Monday, December 31, 2012

Mego to Kiddie World

I was six years old in 1974, just old enough to appreciate the world of Mego in their brief but prolific glory as purveyors of ACTION FIGURES (aka dolls for boys). That is me below with Batman (emblem already missing) and Batmobile, Spock, and the "Astronaut" figure from Planet of the Apes.

And that is me in July 1975 with the PAPER CROWN, opening presents. On the lawn to my right, it looks like the Mego Cheron and McCoy on the cards, not yet opened.

I remember a "wall" of Megos hanging on the racks at Kiddie World on Stevens Creek Boulevard in San Jose (including all the WGSH).

The ones I had did get used. They got worn, dirty, wet, broken. I pulled their heads off. I took them apart to see how they were put together. I threw them in traffic. I dropped cinder blocks on them from the treehouse. I melted them and replaced appendages with hooks made from paper clips. These toys were meant to be played with, weren't they?  These were just mass produced plastic things, priced at $2.99 and ready for a kid to rip the package apart and throw around.

Sometime in the mid-80s, I was in a mall toy store and there were maybe a dozen of these in a corner rack still priced at a few dollars each. I was surprised to see them mixed in with the new merchandise, since I knew they were at least a decade old. But there they were. The thought occurred to me that maybe I should buy them and store them away.

Of course I didn't buy them. I thought if I saw them once I would see them again elsewhere. And that never happened. So now I'm forced to re-acquire these the hard way. And why am I doing it? Hell if I know!

Some handy tips for collecting Megos of the Star Trek variety:

1) Reproductions suck, and anyone who sells reproductions should have to get fucked by Adam Sandler. On eBay, filter out any results with "EMCE" or "Diamond Select" or "Mego Style". Sometimes sellers will hide reproduction disclaimers in the "fine print" of their descriptions. ("100% all original, genuine Mego! Except for the boots. Guaranteed!")

2) The first figures to be released were Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, and the Klingon. The wrist and knee joints had metal rivets, and the card they came on showed only the five faces of those first figures. These are "Type 1" or "Five Face" figures. Uhura was added subsequently, and the cards then showed all six faces, and the bodies became "Type 2", which had less visible plastic joints.

Type 1 joints with metal rivets

Type 2 joints, all plastic

3) The 2nd series Aliens (Gorn, Keeper, Neptunian, Cheron) come in two possible card types, depending on whether the 3rd series Aliens (Romulan, Andorian, Talosian, Mugato) had been released yet or not. The back of the card may or may not show the 3rd series figures, but the value (of a 2nd series Alien) seems to be the same regardless. The actual 3rd series Alien figures are categorically more valuable than the 2nd (due to scarcity because of some factory or warehouse fire back in the day, where many were destroyed before reaching stores). The Romulan is the most valuable, and possibly the coolest, figure. I don't have ANY of the 3rd series Aliens, but if you want to send me one as a gift of thanks for this amazing blog, I will accept it.

Aliens series 2 card back

Aliens series 3 card back (Talosian has no name)

4) The foil starfleet emblem was apparently originally glued on with a microscopic drop of completely ineffective glue. Look closely at the emblem, and if it's grey instead of silver, the foil has fallen off.

5) Blue shirt figures (Spock and McCoy) seem to be prone to spontaneous discoloration around the mid-section. If you're looking at a "mint on card" blue shirt figure on eBay, and the photo isn't detailed enough to clearly see if this has happened, don't buy it.

Blue shirt faded to green at mid-section

6) If some guy wants you to come into his van to get candy and Star Trek Megos, don't do it. Just run away.

7) Cheron figures that still look clean are hard to come by. Many of them succumbed to "Cheron Rot" over the years, in which the ink from the Cheron body does a dirty dance with the dyes in the clothing and he ends up basically Pig Farmer Cheron. Seems like about half the Cherons got this, so if you're shopping for one and can't find a clean one, just wait it out. One will eventually turn up.

A clean Cheron is a happy Cheron

8) The blue phasers, communicators, and tricorders will often have faded to a sad greenish color. This is common and unavoidable. Don't worry about it. If you get one with unfaded equipment, throw yourself a tea party.

9) When buying any figure still in the card/bubble, look closely at the feet. If one of the feet appears to be pointing the wrong way, the leg has probably come off and is just hanging there. Sellers will frequently fail to mention a detached leg and then blame you for not spotting it in the photo.

10) If the figure is white and has boobs, and isn't wearing a Star Trek outfit, it's probably a Barbie.

I'm 44 and I like toys. Fuck you.

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