Friday, November 20, 2015

He's a Rocker Dude with Attitude!!!

Yesterday I was searching Google for random pictures of male character dolls to see what I could find, and WOW!!! Did I ever find an awesome doll!!! Here he is....

This doll was made by doll artist Dalila Meece who specialises in fantasy themed dolls, most of which are male characters with long hair wearing a very detailed outfit of doll armour. 
Clearly Dalila Meece is quite an exceptional doll artist with a great deal of talent!

I completely freaked out when I saw this doll! I love it!! His attitude is captured perfectly and his outfit is so very cool!!! I want one of these dolls soooooo badly!!!! I've never seen a doll as awesome as this guy! What an awesome bad boy rocker dude!

Here's a different shot of him holding a medieval sword. This doll is Perfect!!!!
I absolutely adore this doll!
In fact this doll is even cooler than the 18 inch talking Brandon Lee Crow doll with rooted hair that I have, which is my favourite doll out of my entire collection. But this rocker dude is way, way cooler. Maybe 60% or 70% cooler! He's ice! He's frosty!!! I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy!!!

Here's a back view and the side view. Drink it all in!
I'm so greatful that Dalila Meece shared images of her work online. It's such a treat to see amazing dolls like this. Here is a link to her gallery page where I found this doll, and where you can see many other awesome long hair fantasy warrior dudes!!! It's doll utopia!!! :) When you go to this link, scroll down as the bottom of the page has links to other pages of the gallery...yes there's more! Look for the boxes with page numbers in them.
These types of dolls are made using a mass-produced doll body that is produced especially for the doll artisan market. There are several companies that make such doll products and the body alone without any clothes can be very pricey. It's not a poor artists hobby to be certain! Each doll is a small investment worth at least $200, but I'd say the typical value of a finished, painted and dressed doll with hair would be more in the area of $500 and up!
Sigh! So that means none for me!
...but it's free to look, and bask in the awesomeness!!! :)

Friday, October 2, 2015

More New Mego-like dolls!!!

In 2015 Figures Toy Company has been busy expanding their series of Mego-like superhero and TV character dolls. Recently I picked up a few new additions for my collection....

Justice League of America Superman
This is a reissue of the original Mego Superman doll with a few updates to the costume to make it more comic book accurate. The blue is brighter fabric, belt loops have been added, and the chest logo is larger.

Conan the Barbarian
This is a reissue of the original Mego Conan doll. It's a very close reproduction with a few subtle changes. For example the rooted hair is styled differently and is longer at the back, the fur shorts are darker brown and are made out of a nicer fake fur fabric than what was available in the mid 1970s, while the torso is modeled differently than an original Mego torso. Details on the eyes and mouth are painted differently as well.

Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane
Back in 1980 when Mego released their Dukes of Hazzard series of dolls they didn't include Sheriff Rosco in the collection, which for many fans left the collection feeling incomplete. For 33 years Mego and Dukes fans have wished for a Rosco Mego doll, and finally it has happened in 2013! Toy Figures Company did an awesome job on their Rosco doll including several details on the costume. The Head sculpt in particular is better than FTC's usual offerings, which often have heads that are too big. The likeness of the face sculpt to actor James Best is very well done too. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Censorship is not the answer to solving racism.

One of my favourite TV shows is The Dukes of Hazzard. It was produced between 1979 to 1985 and was a big part of my childhood. The program had been out of the public's radar for several years in the late 80s and early 90s, but made a big comeback through reruns and on DVD in the mid 1990s. So much so that two TV movies were made, in 1997 and 2000, followed by a feature film in 2005. Shown below is a 1/18th scale die cast toy car produced by Ertl in 2001 based on the real star of the program, the Duke Boys' car "General Lee". 

As you can see, the General Lee has a huge Confederate flag on the roof. For this reason alone Warner Bros, the studio that owns The Dukes of Hazzard TV show, has officially stated that it will no longer allow any merchadise based on the General Lee to be licenced and produced. Additionally, an American TV station, TV Land, has pulled the TV show from their broadcasting schedule, which is clearly a move toward banning the program from being aired on TV. Fortunately another station, CMT, has continued to air the program.
[Sources: ]

This reaction to the program is based on a tragic event involving racism that happened in the United States, that had nothing what so ever to do with the TV show. The tragic event spawned a demand to remove the Confederate flag from any and all spaces where it is on public display. Apparently, it doesn't matter that there is not a single episode of The Dukes of Hazzard that has anything remotely to do with racism.

Simply put, this excellent, much loved family TV show and the merchandise based on it have now been censored from the public due to an irrational demand to remove the Confederate flag from all traces of our popular culture.

The July 20, 2015 issue of Maclean's Magazine featured this same topic as their cover story, and included the very appropriate headline "Get Serious America". The text beneath the headline reads "Their taking down the Confederate flag and banning The Dukes of Hazzard. That's the best they can do? Why Obama's America still won't take any real action to fix it's biggest problems." I was so relieved when I discovered this magazine, as this article reassured me that our society hasn't gone completely nuts, and that it's widely believed that banning The Dukes of Hazzard as a response to racism is quite pathetic.

The Dukes of Hazzard toys produced by Mego in 1980 and 1981.
Boss Hogg's Cadillac was produced by CBS Toys in 1982.

This rush toward censorship is absolutely wrong, and an illogical way of thinking that contributes to pushing North American society down a very slippery slope. Here in Ottawa a man was publicly ridiculed and vilified for wearing a pair of shorts that had the confederate flag printed on one side. A complete stranger took a picture of him and posted it online with comments, essentially defaming him, and others joined in posting their own comments as though on a witch hunt. "The man with the confederate flag shorts" became a major news story, and his real name was made public. From what I understand, nobody bothered to speak with him until after the news story broke. They took one look at him and assumed the rest.  This is a completely irrational and unjust way of thinking! But what is most alarming is that it was all done without his knowledge and he learned of it after the fact. I find this incident is so foolish it's as though people have lost all common sense!

What I do agree with, wholeheartedly, is that the events that happened in the United States, in which a racist white man murdered several black people, is a horrific tragedy. No human being deserves to be murdered simply because of the colour of their skin, and for this to happen in 2015, when our society is supposed to be so much more enlightened and understanding than our society from decades past, makes this whole thing that much more tragic.

It's because of this event that people are understandably angry, and so they need to do something that will make them feel like something good is being done to justify the loss of life. Therefore many have turned to the Confederate flag and deemed it to be a symbol of hate. Apparently, our society has become so politically correct that time for discussion is no longer permitted. A group of angry people have deemed the flag to be a hateful symbol and so everyone else is now expected to fall in line... immediately and without question!?! I haven't the words to express how wrong that is! What ever happened to being a democratic society?

The General Lee toy car and action figures of Luke Duke and Bo Duke, 
produced in 1980 by Mego. 

This is all made even more absurd when taking into consideration that one of the main story arcs in The Dukes of Hazzard, which continued throughout the entire seven seasons of the program, has to do with Uncle Jessie Duke teaching Luke Duke, Bo Duke and Daisy Duke strong family values. As such, the show also often delt with the moral issue of how to get along with each other. Evidently, those who want to ban this TV show and related merchandise could learn a thing or two if they sat their behinds down and watched a few episodes. The "Duke" family are good, decent people who pray before they eat!

Additionally, the show's popularity thrived on the inclusion of comical situations, physical comedy, and plain silliness that was featured in every episode. The "villains" of the show, Boss Hogg and Sheriff Rosco, are essentially a modern day Laurel and Hardy. That anyone would take offence to a TV show of this nature is just completely ridiculous!

Sadly, this path of censorship vilifies others for no justifiable reason, giving power to the tragedy rather than dimishing it. The quest to keep the Confederate flag "out of sight and out of mind" is just a band-aid solution to the bigger, genuine problem of racism. Only now the problem has been made even worse because rather than tear down barriers, people have built them up by deeming anyone who displays the Confederate flag to have racism as their motivation for doing so, where in fact there was none... such as in the case of The Dukes of Hazzard.

The General Lee 1-18th scale die cast car made in 2001, 
and the smaller sized toy car from 1981, both made by Ertl .
Another view of the1-18th scale die cast car made in 2001 by Ertl.
I am white, but I am not racist for having the opinion that censoring the Confederate flag from all traces of our culture, including TV shows such as The Dukes of Hazzard, is wrong and irrational. This TV show is a part of my culture. I grew up with it, and as an adult I still enjoy it. Black lives absolutely do matter. All lives matter, equally on the same level, including white lives. My culture matters too, and Dukes of Hazzard is a part of it. I own all seven seasons of Dukes of Hazzard on DVD. This is a family program, there is nothing racist about it... at all! If seeing the flag on the hood of the car upsets people, then those people simply should not watch the show, or purchase the toy cars, or any other related merchandise.

Give your heads a shake people. You cannot systematically prevent others from enjoying their culture banning "this" today and "that" tomorrow. Such logic is akin to burning books. Censoring someone else's culture based on your own needs only breeds more racism... but it's not found within people like me who are fans of this TV show, it's within those who would now vilify me for something as simple and harmless as being a fan of The Dukes of Hazzard.

Censoring our popular culture does nothing but impose an irrational expectation on others to comply with an irrational demand. This is unjust punishment of the innocent for punishment's sake, which serves only to diminish our society further, rather than rebuild it.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

My childhood Mego pictures!

This photo shows, L to R, my brother Steve, my mom (Peggy) and me on the stairs in front of our house in the late 1970s. My sister Shannon took the photo. My siblings and I decided it would be fun to take a photo specifically with all of our Mego dolls, as my parents had bought one for each of us over a period of time. My brother is holding up his 8 inch Spider-Man Mego doll, and as my sister was taking the photo, he held up her 12 inch Wonder Woman Mego doll for her. The very first Mego I ever owned was Fonzie! As you can see, I forgot to hold Fonzie up for the photo, which my brother gleefully rubbed in moments after the picture was taken. As the Mego company didn't release the 12 inch Wonder Woman doll until 1977 the above photo would have been taken between 1977 to 1979, as we moved from that house in 1979.

This is the only photo of me with my Fonzie Mego from that time. It was a present for my birthday in Nov 1976 when I turned 3 years old. This is the very doll that started my obsession collecting Megos and other dolls. It's evident by the brown blur where the doll's head is that this is the version of the doll with brown hair rather than black, which is what I recall. It's too bad I don't have any better photos of this doll because I remember the face being quite different than the commonly available Fonzie doll, and the jacket was different too. I suspect that the Fonzie doll I had was like the one seen in the Sears catalogue advertisement (shown on the "TV Character Dolls Part One" page of this blog at this link:

Not long after this picture was taken I lost that Fonzie doll and didn't find another one until I was in my early 20's! When I found the second Fonzie Mego in the early 1990s (long before the internet and e-bay made vintage toys so accessible) I was with some friends at a flea market, and the moment I saw the doll I freaked out. My friends thought I was completely nuts! Maybe they were right, but I didn't care. At last I had found another Fonzie Mego!
Here I am in December 1979 at our house in Milton, Ontario where we lived very briefly before returning to Ottawa. My brother's Spider-Man Mego doll is clearly visible on the floor in the background next to the pile of stuff under the tree. This Spidey doll is likely the same one that he's holding in the above photo. By this time my Fonzie Mego was long gone, but my parents had bought me the 8 inch Batman and Robin dolls along with the Batmobile that went with them. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures showing those Mego toys but I likely would have received them during this Christmas in '79. I have fond memories of my brother and I playing with our superhero Megos at this house, and chewing on Spidey's head - but what kid didn't do that with their Spidey Mego! :) In the photo, I'm making a puzzle of Kermit the Frog that is based on the very first Muppet film "The Muppet Movie", which I still have today! (shown below)

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The quality of new Mego style dolls needs to be improved across the toy industry... here's why!

This is a Figures Toy Company produced doll from 2015. The left leg was made with an incorrect part causing the knee to bend the wrong way. Additionally, the doll's right hand does not stay attached.
As an avid collector of Mego dolls I couldn't be happier that toy companies such as Biff Bang Pow, Diamond Select, Mattel and Figures Toy Company have continued to produce dolls in the Mego style. To some degree, all of these companies have used original Mego parts that were recast in order to give the dolls an authentic Mego look. This attention to detail is very much appreciated. As a puppeteer and puppet maker who has spent many hours using a sewing machine, I'm also quite impressed with the quality of the costumes that are being made today.
However, it seems more and more that toy companies are simply trying to make a doll look good at first glance with hopes that the collector who buys it will never open the package, as the basic dolls themselves are all too often very poorly made. For me this really takes the fun out of collecting new Mego style dolls as more and more I find myself wondering if I'm buying junk, or if I'm getting a well made doll.
Any toy, whether it's a nostalgic collectable or not, should be made to endure having a child play with it without breaking. These are toys after all, so first and foremost they should be made with children in mind. Simply adding a term such as "adult collector" to the packaging as Mattel did for their Retro Action series does not excuse a company from making an inferior product. When you simply take a product out of the package and it falls apart, or you find a backwards limb, how much dedication is the toy company really placing on consumer satisfaction?
I'm posting this because of something that happened to me recently involving one of my favourite childhood TV shows... so yes this is sacred ground! I'm talking about the Classic Batman TV series from 1966 and the collection of dolls currently being produced by Figures Toy Company (FTC). But before I get to that it's relevant to explain some background history. FTC is the same company that owns Classic TV Toys (CTVT) which produced the very poorly made series of Happy Days dolls back in 2004 as well as several series of reissued Mego dolls. Like the Classic Batman TV series, Happy Days is another of my most favourite childhood TV shows, so again we're on sacred ground. As such what I am about to discuss in regards to the Classic Batman dolls marks the second occasion that CTVT/FTC has messed with characters that I cherish by offering poorly made Mego-style dolls.
In the last few years the CTVT company resurfaced under their new name Figures Toy Company producing many awesome Mego-style doll collections, but this recent discovery has me wondering if their quality control has really improved since 2004....
Above are the 2015 series 1 Batman and Robin dolls in a limited edition two-pack set that had a production run of 500 units worldwide. I think this set is really awesome and am glad to have this item in my collection.

My plan was to never open this two-pack set because it's a limited edition, but when it arrived (purchased from e-bay) I noticed that Robin's right hand had fallen off and was loose inside the package! I found that to be quite disappointing because it certainly wouldn't look very good on display with one loose hand laying at Robin's feet. As I was so excited about this two-pack set I had decided it was worth going a little beyond my usual budget for these types of collectables to acquire it. At slightly more than $80 it was a considerable purchase. So to discover that one of the dolls was essentially broken when originally packaged was quite a disappointment.

Unfortunately, my disappointment wouldn't end there as I noticed that Robin had a rather oddly shaped knee. Since I needed to fix Robin's hand anyways, I opened the package and found that my assumption about the knee was correct. Figures Toy Company made this Robin doll with half of a backwards leg so that the left knee bends forwards instead of backwards! The left leg was made using the top half of a right leg with the bottom half of the left leg and a left foot. I'm not sure how someone could put this doll's leg together, let alone put the costume on the doll and package it, without noticing that something was wrong! Think about this... how many people or production assembly stages would this messed up doll have to go through to end up being packaged this way? Yet, it was packaged anyway!!! That's some pretty poor quality control!!!

This isn't the 1970's after all. These new doll's aren't being sold for $1.29 at neighbourhood corner stores next to dime rack toys the way Mego dolls were. All things considered, I don't think it's too outrageous to expect that the quality of a Mego-style doll produced in 2015 (or any time in the last 30 years!) would far outshine that of an original Mego, but remarkably that doesn't seem to be the case.

Here is the Figure Toy Company Robin doll that was made with two upper right leg pieces, with one placed backwards on the left, causing the left knee to bend forwards. The hands and feet have to be removed in order to take off the costume.

Maybe this isn't a manufacturing mistake.
Maybe this is the scarce "limited edition forward leg bending" Robin doll?
Randomly packaged ...whenever they goof up and don't do anything about it.

I'm afraid that the disappointment didn't end with the Robin doll however, as both of Batman's hands also fell off! The hands had not been attached, they were just snugly fit onto the ends of the arms. So naturally I tried to force the hands for Batman and Robin back into position onto the ball joints at the end of their arms, but the hands simply would not stay attached. The pieces will not snap together.

It's also worth mentioning that Batman's belt does not stay fastened around the doll's waist very well. The belt is too short to pull a notch through the loop that would hook onto the notch, and keep the belt in place (as shown above). Instead the belt is just resting in place, held on because it's made out of rubber which "sticks" to itself, but can easily fall off. The belts for both characters, like the hands and feet, are made out of rubber which I find to be quite cheep. I'm not sure why FTC decided to go that route with the rubber pieces. This makes the dolls incompatible with other Mego style dolls as they can't swap boots, gloves or jumpsuit costumes which, in my view, diminishes the play value and customizing options for the dolls.

In fact there is really no need to incorporate rubber hands and feet onto a Mego style doll as doing so contradicts with the goal of making dolls in the Mego style... Mego never used this technique for their 8 inch dolls! It's also well known to collectors of these types of dolls, especially G.I.Joe and Big Jim collectors, that rubber parts don't age well. In 15 to 20 years from now will these Batman doll's rubber hands crumble off and turn to powder? Will they be too brittle to touch? As these dolls are mainly being produced as collector items then why on earth use rubber parts? Using materials that don't age well contradicts the very concept of what a collectors item is!!! If an item has turned to powder you can't very well collect it any more.

In any case, the poor quality of the basic doll is quite frustrating as the fabric costumes really are quite amazing! I still think it's awesome that Figures Toy Company is even producing this series, as I've always wanted dolls based on the Batman TV series. But after all of the above quality issues, my enthusiasm has been depleted leaving me quite bummed out about the collection. This totally feels like a replay of the poor quality that was seen from this company when they reissued Happy Days and other Mego dolls in 2004. Although I'm a huge Happy Days fan and had always wanted an expanded collection of Happy Days Mego dolls I didn't bother collecting the CTVT series as the dolls were so cheaply made.

It's also reminiscent of the disappointment with the floppy midsection and legs on Mattel's Retro Action dolls back in 2010, which ultimately contributed to the slow sales and early demise of that collection. Mattel did fix the midsection issue in time for series 3 but did nothing to fix the floppy legs which were attached with thin waistband style elastic!?! This from the producer of He-Man action figures which every toy enthusiast can tell you used a thick black elastic to attach the legs. This begs the question: If offering a quality product is the goal then why not use this same well established method for the Retro Action series?

Batman and Two-Face from Mattel's short lived Retro Action DC Super Heroes series, 2010
It goes without saying that a toy company in 2015 should be able to produce toys that don't have hands falling off when you take the product out of the package! And certainly, a production process should be designed to remove dolls with backward legs from even getting to the packaging stage. Such a lack of quality control is quite inexcusable, especially as these dolls cost $35 or more per figure in CAN funds. The limited edition sets are even more pricey.

I also found a you tube video recently, posted by Kryptosmaster, in which a collector was reviewing the Battlestar Galactica Mego-style dolls that were produced by Biff Bang Pow in 2012. During the video he opens a package to remove the doll and an arm falls off. His astonishment is evident and rightfully so. Such a lack of quality is pathetic. You can watch the video here:

All this leaves me to conclude that unfortunately, this crappy level of quality for new Mego-style dolls is the best that toy companies are offering, which is both a shame and a scam.

But perhaps part of the problem lies with Mego collectors. It's well known that many Mego fans will buy a known, inferior, poorly made Mego-style doll and then swap the head and costume over to an original Mego doll body in order to "repair it". As such, many collectors have settled for these inferior products as they expect to do some amount of work on a doll even before it is purchased. The absurdity of this seems to be lost on the Mego collecting community. If you spend $30 on a new toy it shouldn't have to be repaired! Plus, it requires dis-assembling two dolls just to make one... and one of those dolls was an original Mego from the 1970s which they don't make anymore! More importantly, if collectors stop buying these poorly made items, it will force companies who want their business to make better products!

However, as I can't change the habits of such Mego collectors who are free to spend their money however they want, I can at the very least comment on the current status quo in the toy industry regarding the poor quality of newly made Mego-style dolls... and hope that somebody out there is listening!

So I decided to express myself a little..... with apologies to Adam West and Burt Ward who don't deserve to have their characters treated this way at all!  (Click on the image to see a larger version.)


A message for ANY toy company that makes Mego-style dolls

Please, for the love of all things Mego....stop making poor quality dolls that fall apart and/or have backwards limbs!!!! If you don't stop making inferior products, mark my words, you WILL kill the market for Mego dolls!

As a collector I guarantee you of that! It already happened to Mattel, it can happen to you. I refuse to collect poor quality Mego-style dolls no matter what characters they depict. For 15 years I've seen epic failure after epic failure! Enough with this useless, faulty, junk already! I'd rather you not make anything at all than diminish the Mego legacy with your inferior products.

Collecting Mego dolls is supposed to be a fun hobby, not a frustrating disappointment.

Text and photos copyright Mike Artelle, 2015
Originally posted May 2015
Last updated May 2016

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

DC Comics Batman Mego Dolls !!!

Here is a selection of my Batman Mego doll collection. I've recently updated the "DC Comics Dolls" page of this blog, take a look!