I’d intended to post this review in October to go with the Halloween theme, but I never got around to it. Not going to make excuses–I just didn’t.
I’ve never been a fan of Mego figures. They were passé by the time I got into action figures as a kid, having been supplanted by the 3 3/4″ revolution of Kenner’s Star Wars line. When I did encounter Mego figures at yard sales and so forth, they seemed a lot more like my sister’s Barbie dolls than my Luke or He-Man figures, so I was never even interested in them. That lack of nostalgia, coupled with a general dislike of soft goods on action figures, is why I have little to no interest in the current Mego revival.
However, it’s not like I vowed never to buy a Mego figure, and when I came across this image on Flickr, it occurred to me that the Devil and Skeleton might make great Halloween decoration figures. I own a number of such that I wouldn’t own otherwise except for their holiday association. For instance, my entire Playmates Simpsons collection consists solely of two of the Treehouse of Horror playsets, which get hauled out every Halloween; ditto for the Forever Fun Great Pumpkin Peanuts set.
I found the “Demonic Devil,” and the Skeleton, along with a third figure that interested me, the Grim Reaper, at Classic TV Toys. (I don’t know a whole lot about the company aside from what their About page says and what I could find on the Web.) The Devil and Reaper were a mere $6 each, while the Skeleton was only $5. What’s more, when the box arrived, there was an extra, headless Mego body in there–not sure why, exactly, but it was a nice touch.
These three (and a half) figures constituted my first-ever Mego-style purchases. And I was very happy with them…until I opened the packages.
Packaging: I love the packaging on these toys. They’re bright and colorful, reminiscent of the old Mego packaging, and feature some very attractive retro graphics. If I were a Mego collector, I might actually consider being a MOC one.
The Skeleton just comes in a plastic bag, perhaps because he was so simply as not to warrant a
Design & Sculpt: Let’s talk about sculpt first.
I’m no expert on Mego sculpts, but some of them seem more “realistic” and detailed while others seem more cartoonish. The realistic heads tend to create something of a disturbing dissonance with the simplistic body. That happens here, with the Devil and, to a lesser degree, the Reaper. Both have excellent head sculpts, particularly the Devil, who reminds me of Neil McCarthy’s Calibos in the original Clash of the Titans. The Reaper’s head, which is identical to the Skeleton’s, is also a sharp, creepy sculpt. The Devil’s head is more realistic, clearly, clashing with his outfit.
The Skeleton, of course, is entirely sculpted. It’s a fairly straightforward Skeleton body, though the head does look a bit too large (which doesn’t really bother me, as I see this as something I’ll just have standing around as a Halloween decoration, not as part of a serious figure display). Unfortunately, it’s a bit too tall to look right next to a MOTUC figure like Skeletor.
The Devil’s outfit is nicely made and tailored, although its design has an almost futuristic look to it (it reminds me of both the Visitors from the original V and Mork from Mork & Mindy). The Reaper’s outfit is just a robe tied around his waist, with a hood stitched on top. Both outfits are very well made.
It’s worth noting that you could put the Reaper’s outfit over the Skeleton and have a Reaper without the hip problems (see below).
Plastic & Paint: The Devil’s head has the best paint work, as you can see from the photo at the top of this review. While some of the black paint strokes are a bit heavy-handed, for the most part it comes out looking sharp. It certainly makes the Devil’s hand stand out in relation to his more cartoonish body.
The Reaper’s head has a yellow/orange wash that really brings out the details in the sculpt, and make it look a lot like a real skull.
Disappointingly the Skeleton, while have the same head sculpt, has no wash at all on either the head or the body. A wash would have done wonders for this figure, bringing out the details and making it a much more appealing toy.
Articulation: The Devil and the Reaper have what I’m guessing is fairly standard Mego articulation: swivel necks, ball-jointed shoulders and hips (sort of–see below), hinged elbows, knees and ankles, swivel-and-hinge wrists, and a ball-jointed torso.
Where I was disappointed by these figures was the bodies–specifically, the legs. I was unaware that Mego shoulders and hips are attached via rubber bands. The arms are fine, but this construction makes the legs stick in various directions–mostly inward, duck-footing the figures, crossing their legs entirely, etc. It makes it virtually impossible to get them to stand, and any sort of interesting poses are out of the question. You basically can’t move the hips into any good configuration.
On the Devil, this problem is slightly mediated by the costume, which is tight enough to keep his legs fairly straight so he can stand; however, that’s the only pose you’re getting. The Reaper’s legs, however, are duck-footed and cannot hold any other pose and straight up-and-down.
If I were more familiar with Mego figures, I might have anticipated this and not have been as disappointed. But I wasn’t, and therefore I am greatly disappointed.
The Skeleton, incidentally, has most of the same articulation, with the exception that he has solid construction (no rubber bands), and only a swivel joint at the waist. His articulation works fine.
Accessories: The Demonic Devil comes with a wonderfully-sculpted trident. The detail is as sharp as that of the head, again contrasting with the rest of the body.
Similarly, the Reaper comes with a scythe with a wonderfully detailed head. The head sits on a rather simple stick, however.
Also, neither figure can hold the accessory very tightly.
Quality Control: Since I’m guessing the hip issue is something endemic to Megos, does it count as a quality control problem? I’m not sure. But aside from the hips, I had no major problems with these toys.
Overall: I really, wanted to like these toys as campy Halloween decorations. Perhaps it’s my own fault for not knowing enough about Mego figures to be aware of the hip issue, but it was definitely disappointing.
Ultimately, the excellent work on the Devil’s sculpting and outfit, along with the fact that it keeps him standing straight, earns him three ravens, while the Skeleton’s lack of the hip issue and general coolness makes him a 3.5. But the Grim Reaper’s lackluster outfit and terrible hips kills his value, even at $6 for the figure. I’ll probably bring the Skeleton out again next Halloween to spruce up my cubicle at work, but the Devil and Reaper’s fates are more uncertain.