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The Fall And Rise Of Mego

The History Of Mego Figures

Everything Old Is New Once More!

Some of the most beloved stories in the world feature a return.

Be it Ellen Ripley in Aliens, or Han Solo in Return Of The Jedi, these tales successfully resonate with fans by bringing back the familiar faces of those that they love and placing them in a situation where they can eventually emerge triumphantly. Be it in one form, or another. 

Interestingly, this scenario is not one that is solely limited to the big screens of Tinseltown. 

No, even in the most unexpected of places – such as within the far-flung reaches of the toy industry – can such a successful return occur. Just ask the folks at a little place called MEGO.

The Early Days Of Mego

Originally founded in 1954 by David and Madeline Abrams, there was a time when that name was synonymous with quality action figures.

Years before Kenner came along and revolutionized the industry with their hugely popular Star Wars line, this Big Apple-based toy manufacturer was churning out beautifully crafted pieces based on characters from a wide variety of major licenses.

From DC Comics to Planet Of The Apes, it seemed as though MEGO could do no wrong in dominating the boy’s action figure market. And when their Star Trek figures eventually beamed down and became one of the top sellers of the mid-1970s, MEGO looked poised and ready to boldly go where no toy company had gone before. 

In fact, things were so good for the company that 20th Century Fox eventually gave MEGO the first official crack at the Star Wars license prior to the film’s release back in the summer of 1977.

And yet, by the early 1980s this story looked to be all but over. 

Mego Micronauts Sarcophagus

After a string of less than successful attempts to reclaim some of the glitz and glamor of their former days, the doors looked to close on MEGO for the last time. Or, so we thought. 

The Return Of MEGO

Jump ahead to 2018 and Marty Abrams, the man oftentimes regarded as the father of the action figure, shocks the pop culture landscape at San Diego Comic-Con.

To the surprise of all, he announces that the beloved MEGO brand will be returning to store shelves for the first time in over three decades! Exciting to be sure, but on the surface, this may have looked to be a rather unwise move. 

After all, it had only been ten months since Toys R Us, the one-time undisputed king of the retail toy market, had filed for bankruptcy and announced that they would be closing all of their physical store locations across the United States.

Up until that point, they had served as the unsung hero of the collector market – offering older fans a wide selection of brands and exclusives ranging from Marvel Legends to the Star Wars Black Series, and everything in between.

In addition, these new figures would still retain the vintage charm of their predecessors. Would fourteen points of articulation, cloth costumes, and a selection of bright color form accessories be able to compete with the premium sculpting, crisp paintwork, and realistic accessories of modern lines?

Mego Toy Company

If the MEGO brand was indeed returning, it would need the support of older fans and collectors who had grown up with their products throughout the ’70s and ’80s. A quality product though it may be, this was a series of action figures that would appeal exclusively to a certain sort of collector.

It couldn’t just be placed on toy store shelves alongside brands like Beyblade and Barbie and expect to survive in the toy market of the 21st century. Especially when given the wide variety of products available to consumers, and the limited shelf space available at the modern-day retailer.

Yet, just like Han Solo being freed from the carbonite, MEGO was not without friends!

And, friends in high places for that matter.

Enter Target

In a retail landscape now void of the Toys R Us mega giant (at least in the United States), this new kid on the block would fearlessly step up and declare to the world that Target was going to fill the hole left in the collector market moving forward – a move that would also include aiding in getting this newest generation of MEGO figures back on to store shelves once more. 

Target selling MEGO Toys

Again, this was all very exciting to learn. But, could it all be successfully pulled off?

Well, in the words of one Cosmo Kramer: “You’d Better Believe It, Buddy!”    

It has now been over two years since the announcement was first made that the MEGO brand was returning to shelves. More retail and specialty stores from across the globe have begun carrying these new figures.

Marty Abrams and his team have once again churned out an impressive selection of beautifully crafted pieces from a wide variety of major licenses – this time under the slightly tweaked moniker of Marty Abrams Presents MEGO. However, this doesn’t mean that they’re simply rehashing the same old toys as back in the day. 

No sir, not by a longshot!

The “New” MEGO

Sure, there are some old favorites that fans are certain to remember from back in the day. Batman. Captain James T. Kirk. Joe Namath. However, in this new age of toy collecting, MEGO has also flushed out their selection with several new entries that were previously never offered as one of their beloved action figures.

New Star Trek Mego Figures

From Jimi Hendrix to The Creature From The Black Lagoon, MEGO is now offering a slew of brand new pieces that are seeing the light of day for the first time in history. Each as exquisitely crafted as any modern era action figure from the likes of Hasbro, Mattel, or Diamond Select Toys.

And, these new figures are not just limited to the classic IP’s that predate the early 1980’s. Many modern era properties are also present on the pegs and brandishing the MEGO logo with a sense of unabashed pride! 

Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Data. Khan. Saru. Captain Christopher Pike. Ultraman. The Fly. Gene Simmons. Stan Lee. Teen Wolf. And, this is just the beginning! The top of the proverbial iceberg. 

Not enough? Well, the artisans at MEGO have also gone back to the drawing board as it were to redesign some of their more classic figures with a much more screen accurate appearance.

Does anyone remember the original Gorn from the Star Trek Aliens line? Yeah, you know the one! The dull brown lizard with the body of an ape and the attire of a classic era Klingon? Yeah, that Gorn. The one that looked nothing like the iconic reptilian warrior featured in one of the most memorable Star Trek episodes of all time.

For years, fans had hoped to see a new MEGO version released that better resembled the classically cold-blooded foe. And now, nearly a decade after Diamond Select Toys took an impressive crack at the classic critter, they finally have it!

This new version gives the character a complete and total overhaul, with a more accurate appearance and glow in the dark accents for some added toyetic appeal!

This isn’t your daddy’s Gorn!

Mego Toy Battle

Sure, he still features some very puzzling accessories in the form of a bright red phaser and communicator, but the new figure is so great that there is no doubt longtime fans and collectors will be more than willing to let these two small details slide to the side.  

Whether you’re looking for a classic piece you remember from your childhood or something new that is being offered in the line for the very first time, there is no denying that it is a very exciting time to be a MEGO fan once more! And, in this day and age, why shouldn’t that be the case?

It’s All About Timing!

We are living within the golden age of toy collecting which, when coupled with the massive power of nostalgia, has allowed for some of the biggest names in the industry to return to store shelves in new and unprecedented ways.

Sure, the stores nowadays seem crammed with everything ranging from Roblox to RoboSapien – but that is in addition to a near swirling whirlpool of classically based brands that constantly look to clog the pegs.

Transformers. Star Wars. G.I. Joe. Micro Machines, Hot Wheels. Barbie. LEGO. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Alien. Predator. Godzilla. King Kong. Jurassic Park. Bucky O’Hare. Matchbox. DC. Marvel. Power Rangers. Masters Of The Universe. My Little Pony. Strawberry Shortcake. Hello Kitty. Polly Pocket. These timeless brands continue to be ever-present atop the pop culture landscape with new and exciting additions being released to each one on a near-weekly basis. 

This really shouldn’t come as that big of a surprise. After all, the majority of toy buyers nowadays are adults. Now, that’s not to say that today’s kids don’t play with toys. My daughter loves her LOL Dolls, and my nephew has always loved Star Wars. However, when it comes down to it, there is no denying that iPads and iPhones have taken the place of plastic and rubber during the majority of playtime. 

That being said, it is the adults who are now supporting the majority of the toy industry – men and women who spent the Saturday mornings of their youth with the likes of Optimus Prime and Jem, and who look to these beloved brands of yesteryear to help them reclaim a small piece of the childhood now far behind.

It is here where we find fans and collectors tirelessly scouring stores and combing through cyberspace in search of their beloved plastic heroes – a place where the relaunched MEGO brand now calls home and looks to show the world that everything old really is new again!

While there may have been a time when it looked as though the story was over for the Abrams family and their beloved company, MEGO has defied all odds and risen from the ashes of what was to soar like the Phoenix with such big names as Hasbro, Mattel, LEGO, and The Pokémon Company in a marketplace where the collector is now the king!

The Hero Has Returned. The Terminator is Back! 

And now, the quest begins anew. 

How will the hero emerge in the end? We can’t say for sure. However, come what may, one thing is for certain – it sure is great to have MEGO back at retail and specialty stores once more! 

Yes, Make Mine MEGO…Again!

Special thanks to my friends at MEGO and Frank Wojo of Absolutely Retro for helping make this latest article possible.

What do you think?

Written by John

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