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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Mego 8" Super-Heroes: World's Greatest Toys! - 2007

sgMost of you reading this are already familiar with this book--it's been a long time coming and every Mego fan has been anxiously awaiting its release.

It's my pal Ben Holcomb's giant-sized, full-color tribute to Mego Toys' classic "World's Greatest Super-Heroes" 8" action figure line, which of course counted Aquaman as one of its inaugural efforts.

My copy arrived on my doorstep yesterday, and my original plan was to wait until Saturday to sit down and dip into it, but as it sat there on my art table it called out to me and I just couldn't resist.

sgAfter reading the first twenty pages or so, I brought it with me to bed and a few hours later, I found myself hitting the back cover--I had finished the entire book, mostly in one sitting. I kept telling myself "just one more character", later "just one more chapter", then "just one more year" until I realized I simply couldn't put it down.

To say this book is fun is to understate the word. First up, the presentation is nigh-perfect: big, glossy, and easy to read. The design is flawless; these toys *pop* off the pages and I bet if you handed this book to a kid who's never seen Megos you'd create a new fan within an hour. So many books about toy lines are dry, text-laden treatises that do nothing to get across why these toys(whatever they are) are so fun and cool; this book upends that and makes the Megos look as exciting as they did in those Mego catalogs that all of us drooled over as children.

The writing is detailed yet breezy; even though the detail is exhausting(an examination of the different kinds of costume fasteners?!) it never reads as boring. And even if loads of detail on the costumes and accessories don't thrill you, the book also provides a year-to-year history of the Mego company, and Ben finds some amazing quotes from former employees and little bits of arcana that I simply can't believe are still around(cancelled royalty checks?!). I've read history books that aren't this well-researched.

Plus, Ben throws in some details on the toy biz at that time that I never knew before, like how most department stores only maintained toy aisles near Christmas until the late 70s, and other nitty-gritty of the toy industry that have such an effect on what you eventually see on your local store shelves. It makes for fascinating reading, and is a great bonus to all the fun Mego goodness.

sgOf course, Aquaman and Mego's histories are intertwined; he was one of Mego's first four WGSH figures, and Aquaman's simplicity of design and high pop-culture awareness afforded Mego a(relatively) easily figure to execute and promote; in turn, he was again at the ground floor of a soon-to-be hugely popular part of pop culture.

While never a good seller, Mego's Aquaman hung in there(even getting his own, now-impossible-to-find playset!), and he's one of the easier Megos to find today. I distinctly remember having an Aquaman doll as a kid, and seeing all these photos--glorious in their bright, cheery colors--was a trip back in time.

I'm more than happy to be a shill for something I like, and I liked this book, a lot. Ben's achievement--from initial idea to a fully-realized book you can hold in your hands--is awesome, and maybe one day I'll be capable of such a feat. Ben's book is an inspiration. I recommend it anyone who loves these wonderful toys, and you can order it via Amazon

In addition, we'll be doing an interview with Ben about the book here on the Shrine shortly. In Mego we go!


Damian said...

Awesome, I can't wait to get my hands on it.

Anything in there about why they didn't just stick a lil Atom Mego in there on Arthur or Superman's shoulder?! Never mind, never mind...

Anonymous said...

Wow, I didn't know this book existed! I think I have a new Wish List item....!

Anonymous said...

Camped out at my mailbox awaiting Amazon's delivery of this book. I got to see Benjamin's initial presentation for the book at MegoMeet 06 in WV, and I've been wishing for it to come ever since!

Rob, you big tease, you didn't explain Franken-Aquaman to the uninitiated!


Plaidstallions said...

It is an addictive read, when I first got mine I was with my two year old daughter who would not leave my side.
I had to endure the constant question of "Who's that?" while reading, including "Is that Aquaman? Aquaman?.......Aquaman?"

It's the best toy book I own.

Anonymous said...

As a long-time Mego Guy, I know this book was a LONG time coming - salute, Ben!!!

Happy Holidays, all,
-Craig W.

Anonymous said...

ordered mine last night, should be here soon, can't wait to read about my personal favorite wave of figure, lizard, iron man, falcon, thor-that was the ultimate MEGO memory for me when i was a kid.

dusty abell

rob! said...

>>Rob, you big tease, you didn't explain Franken-Aquaman to the uninitiated!<<

i wanted to leave some stuff so people could enjoy the feeling of discovery!

Anonymous said...

I'd be remiss if I didn't recommend any Mego fans checking out the fantastic Mego Museum website, curated by the Plaid Stallion up above. It is THE place for Mego info on the web, and Worlds' Greatest Toys author Benjamin Holcomb is a friend and contributor to the site.