Monday, February 13, 2012
The Many Faces of Mego at Toy Fair 2012 (UPDATED)
The Mego Corporation may be dead but its influence on the world of toy hobbyists and collectors lives on, courtesy of companies such as Bif Bang Pow!, Diamond Select, and EMCE Toys.
As I've noted before (see here and here), Mego's design of its 8-inch action figure was a work of pure genius in the amount of flexibility it could bring to any toy license. All the figure needed was a customized head sculpt and cloth suit, and it could be used as a soldier, or a superhero, or a monster, and so on. The design also allowed for hobbyists to make their own customized figures using affordable materials that can be purchased at a variety of stores. If the toys that are currently on display at Toy Fair 2012 in New York are any indication, Mego's spirit of adaptability is alive and well. Read on....
Bif Bang Pow! is applying the Mego principle to the licenses of Doctor Who, the Six Million Dollar Man, the Twilight Zone, and the original Battlestar Galactica. Of the figure assortments previewed at Toy Fair, I'm very impressed with its selection of Galactica figures. Imagine if Mego got the Galactica license back in 1978 instead of Mattel--that's exactly what this series of Galactica action figures look like. Of course, the new Bif Bang Pow! figures have many more points of articulation than their Mattel predecessors and they also come with some cool accessories, such as removable Colonial Viper helmets for both Apollo and Starbuck.
In addition to its other lines of Universal Monsters toys, Diamond Select is taking a cue from Mego's previous Mad Monsters line and is expanding its line of Retro Cloth Universal Monsters. Upcoming additions to this line include the Bride of Frankenstein and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and future additions are scheduled to include the Invisible Man, the Phantom of the Opera, and the Metaluna Mutant from This Island Earth (1955). Diamond Select also has an ongoing series of classic Star Trek figures, which are very similar in appearance to Mego's Star Trek line from 1974.
As a follow up to their previous Create Your Own Zombie Customizable Action Figure Kit, EMCE Toys is releasing a Create Your Own Superhero Action Figure Customizing Kit. Unlike the Mego-sized figures that came with the zombie kit, the superhero kit includes figures that are only 4 inches high and don't require cloth costumes; nevertheless, the new kit continues the spirit of customization that the Mego community has embraced for a long time. I'm betting that EMCE's latest kit will come in handy for hobbyists who have been unsuccessful so far in creating action figures for their favorite non-DC and non-Marvel superheroes. You can learn more about the Create Your Own Superhero Kit on EMCE Toys' Facebook page.
It should be noted, though, that the revival of the Mego figure design standard hasn't always been successful. For example, Mattel's Retro Action series of DC characters started back in 2009 but has since been discontinued due to poor sales. There's something bitterly ironic about this failure, because Mego's line DC and Marvel superhero figures that was released during the 70s contributed greatly to Mego's popularity among toy collectors and hobbyists.