Mego Planet Of The Apes Action Figures

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2015-06-26 10:39:47

Mego Planet of the Apes action figures are toys based on characters from the science-fiction franchise ‘Planet of the Apes’.

 

Background

‘Planet of the Apes’ began life as a science-fiction novel by the French author Pierre Boulle in 1963, before being adapted into a franchise of five feature films. These films were followed by a short-lived television series in 1974, an animated cartoon series in 1975 and a range of comic books.

The final film of the original series was released in 1973, but a wide-scale marketing campaign by 20th Century Fox ensured that the franchise gained further success. The first two feature films were shown on television for the first time, and movie marathons featuring all five films were shown in cinemas across the U.S.

Posters declaring “20th Century Fox Wants You to Go Ape!” appeared, mimicking the Uncle Sam U.S Army recruitement posters from the First World War. A wave of ‘Apes’ merchandise was released to cash in on the so-called ‘Ape Mania’, ranging from lunchboxes to board games, and in 1973 Mego purchased the rights to create action figures based on the films.

The Mego Planet of the Apes action figures

The first series of ‘Apes’ figures was released in 1974, with five toys based on characters from the original film: Cornelius, Dr Zaius, Zira, Soldier Ape and Astronaut. The generic astronaut figure was included as it was far cheaper to use an existing head than pay for the likeness rights to base it on Charlton Heston (who played the main human character in the first film).

The first series of figures was initially sold in solid, windowless boxes, but these were quickly changed when kids realized they could remove the accessories from the boxes without it being noticed. The figures then became the first action figures to be sold in off-centre blister cards, which has remained a standard packaging method ever since.

The figures proved hugely popular, contributing to the company’s most successful ever year and appearing in the list of the years ten most popular children’s toys in the U.S.

The second series of figures was released in 1975, with five based on characters from the short-lived ‘Planet of the Apes’ television series. These were: Alan Verdon, Peter Burke, Galen, General Urko and General Ursus. This time the two human figures were based on the actors who played them (Ron Harper and James Naughton), and the Galen figure was simply the Cornelius figure from the first series renamed and repackaged as both characters were played by actor Roddy McDowell.

At the same time the first series was re-released, and both sets of figures were once again successful. However, the television series was cancelled after 15 episodes (ending in December 1974) and the popularity of the franchise quickly subsided. Mego ended production on the toys and by 1976 they were no more.

List of figures

  • Alan Verdon
  • Astronaut

  • Cornelius

  • Dr Zaius

  • Galen

  • General Urko

  • General Ursus

  • Peter Burke

  • Soldier Ape

  • Zira

In addition to the figures, Mego also produced a number of playsets: These were:

  • Action Stallion
  • Battering Ram
  • Catapult & WAGON
  • Forbidden Zone
  • Fortress
  • Jail
  • Rock Launcher
  • Throne
  • Treehouse
  • Village
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