot of the figures I had: Batman, Robin, Batgirl, the Joker, the Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman, Superman, Aquaman, Shazam!, Mr. Mxyzptlk, Captain America and Spider-Man. Later was Green Arrow. I also had the Batcave, Batmobile, Batcycle and Batcopter.
Do you still have any?
Marc: I don’t have any of my original Megos, but I have repurchased many of the originals over the years. I have just about all the loose super-heroes except for Green Arrow, Batgirl, Invisible Girl and Hulk for some odd reason. I have all the Star Trek except Mugato and Andorian, many Planet of the Apes, Knights, Robin Hood and Our Gang. I even have some carded stuff, Captain America, Reed and Sue Richards, Conan, Thor, Shazam!, Mr. Mxyzptlk, Isis, Batgirl and Penguin.
I never had Action Jackson and only discovered it existed when I got back into Mego collecting in 1989.
Why do you think Megos are so enduring?
Dan: I think Megos are enduring to people of our generation because to people like us, they were central to our childhood. There have been unbelieveable advancements in action-figure production over the years, but you always love your first.
There’s also something inherently gentle about them. They, to me, represent the best parts of my childhood. I lost myself for countless hours with them, especially with the Batcave, the vehicles, etc. I was able to create my own world. It was intoxicating.
The funny thing is I was very aware of their limitations as a kid. The oven mitts, the lack of Luthor, Green Lantern, the Flash. How ugly Catwoman was. But now, with an adult’s eyes, they were oddly perfect as they were. Their imperfections make them special.
I also think a big part of it is they were the only game in town when it came to superheroes. And you didn’t have a bunch of variants, repaints, odd costumes, etc. Batman was the only Batman you could get so he was Batman. Does that make sense? As a collector now, I like having a wide variety, but there’s no One Batman. Back then, there was.
What’s your take on that? And what repros do you have?
Marc: Megos taught me what superheroes were. Megos, along with Super Friends and the Adam West Batman, were my first exposure to the world of superheroes. Megos taught me that Marvel and DC were different entities that existed within the confines of themselves, and while they were sort of the same thing, existed separately.
I too played for endless hours with my heroes, and the crew of the Enterprise and lamented there not being a Green Lantern, Flash, Chekov or Sulu. I like how you said the Mego Batman was the only Batman. If you wanted to have a symbol of what you enjoyed in comics or on television, Mego was the only chance to own a piece of what you loved in print or on T.V., oven mitts and all.
And I always thought Catwoman looked great.
As far as repros, I collected the Mattel line and was truly overjoyed with Martian Manhunter, Flash, Black Manta, Green Lantern, and Captain Cold, characters I could only dream of owning for decades. Less so with Black Adam who looks like Jorge Posada. I plan to collect the new (Figures Toy Company) Batman line and I have picked up the Universal Monsters and some of the new Trek figures like, of course, Sulu and Chekov. I also plan to grab a Kull and Solomon Kane, which is a mind-blowing thought.
What Megos do you particularly hold in high regard today and what are your Holy Grails?
Dan: Back to Catwoman first. Catwoman was an accident of timing. She wasn’t being used much in the comics at the time and they put her in an outfit — “Pirate Catwoman” — that was used only a few times. By the mid-’70s, she was back in the Golden Age purple dress. I would have much preferred that or even the green Julie Newmar outfit they used in the comics before Pirate Catwoman. And the face is just so unappealing!
Anyway, I got a number of the Mattel figures but was let down by the quality of the figures themselves. They were so loose, they couldn’t even stand up. They looked good from afar, though. The EMCE Planet of the Apes and Star Trek figures, on the other hand, hold up really well.
For me, still, the Removable Cowl Batman is the end-all, be-all. There’s just something special about it. Coincidentally or not, it was my first. And at some point, I lost the cowl, which is surprising because I was really careful about such things. When I got a replacement, it was the painted cowl. And I remember being instantly disappointed in it. Of course, it ultimately took on a wonderful, totemic life of its own, but I always had a pang of loss about it. That Bruce Wayne head took on this elusive quality in my mind.
For me, your action figure needs a secret identity, just like he or she needs a villain. It’s a whole new dimension, a whole different way into that world. Years later, I would see the Removable Cowl Batman and it would be prohibitively expensive. Then came reproduction parts and I constructed my own, Frankenstein-like. With Figures Toy Company coming out with one soon, I’m in Removable Cowl Heaven.
There were two great items that also qualify as Holy Grail items. I’ve never had them: The Joker Van and the Wayne Foundation. The van is gettable today and I could track one down if I wanted to try hard enough. But right now, I have my eye on other things. The Wayne Foundation is one of those things I assume I’ll never have. It’s just too expensive now. But that’s OK. I never had it the first time around.
What about you?
And what about the worst Mego offerings?
Marc: I never had a Removable Cowl Batman. I didn’t even know it existed since I started collecting in ’89.
I would give a limb for a Wayne Foundation. My doable Holy Grail items would be a Green Arrow figure. I could just never find one compete. My not-doable item would be a boxed Aquaman and the Great White Shark. It’s just so cheesy it borders on sheer genius. I would also love the castle that was for the Mego Monsters. Some company just did a repro that I will have to scoop up one of these days. I also collect carded figures and I would love a Riddler and a Supergirl mint on the card.
Megos are so lovably cheesy by nature, it’s hard to pick a stinker. I guess the Human Torch. I never truly understood the concept of a fabric flame suit. And Wonder Woman is kind of a special brand of fugly. It would be nice if Hulk and Thing were taller, and of course, there is the Star Trek Neptunian, an alien that never appeared in the show or cartoon, he was just sort of made up. Legend has it that the always frugal Mego had the mold they were going to use for a Creature from the Black Lagoon, and not wanting to waste resources, just made up their own alien, but that has never been confirmed.
Dan: I always thought Mr. Mxyzptlk was a silly character but I understand Mego wanted to get more use out of the fat body type. I just never got why there was no Luthor. But I think the silliest item was the Mobile Batlab. Batman driving a VW bus? That’s just … I don’t know to react to that.
If anyone should have had the van, it should have been Robin. Megos were popular at the height of the Batman Family comic, which starred Robin and Batgirl. I LOVED that comic. And Dick Grayson had a van. So I it would have been really cool for Robin to have his own vehicle, with maybe a cycle in the back or something. But Batman? No.
I did end up getting Green Arrow but it was some time closer to the end of my Megomania. It wasn’t among the original waves and I wasn’t aware of him until later. And I never got the Teen Titans, so I’m really excited that Figures Toys Company is coming out with those.
Anyway, Green Arrow, in the end, was one of the best figures Mego produced. Great outfit and a great sculpt. Right up there with the Joker among the best Mego faces.
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