In the 1970s the Mego toy company created an 8-inch line of action figures featuring actual clothing. The variety of figures available was stunning: characters from comic books (heroes and villains, from both DC and Marvel), movies (The Wizard of Oz, the Our Gang comedies), television (Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, the Waltons, Starsky and Hutch, CHiPS, the Dukes of Hazzard and Happy Days), Robin Hood, and historical figures (pirates, cowboys). I've collected many of them, but the ones I don't have are the very rare, expensive ones, so my Mego collecting days are probably over.
The Mego line consisted of three main body types: male, female, and stout male. This meant that the characters were all in scale with one another, and that costumes could be switched or new costumes made. It is quite common to find naked figures at flea markets and swap and shops; they can usually be picked up cheap for customization.
Here are some of my favorites, and more will be added as time permits.
The first picture shows the Wizard of Oz pleading a case before Glinda the Good. The Wicked Witch of the West is suing Dorothy Gale for malicious mischief, the deliberate throwing of water, and destruction of property, specifically a broomstick. Dorothy's witnesses, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman, and the Cowardly Lion, are lined up to defend her. The Witch's cousin, Grizelda Henbane, aka the Swamp Witch, waits to testify on her cousin's behalf. Two of Glinda's servitors (dressed in Emerald City green) stand by. And Toto, too.
This picture shows how easy customization can be. The servitors are Beau Duke and Green Arrow, in home-made green outfits. Green Arrow's mask has been painted out. Grizelda is a second Wicked Witch, but is wearing a Grandma Walton gown. The green chair and orb are additional Oz props from Mego, while Glinda's throne is from a Princess of Power set.
Here's a scene we never got to see: the crew of the Enterprise beams down on the Planet of the Apes.
Among the apes are Cornelius, Dr. Zaius, Zira, General Ursus, and some soldier apes. The Star Trek crew consists of Captain Kirk, Uhura, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, and Mr. Scott. In the background are two of the astronauts who crashed on the planet (one is hidden behind Mr. Spock). Also there is a girl, customized from a Dinah Mite figure.
Here's the Walton Family, at home on Walton's Mountain. It is the Great Depression, but this courageous and self-sufficient farm family is getting by.
When Mego made the Waltons, it included only the six adults, Grandma, Olivia, John, Grandpa, Mary-Ellen and John-Boy. I enhanced the family by adding three of the Our Gang kids: Porky, Darla and Alfalfa, plus a Little Orphan Annie which is not by Mego. Can you see Richard Thomas' (far right) characteristic mole? His hat is really neat, but it doesn't quite fit on his head. The furniture comes from a variety of sources, some of which I don't even know. Some of it is from the Sunshine Family.
This figure is Action Jackson, whom you might call the father of the line. Mego produced this character along with a large number of military, sports and adventure outfits sold separately. These outfits make it incredibly easy to customize, by putting specialized outfits on naked figures. (This figure is wearing the safari outfit, but with the wrong shoes.)
This is one of my favorite figures, not because I'm a big Superman fan, but for sentimental reasons. It was given to me in the Christmas of 1973 by Raleigh Woods. I always liked Raleigh, but he didn't much care for me, and always threatened to beat me up. One day I took off my glasses, set them aside, and told him, "I can't stop you if you want to try, but I'm tired of you talking about it. So if you want to do it, go ahead." And for some reason, we were buddies after that. Go figure.
Raleigh committed suicide the next year. Don't do drugs.
MORE TO COME!
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