Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Decline and Fall of Mego

The image above is of the only known sample backing card of what was to be a line of 3 3/4" action figures from Mego based on the saturday morning cartoon "Thundarr The Barbarian," which originally aired on ABC for two seasons between 1980-1982. Very regrettably, Mego went out of business in 1983 before these figures could be produced.

This card combines two of my great childhood loves: the cartoon "Thundarr the Barbarian" (which was basically "Conan The Barbarian" set on a post-apocalyptic Earth), and the Mego Corporation, which in the 1970s produced a line of well loved 8" super-hero action figures, like Batman and Spider-man (the "World's Greatest Superheroes"), as well as similar figures based on the "Planet of the Apes" movies and TV show, and many, many others.

The story of the decline and fall of Mego is really an amazing one, even if you've never heard of the company or their action figures. Among many other things, some of their most senior executives were ultimately convicted on a string of federal charges. But most famously, at the height of the company's success in the mid-1970s, several of their key people were in Japan negotiating for the US rights to a toy called "Microman" (which became "Micronauts" in America), while, back in the United States, George Lucas was shopping the rights to produce toys based on his yet-to-be-released film, "Star Wars." Mego passed. Kenner didn't. And as the legendary radio personality Paul Harvey used to say, "now you know the rest of the story..."

Thinking about it now though, who among us hasn't at one time or another, metaphorically speaking, found themselves in Japan negotiating for the rights to Microman while the rights to Star Wars were being eagerly snapped up back at home by someone else....

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