Monday, February 05, 2007

Mego Museum Spotlight on Comic Action Heroes

In 1976 Mego owned the boys aisle with their 8" figure lines such as Planet of the Apes, Star Trek and the popular Worlds Greatest Superheroes series.
While an enormous success, the 8” action figures had some drawbacks, their $2.99 price point eliminated the “impulse buy’ factor and their size made making affordable play sets and vehicles difficult.

" Making accessories for an 8" figure was challenging due to the size. This was the main reason I pushed for the Comic Action Heroes." Claims former Mego Product Designer Vincent Baiera "There is quite a bit of difference cost-wise between a 5" batmobile and an 18" batmobile."

The figures often retailed for under a dollar and were posed in a crouching formation (no doubt to fit into their vehicles easier) with their own display stands.

Their hands were molded to hold weapons because unlike the Mego 8” line, these figures came with their trademark accessories. Now, Batman and Robin had their Bat ropes, Wonder Woman her Golden Lasso and Penguin his trademark Umbrella.

The carded packaging was similar to the Mego SS Kregse cards, tall and slim with the figure’s bubble in the middle. There are two US variants of these cards, one-character pictures on either side of the figure and the other doesn’t, it is assumed the latter was an earlier card.

Grand Toys of Canada produced two different card variations, Denys Fisher UK sold the figures on generic cards or in three packs which are very rare. In Germany the line is known as "Comic Super Helden" (Comic Super Heroes) and were sold in very rare baggies with header cards.

The Playsets

The memorable thing about the Comic Action Heroes is their playsets, which enabled a child to work out the scenes of a comic book adventure.

In an effort to keep things fun, Mego centered many of the playsets around “The Comic Activator” a large detonation device that would have looked at home in a Tom and Jerry Cartoon.

The Exploding Bridge with Batmobile: Will the Joker blow up the bridge while Batman and Robin are crossing? This set came with the bridge, Comic Activator, the Batmobile and Batman himself. Later sets included Joker, Penguin and Robin, this deluxe set is tough to find MIB.

Fortress of Solitude: Looking obviously the Hall of Justice from the “Superfriends” series, mego renamed this playset to not confuse it with the Hall of Justice from the 8” line. Perhaps the most popular playset, this beautiful piece has a chair for all the comic action heroes, a comic activator and Superman himself.

Exploding Tower with Invisible Jet: This set features not only Wonderwoman but Mego’s only attempt at her vehicle, the Invisible Jet. The jet features a removable canopy and a retractable rope ladder. This set has proven to be sought after by many Wonder Woman collectors.

The Mangler: The rarest piece and perhaps the most strange, the Mangler was a Marvel Heroes vehicle that looks similar to a Zamboni. When you place the Green Goblin in the Manglers “Mouth” a flattened cardboard Goblin appears at the other end.

Prototypes for a second Spiderman Playset (“The Exploding Skyscraper with Spider Car”) were shown but the piece was never released.

The Batcopter: This piece actually flew with the help of a pull cord, each Batcopter included a Batman figure. This was originally a piece from the Takara Microman series which Mego had used to create the Micronauts.

Mego Spider-car

Batmobile/ SpiderCar Gift sets: These very rare window boxed sets were offered throughout the lines run, the vehicle would come with three figures and often these figures would change.

Board game: UK distributor Denys Fisher created a board game to promote the line, the beautiful box art features the rarely seen Mr. Freeze and a rather loose interpretation of Shazam!

The Comic Action Heroes ran from 1976 until 1979 when Mego retooled them into the “Pocket Super Heroes” line.

A well respected and fun line to collect, Comic Action Heroes have a loyal following today and due to certain items being released in low numbers, can be a challenge to "collect 'em all"

Custom of the Day

"The Witch Doctor is really Mr Sims!" I can't think of anything more fun than these terrific Scooby Doo Customs.

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