TOYHEM! Mego did right by the Clown Prince of Crime…
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
Buddy and pal Scott Tipton wrote the other day when discussing Mego’s more obscure superhero vehicles (click here) that learning about new toys could be something of a hit-or-miss proposition in the ’70s.
He’s 100 percent on the money.
For example, I didn’t learn about the Wayne Foundation playset until well after it was too late – and I finally scored one last year, as chronicled in TOYHEM 2019.
Now, as an avowed Batkid I had the essentials – all the Batfigures, the Batmobile, Batcyle, Batcopter and Batcave. But I cannot say with any certainty when I first learned about Mego’s grandest ride — the Jokermobile.
The Jokermobile came out in 1975 when I was still in prime Mego collecting territory at the age of 8. But as so many things did before the internet, it slipped right by me.
I do know this: By the time I learned about it – perhaps from a Mego commercial, perhaps from a Heroes World ad listing – my mother was already trying to discourage me from such things. (Shows what Mom knew, huh?)
I had no interest in the companion Batman Mobile Bat Lab – that was too far afield from “real” Batman to me and I dismissed it out of hand.
But the Jokermobile? This was the stuff of dreams: Bright green and red, like the Joker’s hair and lips; cackling stickers adorning the van from top to bottom; a gigantic grin on the front grill with a boxing glove gag meant to surprise Batman in the rear; and, best of all, a working prank daisy on the top that shot water (or in your fevered imagination, Joker gas or acid).
This thing was a beast – and what I liked about it most was the same thing I liked about the Removable Cowl Batman: that added, world-building dimension. No toy line is complete without secret identities and an arsenal for the villain. Your heroes need to have that transformational aspect and your adversaries need to pose a legitimate threat.
For years, I was haunted by the Jokermobile – my younger cousin had one and I was as green with envy as the van itself. It sat on my wish list, second only to the Wayne Foundation. But finally, just a couple years ago, I dug deep into my couch cushions and saved enough cash to be able to afford a beautiful, fully functioning one on eBay, complete with working flower and boxing glove.
I would still love to see a replica released that I won’t have to be so ginger with but the Jokermobile holds a place of honor in my collection. (Between a replica Bat Lab – the completist in me couldn’t resist – and a groovy Teen Titans van that was created relatively recently and should have been originally available in Mego’s ’70s heyday.
The bottom line is that if there’s any Batvillain deserving of such a tricked-out ride, it’s the Joker – and Mego did the Clown Prince of Crime right by giving him its most inventive vehicle of all.
— The Complete TOYHEM 2020 Index of Features and Columns. Click here.
— MEGO’s Groovy Vehicles Were the Hottest Wheels of the ’70s. Click here.