Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Mego Museum Spotlight on CB McHaul

The Citizens Band Radio fad that swept across America in the Early seventies was a direct result of the gas shortages and the new 55mph speed limit.

America soon became smitten with the Trucker sub-culture and lingo.

Hollywood was quick to cash in with productions such as “Smokey and the Bandit” and “Handle with Care”. In 1975, AMT models released a novelty kit called “CB Freak, things seemed prime for a toy company to truly cash in on this line.

Mego in 1977 was a company on top of the world and known for dealing in popular culture, it was a natural fit. Mego introduced CB McHaul in 1977, the name was patterned after country musician C.W McCall, whose number one hit “Convoy” had become an anthem for the CB Craze.

The line had nine figures, split into three basic groups, the good guys, the bad guys and the Smokey’s. Each set of figures had their own unique vehicle and one playset, the filling station.

For the figures, Mego reused the three-inch body style of the comic action heroes. While eight-inch figures were still flourishing, mego knew three-inch was the best size for a line that was selling 18-wheelers. The packaging also harked back to the CAH line, blue cards with the figure standing on a base in the middle.

For the Good Guys there was CB McHaul, Kid Watts and Jim Oakes. The CB McHaul Rig contained an actual loudspeaker so you could loudly simulate CB jargon to your parent’s delight.

The Bad guys were Prof. Brain, Bad Leroy and Joe Marconi. The first two would later appear as villains in the Chips 3” line. (Jimmy Squeaks and Wheels Willie) Their black rig, the Bear Masher had a secret battering ram and a trap door compartment that could be used to kidnap unsuspecting victims.

The Police were the rotund Sgt. Brown, Scowling Jack Jones and Speed Johnson. These Smokey’s got a vintage Chevy police car (which came with Scowling jack Jones and Sgt. Brown), which was later reused, for the Dukes of Hazard and Chips lineups.

The line up was rounded out by the filling station playset which was thought to be a Sears exclusive, it has been found with Child World stickers recently.

There is rumour of a Wrecker vehicle but to this date, no sales have been reported.
Even with all the hype of the CB craze, the line was a disappointment. Buyers ordered lightly, the late Neal Kublan former VP of R&D explains: "Everybody thought that craze would really last but it really didn't, it was a passing fad. I think it lasted a year, those days you could get three out of a decent line."

It’s surprising that two years later Mego didn’t try to revamp the line for the emergence of the hit show “BJ and the Bear’ but it never came to be.

With the dawn of the Internet, more and more collectors are beginning to appreciate this once forgetten line, one of the biggest reasons is what a challenge it is to collect.

The Truck stop itself is one of the toughest pieces in the line. Loose CB McHaul figures are not very durable and are often found missing limbs. Packaged examples of the figures rarely surface and are considered very rare.

The Mego Museum has a forum called the Microverse, there you can discuss, buy, sell and trade Mego 3 3/4" figures.

Cool Custom of the Day

Bob has created a great looking Cyclops from the X-Men

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