MEGOs Weren’t Perfect — But They Were What We Had

TOYHEM! MEMORIES: Cartoonist Karl Heitmueller Jr. has a counterintuitive take on the definitive action-figure line of the ’70s…

Welcome to TOYHEM! For the holiday season, we’re bringing you a series of features and columns celebrating the toys of our youth, which often made for the best memories this time of year. You’ll be hearing from comics creators, regular 13th Dimension contributors and more. Click here to check out the complete index of stories — and have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Chanukah and Happy Holidays! — Dan

TOYHEM! isn’t really a single series of stories. It’s sort of a series of series. We have the 13-day Custom Mego Box of the Day, for example. (Click here.)

But we also have TOYHEM! MEMORIES – a collection of guest essays by comics creators on their favorite childhood toys.

Now, we’ve had some funky selections already, like Kevin Nowlan’s charming remembrance of his Flintstones playset (click here) and Tom Peyer’s ever-irreverent take on his Aurora Superman model. (Click here.)

Also by Durso

We’ve got lots more to come and you’ll be unsurprised to find that many of the guest columns will feature Megos in some form or another, in addition to Anthony’s own aforementioned series.

That’s the case here with cartoonist Karl Heitmueller Jr., best known for his feature Prince Street News in Back Issue! magazine — and his uproarious take on Ben Cooper Halloween costumes. (Click here.)

Only Karl doesn’t have the same rose-colored feelings for Mego that a lot of us have. Don’t get me wrong. He digs them. But he has a perspective that is, shall we say, more logical than sentimental.


As a child of the 1970s, my favorite comic book related toy(s) from the Christmases of my youth align with most fanboys my age, but it’s a highly mitigated “favorite.” I’m talking, of course, about Mego’s World’s Greatest Super Heroes(!) action figures. In those days, pickings were slim for those of us who wanted to play with toy versions of our favorite comic-book heroes and villains, so Mego’s wide-ranging line of DC and Marvel characters topped my list for Santa every year, and it was always a thrill to unwrap those packages and see characters as relatively obscure as Conan, Thor, Green Arrow, and the Lizard in those colorful window boxes.

Poster by the ever-talented Anthony Durso, owner of The Toyroom custom-packaging company. Click here for more info.

Although “thrill” is a bit hyperbolic, if I’m being honest. Because even as a kid, I had my issues with the way many of these figures were designed. Why were the proud chest emblems often rendered as wonky stickers that barely stayed on? Why the heck was Tarzan wearing a full flesh-colored body suit? Why was Iron Man’s suit made of cloth and every cape made of that flimsy, waxy material? And, of course, most annoyingly, why were Batman, Robin and Aquaman wearing MITTENS??!? (Although no doubt Captain America was envious even of those dumb things, as his figure had no hand-covering at all).

Here’s a photo of me, Christmas 197?, receiving the Lizard, Captain America and Green Arrow for Christmas. Actually, it might have been my birthday. But my birthday is Dec. 24, so, same diff.

So while the Megos were my “favorite” comics-related toys I received for the holidays as a kid, I can’t help but feel a tad envious of the superhero goodness that subsequent generations of fanboys found under the tree, starting with Kenner’s superb Super Powers line in the mid-1980s (when I was in college).

Nostalgia weighs heavy in the hearts and minds of comic-book collectors. I wouldn’t trade the experience of foraging comics off of a creaky drug-store spinner rack for the relative ease of downloading comics onto an iPad for anything on Earth. I love those simple Filmation Superman cartoons of the 1960s as much as any animated version.

But man, I wish action figures had been better when I was a kid.

— The Complete TOYHEM! Index of Features and Columns. Click here.

— What If 13 Superheroes Wore BEN COOPER Costumes Instead? Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Interesting take by Kurt, and I agree with every point. I was spoiled by the 12” figures that came before the 8” Megos, so you can imagine the little 3-3/4” figures that came later. The most positive statement about the latter figures is you could get all the heroes villains and vehicles (Batman TAS, and Spider-Man animated series). The 60’s and 70’s had their little figures, but a Batman parachute figure really had little play value.
    Back to the Megos, I only bought a few as I was in my teens, and Kurt’s points had me questioning mittens too. Still, I held on to that Spiderman figure for 40 years. There’s also the warm comfort of walking into your room with a fresh batch of this weeks comics and your Megos are lined up ready for adventure!

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  2. Yeah… the oven-mitts were goofy. And I agree about Tarzan’s outfit too… he could have been a little more like Conan in that regard. Too, I always wished that The Thing and The Hulk had been a little more imposing in stature than the other figures instead of actually smaller… made no sense to my kid sensibilities. But many of the heroes were home runs too. Thor and Green Arrow were great. Same for The Joker and Superman figures. Oh how I wish there had been a Dr Doom to fight with The Fantastic Four heroes!

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  3. “But man, I wish action figures had been better when I was a kid.” As a kid, at least I didn’t, really care about what the flaws we now see as grownups. I just wish there was more figures. Green Lantern, Hawkman or Hawkeye, or the Vision. By the time the Teen TItans came around the quality had really degraded. But for what was produced early on, any flaws there were, were accepted and ignored as we played with them. And that is a difference between what Megos were vs. what we have today with more detailed figures. Megos were made to play with. Which is what we did, and why we remember them fondly, flaws and all.

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