Tigra’s milkshake brings all the nature boys to the yard.
Tigra is the latest purchase for the Mego collection, a very impressively detailed doll based on a very impressively sexy superlady I may have to start reading up on. Rowf.
The Shadowmobile is the latest addition to the Mego collection, a cool convertible coupe made from a Dick Tracy getaway car.
This is easily near the top of the list of my most grueling custom projects to date. It seats two Megos: one in back, one in front. You can also hide small items in the spare tire case on the back of the coupe. All I need now is to figure out how to get the doors to stick shut when I close them, since the roof of the Dick Tracy car was largely responsible for that.
In my quest to find a good car for the Shadow, I ended up finding a way to make the only interesting Phantom adversary that wasn’t a cookie-cutter yellow peril bad guy: the Baroness, leader of the Sky Band, a group of lady pilots who are also lady pirates!
Since there isn’t much for pictures of her online, I went with her only appearance in the Defenders of the Earth cartoon. I cobbled her portrait together from three different screenshots, and also borrowed that version’s the Sky Band emblem for the decals.
The plane is a Tri-Wing Terror from the Talespin toy line, which is a dead ringer for the style Mego used for their vehicles back in the day. All it needed was open space under the dashboard so the doll’s legs could fit (i did this myself with a dremmel).
She’s an awesome and stylish addition to the collection, though I had to replace her crappy FTC jacket before it completely disintegrated completely, sacrificing the cool fuzzy collar. For a while she was sporting a sexy low-cut pulp bombshell look before I finally got a decent jacket.
Initially I didn’t care to own Mr. Mxyzptlk, but after the ordeal of trying to clean tobacco stink out of a rare Type 2 (and only partly succeeding), getting a spare head, and finally cobbling my own version together out of spare parts, he’s kind of grown on me.
My Mxyzptlk is unique: he sports the arms and legs of a Lion Rock soldier dude, making him an impish 7 inches tall. He actually better resembles the character this way when compared to the others in the line.
So despite my dislike of Superman characters, I’m actually glad I added this one to the collection.
I’ve mentioned before that the Shadow was perhaps the most impressive addition to the collection, originally made to round out a sub-category of pulp heroes to keep Conan and Tarzan company. Since then I’ve expanded the Shadow into a small line of customs all its own.
The Shadow himself is very cool, and can transform into Lamont Cranston with a quick costume change.
Margo Lane was one I had entertained off and on for some time, but once I ended up with all the parts by chance, I made it happen. She’s a lovely addition and looks great in green or red!
Finally, a toy line is only as good as its villains, and I’ve got a Shadow baddie so popular, he got an action figure in 1994 even though he wasn’t in the movie: Dr Rodil Mocquino, the Voodoo Master! I reimagined him as a larger-than-life priest of Baron Samedi, which is way more interesting than the generic robed villain he originally was.
Who knows how many more I may add when inspiration strikes…?
You know the rest.
Here I post alternate fashions I screw around with for fun.
No idea who made this sexy Jessica Rabbit style torch singer dress, but it’s a hot little number and makes Jem look like a spitfire.
Clash looks great in pretty much anything, especially this purple and white fur ensemble.
I saw this Wild Hearts Club outfit at Walmart and immediately thought of Roxy. The pants took 45 minutes to force onto her big rubbery legs. Now I need an extra Roxy so I don’t have to change her back…
Jetta only looks good when wearing her namesake. This Barbie outfit was a bit too “soft” for her, but cute as hell nonetheless.
She looks tougher in the halter top.
My biggest Mego custom project to date is Dr Octopus. I ordered two different Doc Ock dolls from the 90s to make him happen: a 9″ Spider-Man Origins doll for the head, and a Toybiz Special Edition Series 12″ doll for the bitchin’ tentacles. I’ve seen a couple custom Doc Ocks and their tentacles are always on the short side. I wanted mine to be able to stand on his!
I believe this was the project I originally bought my dremel for, which has proven invaluable ever since. I used an extra fat body to practice drilling holes in the torso–juuust big enough for the tentacles to fit snugly without otherwise needing to be attached. The practice run paid off and I nailed it on the first try once I started on the real thing.
Now I can remove them for maintenance as needed.
The costume was made by pal O. T. Puente, and the box was made by Greg Jensen as always. It had to be an extra wide box to fit his tentacles!
On the DC side of the spectrum, I lucked out at the Tucson Toy Show and happened across a custom I had wanted and missed on ebay some time ago: Doctor Fate, with a head sculpt that doesn’t look like a squash!
The Justice Society veteran was a fixer-upper when I found him. He needed new arms, as one hand had broken off, and his face was in need of a good scrubbing. Once that was all done, I made a custom amulet and pasted it onto his chest. Voila!
I remember having the Super Powers Doctor Fate as a kid and thinking he was the coolest looking dude of them all, so this guy was kind of essential to the collection.
Despite my plans to only collect the Misfits, I ended up running out of space to store my impressive collection of Holograms.
The Holograms use a lot of warm, harmonious colors versus the wild, clashing patterns of the Misfits, owing to their personalities as what is essentially the Get-Along Gang with face paint. As I’ve said before, the epidemic of moral pariah protagonists in 80s cartoons made the heroes we grew up with pretty unmemorable outside of their outward designs.
Despite this, these dolls are gorgeous. It’s hard to pick a favorite Hologram as far as aesthetic goes.
Jem lacks her cool original dress in favor of the silver jumpsuit I find much cooler and sexier for some reason. Her earrings still light up after all these years. She’s a version 1 Jem as well: later versions used a Barbie-esque smiling head sculpt that looks downright creepy, and I could never stand looking at it. Like the protagonist should be, Jem is the center of attention wherever I arrange her on the shelf.
Her sister Kimber is no slouch, though, especially since I replaced her Prince outfit with this hot pink and orange getup. She’s downright adorable, unlike her obnoxious animated counterpart.
Kimber unfortunately has the distinction of being the only complex personality on the show: she’s the only one who isn’t just there to spout her lines and get into trouble. Jem does the moral posturing, Aja drives the car and makes snide comments, Shana…designs clothes? Kimber throws tantrums, has mood swings, bungles her way into love triangles that leave everybody hurt, and pines for her late dad in ways that tug at the heart string, to the point where she develops a sweet bond with Pizzazz’s dad on Father’s Day. She even helps save a veteran musician’s home and the musical museum it contains, learning to respect her elders as well as musical history. Kimber gets around and her character runs the gamut of emotions and life outlooks, making her more well-rounded than the rest of the Holograms combined.
It’s a shame she’s such a twat most of the time.
Aja is also hard not to like. She stands out from the warm palette of her bandmates by covering herself in cool blues and purples from head to toe. She has a unique head sculpt with a smile that is quite endearing–the opposite of Jem’s later head sculpt. I think someone took scissors to my Aja’s hair though, since it’s cut unevenly. Or maybe that’s her style. I have no idea. In a nice edgy touch, Aja’s skirt has a snakeskin pattern, suggesting she’s a bit tougher than the other girls.
From what I’ve read, Aja is generally highly sought after because of her excellent overall design. Can’t deny she’s an aesthetically pleasing piece of art.
Shana is arguably the prettiest of them all, from her kinky purple hair to her sweet face to her poofy pink bow. Another work of art from the 1980s toy shelves that more than makes up for her boring counterpart in the cartoon. I imagine a lot of young girls went ga-ga when they saw her on the shelves.
Synergy is basically the holographic ghost of Jem and Kimber’s dead mother. The show kicked things off on a high note, didn’t it? She’s rocking out with her 80s space workout spandex, which normally comes with a headband, but I leave it off since she looks prettier without it. She mostly hangs out in the background, making Jem look cool. I think she’s one of the best-looking pieces in the line.
Video is so cute I just wanna pinch her cheek, although I’d worry about her hair collapsing on me like a condemned building. Her outfit and hair are probably the most outrageous of them all–the detailing on that jacket alone is out of sight.
Video is another lost opportunity on the show. In the Father’s Day episode she gets riled easily and her big mouth makes a bad situation worse in the heat of the moment. They could’ve written a number of episodes or scenarios around Video’s bungling temper being the center of the plot, if not another obstacle. I wish they’d played off of that in other stories–the Holograms are so lacking in character it’s a shame!
Raya is the newest member of the Holograms, a sweet Latina with a fiery temper and a terrible original outfit. I ditched it immediately in favor of Kimber’s Prince getup, which already looks much better on her. Raya is the drummer, and as such came with an extra long stand with a hole for her drums to plug into–as if the stands for these dolls weren’t big enough! Because of her rarity, I don’t have a complete drum set, so that’ll be fun (and expensive) to cobble together. Or I could just leave her a backup singer.
Raya is probably my favorite on the show. She’s a sweetheart. And you also don’t wanna fuck with her. Although I can’t help thinking she would’ve worked as a new Misfit if they’d run with the “angry cholita” thing.
The Holograms shelf is so crowded I had to get creative with her placement.
Appropriately enough, Two-Face began as two different iterations while I struggled to find the right look for him. The final version is on the left, as the suit on the right was far too gaudy (something I repeated with Lex later). I packaged him with a Batman Forever coin as an extra fun touch.
By this point I felt the collection lacked a suitable non-Batman rogues gallery on the DC side of things. The only official DC villain that wasn’t a Batman enemy was Mxyzptlk, who’s a bit on the goofy side.
So despite my not being a Superman fan, a custom Lex Luthor was in order, made from a DC Retro Action Lex and a Green Arrow body. At first he wore the Retro Action costume, but I found it a bit too gaudy and flimsy. I switched to the Super Powers Lex costume, which already looks much better with its darker, more menacing colors and tighter fit.
I don’t know who made this amazing Metallo, but I had to have it as soon as I laid eyes on its retro sci-fi goodness. The only downside to this hobbyist’s masterpiece is the fact that the costume can’t be removed, so if he breaks, I’m outta luck.
As for Wonder Woman…well, I’ll save her nemesis for another post. In the meantime, I can finally have those Legion of Doom secret santa meetings!
Bad girls do indeed have all the fun. The Misfits are pretty much the reason I got into Jem and the Holograms in the first place: their personalities, though unpleasant, were a lot more memorable, and their unorthodox discography had a better ratio of good tunes than the bubblegum-pop-feelgood Holograms did.
The dolls themselves are a stand-out monument to 80s punk synth. What I also like about the dolls’ designs is their fashion sense really reflects their personalities.
Pizzazz is the bratty front man and poster child for the Misfits: she represents their wild fashion sense, their harsh sound, and their nasty disposition. She also matches my backdrop beautifully. I was never crazy about her head sculpt though, and felt it reminded me of a lightbulb.
Roxy is just cute as hell, and never got much of the spotlight in the show. She had one episode that revolved around her, and it portrayed her as a more complex character than we had initially thought. The doll itself stands out by lacking the animal prints favored by her bandmates, opting for a see-through top and pants in a pattern i could only describe as “oil slick”. She obviously doesn’t like to conform too much, even in her own band. Probably why she’s my second favorite.
Stormer seems like the “nice” one of the group, but that’s like saying John Gotti was a nice guy for a gangster. He was still an asshole who killed people; likewise Stormer is still a Misfit, and takes after Pizzazz with the animal patterns, but mixes the Misfits’ unconventional style with traditional femininity (dig those sexy leggings and the flower in her hair). She comes with a ridiculous guitar I don’t much care for, so I gave her my spare keytar instead.
Ahh, the sociopathic criminal of the group. Jetta only got to shine a couple of times in the show, which is criminal (no pun intended) being that she was touted as the newest band member at the start of Season 2. Like Roxy, Jetta enjoys standing out from the others a bit, but still manages to make black and white look insane and very 80s. She has an odd instrument specialty choice: a saxophone, which like her character, doesn’t get utilized in the show or the music as much as it should have been. Overall she’s a nice-looking doll with stylish hair and a cool lightning bolt motif to her facepaint.
Clash is still my favorite, though. She has the best outfit of the lot (though flimsy, apparently, and known to unravel over time), and cute purple rockstar hair to boot. In the show she’s an interesting if pathetic case study of someone who is desperate to fit in with the cool kids, doing any despicable deed she can think of to help screw Jem and impress the Misfits into letting her join the band (they always shortchange her, though). Her color combination of purple, pink, and shades of green creates an odd visual harmony most of the other Misfits lack.
At the risk of further damaging my masculinity, I’ve developed strong feelings for Jem and the Holograms. I remember seeing snippets of it as a child while channel-surfing, and it always stood out to me for some reason.
Now, years later, I’ve revisited the show and found it holds up surprisingly well! Some episodes do, anyway. Some are the usual tripe you’d expect from a girl’s show in the 80s, but the good ones knew how to pull your heart string or keep you coming back after the commercial break, usually by threatening to kill the cast in brutal ways: falling off a cliff, movie set pyrotechnics going berzerk, or the bar they’re in being blown sky-high! In most episodes there was always something intense going on, which made it stand out from the other safe, cutesy shows.
Let’s be honest, though, the Misfits made this show. Like all 80s cartoons, the protagonists were moral pariahs and very boring as a result. The villains had actual human foibles and often felt more fleshed out. So when I started collecting Jem dolls, I had only intended to get the Misfits.
They’re as 80s as it gets, folks. I started with the original three in a single ebay lot: Pizzazz, Roxy, and Stormer. Eventually I picked up Jetta, and finally Clash, my personal favorite, who went as the only one without a base for a while.
Clash has the best outfit of the bunch, I love her purple hair, and she looks great in just about anything.
Jem dolls stand at about 12.5 inches tall, making them a full inch larger than Barbie. This proved to be the toy line’s undoing: they were too big proportionally for Barbie clothes, they were more expensive, and their huge, unwieldy boxes were too big for the toy shelves at department stores, which typically had them tall enough for Barbie boxes. So they’d be laid on their sides or on top of the shelves where kids couldn’t see them very well. Couple that with the more detailed and expensive clothing, AND the inclusion of cassette tapes with original music, and Jem didn’t last on the shelves for more than a few years.
Which is a shame, ‘cos it has infinitely more style and character than Barbie ever did. Barbie’s purpose was to be whatever little girls wanted to be when they grew up, which is great on its own. But as far as having a distinct character as a toy line, she was too amorphous. Jem had a clear identity as a battle between rival glam-rock girl bands, and the music gimmick was a great touch, especially since so many of the tunes are catchy as hell.
Well, eventually I decided I needed to add Jem herself to the mix, because it didn’t seem right to have all the bad girls and no protagonist to torment. I found one in a chic jumpsuit ensemble and bagged her….and she arrived with a stowaway, her sister Kimber! The seller was nice enough to throw her in for free!
My initial reaction: “Cool, she sent me Kimber!”
Later: “Shit, now I need clothes for Kimber!”
Next thing I know, I have both bands on a pair of increasingly crowded shelves, and two awesome homemade backdrops to match.
Maybe it’s my former love of gaudy stuff coming back to haunt me, or maybe it’s just my love of tough chicks. Jem surprisingly ended up being a highlight of the collection amid all the gross and otherwise boyish toys on my shelves.
My quest to create a Punisher lineup for Mego has nearly reached its conclusion! I’ve ended up with six dolls — three good guys and three bad guys — plus two vehicles. Punisher, Micro, and the Battle Van were covered in previous articles. Here’s the rest of the lineup!
Lynn Michaels, aka Lady Punisher! A lovely cop turned vigilante with an unhealthy infatuation with the Punisher, Lynn looks great no matter what she wears or how I pose her. She has a sick black leather jacket (the brown FTC one was disintegrating before my eyes–typical) and a police revolver holstered on her hips. She looks best on the Punisher Cycle, so I’ve pretty much given it to her. Lyn Stahl of Metalhead Minis provided the black lipstick.
Jigsaw! Known as Billy “The Beaut” Russo before Punisher threw him face-first through a window and ruined his pretty mug, Jigsaw’s had it in for Punisher ever since The Amazing Spider-Man #162. I had to revise his shirt color from red to yellow, but otherwise he’s a great likeness. Thanks again, Metalhead Minis!
Saracen! A badass arab mercenary and terrorist who keeps crossing paths with Punisher, first as an ally, then as one of his most hated enemies. O. T. Puente provided the sick-ass suit that’s identical to his costume in the comics.
Sijo! While not as well-known as the other villains in the lineup, Sijo has the distinction of being responsible for the death of Micro’s son in Punisher #9. A behemoth from Japan who loves causing pain, he was a worthy adversary even though he only lasted two issues.
Rosalie Carbone! The mob princess with a grudge was a tough one to pull off. Finding the right outfit for her was enough of a chore — the real doozie was that nose ring. The end result is rather chic and looks like the sort of girl you wouldn’t take home to mother.
Cane! AKA Lorne Quickfall, one of seven contract killers hired by Rosalie to kill the Punisher. Cane was my favorite, and was the most fun to make into an action figure due to his gimmick of using weapons disguised as walking sticks. The cane sword was the toughest accessory I’ve ever had to produce, but it was worth it.
I believe Catwoman only wor this ridiculous costume once in the seventies, and then never again. For whatever reason, Mego decided “Let’s go with the brothel madam look.” Even then, they couldn’t make it look as nice as the box art they got it from, which is admittedly kind of cute.
However, nothing beats Silver Age Catwoman and her sexy getup. Which is why I’m so glad I got my hands on this amazing custom and matching box.
Doncha wish your Catwoman was HOT. like. ME?
I never understood why Congo got such a reputation as one of the worst films of all time. I think people are just bitter that they went in expecting something like Jurassic Park, and got something else instead, so they panned it.
Which is a shame, because it has a lot going for it. It’s an entertaining jungle adventure film like what they used to make way back in the 1930s, with an ensemble cast of quirky protagonists hopping from one insane setpiece to the next: EVERYTHING is out to get them, not just killer apes, but also killer hippos, crooked African paramilitary units, vicious weather, a volcano that threatens to destroy their destination shortly after they arrive, and even dick-eating leeches. It has a cute talking gorilla, and makes it feasible (via possibly fictional “sign language to speech” technology). It features badass guide and scoundrel Munroe Kelly, one of the best characters Ernie Hudson ever got to play; and Laura Linney as a tough female protagonist who doesn’t ditch her femininity. It has Tim Curry chewing the scenery as only he can. It features several memorable one-shot characters, like smart-mouthed Eddie Ventro (Joe Pantoliano), slimy Captain Wanta (Delroy Lindo) who steals the one scene he’s featured in, and the spooky but friendly Ghost Tribesmen. The Zinj apes are scary as hell. The ape suits are remarkably well done, and the apes themselves remarkably well acted. It has a good score by Jerry Goldsmith.
It also has an action figure line that’s hit or miss.
Kenner was notorious for two things: questionable likenesses, and recycling molds from their other toy lines. Congo is an egregious example, with the vehicles and humans consisting of 90% recycled parts from the Jurassic Park and Aliens toy lines of the early 90s. That said, the human protagonists look pretty cool regardless.
If you’re a Jurassic Park collector and find your collection wanting for badass black guys, the Congo toy line is here for you. It has no less than three such figures: barrel chested Kahega (center) and two variants of Munroe Kelly. With the exception of two “deluxe” figures (the Munroe on the right with the working bazooka, and the Bonecrusher ape in the background), none of the figures had action features, which was fine with my past child self: no action features means no weird gimmicks to get in the way. Kenner would have just recycled them from Jurassic Park anyway (they recycled other JP parts within that very same toy line already). I’m disappointed in the lack of Tim Curry here, but I can always try to make a custom figure to include him in the lineup.
Karen Ross is basically Ellen Ripley with a makeover, and I probably like her least as a result. I’d like to get a (unfortunately rare) Sarah Harding figure from the Lost World line and revamp her into a new Karen. She does feature a big “power diamond” which can be fitted onto some of the other figures’ accessories, including Amy’s computer backpack.
Which brings me to the highlight of the Congo toy line: the apes.
Amy is extremely cute and impossible not to love. She comes with her sign language translator just like in the movie, and she’s endearingly dainty compared to the rest of the apes.
Said apes, hailing from the Lost City of Zinj, are a sight to behold. The sculpts are amazing, and they’re made of vinyl just like Bandai Godzilla toys, so they feel just right in your hand. The exceptions are the two Zinj attack monkeys which came with the deluxe figures, and the deluxe Bonecrusher, who rages out with the push of a button on his back.
There was a Pepsi promotional offer where you could mail order a variant of the Blast Face ape (originally named Skinhead, which somehow wasn’t PC enough I guess). Someone on ebay was selling these in droves, so I got three.
A feature that keeps taking me by surprise is the glow-in-the-dark teeth and eyes of the Zinj apes. Totally unnecessary, but it does manage to make these monsters even scarier in the right lighting.