1972 - 2003: Marvel Comics Dolls

Mego 8" Marvel Super Hero Dolls, 1972 - 1979

The most popular series that Mego ever made was the World Greatest Super Heroes, which included both DC Comics and Marvel heroes. They originally sold for around $3 each, yet today a mint in package figure can sell for hundreds depending on the character and the condition. Mego made a total of 14 Marvel characters in the 8 inch series.

Above is Green Goblin, Spider-Man and Lizard (wearing a replacement lab coat that I made when I was nine years old!). I'm only missing the Peter Parker Mego to complete the Spider-Man 8" Mego set. Spidey's reptilian foe Lizard has always been one of my favourite Megos. His stuffed tail is so campy it's awesome! He's also the only 8 inch Mego that has a sculpted fist. The reptile hands and feet are unique to this Mego. For Type 1 Lizard Megos (which have metal joints) the entire forearm of the doll was sculpted to have Lizard scales. Below is a closer view of Lizard's face and his fist.

Mego later reused Lizard's head in brown plastic as the Gorn for the Star Trek Aliens series. That doll uses a brown body with standard human hands and feet, and is wearing the Klingon costume, so the only unique piece for the Gorn Mego is the brown Lizard head.
 
I've noticed that the green plastic bodies for Goblin and Lizard have a tendency to discolour over time and become very dark green. As you can see, the green bodies are quite blotchy with dark green and light green areas. This is unfortunate but being the Mego geek that I am, I also think it's kinda cool. The discolouration isn't caused by heat or any other lack of proper conservation, it's just an inherent vice for this specific cheep type of plastic when mixed with the green dye (or whatever pigment it was that they used to make the plastic green). Mego's 8 inch Hulk has the same problem.

The back of the dolls have the same issue, so the discolouration isn't a result of light exposure. I had originally thought that that the pieces that turned dark green were made with a "bad batch" of plastic, as some pieces seem to hold the original green colour better. However you can see on Lizard's back (shown below) how this isn't necessarily the case, as there is a visible line where the plastic on this single torso piece has changed colour and is now two colours. This is not caused from the dye of Lizard's black shirt affecting the plastic in any way as his legs have also discoloured. So there really isn't any rhyme or reason to it. I've had these two specific dolls for more than 25 years and have kept them out of sunlight, away from heat, and at room temperature safely displayed on my shelf yet they still discoloured! As such, the dark green plastic is a completely random occurrence which is simply an effect from the aging of the plastic that Mego used.

 
Mego created several variations of the costume for their Spidey doll. All four of the outfits shown here are different. (Batman is just standing in until I find another naked Spidey doll!) Each costume has the webs and spiders illustrated differently. In addition, the loose Spidey in the middle and the one in the package both have the rounded "c" shaped suit on the chest, while the two remaining costumes have the "v" shaped suit on the chest. The Spidey suit on Batman also has the tall red "socks" which go up to the knee, as compared with the others. This is just a very small example of the costume variations that were made. There are many others out there to collect including some with a "circular logo" pattern on the chest in which the web was drawn to create a circle around the spider. The Mego Museum website has more info about Spidey's costume variations here: http://www.megomuseum.com/galleries/spider-man/#variations

Although he never drove this vehicle in comic books, Mego issued a Spidercar as an accessory for the Spider-Man 8 inch doll. Unfortunately this one is missing the steering wheel, and the net section that is usually attached to the back of the car by two poles. However, the spring-activated mechanism is still there, and you can see where the poles attached.
 
 A lever releases the net to drop over one of Spidey's villains. This is how the "trap" looks before the net is lowered. Pull the lever and... 

...the net springs down. Here is the back after the net is lowered.

The 8 inch Hulk and Spider-Man dolls were so popular that Mego issued them on their own unique cards as well as on standard cards. Hulk is shown here on the special Canadian Spidey/Hulk card issued in 1978 by Grand Toys. Spidey is shown on a standard 1979 French language card distributed by Pin Pin. This version of the doll has a less common red plastic torso with Caucasian arms and red hands. The legs and "underwear" section are Caucasian plastic as well. This is a completely different doll body than Mego's Human Torch which is done entirely in red plastic. Standard Spidey dolls have a Caucasian torso piece with Caucasian arms and legs, red plastic hands, and either Caucasian or blue plastic briefs. I have both of those Spidey dolls in my collection as well (shown above in the costume variation photo).

Here are the backs of the cards showing some of the other Marvel Mego dolls that were made. Most of these characters were discontinued in 1979.
 

Here are the Avengers! Thor, Hulk, Captain America, and Iron Man. The Thor Mego is a very popular collector's item and is one of the most expensive Mego dolls to purchase mint in package. I managed to put this one together fairly cheaply piece by piece through e-bay by finding the costume first, then I bought a doll without it's costume, then the boots, and finally the helmet and hammer together. I'm still missing the belt (which was originally attached to the costume) and the wrist bands but I'm not that picky. I'm happy with this one the way it is. Just to have one in my collection is awesome enough. Mego only produced Thor for about two years, so he's harder to find than some of the other characters. Captain America is missing his boots and shield. The star that was on his chest was just a sticker which is often missing. Iron Man is missing his belt.

Here's Conan, Falcon, and the Thing. My Conan Mego is missing most of his costume and his fuzzy underwear have lost most of the fuzz. Like Thor, Conan is one of the harder to find 8" Mego heroes so I was happy just to get this one. Mego did an awesome job on the Falcon. They even sculpted him his own unique pair of boots. The Thing reuses the Hulk body in orange plastic. I need the rest of the Fantastic Four (Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Girl, and Human Torch) to complete my Marvel 8" Mego collection.
 
Mego 12" Marvel Super Hero Dolls, 1978 -1979

Mego also produced 12 inch superhero dolls, and like their 8 inch companions, Spider-Man and Hulk were the most popular. I've checked a few toy guide sources but none of them listed when Mego started making these. Most toy guides seem to suggest these were made in 1978 and 1979. My 12 inch Spidey's costume has a huge run in the front, which is a common problem with Mego outfits. My 12 inch Hulk Mego is missing his clothes. He originally came with purple pants that were "torn" around the pant legs, and a white lab coat / shirt that hung open in the front. I don't really collect the 12 inch Megos, but I picked these up when I stumbled across them by chance at a flea market. Someday I'll likely try to get better examples of these simply because they are Megos.

Magic Catch Game, toy puppets by Synergistics Research Corp., 1979

Here are some awesome puppets of Hulk and Spider-Man. Each puppet was sold separately in a window box with a plastic ball. The ball had Velcro strips on it that would stick to the puppet. The object of the game was to catch the ball on the puppet. I've seen two different boxes for the Spidey puppet. Below is the back view of the puppets. It's odd that they used pink fabric instead of the green fabric for the Hulk, though I have also seen this same puppet with a green backing. The heads of the puppets are made out of a soft rubber similar to a squeeze toy.

 
Vicma also made their own versions of these two puppets which are very similar but have completely different head sculpts. I don't have them in my collection but have found pictures of them on e-bay, shown above. The Vicma Hulk puppet has a closed mouth without any teeth showing, and Spidey's eyes are sculpted with the pointy black parts shorter than on the puppet made by Synergistics Research Corp, plus the space between Spidey's eyes is painted black. The illustrated bodies on the front of the puppets are also different, though very similar, and the Vicma puppets have a yellow background instead of dark blue.
 
The back of the Vicma puppets are made with leftover fabric from other items that they produced, including their Sesame Street puppets. I've seen both Spidey and Hulk with the fabric from Ernie's shirt as the backing, and a Hulk with the fabric from Sherlock Hemlock's coat. Vicma also produced a puppet of Captain America along with their Hulk and Spidey puppets. The head sculpt for Capt. America is very nicely done. All three characters used the same window box packaging. The artwork shows their heads grouped together on the front of the box next to the window, and the complete figures on the back of the box, all in full colour.
 
What is even more remarkable than the puppets however, is that Vicma used an enlarged version of their Spider-Man head to produce a jumbo sized Mego-style doll in 1981. This truly amazing Spider-Man is about 24 inches tall and has a removable cloth outfit just like a Mego. Here is a link to the Mego Museum discussion board about this awesome Spidey doll: http://megomuseum.com/community/showthread.php?29136-vicma-spiderman 
 
I've also seen Magic Catch Game Superman and Tarzan puppets, the latter made by Vicma with Ernie fabric as the backing. The Superman puppet was made by Synergistics Research Corp and is reversible with Clark Kent's outfit on one side and Superman's outfit on the other. Kent's glasses were printed on the box for kids to cut out. It seems odd that Batman and Robin puppets weren't made to go with the Superman puppet, but I've yet to find any other DC Comics characters in this series.
 
In addition to the above I've also seen Magic Catch puppets based on Peanuts (Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy, Woodstock), and Disney (Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck) made by Synergistics, and Popeye puppets (Popeye and Olive Oyl) by Vicma. The Peanuts and Disney cartoon character series were made in the early 1980's and were the last to be made with sculpted heads. In my experience Tarzan, Popeye, and Captain America are a lot harder to find than any of the others. Vicma also made small bendy figures of Hulk, Spidey, Tarzan, Popeye and Olive Oyl.
 
Magic Catch sets that were produced after those mentioned above were called "Magic Catch Mitts" as they no longer had sculpted heads. Instead, the puppets became flat mittens in the shape of whatever character was illustrated on the front, which is rather uninteresting in my view. I've seen Smurfs and Masters of the Universe (featuring He-man and Skeletor), Cabbage Patch Kids, and Pee Wee's Playhouse in the flat format. These were sold as boxed sets of two puppets with two balls.
 
I've also seen the balls from the Magic Catch game being sold with a different type of game. This one was similar to darts only it used the Velcro balls instead. The game board was a fabric sheet made out of the same type of material as the puppet bodies, with an illustration of Spidey next to a target grid that had points for the different sized circle rings.
 
Plush Spidey Doll by Good Stuff, 1995
Here is a plush Spidey doll (right) which I think is so campy it's awesome! The plush Spidey doll has the same picture on both sides. I've shown it next to a Mego 8" Spidey (Left) for size comparison. 

Famous Covers, 9" dolls by Toy Biz, 1997 - 2000

This was a really well done series by Toy Biz that was inspired by the Mego doll style. Above is Gambit and Thor. I tucked Gambit's coat back to show the detail in his costume. Wolverine and Mister Sinister are shown below. I'd like to collect more of these Marvel dolls someday. When one of the X-Men movies was in theatres I saw a really nifty two-pack set of Wolverine dolls. I'd also like to get Nightcrawler, Spider-Man, Electro, Green Goblin, Hulk, and The Vision. This series was quite popular in its time and a long list of characters were made (listed below). If I haven't missed any, there are 43 dolls in this collection!

The box for Thor is dated 1998 and says "First Appearances" in the top right corner. The back of the box has an add for the Limited Edition Aunt May doll that was only available through the mail. It's interesting to note that there is an error on the front of all of the boxes for this series, as they say "8 inch figure" but the dolls are all 9 inches. It's likely the error was made because this series is done in the style of the 8 inch Mego dolls (shown at the top of this page). Thor's helmet is attached to his head and cannot be removed. He also has long rooted dolls hair (shown below).
 

I'm not really into the X-Men comics so I have no idea who Mister Sinister is, but I thought this was a really well done super villain doll. It's one of my favourites from this collection. Mister Sinister's boots are fabric rather than plastic, as seen on Thor and Wolverine. I like how Toy Biz made Sinister's awesome "cape" and sculpted plastic collar/shoulder armour. It's weird that they did so much work for the cape only to give him fabric boots, but I suspect they went with fabric because the boots go up past his knee. The box is dated 1998 and says "Marvel Milestones" in the top right corner. The back of the box has an add for the Limited Edition Aunt May doll.
 
Unfortunately the shiny, leather-like fabric that was used for Mister Sinister's cuffs, briefs and boots is starting to break down so that the blue colouring can be easily rubbed off to reveal the white fabric underneath. The "leather" fabric also tends to stick to things, including the doll's hands (which is what happened to this one), so it's become difficult to handle this doll without damaging it. If you have one of these dolls mint in an unopened box, leave it there! (The same thing has happened to the costume for my 13 inch talking Darth Vader with removable mask by Hasbro, which really sucks because that doll is so awesome!!!) Other dolls in this series use similar "leather" fabric in different colours, and unfortunately will likely have the same conservation issues.
 
Gambit's box is dated 1999 and says "X-Men Children of the Atom" in the top right corner. The back of the box shows another illustration of Gambit. Gambit's feet are sculpted like boots and are jointed at the ankle, rather than having removable boots like the other characters. He also has a sculpted fist for his right hand. Underneath the sleeves of his jacket he has loose fitting black fabric wristbands. I like the fact that part of Gambit's costume is pink as it's an unusual colour for a male superhero.
 
I bought Wolverine in 2015 at Ottawa Comic Con. His box is dated 1999 and says "X-Men Children of the Atom" in the top right corner the same as Gambit's box. With a bit of effort, Wolverine's mask is removable. It's a bit of a challenge to put it back on too. I found that the front of the mask was too low as it covered his mouth, which looked silly, so I carefully trimmed it along the edge near his nose with an x-acto knife. Below is what he looks like without the mask.
 
 
Below is a list of other dolls in the set. As some characters in this series have two or more variations, and because this series is easily confused with the Hasbro "Signature Series" from 2006 (listed at the bottom of this page), I've noted the differences between the various dolls:
 
Aunt May
Black Widow
Captain America (large removable rubber gloves, mouth sculpted open)
Carnage
Cyclops (large removable rubber gloves, mouth is sculpted open)
Dare Devil
Dark Phoenix
Doctor Doom
Falcon
Green Goblin  (large removable rubber gloves, comes with glider machine and one pumpkin)
Hawkeye
Hulk
Iron Man
Jean Grey
Magneto (comic book version, red outfit)
Magneto (movie version, black outfit)
Nightcrawler
Psylocke
Red Skull
Rogue
Sabertooth
Scarlet Witch
Spider-Man (red and dark blue outfit, "web" netting under arms, fabric mask/hood)
Spider-Girl
Storm (black outfit, bare arms and legs, knee-high boots)
Vision
Wolverine (yellow and blue outfit, removable mask, mouth sculpted open)
 
Two-pack sets:
 
Mr. Fantastic (with normal, human shaped arms) and Invisible Woman
Spider-Man (red and bright blue outfit, "web" netting under arms, fabric mask/hood)and Electro
Spider-Man (black outfit, fabric mask/hood) and Spider-Woman (black outfit)
 
X-Men the Movie: X Mutations Series
Storm (movie version, black "leather" outfit) and Storm (comic book version, white outfit)
Toad (movie version) and Toad (comic book version)
Wolverine (movie version, black "leather" outfit) and Wolverine (comic book version, yellow and blue outfit, mask is sculpted as part of head/not-removable, mouth sculpted open)

Marvel Universe, 10" action figure by Toy Biz, 1999

This 10" Spidey figure came in a two-pack box set with a 10" Hobgoblin figure. Hobgoblin was more crudely made than Spidey and did not have as much articulation. He's packed away somewhere with the original box so I'll post a picture of the Hobgoblin figure eventually. Spidey's mask is removable to show Peter Parker. The mask only covers half of the figure's head.

This specific Spidey/Peter Parker figure was also available separately in a different box without a villain. A very long list of other 10" characters were made for this Marvel Universe series. (I've counted more than 70 figures!) In addition to being sold in boxes designed with the "Marvel Universe" logo, characters based on Spider-Man, X-Men or Fantastic Four, were also released in boxes that feature those title logos instead of "Marvel Universe", but were all made as part of the Marvel Universe collection. Additionally, selected characters had fabric costume pieces, for example there is a version of Thing that has a fabric trench coat, however capes were often molded plastic rather than fabric.

I have seen many different variations of the above Spidey/Peter Parker figure with a Spidey head instead of a Peter Parker head, and the costume painted different colours. I've also seen this Peter Parker head on a slightly different action figure body that did not have as much articulation, was coloured differently, and came with a fabric Spider-Man costume. The Peter Parker head was also used on an less articulated body and sold with a fabric outfit (denim blue jeans and a brown "leather" jacket).

Here is the same Spidey figure next to two similar figures from a Spider-Man doll series, based on an "adventure sports" theme. The figures were each sold separately on bubble cards, and the packaging has a copyright date of 1999. Each figure has a unique fabric outfit and accessories. The body used for these figures is the same one as the Spidey/Peter Parker figure but made in different colours. Therefore, when the fabric costumes are removed the different coloured Spidey outfits underneath are all unique from each other. Spidey on the left is a scuba diver, and Spidey on the right is a sky diver complete with a red web-patterned parachute. Below is the back of the card showing the "Web-Climbing" Spidey that comes with mountain climbing gear. The obvious question here is: Why does Spidey, who can climb a 20 story building with ease using his web, need mountain climbing gear? To sell toys of course!

For a closer view, click on the picture to see the full size image.

Incredible Hulk, 13" action figure by Toy Biz, 2003

Here is the massive 13 inch "Poseable Raging Hulk" figure made by Toy Biz in 2003 as merchandize the "Incredible Hulk" movie. I got this guy for five bucks at a garage sale, which I thought was an awesome deal! The figure has several points of articulation and the fabric pants are quite detailed. There is a metal snap (the same type used by Mego) on the front of the pants but the position that the figure is sculpted in makes it impossible to remove them. A "Poseable Hulk" figure was also made at the same time. It has the same body as this one but the head is sculpted with a closed mouth and the fabric pants are blue instead of purple. Below is the back view showing the pockets.

And that's my entire collection of Marvel dolls and large sized figures!!!

...at least it is for now!
 
Marvel Signature Series/ Spider-Man Origins / Marvel Legends, 9" dolls by Hasbro, 2006
 
Around and during 2006, Hasbro produced a series of 9 inch dolls based on characters from Marvel Comics that were very similar to the Famous Covers 9 inch dolls produced by Toy Biz in the late 1990s. This series is also similar to Hasbro's series of 9 in DC Comics dolls (listed on the DC Comics page of this blog). I find the dolls in this series look better than their counterparts in the Toy Biz series. The collection includes:
 
Captain America (hands are red plastic with jointed fingers, mouth is sculpted closed)
Cyclops (hands are blue plastic with jointed fingers, mouth is sculpted closed)
Dare Devil (hands are red plastic with jointed fingers, mouth is sculpted closed)
Doctor Octopus
Green Goblin (hands are purple plastic with jointed fingers, comes with glider machine and two pumpkins)
Iron Spider-Man (red and yellow outfit with yellow plastic antenna on back)
Mr. Fantastic with elongated arms
Punisher (comes with a comic book), 2006
Sandman
Spider-Man (red and dark blue outfit, lower half of arms are plastic with sculpted web pattern, no comic book)
Spider-Man (red and bright blue outfit, arms have a full sleeve down to the wrist, comes with a comic book)
Spider-Man (black outfit, no comic book)
Wolverine (yellow and blue outfit, hands are black plastic with jointed fingers, mouth sculpted closed)
 
 
Text and Photos copyright Mike Artelle 2010, 2015

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