For this installment, I’ll be skipping back to the mid 1970s, which is pretty appropriate considering this blog. Like many of you, I grew up in what was a golden age of action figures, the Mego era.
We 70s kids had an amazing breadth of licensed characters and they were mostly all in the same scale. Sure, 60s kids had Captain Action and GI Joe, which are awesome but could they team up Starsky and Davey Crockett to battle the collaborations of Dracula and Dr Zaius?
I rest my case.
The biggest toy line for me at the time was the Mego World’s Greatest Superheroes line, I dreamt of all the ancillary characters on the sides of the boxes and in the comic ads. My “collection” at the time consisted mainly of the “A list” characters as they were the easiest found in my neck of the woods. I didn’t see some of the other characters until I became a toy collector.
The figures I truly coveted, more than anything, were the Supergals, primarily Batgirl and Supergirl. I at the time, didn’t know why they made my six year old heart flutter but I frantically searched each time we went to the mall or Woolco.
Around this time, an “incident” occurred. I turned six and had the standard party, which likely consisted of hot dogs, a home made cake (I think one of these) and a couple of hours playing in my room with school friends who didn’t normally come over.
While digging through my toy drawers one of my guests looked up and said “Why do you have Barbies?”. I totally panicked, I had forgotten that there were a handful of Barbie dolls in my mix and quickly replied “Oh my sister put those there!”.
That statement was entirely true.
My sister was something of a Tomboy and also five years my senior, her Barbie phase was a passing fancy and one I relished, as I followed her around with my Big Jim camper for a few weeks.
When she was done with them, they were just got absorbed into my stuff. Barbie’s were pretty good extras or fill ins for the Super gals and their feet were delicious (I had a “chew on things” habit as a kid/grown man) so it really didn’t matter to me.
I just never factored in that this might turn into one of those playground rumours that haunted you for the rest of your life. Like the kid who got caught picking his nose and eating it in kindergarten. That guy delivered a pizza to my house when I was in college and I remember thinking “hope he didn't touch it”. That's some powerful social glue.
My claims were met with a sort of “uh-hunh” from my friends and let go. I skirted becoming the pariah of the school yard through some sort of distraction.
A few months later, probably March of 1977, I found myself at the mall with both my Mother and my Grandmother. There is a certain confidence to this combination in the fact that I know I’m going to get a toy.
In the middle of the mall was Dominion Playworld, while it’s name conjures up nothing but terrible blandness, it was in fact, an orange and brown wonderland of toy goodness.
It was also an oasis, before you got there you had to trudge through the clothing departments of both “Simpson’s-Sears” and “Eaton’s”, not to mention a good hour in “Marks and Spencer”. I did all of this with a smile knowing that toy heaven was around the corner.
When we finally got there, I was surprised by an end cap of Mego Superheroes on cards! I’d never seen anything but boxed superheroes prior to this. I could barely contain myself when I saw her on the front of the row, Mego-freakin-Supergirl in all her glory.
With cat like reflexes, I snapped her up and ran to my grandmother who didn’t put up any sort of fight. We headed for the check out aisle.
Then reality came crashing down. What if I was caught with a girl doll? What was I doing? I kept revisiting that moment in time over and over again. Which was stupid, my only friend on the street didn’t go to my school, nor did he judge me. I could have gotten away with this but alas, hindsight is 20/20.
I put her down and swapped her for the closest thing, Doctor McCoy from Star Trek. Yes, I switched the most beautiful woman I’d seen at that point for delicious ol' Deforrest Kelly, it’s true. As fun as “bones” was (and I still have him to this day), I felt like a coward.
This process would be regularly repeated with a Catwoman doll at the Pinocchio’s toys in the midtown mall for the next two years, psyching myself up to buy her and chickening out time and time again.
Supergirl was never to be seen again, Dominion Playworld would take a serious slide in “Mego Quality” by 1978, only ever carrying Hulk and Spider-Man, which now came on cards that only showed Hulk and Spider-Man.
By the end of the decade, the only Mego you could buy there were the dusty, unsold stacks of “Superman’s arch enemy” Mr Myxiswhatshisname. I broke down and bought one right after seeing “Superman 2”, probably my first nostalgic toy purchase.
In 1978, Star Wars took over the culture and I vividly remember showing off my Princess Leia figure to friendsat school, the only thing I heard was “cool”. The stigma had been removed and I owned every Leia, Kate McCrae and "bald lady from Star Trek" that the toy world had to offer....