Collecting Articles and Features

Mego Toys and Action Figures Exploring the Iconic Legacy of the 1970s

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The Mego Corporation, established in the early 1950s by David Abrams, etched its name into the annals of toy history as a dominator of the action figure market throughout the 1970s. Initially known for producing dime store toys, the company’s trajectory shifted dramatically under Martin Abrams, David’s son, who took the helm in 1971. Martin’s strategic move to acquire license rights to popular media transformed Mego into a household name, particularly with its innovative Mego toys and action figures from Planet of the Apes, Star Trek, Batman and The Wizard of Oz among others.

1974 Mega Planet Of The Apes Dr Zaius Sealed Mint on Card
1974 Mega Planet Of The Apes Dr Zaius Sealed Mint on Card. Sold for $550 on ebay, January 2024.

Mego’s golden age was undoubtedly fueled by its pioneering “World’s Greatest Superhero” line, launched in 1972 after securing licenses for DC and Marvel characters. This line introduced a comprehensive collection of superhero action figures, setting a new standard with its 8-inch scale figures, interchangeable parts, and carded packaging. Figures like Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man were not just toys but icons of a generation, capturing the essence of beloved characters in a tangible form. Mego’s unique approach, which included the creation of the “Kresge style card” for display purposes and the introduction of exclusive “Secret Identity” figures, solidified its legacy in the toy industry.

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Despite its innovations and success, Mego’s refusal of the “Star Wars” license in 1976 marked the beginning of its decline. The subsequent scramble to find a comparable hit in the sci-fi genre yielded licensed figures from “Moonraker,” “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century,” and others, but none matched the cultural and financial impact of “Star Wars” toys. By 1982, facing mounting competition and changing market dynamics, Mego filed for bankruptcy, marking the end of an era.

Mego Batman Robin Bend N Flex Rare Vintage Unpunched Mint On Card
Mego Batman Robin Bend N Flex Rare Vintage Unpunched Mint On Card. Sold for $999.88 on ebay, January 2024.

However, Mego’s story did not end there. The enduring appeal of its action figures has cemented their status as highly sought-after collectibles, with certain items fetching thousands of dollars today. The legacy of Mego extends beyond the collectors’ market; it has inspired a resurgence of interest in 8-inch figures, leading to the production of quality reproductions and new figures by companies like EMCE Toys and ClassicTVToys. These efforts, endorsed by Mego’s former CEO Marty Abrams, reflect a continued appreciation for Mego’s contribution to the world of toys and collectibles.

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Mego’s impact is also evident in pop culture, with its figures featured in “Twisted ToyFare Theater” and “Robot Chicken,” showcasing the brand’s lasting influence on generations of fans and collectors. Annual conventions like Mego Meet in Wheeling, West Virginia, offer enthusiasts a platform to celebrate the legacy of Mego, exchange collectibles, and engage in discussions about the future of action figure collecting.

Mego Palitoy Penguin
Mego Palitoy Penguin. In excellent condition on card. Sold for $999 on ebay, February 2024.

The revival of Mego Corporation in 2018, under the partnership of Marty Abrams, affectionately known as “the father of action figures,” and Joel Rosenzweig, marked a new chapter in the brand’s storied history. This resurgence, focusing on 8” action figures, leverages popular licenses from CBS, Warner Brothers, Sony, and Epic, indicating a strategic move to reconnect with long-time fans while capturing the interest of a new generation. By reintroducing the nostalgia of the 1970s with a modern twist, Mego continues to build on its legacy, blending the rich history of the brand with contemporary pop culture. Marty Abrams’ return to the forefront of the company he once led into its golden age hints at the enduring appeal of Mego’s action figures and the company’s significant impact on the toy industry. As Mego moves forward, it carries the legacy of innovation and the spirit of the 1970s into the future, promising new collectibles for enthusiasts and newcomers alike.

Mego Robin-Shuttle in original box

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