Spotlight on Mego Collector Rob Chatlin
When did you begin to collect Mego toys?
In the 80’s I heavily collected Star Trek, and acquired most of the Mego Trek line at that time, so the figures were never that far removed from my childhood toys.
I seriously started re-collecting all Mego 8” figures in early 1991, When I found a Superman at a toy show. That was the start, and continues to this day.
What was the first Mego figure you remember buying and what were the circumstances (where, when, etc)?
My first Mego was a Removable Cowl Batman, bought by my parents at either JC Penney or Montgomery Ward at the Northland Mall, in Oak Park, MI. Superman, Spiderman, and a few others soon followed. I vividly recall pretending my Dr. McCoy was Mr. Spock, and also had a soldier Ape, and also Long John Silver at various times.
How long from the time you first bought a Mego figure until you considered yourself a collector?
The acquisition of the first post-childhood Superman started things, And soon after I was looking for additional figures and information about them in the pages of Toyshop magazine, and during the boom years of monthly local toy shows. Through both sources, I added numerous figures, mostly WGSH, Trek and POTA.
What were your early favorites?
I have to stick with the classics here – Superman, RC Batman, and Spiderman. I have the most vivid memories of playing with these figures.
How did your family react to collecting? Were they supportive? Disinterested?
Growing up, my Dad and I made weekly buying trips when I collected Star Trek, and he would drive me all over Detroit to used book & comic stores, garage sales, and out of the way flea markets other possible sources to add to “our collection” A day of good finds was celebrated with a trip to Wendy’s for a Frosty. Several trips counted as driving lessons, and I made my first long trip behind the wheel driving my dad to a Star Trek convention a few hours outside of Detroit.
After I moved out west, and began focusing heavily on Mego, I’d tell my dad what to look for, and he’d stop at local garage sales when he could. I think the best thing he ever found was a Green Hornet Pez, which I traded for Mego’s.
How did your collecting develop over the years?
I’ve always been focused on loose figures, at first for financial reasons, but also for display purposes. It’s always more fun to hold The actual toy, like we did as a kid, than just to have it boxed on a shelf, without the tactile joy.
A few years later, as my knowledge and comfort level increased, And I expanded to Mego’s other 8” lines.
Not long after that, I found Scott C. Adams on the nascent Web, Discovered the Mego Museum, and my passion for all things 8” Mego skyrocketed. I expanded from just the figure to include playsets, vehicles, and eventually, as many variant figures as I could find.
I also developed a taste for original Mego marketing materials, Such as dealer catalogs for the toy industry, and other related items.
What do you think of today’s collectors market as opposed to when you first started? (ie is it better or worse for a new collector?)
Collectors new to the market today have it much easier, I think, simply because of resources such as the Mego Museum. Information and knowledge is not only in a central location, but it’s freely and gladly shared. Additionally, on-line connections pair you with friends across the globe with like minded interests. Prior to the internet, a fellow collector might have lived across town and there would be good chance you’d never meet.
And of course, there’s the ebay factor. It’s a 24/7 toy show that will Eventually offer a collector anything they’re looking for.
Combine the vast accessibility of ebay, with the knowledge readily available on-line, and collectors can build a collection to be proud of Much quicker than in the old days.
While it was always fun to find the latest issue of Toyshop in the mailbox, and scour the ads, it was harder to get the items you wanted. Late mail delivery or missed phone connection and you were out of luck. Phone auctions helped, but you were never 100% sure of the honesty of the seller on the other end.
The real shame for current collectors is the passing of local toy shows, where you could meet other collectors, dealers, and hold the toy in question before buying. More importantly, you were able to grow your collection with the joy of immediate gratification that comes from buying toys in person.
Compare what excited you about early on to what excites you now. Is it the same thing?
Mego has always been about happy childhood memories for me, And collecting keeps those memories alive, and builds upon it.
Do you collecting anything else? And if so what?
I’m currently thinning out my collection, mostly due to a lack of space. But in addition to Mego’s, I collected Gabriel’s Lone Ranger toys, and I also have a small collection of WWI & WWII American Propaganda posters.
Are there any items you currently looking for?
With my downsizing, my want list is on hold until I figure out what direction my collection will take, although I know for certain that one day I will own a Removable Cowl Batman on a 1st Issue Kresge card.
Do you have any stories about the one that got away?
At a mid 90’s toy show in Los Angeles, I saw both the Lizard and Green Goblin on a table, and bought them both for about $20. As I was leaving the show, the seller and another guy rushed up to me and said that the guy minding table didn’t know the right price, and sold them lower than he should have. I knew the other guy from the shows, the real owner of the table, and he offered me double my money in hope of getting the figures back. While I really wanted those figures, I did let him have them back.
What is your all time favorite piece?
1st issue Kresge carded Superman with the large S sticker. I wanted one for years and years, and finally pulled the trigger Last years during a Hakes auction.
Do you have any specific toys or collectibles that you have sold that you wish you had kept?
An odd question to answer while I’m selling off the bulk of my collection, but so far, no. Ask me again in a year.
In you opinion what do you find the most rewarding about collecting in general?
It’s a great escape from the stresses of the real world, based on the carefree days of childhood.
I’ve also made several good friends through collecting,
Folks who I would never have met otherwise. And a good friend is priceless.
What advice do you have for people interested in collecting Mego toys and or collectibles?
First, have fun with it! Collect what you love. Patience is a key, especially with the fast paced nature were experiencing due to the internet. Take the time to learn as much as possible, and be educated as you start buying toys. Use the resources available at the Mego Museum and other on-line sources. Ask questions, because someone before you probably asked it already. Ebay can be overwhelming at first, but if you know what you’re doing, you will be fine. We all approach collecting differently, and certainly, we all have different financial constraints and considerations that factor into our love of the hobby. Collecting is a passion of the heart, but don’t forget to use your head as well.
Want to talk to 1300 other Mego Collectors? Visit the MegoMuseum Forums and join in on the fun.