A Look At 1978 Reimagined: The Mego That Might Have Been

Of the many hobbies that fantasy, horror and sci-fi fans adopt to show their undying appreciation of the franchises that they love, action figure customization is one that has always intrigued me. In the best examples, customized action figures display a level of craftsmanship and devotion that sometimes leave official franchise-licensed merchandise in the dust. I've seen many examples of customized action figures, and I've noticed that one kind of figure is especially custom-made for customization: the 8-inch Mego action figure.

Even though Mego has been defunct for decades (the company shut down in 1983), its fan base is thriving--and with good reason. Mego took a basic, cost-effective toy production model--namely, a limited number of body types accompanied by a variety of head sculpts, costumes and accessories--and took it into the areas of fantasy, horror and sci-fi with licenses that included Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, and DC and Marvel superheroes. Mego made figures of other sizes but with such a simple method of production for their 8-inch figures, fans in the years since Mego's halcyon days have been able to build a wide variety of their own customized action figures by creating unique head sculpts and costumes and then applying them to Mego's highly poseable 8-inch bodies. Along these lines is the 1978 Reimagined, a 16 page "fantasy catalog" by Mego Museum. Read on ...

1978 Reimagined presents itself as a sort of "what if" toy catalog, what a 1978 Mego toy catalog would have looked like if Mego made more additions to the licenses it already owned and secured licenses that in reality went to other companies. The photos in the catalog are photos of customized Mego figures and play sets made by Mego fans that fit the theme of the catalog. The end result is a very impressive piece of Mego fan love, probably the best publication of customized Mego figures this side of a Twisted ToyFare Theater compilation.

Even though 1978 Reimagined is a fantasy catalog, the publishers went to great lengths to make it look and read like the real thing. Each of the toys is lovingly photographed, and each photo is complemented by descriptive copy that's similar to anything published by Sears or JC Penney in their Christmas toy catalogs during the 70s and 80s. The custom figures and play sets are intermingled with actual, mint condition Mego figures to add an air of authenticity to the catalog. A few interesting details about 1978 Reimagined:
  • The initial pages are devoted to Mego action figures designed for a Star Wars toy line. The figures look fantastic, which adds an extra tinge of bitterness to the reality that Mego passed on the Star Wars license when it was first offered to them in 70s--a decision that ultimately doomed the toy company.
  • There's a one-page spread devoted to nine figures modeled after classic movie monsters. While most of the figures are based on monsters from Universal Studios (including an impressive version of the Creature from the Black Lagoon), the spread also features one figure based on the title character from The Reptile, a 1966 horror film produced by Hammer Studios.
  • Taking a cue from modern superhero toy lines that consist of highly detailed action figures of characters from all areas of DC and Marvel's respective histories, 1978 Reimagined features a page of Batman figures crafted in the likeness of the cast of characters from the Batman TV series from the 60s. (I've seen many, many Batman figures over the years, but this is the first one I've seen that's deliberately modeled after Adam West.) The catalog also features figures of Captain America, Captain Marvel and the Hulk that are modeled after their live-action TV versions from the 70s.
1978 Reimagined is a great example of fan-produced action figure customization art. It's an ideal purchase for toy collectors, action figure aficionados, and anyone who has fond childhood memories of cracking open the latest Christmas catalog that came in the mail, going straight to the toy section, and drooling for hours over the many multi-colored pages of brand-new merchandise that was just waiting to be put on a holiday wish list. Click here to order your copy, and each order comes with a never-before-seen Mego Museum sticker and an extra surprise. Mine came with a small stack of collectible cards devoted to items featured on Mego Museum and its sister site, Plaid Stallions. Sweet!


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