Interview: Marty Abrams Talks Rise, Fall And Return Of Mego And Their Star Trek Toys

A few months back, TrekMovie reported on the return of the Mego Toys Corporation – known to Star Trek fans as creators of the very first Star Trek action figures back in the 1970s. Before going out of business in the early ‘80s, Mego produced figures and playsets based on characters and settings from Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

The first wave of new Mego 8-inch figures was released in the summer and sold exclusively at Target stores, and the second wave is due at the end of this month. Both include Star Trek figures, with more expected to come in future waves. As Mego President Marty Abrams himself has stated, “Star Trek is one of the key, driving brands for this whole Mego resurgence.”

Sulu from the first wave of Mego Star Trek figures

Abrams is responsible for those first Trek figures more than 40 years ago and is leading the current Mego revival. He recently spoke to TrekMovie about his company’s long association with the franchise.

Rise and Fall of Mego and Star Trek

Was it a difficult process to acquire the Star Trek license originally in 1974?

Not only wasn’t it difficult, it was a slam dunk. In the ‘70s, Paramount did not have a licensing department, they outsourced it with an agent. He (the agent) was shocked by the level of response to what we did. He was so happy that we took the license, all he charged us was $5,000 advance against a 5% royalty at that time. It was extraordinarily easy. Financially it was not a burden, and because of that we threw all our marketing clout behind it, and that’s why it became so extraordinarily successful for us.

What kind of involvement did Gene Roddenberry have with you and Mego? 

I did get to meet him several times because I was spending a lot of time at Paramount. He was a major supporter of ours, because of the three-dimensional world we created for him.

You were able to get William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy to help promote the original Trek line with toy store appearances, can you talk about that and how it came about?

They didn’t do it for me, they did it for Paramount…Paramount brought in a woman named Dawn Steel to run the licensing and merchandising side of their business, and she was just a dynamo. They were doing it for her because she was a driving force for Star Trek. Leonard always remembered (those appearances); quite candidly, I’m not sure Shatner remembers it. I talked (recently) to his people, and he has no recollection of the Mego presentation.

MEGO made a big push with Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979, but it didn’t really achieve the success of your TOS line. Why do you think the line didn’t succeed? 

The great success of Star Wars drove (Paramount) to make a feature. At that time, Roddenberry had remarkable influence and control over what they were going to do. They made a highly intellectual, spiritual movie versus an action film. They didn’t realize what they were doing, but that put a stake in the heart of the franchise in terms of merchandising. If they would have put out an action film, they would have had some competitive level against Star Wars. But what they put out as a feature was no alternative to Star Wars. It became all Star Wars, no Star Trek.

Marty Abrams in 2017 with the original TOS and TMP Mego line, from The Toys That Made Us (Netflix)

Mego’s return with Star Trek in 2018

The resurrection of MEGO was a bit of a surprise to fans, can you talk about how you were able to bring it back? 

Over the years, people have come to me to bring back Mego, but they all wanted to do it on the collector’s side, where we’d sell a few thousand pieces. I rejected it. We went to Target to see if they would buy the items as mass products and they jumped all over the idea. So, you have a collectible product line that can be priced at mass. (Editor’s note: The current, standard size 8-inch Mego figures are retailing for between $12.99 – $14.99)

Chekov from the first wave of 2018 Mego Star Trek figures

Flash forward to 2018. Did the studio welcome the idea of doing business with MEGO again?

Yes, they were very excited about it, they’ve been very cooperative and strategically important for us. It’s not Paramount anymore. We’re working with CBS now, they run the licensing side of it.

Mirror Kirk and Spock from the first wave of 2018 Mego Star Trek figures

Can you outline what you have planned for the new Mego Star Trek line?  Any plans to go beyond TOS? Do you have a license for other Trek shows and movies?

That’s on the table. We have the rights to all of that, with the exception of the new series (Star Trek: Discovery). We’re going to take it all the way through. We want to complete the Original Series and the movies with Kirk and Spock. And then we’ll look to Picard – both (TNG) television and film, then Janeway, maybe Deep Space Nine down the road. We have to pick the best characters that people want to collect, and we’re open to a lot of discussion on that.

It’s fair to say that the original Gorn and Mugato figures used some cost-cutting measures, is the goal for the new line to make sculpts and costumes more accurate?

The Gorn and Mugato, they were in one or two episodes, they were not major characters. We knew we were not going to sell a lot of them. I was very young, and my staff were my age or younger, so I allowed them to take some license. We weren’t doing it for collectors, at that time, who knew every moment (of the series). We were all goofballs in those days, we could not have that high discipline of, ‘Oh my god, we have to do the actual character.’

Original Mego Mugato figure fit right in with the 70s (Mego Museum)

You mentioned that you had recently reached out to Shatner’s people. Have you solicited the help of any of the original stars of Star Trek to help with promotion of the new line? 

I’d like to make figures of themselves, the real persons, so I can package Shatner as Shatner & Shatner as Kirk, simultaneously. That’s some of the things we’re thinking about. That’s one of the reasons we wanted to get to Bill. Whether we’ll have an opportunity or not, I do not know. We have not yet set up a meeting to speak to him.

No one’s ever done it. There are millions of Kirk figures out there, and what you want is a contemporary Shatner figure to go along with that. We felt collectors would love that.

Are there plans to produce items other than figures, such as role-play toys or playsets?

Not at this point. The action figures are for now going to be it, because we have so many brands. We’ve come up with 60 items this year, it’ll be probably 120 next year. Once we establish the brands, once there’s a larger collector base out there, we will then go back and redo the marketing strategy. The bridge of the Enterprise (‘70s playset) was a very uniquely Mego item and a unique item unto itself. Yes, we will do that, but not in the next 16 months.

Gorn from the second wave of 2018 Mego Star Trek figures

New Star Trek figures available now at Target

The first wave of new Mego Star Trek figures included Sulu, Chekov and a Mirror Universe Kirk and Spock 2-pack. The second wave officially hits store shelves on September 30 and will include a standalone Spock and a new, more screen-accurate rendition of the Gorn. All new Mego figures are available exclusively at Target, available both in stores and online at Target.com.

Spock from the second wave of 2018 Mego Star Trek figures

newest oldest
Notify me of

I remember and owned a lot of the original Mego line. Including the superhero ones. It’s cool to go into Target and see new ones. Mirror Kirk and Spock. That’s a kick. How ’bout doing an official Gary Seven figure?

Kev-1

Good stuff. How about a Gamesters of Triskelion fight arena two pack?

Corylea

The Mirror Spock looks pretty good for the price, but why does Mirror Kirk have BLACK hair? It would have been so easy to get this right!

Mike

The dark hair mimics the hair on the Mego Kirk of the 70’s.

I honestly don’t really get the nostalgia here. I had the Mego figures as a kid and loved them because they were all that existed. But man, if I could have had something like the MacFarlane version of Kirk that just came out… We didn’t love the characters because they were goofy looking and stylized, we loved them despite the fact that they were goofy looking and stylized. I saw the Mirror set at Target last night and it was well done for what it is, I’ll admit. Great packaging! But even at 8 in 1974, I wished the phasers and communicators weren’t blue, I wished the characters looked more like the actors… But hey, if the set gets a couple of kids interested in TOS, awesome!

JRT!

The McFarlane figs are out already?! Gee,I’m not keeping up with the news,lol!

Merchant of Vulcan

Whatever happened to the Nurse Chapel figure which was to be distributed by Diamond Select?

Rodney J. Petrin Jr

I have checked. While these are highly desirable, they are not available at the Target Stores…online only.

PaulB

They are available at several Target stores, not just online. The store stock is not shown online for Mego products, so you have to go into the stores to find these. But yes, they are available IN Target stores, not just online.

Jason

I bought Sulu and Checkov at Target and saw all the other ones. They have many based on old sitcoms. The Star Trek ones seem to be the scarcest to find.

Saw them today when I picked up a copy of Solo.

Don malinowskl

Maybe not at your target but most all have in store by now and they are on an end cap not in the toy aisle yet

Karl Hemstreet

No they aren’t in every target Store ! if all wave 1’s and 2’s where out on time I would have had them all by the time wave 3’s come out . Target doesn’t know how to deal with selling name brand items that are for the target only , And Had all been sold out then they would have been huge flood of them for sale on ebay . Target drop the ball The Kenner STAR WARS Revenge of the sith Mustapher Darth Vader with lava color armor it had 50’000 production run for 2003 ,Which Target only had shipped out from their warehouse was around 9,000 figures . it came out that people started to finding these Target only darth Vader’s at the Disney parks! Some Target warehouse stated that Target sold off the 40,000 figures to Disney .

Jason

From what i’ve seen hanging on shelves at Target it looks like the Star Trek ones are the only ones people are buying

Ricky

wow, I would love to buy some of these, of course I’ll look ridiculous playing with them but…what the heck.

Ricky

That Spock doesn’t look like the one I had in the 70’s. Mirror Spock without the beard looks more like the original.

Mike

I believe it is the same sculpt, bit a bit squeezed from the original.

Vincent Barajas

Hi, all. I conducted the interview for TrekMovie. Abrams says the Mego team is “open to a lot of discussion” on which characters the company makes, and he implied that fan feedback is welcome. So I am curious – what are some of the characters Star Trek fans would most like to see get the Mego treatment?

Corylea

Mirror Spock is cute and all, but what I really want is regular TOS Spock — with blue shirt, without beard, with tricorder (not phaser).

Vincent Barajas

You’ve got it. The standard Spock is part of wave 2 of the figures.

Corylea

Thanks!

Merchant of Vulcan

Well how about Janice Rand, Gary Mitchell, Dr Daystrom, one of Landrus’ Lawgivers, Ruk, a Taurus II creature from Galileo 7, Edith Keeler, Lt M’Ress, NOMAD, Andorian, Tellarite, female Romulan Commander, Kara, Losira and/or Janice Lester. Thanks for listening! My Taco Bell fund stands at the ready.

Kev-1

I’ll throw in a couple more: Kirk and Spock in TMP spacesuits (works for Chekhov and Terrell in STII), TMP TWOK Security guard in armor with helmet, Scotty in Engineering suit (movies), Kirk in Landing Jacket (TMP TWOK), TOS spacesuit figures, T’Pau, I’ll second Gary Seven, Kirk with Phaser rifle from pilot, Anthropomorphized Tholian and Yarnek, Capellan, Vulcan Guard (Amok Time), Commodores Decker, Mendez, Stone, Edith Keeler, Shana, Trelane, Lal and Thann, Ruk, Janice Rand, Doctor M’Benga, Tyree, Salt Vampire, Sarek, Amanda, Nomad. And that’s enough for one person. Thanks.

Mirror Marlena would be a great complement to the “Mirror, Mirror” set. The Romulan commander from “The Enterprise Incident” and Mara from “Day of the Dove” would be eye-catchers on the pegs, and an opportunity to add a balance of strong female characters to the line as well.

Bill

I would like the big 7 re-released so I can collect them all then we can move on to the extra people. I never got past Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock when I was a kid.

Paul R. Faulkner

Any particular reason he doesn’t mention the Diamond Select line that was sold at Toys R Us? He mentioned people came to him with ideas to look only at the collector side of things, and he always vetoed it. But his picture is definitely on the back of the Star Trek Megos from Diamond Select. They already did Sulu and Checkov, as well as an accurate Gorn in that line. I have all three of them. Curious what makes these different than those.

ALSO, I want a Sarek (TOS style), and if they get into making the original crew as they appeared in the films, Id love to have a Robin Curtis era Saavik, Amanda (from St: IV), Sarek and the Klingon Ambassador (From Treks IV and VI).

nasty man

He’s right, TMP should’ve been an action movie – space battles, phaser fights, Kirk fist fights, alien babes(with hair), Klingon villains, alien planets, weird trippy Twilight Zone type stuff etc. Like the more actiony eps of TOS but on a bigger scale. That’s what audiences wanted especially after Star Wars 2 years earlier. Instead they got Star Bores A Snooze Odyssey that bored the hell out of kids, teens, adults and left the fans having to make excuses as to why they were fans.. a film that no one wanted action figures to

Merchant of Vulcan

Yes of course. Genes’ Vision dictated what became TMP but the figures were still interesting and very collectible even today.

Jonboc

They’re cool, but they should’ve left the packaging alone. If your figures are still on the cards, the new ones won’t display very well, the packing is too different.

Vincent Barajas

Off the top of my head, five I’d like to see are: Kang with sabre (as in Day of the Dove), Flint (from Requiem for Methuselah – did even Playmates do that one?), Khan in either red Starfleet uniform or gold jacket, Harry Mudd and Trelane. Honorable mention to Ruk.

Merchant of Vulcan

All good!

Victorinox

“what you want is a contemporary Shatner figure to go along with that”

No. I really don’t.

I’m basically all in for new Star Trek Megos, but I’d really go for Captain Pike, Gary Seven, Janice, Christine, Gary Mitchell, a Sarek and Amanda two-pack… And I’d love to see re-issues of the TMP Megos or regular Mego scale with the TMP uniforms. (And slightly off topic, I would love classic Mission Impossible Megos, or 70s Galactica Megos, too.)

Relevant Information for me that i was actually looking for.

CIndy

Anyone know why Target pulled these from the stores starting Sunday 10.7.2018?
Only on line now

PaulB

It’s the 19th now, and MEGO figures are still on shelves at my local Targets. They moved them from the endcap into the regular action-figure aisle, next to Marvel figures in the stores around here.

I’ve seen reports like yours, of Targets pulling them, but at least a few were just overlooking the figures in the aisle, expecting to find them on the endcap.

Either way, good luck! Spock has been restocked online once, sold out quickly again, so I doubt he’ll even make it to the shelves at all. Gorn is close behind.

Brandon

I would like to get a figure of Redjac, the Balok puppet, Ruk and all the others mentioned here