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Book Review: Mego Action Figure Toys

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Book Review: Mego Action Figure Toys
Copyright Schiffer Books

Just Look It Up!

Being a successful collector, whether you measure success by how much profit you can make in the collectible market or by how much personal enjoyment you get out of your collection, means doing the proper research. The more you know about action figures the faster you can become a smart collector, and it's smart collectors that end up with valuable and personally enjoyable collections.

Some of the best tools in a smart collector's toolkit are books and price guides. Action figure books often give an insightful look into the history of an action figure line or its parent company, and these details can make you an extremely smart collector indeed. Not sure if a figure is an original 12" G.I. Joe? Thanks to the proper research, you now know to check his left thumbnail. Price guides add another skill to the collector's arsenal, the ability to accurately gauge the current market value of a figure and adjust it to that particular figure's condition. This ability, with the help of well-researched price guides, can save you money and hopefully teach you to spot a great deal a mile away.

The Mego Action Figure Toys Book & Price Guide

There have been countless action figure price guides released since action figures rose to the level of legitimate collectible, but most of them were an all-purpose action figure guide, covering everything from Kenner, to Mattel, to Hasbro, to any other company that ever produced a posable figure between 3 3/4" - 12". These books are great for getting a quick education in all things action figures, but a serious collector, perhaps of a specific brand of figures, would do well with a book that possesses a more specific focus.

Such is the case with John Bonavita's Mego Action Figure Toys from Schiffer Books. Bonavita's book deals only with Mego action figures during the toy company's heyday as the action figure world's reining kings from 1971-'83. The last revised edition of this book was released in 2000, making its price guide section quite outdated, however, it's the vast collection of color photographs of hard-to-find Mego action figures along with tantalizing peeks at the seminal toy company's past that make this book worth picking up.

Bonavita lets loose such interesting tidbits as:

  • Mego President, Martin B. Abrams once spent $50,000 on a party designed to launch their new Wizard of Oz action figure line.
  • The name "Mego" comes from Martin's younger brother, Howard, who, as a child, upon seeing his father (founder of Mego Toys, David Abrams) leaving for another business trip, would reach out and say, "Me go too!"
  • Mego often began working on action figure lines that would get scrapped at the last minute, leaving the action figure collecting world wondering what it would have been like to have action figures based on such pop culture characters as The Green Hornet, The Phantom, Kung Fu, Land of the Lost and the hit movie Grease.
  • Mego was approached by 20th Century Fox in 1977 and offered the rights to produce a line of figures and toys based on a new science-fiction space-opera called Star Wars. Mego predicted the movie, written and directed by a little-known director named George Lucas, would flop and declined the offer, thus planting the seed for their own inevitable downfall due to Kenner's Star Wars action figure line practically redefining the action figure standards for years to come and practically single-handedly destroying Mego, who fizzled into bankruptcy by 1983.

Part Biography, Part Price Guide, Part "Wishbook"

Perhaps the most fun aspect of this book, like most other books detailing vintage action figures, is the time one could spend flipping through the price guide, looking at the full color photographs and mentally checking off the figures they would love to have in their collection while simultaneously slapping their foreheads in dismay at seeing how much a vintage action figure that they once tied firecrackers to as a kid is now worth.

One of the best features of Bonavita's Mego Action Figure Toys is that it is simply jam-packed with full color photos of practically the entire known run of Mego action figures. While the pictures are far from professional quality, collectors will appreciate them for what they are, serviceable documentation of collectibles that may have gone forgotten.

Most action figure price guides will contain a decent amount of pictures, but tend to be mostly in grainy black and white with a center section of color photos. Bonavita clearly knows action figure collectors well enough to give them what they want, tons of color photos.

You Learn Something New Every Day

Despite the value listings in the price guide section of the book being a little out-of-date, the book as a whole still holds up as an excellent addition to any collector's reference library. Well, any collector interested specifically in Mego action figures, anyway. Even if you think you're pretty well versed in action figure lore, this book may still surprise you, with such revealing additions as a small color photo of a backing card for a proposed 3 3/4" Thundarr the Barbarian action figure line that was never produced.

This humble little book may not be the slickest production, but it was clearly assembled through years of dedicated research by a person who truly loves the subject matter and this clearly shines through.

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