In the '70s, young boys all across America played with dolls. The term "action figure," coined by Hasbro in 1964 to market its G.I. Joe line of dolls made for boys, hadn't yet come into universal use. So the plastic figures that came dressed in removable cloth costumes with plastic boots and gloves were still technically dolls. Well, after a long day of beating up bad guys, of course. Dolls developed to market to boys in the '60s and ‘70s were cool and they're still cool today -- you can admit it, we won't tell anyone.
All kidding aside, among the coolest boy-centric dolls from that early time in action figure history are those that were produced by the Mego Corporation. In 1972, following the lead of Hasbro’s G.I. Joe toyline, Mego famously began releasing action figures like the long-running "World's Greatest Super-Heroes" toyline. Based on the colorful heroes and villains of DC and Marvel Comics, these toys looked as though they’d leapt from the pages of comics and TV shows and into whatever adventures young kids could imagine. Today these toys are extremely valuable collector’s items and we’ve assembled a spine-tingling list of the 15 most expensive Mego toys ever.
And by “most expensive ever" we actually mean “most expensive right now." After the release of modern day knockoffs a few years ago, the prices have dropped considerably on vintage Mego Superheroes. A decade or two ago, collectors nearly had to take out a second mortgage on their house to complete their collections. Of course, there are still some really expensive figures (you may need an inhaler when get down to number one), but the prices today are pretty swell if you’re in the market for classic Mego Superheroes.
One of the least expensive of the expensive figures is Superman. Along with Aquaman, Batman and Robin, “Supes” was one of the earliest releases in the toyline, and probably more common, being that he was DC’s most popular character. Superman figures in the early window box packaging from 1973 can be had for the “lowish” price of $314.
14 IRON MAN
Released in 1974, the Iron Man figure is considered by many to represent a quality benchmark for Mego. In addition to a more serious attempt to capture a likeness of the character -- whose mask often showed something of a nose in the Iron Man comics of the '70s -- this figure also featured fist-shaped gloves, molded shoulders, neckline details (as seen in the comics) and a sewn own miniature chest plate, the crucial device that keeps the injured heart of the millionaire playboy Tony Stark beating.
Produced along with Iron Man in this particular wave of "World's Greatest Super-Heroes" figures were the Hulk, Tarzan and Falcon. In 1974, in addition to the standard window box packaging, Mego also began using the standard blister card packaging, but finding Iron Man on a blister card is nearly impossible! An Iron Man figure still in its original box sold recently for $389.
13 HUMAN TORCH
The year of 1976 saw the release of six new figures into Mego's World's Greatest Super-Heroes toyline. Among these was the Mighty Thor, Conan the Barbarian and Fantastic Four members Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Girl, The Thing and the Human Torch. At the time of this assortment’s release, Mego was at its zenith and the toys included in this wave reflect that high point in terms of the excellent production value.
The Human Torch was always one of the most popular characters in the Fantastic Four, second only to Ben Grimm, and Mego did a good job trying to replicate the character’s “hot-headed” aesthetic, as seen in the pages of Marvel Comics. Like his peers, the Torch figure was released in both window box packaging and on carded blister packs, but the latter is the most common. A MOC (“mint on card”) Human Torch recently sold at auction for $400.
12 GREEN GOBLIN
Unlike their assortment of 17 different figures based on the heroes found in the pages of DC Comics, the smaller 13 character Marvel Comics assortment only featured two villains, both of whom came from the pages of Amazing Spider-Man. These characters were the Lizard and Spidey’s archenemy the Green Goblin.
Released in 1974, the Green Goblin is one of the most difficult to find of the WGSH figures in that this particular character, along with Iron Man, was dropped from the line after this assortment. But he's well worth hunting down for the hardcore Spider-Man collector. The character was packaged in both window box and blister cards, but examples of the latter are almost impossible to find. A minty fresh Green Goblin figure still in its original box will cost you about $450.
The popularity of the vine-swinging Tarzan “Lord of the Jungle” actually predates comic books by nearly three decades. The character first appeared in 1912 in the novel Tarzan of the Apes and has maintained a presence on the pop culture landscape ever since. While he may seem like an odd inclusion in Mego’s World’s Greatest Super-Heroes toyline today, back in 1972, DC purchased a license to use the character in comics and the Tarzan toy produced by Mego coincided with DC’s Tarzan comic book published from 1972 to 1977.
Mego’s Tarzan would appear in their 1974 assortment and was sold in a variety of package types offered by Mego over the two years the figure was produced. One of the most popular packaging types, known as the “Kresge card,” was produced exclusively for the Kresge department store. A Tarzan on this blister pack card recently commanded a price of $460.
Not very long after his first appearance in 1940 in the pages of Whiz Comics #1, the Fawcett Comics character Captain Marvel (aka Shazam) outsold every other superhero comic on the newsstand, including rival DC comics character Superman. In 1954, Fawcett fell on hard times due to a lawsuit filed against them and won by DC, and the beloved "big red cheese" faded into obscurity. Two decades later, DC acquired the rights the character and launched a comic books series in 1973, reintroducing the newly dubbed “Shazam” (the magic word Billy Batson uses become Captain Marvel) to a new generation of fans.
Fittingly, this character would enjoy an appearance in Mego's World's Greatest Super-Heroes line. Their Shazam figure helped to comprise the first assortment of figures in 1974 along with Superman, Batman, Robin, Aquaman and Green Arrow. A mint condition figure in the original box goes for $500.
9 THE JOKER
Recognizing the popularity of both heroes and villains in 1966’s live-action Batman TV show, Mego's WGSH toyline featured four of Batman’s best-known villains. The figures included were the Penguin, the Riddler, Catwoman and the Clown Prince of Crime himself, The Joker. In addition to those four, the Superman villain Mr. Mxyzptlk (whose name is as difficult to pronounce as it looks) was also produced.
The Joker was released in a 1974 assortment that featured only three of his fellow "Super Foes" (Catwoman followed in a subsequent set of female characters) and he is, aesthetically, one of the most outstanding figures in the entire line. From his green hair and purple waistcoat right down to his pinstriped pants and brown lace-up loafers, this figure is a winning example of this popular Batman villain. And in the original box, a Joker figure recently sold for $787.
Aquaman has been a popular presence in the pages of DC comics since the time of his first appearance way back in 1941 in the pages of More Fun Comics #73. On television, he became a Saturday morning staple as early as 1967, as a part of the Filmation’s now little known cartoon show The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure. In 1973, Aquaman was a part of the Saturday morning cartoon line up once again with the Hanna Barbera cartoon series The Super Friends. So this character was one of the most logical inclusions in Mego’s WGSH toyline.
In 1973, the Mego Aquaman made his debut on toy store shelves along with Superman, Batman, Robin, Green Arrow and Shazam. Mint on card Aquaman figures are super hard to find but an Aquaman figure in the original box sold at auction recently for $836.
Two years after she was given her very own DC Comics comic book series bearing her name in the fall of 1972, Supergirl also made her debut in Mego's 1974 "Supergals" assortment. Also included in this line, devoted to four different female characters, were the previously mentioned Catwoman, Wonder Woman and Supergirl's fellow teen hero -- who she’s often appeared with in comics -- Batgirl.
Over the course of her production, Supergirl figures were found on store shelves across America in both the standard window box and also two different blister pack types, including the previously discussed Kresge Department Store exclusive. While mint condition Supergirl figures, even out of the package, can go for several hundreds of dollars, a factory sealed figure packaged on the highly desired Kresge card recently sold at auction for $867.
Speaking of Supergirl's partner in crime fighting, Batgirl (as mentioned) was also included in 1974's “Supergals” wave, along with the Batman villain Catwoman and the Amazon superhero Wonder Woman. Batgirl, however, has proven to be the most desirable figure of the four released in this particular line. Like the earliest Batman and Robin figures released by Mego, the Batgirl figure featured a removable cowl, and while her cowl (or helmet) is removable, her facemask is painted on. Batgirl's costume (directly based on her first appearance in comics on the cover of Detective Comics #359) is accented with a blue cape, a gold “bat belt,” a gold hip purse and matching "bat boots."
And whether boxed on a blister card, this highly desired figure always commands big money. A Mego Batgirl in the original window box packaging recently sold at auction for a whopping $1,010.00 bat-bucks.
5 CAPTAIN AMERICA
Along with Spider-Man, the Marvel Comics character Captain America was released into Mego's WGSH toyline in the fall of 1973. From the time of his early introduction into the toyline, this figure proved to one of the most enduring Marvel figure produced by Mego. In fact, a Captain America figure was included in every World's Greatest Super-Hero assortment from 1973 until the end of the toyline in 1982 -- an impressive nine year run. And Captain America is still one of the most sought after Mego figures today.
Considering his lasting presence in the toyline’s production, Captain America figures still in their original factory sealed packaging fetch big bucks. The Kresge Department Store exclusive cards, as mentioned throughout this post, are still the most desirable to many collectors. A minty fresh Cap figure on a Kresge card sold recently for $1,052.
4 THE RIDDLER
From an historical angle in comics, the Batman villain known as the Riddler was never very high up on the list of the best villains in the Caped Crusader's Rogues Gallery. But the portrayal of this character by actor Frank Gorshin on the 1966 Batman TV show made the Riddler the unforgettable icon that he remains to this day. In recognition of his later popularity, Mego's Riddler figure was introduced along with the Joker, the Penguin and the Superman villain Mr. Mxyzptlk in 1974’s “Super Foes” assortment
Packed at about three pieces per boxed assortment, the Ridder is among the rarest of the Batman villains and naturally commands the highest price of any of the non-superhero characters in the WGSH toyline. At auction recently, a Mego Riddler figure packed on the normal blister pack sold at auction for a not-so-puzzling $1,250.
Alongside Captain America, Mego's Spider-Man figure was introduced into the World’s Greatest Super-Hero toyline in the fall of 1973. Both of these Marvel characters were hastily added to the toyline after a DC only launch of the first four comic book heroes. Spider-Man, while not in the top spot of this list of the 15 most expensive Mego figures, has proven to date to be Marvel's most popular and thus best-selling character. And he’s also arguably the best-selling WGSH figure of all time.
Like fellow Marvel character Captain America, Spidey also has the distinction of being in every superhero line produced by Mego from 1973 to 1982. And like Cap, Spidey figures in their original packaging snare the big bucks, with the Kresge exclusive packaging being the most desired. A MOC Spider-Man in the Kresge store packaging recently sold at auction for an “amazing” $1,431.
Even more amazing is the desire for the early Mego Batman figure released in 1973. Alongside his loyal sidekick Robin and best bud Superman, these three figures were mainstays in the toyline from the time of its introduction until the end in 1982. And since his first appearance in Detective Comics #1 in 1940, Batman has been popular and his campy 1966 TV show catapulted the character to even higher levels of popularity. Propped up by a colorful cast of heroes and villains, the favor of Batman in late 20th century pop culture was fully represented in Mego’s WGSH toyline.
Like the later Batgirl figure, the first Mego Batman featured a removable cowl and is the oldest and the most desired of the Batman figures. Especially desired, however, is the Kresge Department Store exclusive. A minty fresh Batman on a Kresge card sold recently at auction for a bat-tastic $4,627.
The original Robin the Boy Wonder figure released by Mego in 1973, which featured a removable mask before the painted on facemask became standard, is presently the most desired and, thus, most expensive figure in Mego's World's Greatest Super-Heroes toyline. Like Batman and Superman, Robin figures were produced throughout the entirely of this superhero toyline’s existence from early in 1973 until sometime in 1982. Its previous ubiquity however hasn't in any way hampered this figure's desirability among collectors today.
Aside from the standard 8-inch Mego figures, 9-inch, 12-inch Robin figures were also produced and all can be found among the most expensive Mego Superhero figures. But the highly sought after Kresge cards are still at the top of the list for collectors and a removable mask Robin on a Kresge Department Store card recently sold at auction for an astonishing $7,357. Holy most expensive toys ever, Batman!
Did you own any Mego action figures? Let us know in the comments!