Tuesday, December 26, 2006

An Intro to Mego

The year is 1977 and Saturday Mornings are a special time for little kids. Of course, Saturday Morning means that there will be tons of cool cartoons that can only be seen between 8am and noon. Since there were no VCRs in those days (well, the very wealthy could afford them as well as betamaxes, but the general population did not have that luxury) so kids had to watch these programs live as they happened. Such rapt attention was like gold for advertisers who pumped these commercials with TV commercials filled with cereal ads, coming attractions for movies and, of course, TOYS! So memorable were these toys that even into adulthood, the desire to own them is strong. As such, a huge market for collecting such toys exists to this very day. If you do not believe me, check out EBAY and look at the process some of these toys are fetching!
There is a word that if you mention to any child of the seventies and the child (now adult, obviously) will have eyes that will light up. That word is MEGO. Now, Mego is not some obscure word out of the dictionary that only a few academic minded people will recognize. Mego was, of course, the name of one of the most popular toy companies of the Me Decade. While these toys were common place in the 1970's, they have become relatively rare these days as most of the original toys were lost, destroyed or thrown out. Those that have survived remain popular items on the toy collector circuit.

While Hasbro had GI Joe and Mattel had Barbie, MEGO had a whole host of fun characters with the most popular being its superhero line featuring DC and Marvel Heroes and KISS, as well as its Star Trek line and super funky PLANET OF THE APES line. There were many others in the Mego catalogue including dolls (ok, action figures) based TV series such as SPACE: 1999, CHiPS, HAPPY DAYS and many others. Eventually, an examination of the collector market for all the dolls will be examined individually, but at this point, it is wise to discuss Mego in general terms for those who may not be familiar with the popular dolls.

What made Mego dolls so popular was not just the fact that the dolls were based on popular movie and TV characters, but because of the amazing craftsmanship that went into making the dolls. The dolls were dressed in felt clothing, a fantastic touch that has made a comeback in recent years after having been replaced by the rather lame painted on clothing that dominated for twenty years until Mego retro concepts were brought back into vogue. While it is safe to say that any toy line based on popular figures would have sold, but the question is would these dolls have been as wildly popular on the collector market to this very day if the quality of the toys were not top notch? Well, look at it this way: even after 30 years, there is still a demand for collecting Mego's Monster toy line, while numerous other toy companies who released dolls of Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolfman, The Mummy, et al are no where near as popular nor desired by collectors. The reasons are obvious: while cool in their own way, these companies could not match the quality look and feel of the Mego toys and the demand for these other toys is very limited. This is also the case with the superhero toys as other dolls released based on DC and Marvel characters in future years would never reach the dollar value or the popularity of the classic Mego toys of the 1970's.

Ultimately, that is the mark of success. Success should never be defined as something that was a flash in the pan, but something that has survived and continues to survive many decades after the company itself has long since passed off into oblivion. Mego is one such company as it perpetually lives forever as the dolls released during the era are among the most memorable toys of its era. At the time Mego was at the peak of its popularity, it had its finger on the pulse of the nation (well, the pulse of the children in the nation at least) and become a pop culture phenomenon that continues to endure to this very day.

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