A birthday tribute to the toys that have helped define my comic-book life…
Megos have been a part of my life since almost the very beginning. My very beginning, that is – I was born 54 years ago today and no birthday or gift-giving holiday passes without me at least thinking about the greatest toy line in history, let alone feverishly unwrapping something from that wonderful plastic-and-cloth universe.
In 1971, it was Action Jackson – whom I redubbed “Bob Greenfield” – and in 1972, it was the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes. Eight-inch-tall stars all.
It was — and I say this without hyperbole — love at first sight and the figures and vehicles played a major part of my life growing up in the 1970s. (I’ve written about this quite a bit over the years, as you may be aware.)
Then Mego went away in the ’80s for a few decades and some years back Figures Toy Company picked up the 8-inch baton and began re-releasing the former company’s beloved DC line of characters – and substantially expanded on the selection and styles.
Then a reconstituted Mego popped up a few years ago — along with company godfather Marty Abrams — and began churning out terrific versions of TV, movie and pop-culture favorites, including remakes and new releases of Mego Star Trek figures. (Planet of the Apes returned to the fold just recently.) This was all very exciting but to me Mego wouldn’t really be back until they started producing 8-inch superheroes. (The company’s 14-inch hero line is fun but it’s a whole other animal.)
Now given the vagaries of licensing, Mego can’t reproduce its own DC designs from nearly 50 years ago and they don’t have a Marvel license at all (fingers crossed that somehow changes).
But last year they finally, finally, began a line of DC 8-inch heroes, starting with Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, each with modernized designs.
I held off getting them for awhile. Somehow, they just seemed off to me. Sure, they said Mego on the package and while they recalled the spirit of the originals, they were just too different for my liking – especially my favorite character, Batman.
But under the din of collecting other comics items, the three figures kept whispering to me and I found myself increasingly compelled to seek them out.
Eventually, well after most hardcore fans got theirs, I took the plunge and ordered Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. If I was going to judge this line, I needed to see it up close and since the new Megos are exceptionally affordable — about $15-$20 a pop — it was a risk I felt compelled to take.
When the box arrived, I opened it with more curiosity than enthusiasm. But once I pulled each figure from its protective wrapping, I was immediately struck: They may not have the original designs but they come off as first-rate variations of a theme. (I do wish the figures’ packaging design were better, though apparently that’s not completely up to the company.)
Wonder Woman actually improves on the original and while I still prefer the Superman design of the ’70s, Mego did a creditable job on its Man of Steel – especially the nice touch of the yellow “S” on the flowing cape.
Batman is the least like its progenitor: It’s the Dark Knight, not the Caped Crusader. But holding it my hands, feeling its solid heft and inspecting its simple but effective details, it finally sank in: These are Megos. Real, bona fide Megos — and they belong on the shelves with my other originals, reproductions and new characters.
The company has more to come, notably the Flash, John Stewart Green Lantern, the Riddler, and likely others. Will I, as they say, collect ’em all?
I’m not sure – it’ll depend on how the designs look up close.
But given the line’s superb start, I eagerly look forward to finding out.
Because Mego is back. Truly back.
— The TOP 13 MARVEL MEGOs We’d Like to See – RANKED. Click here.
— 13 MEGO PLANET OF THE APES Figures We Want to See — RANKED. Click here.