Airing for seven seasons and 147 episodes, The Dukes Of Hazzard is one of the most popular television shows to come out of the late 1970s.
Needless to say, this popularity would result in a landslide worth of merchandise that ranged from wallets to TV trays and everything in between.
Around this same time, Kenner would forever change the format of play thanks to the huge success of their Star Wars action figures. Crafted in a 3.75-inch scale, these compact characters quickly replaced the previously popular 8-inch format and allowed kids of all ages to easily take a pocket full of their favorite plastic playthings wherever they wished.
It was the dawn of a new age, one where small toys meant big bucks, and industry leaders had to shrink products down to survive.
It was in this climate that Mego, the once undisputed king of the boys action figure market, would be forced to make a change. While previously finding success with their larger scale figures based upon such popular properties as Planet Of The Apes and Star Trek, Kenner’s triumph in the toy aisles proved that 8-inch was out and tiny was mighty.
Wisely, Mego followed suit and entered the 80s with scaled-down lines centered around everything from Buck Rogers to ChiPs. However, it was the Duke Boys that proved to be a true runaway hit.
Grab your moonshine and the keys to the General Lee!
We’re taking a look back at the Dukes Of Hazzard toys!
Just Some Good ‘Ol Toys
Released by Mego in 1981, the first Dukes Of Hazzard toys featured a mishmash of popular characters from the TV show. Cast in a variety of different styles, they quickly became some of the most unique offerings on shelves at the time.
For Bo and Luke Duke, Mego would use the slightly G.I. Joe-esque super articulated body that had previously been seen in other lines like The Black Hole.
Featuring o-ring waistbands, as well as bendable elbows and knees, the figures were crafted in such a way that they would easily be able to fit inside the slightly larger General Lee vehicle that served as a focal point to the line.
While both of the Duke Boys would be offered at retail on individual cardbacks, they would each also end up as a pack-in bonus with the General Lee later on.
Joining Bo and Luke in the first series of figures were both Daisy Duke and Boss Hogg respectively. As mentioned above, the line would become known for its variety of fun figure styles.
While Bo and Luke would both be built on Mego’s super articulated body, Boss Hogg would feature a less articulated Pocket Heroes style with just five points of articulation. On the other hand, Daisy would use a design similar to what Mego had done just a few years before with Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979.
Both figures would be released on individual cardbacks, and Boss Hogg would even include a removable hat. At the same time, the corrupt Hazzard County commissioner would see a second product release down the line with a new head sculpt that more closely resembled actor Sorrell Booke.
…Daisy Was Second
As mentioned above, the true focal point of the line came in the form of the General Lee – Bo and Luke’s hotted-up 1969 Dodge Charger from the show.
Cast in bright orange plastic, Mego’s mini muscle car featured all of the familiar tampos that adorned its small screen counterpart – including the iconic Confederate flag atop its roof.
Like the car from the show, Mego’s General Lee featured fused doors. As such, figures were to be placed inside by means of a hinged panel on the roof. The interior was sculpted out of plain black plastic, while chrome-painted plastic mags sent the car a-rollin’!
Released to stores in a very nice window box, the only real drawback of this toy was the fact that the floor featured a rather large hole. No doubt incorporated into the final design as another way to place your figures inside the car, the result oftentimes sees Bo and Luke falling out during play.
Several variations of the General Lee were released by Mego between 1981 and 1982, each featuring a bonus pack-in figure. Most times this was either Bo or Luke, however other versions were later released that also included characters like Uncle Jesse and Cooter as well.
Rounding out the first series was Daisy Duke’s 1980 Jeep CJ7. Like the General Lee, it came to stores in window box packaging and featured a brown plastic interior and painted plastic chrome wheels.
Of course, a Daisy Duke figure was included, while the rear of the packaging also featured a cut-out photo of actress Catherine Bach. A strong selling point to prepubescent boys!
Makin’ Their Way
Mego’s Dukes Of Hazzard line proved to be an impressive success. As such, it wasn’t long before the company began putting plans in place for a second series.
Released in 1982, this next wave of toys offered even more Hazzard County hijinx with the release of four brand new figures – as well as re-releases of the General Lee and even a planned playset!
Wise Uncle Jesse and mild-mannered mechanic Cooter would see a release in this wave, both on individual cardbacks and as pack-ins with the General Lee.
Interestingly enough, Mego would also end up releasing 8-inch Dukes Of Hazzard figures during this time, however, neither Uncle Jesse or Cooter would see a release in this larger format.
Rounding out the second series of figures would be the bumbling law enforcement duo of Roscoe P. Coltrane and Cletus.
Similar to the Boss Hogg figure released in Series 1, both of these figures would receive the slightly less articulated Pocket Superheroes bodies, in addition to some recycled parts from Mego’s CB McHaul line. Each would also come with a removable hat.
Mego would also end up re-purposing the Cop Car from their CB McHaul line into the Dukes Of Hazzard Police Chase Car – complete with a pack-in figure of ‘ol Roscoe.
Sorry, We’re Closed!
Mego also planned to release a playset in Series 2.
Featured in their 1982 catalog, Cooter’s Garage was made up of a vacuform shell and looked to feature opening doors, gas pumps, and a few static accessories. However, it was not to be.
Despite the overwhelming popularity of this line, and the TV show upon which it was based, buyers were just not interested in it. Perhaps if it had featured some special way to repair the cars, things would have been different. But, what can you do?
While the playset never made it into production, it isn’t too hard to find images of it online. Sadly, it isn’t anything all that impressive. Dare I say it looks a little junky.
However, when you consider that this set was planned around the same time that Mego was starting to struggle with their R&D budget, it really shouldn’t come as that big a shock. Points to Mego for trying to keep the hype train chugging along even during the most uncertain of times.
…The Law Never Will!
Despite their rather short shelf life, Mego’s Dukes Of Hazzard toys have gone on to become quite collectible. While mint examples are becoming few and far between these days, carded figures can be yours for around $150 USD, while the vehicles look to be going for around double that amount.
Loose examples are a little more plentiful on the secondary market, with Bo and Luke going for around $65 USD and the other figures fetching close to $50. At the same time, loose vehicles in good nick are still bringing around $175 – especially in the case of the General Lee.
Interestingly, it is the Dukes Of Hazzard Police Chase Car that appears to be bringing the big bucks these days. Last month, in preparation for this piece, I watched two boxed examples sell for close to $500 a piece at an auction here in Ontario. According to the info sheet provided, these could only be acquired in Canada as a special mail-away promotion through JC Penny.
Who knew? But, then again, this line was a little bit before my time.
Still, you’ve got to admit, that’s not too bad for a pair of Good ‘Ol Boys from Hazzard County!
Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to straighten some curves…