Back before Kenner ruled the toy aisles with Star Wars, and prior to the battle for dominion of childhood imagination waged by He-Man, Optimus Prime and Cobra Commander, it was Mego action figures that owned the national (and international) playtime. While Mego’s action figures came in many scales, it was their 8-inch line that was most popular and let kids instigate crossovers with the likes of Captain Kirk and the Fonz. Mego gobbled up toy licenses for popular favorites like DC and Marvel comic book heroes, but also had an in-depth catalogue of traditional heroes like cowboys and King Arthur’s knights.
10) Dr. Kromedome
Mego reportedly created this 12-inch baddie as a kind-of unofficial addition to Kenner’s Six Million Dollar Man toyline. Yeah, remember that episode where Steve Austin fought the bastard son of Magneto and Seven-Of-Nine who had pursued his destiny in community college Shakespearian theater before stumbling into a life of crime? Hell if we do since that show was before our time, but this figure sure doesn’t want to make us get our bionic fix on Netflix.
9) Captain Patch
Mego put together some great representations of historical and fictional legends in its 8-inch collection, like Sir Launcelot, Robin Hood, Davey Crockett, Sitting Bull and pirates like Blackbeard and Little John Silver. But out of his element among these icons is Captain Patch, a Mego original wearing dayglo pirate duds who looks like he swashbuckled his way out of an episode of Strawberry Shortcake.
8) Isis, The Secret of Isis
This selection is probably based more on hindsight than insight of the time in which this toy was released. Mego produced a nice selection of Marvel and DC characters in its 8-inch World’s Greatest Super Heroes toyline during the 1970s, putting the likes of Batman and Spider-Man together under one banner. Most of the big guns were included, but the oddball out to modern eyes is the now mostly-forgotten Isis, based on her live-action TV show, The Secrets of Isis. While that might seem like a show that bombed harder than a YouTube musical sensation on SNL, the truth is that it lasted two seasons and crossed over with the more popular Shazam! Looking back, though, Isis seems like a wasted spot that could have been utilized for a more mainstream character. She didn’t fit in with the other household names in the collection, and was downright frightening with her gigantic, Sinestro-like forehead. Even worse, she eventually replaced Wonder Woman in the case assortments! Chalk it up to temporary Isis fever.
7) Ralph Malph and Potsie (tie), Happy Days
What kid in the 1970s didn’t want an action figure of the Fonz, complete with thumbs-up-flipping action?! And how cool would it be to have his motorcycle and hotrod, and a whole garage in which the Fonz could soup them up? Awesome! And how cool would it be to have his best bud, Richie Cunningham, at his side? Uh, alright, I suppose, sure. And how about Richie’s buddies Ralph and Potsie, to hang around and be annoying and probably break stuff in the garage? Uhh, no thanks. Oh god, wait, did I just get two Potsie action figures at my birthday party? Nooooo!!!!!!… Look, what was Mego going for? The adult collector action figure market of 1977 that wanted the complete cast of Happy Days standing proudly on its bookshelf? Or did two nerdy teens from 1950s Milwaukee really fire up kids’ imaginations?
6) Captain Doby, Starsky and Hutch
There was a funny moment in The 40-Year-Old Virgin when Andy’s friends realize his toy collection is so large, comprehensive and yes, sad, that he even has a figure of Oscar Goldman, the Six Million Dollar Man’s boss. Steve Austin himself was the star of that toyline and the not-so-action-figure of the middle-aged man giving him orders seemed a bit… inconsequential and unexciting. While the Mego-like Six Million Dollar Man toyline was produced by Kenner, Mego itself also went this very thorough route in its character selection. Detectives Starsky and Hutch got the 8-inch action figure treatment from Mego, as did their badass Ford Torino for recreating some wah-wah pedal-scored car chases. But you could also get their boss, Captain Doby, a middle-aged man in a denim leisure suit who filled out Starsky and Hutch’s performance reviews. Exhilarating.
5) Mugato, Star Trek
The original Star Trek series had many memorable aliens, and one of the most iconic creatures was an albino ape with a giant horn on its head called the Mugato. When Mego acquired the license to produce Star Trek toys, it created an 8-inch line that became a true classic and was even reproduced mostly in its entirety recently by EMCE Toys. The Enterprise crew and most of the aliens like the Romulan and the Klingon designed by Mego looked very close to their TV counterparts. A few of the aliens, though, not so much. The Gorn, for example went from being a lumbering green lizard in a leopard-print toga on the show to a brown reptile who shared a head with the Lizard from Spider-Man and wore a Klingon outfit in action figure form. He was still a good toy despite the inaccuracies, but we can’t say the same for the Mugato. First of all, here is what the Mugato looked like on Star Trek:
And here, dear lord, is what Mego came up with:
Somehow, the Mugato went from being an imposing, venomous monster that tried to kill Captain Kirk to a groovy dude who’d rather help Kirk “stay alive” by dancin’ up that funky disco beat. Disco Mugato pounces onto your eyeballs with a stylish green tunic and clashing red bell-bottoms, both adorned with frilly white yarn that may or may not be his body hair. This figure couldn’t have been much fun unless kids wanted to relive that time Scotty beamed down to the Planet of the Lounge Lizards.
4) Comic Action Hero Wonder Woman, Version 1
Perhaps we should he happy that Mego included a Wonder Woman figure at all in its 1976 series of 3 ?-inch Comic Action Heroes, instead of worrying that boys wouldn’t want a girl on Batman’s team or something sexist like that. But perhaps Mego was trying to fool boys, anyway, as the Wonder Woman they produced looked like Bruce Wayne in drag. Seriously, take a look at the mug above (at right) and tell us you didn’t just crap yourself in terror. What kid would want to go anywhere near this figure? Thankfully, Mego corrected this monstrous sculpting mistake with a much-less manly noggin (at left) as a running change.
3) Grandma Walton, The Waltons
Really, every figure from The Waltons toyline should be included here, unless there’s some excitement to be had with a family of six plainclothes farmers depicted in 8-inch action figure form that we’re unaware of. Okay, even if Mego was able to pass these off as dolls to little girls, were even they interested in a Grandma Walton action figure? It’s one thing to buy an action figure of a senior citizen when he is Grand Moff of the Galactic Empire, another when she’s organist for Sunday mass at the local church. Grandma does get a bonus point here, though, for being utilized as Aunt May in the GREATLY-missed Twisted Toyfare Theater.
2) Coy and Vance Duke, The Dukes of Hazzard
This is just all wrong. When Tom Wopat and John Schneider walked off the Dukes of Hazzard set over a contract dispute (which reportedly might have had something to do with merchandising rights that involved a certain action figure company), it deprived viewers of almost a whole season of Bo and Luke. In their place, the show introduced two lookalike Duke boys named Coy and Vance that viewers pretty much reviled and were swept under the rug upon the glorious return of the original Duke cousins. Mego, who had the Dukes of Hazzard license and did not want to miss out on the sure-to-be-hot Coy and Vance market, immediately reacted by creating figures of the new Dukes and releasing the 8-inch versions in the same clothes as Bo and Luke, and on cards labeling them as Bo and Luke. So, uh, what was the point? Oh yes, likeness rights or some legal crap like that. But it doesn’t matter, since the production of lame Dukes Coy and Vance wasn’t the biggest problem. The real sin is that the 8-inch Dukes of Hazzard series NEVER HAD A GENERAL LEE! What the hell, Mego?!?! It’s a show about two good ol’ boys outracing the law in an orange Dodge Charger; that’s the whole point. It’s inane to release an extensive series of Dukes of Hazzard figures and not give them the star of the show to ride around in. I mean, besides the Daisy Duke figure. Zing!
1) The Love Boat
We had to include this whole toyline, because the enthusiasm Mego displayed in providing kids a complete Love Boat play experience was terrifyingly commendable. It’s like staring in awe at the RV your neighbor has adorned bumper-to-bumper with glued-on bottlecaps, of which he has spent decades collecting, Heineken by Heineken, with this singular goal in mind. It’s quite the achievement, but WHY?? Keep in mind that while Love Boat might have been a fun night of harmless, wacky entertainment, The A-Team it was not. Whereas other toy companies of the era would have been content reusing an old mold for a wind-up battleship, casting it in cheap white plastic and slapping a Love Boat sticker on the side, Mego had a grander scheme in mind. What they painstakingly recreated was the complete crew of our stalwart vessel in articulated, 3-inch, ready-for-(love?)-action form. And stores sold them individually carded on the same pegs that would normally be reserved for the likes of Duke and Serpentor. All your favorites were there, like Captain Stubing, Gopher, Doc and the bartender, Isaac. Even Julie and Vicki got the plastic treatment. Sadly, the toyline did not last long enough to provide a figure of “Ace” Covington Evans as played by Ted McGinley, giving kids a toy that could literally stand completely in the shadow of Mego’s 8-inch Richie Cunningham from its Happy Days line. But wait, that’s not all!