The MegoMuseum was fortunate enough to be invited to Parkdale Novelty’s 75th birthday celebration this month. Parkdale Novelty is of special historical significance to not only Canadian Mego fans but Mego collectors all over the world have been affected by this company and may not even know it.
Founded in 1944 by Toronto resident Morris Kotzer, the company initially found success with souvenirs of Canada (hence the “Novelty” in their name, Parkdale for those not in the know is a neighbourhood in Toronto), the company began to distribute toys and ultimately in 1961 became the official distributor for Mego Corporation.
Above is a photo of Parkdale founder Morris Kotzer and Mego Founder D. David Abrams in Japan (where the majority of Mego toys were then manufactured), the two men remained friends until the end according to Kotzer’s children. In the early 1990s, Abrams remarked to Kotzer that he didn’t have any Mego Wizard of Oz figures and Kotzer personally delivered him a set from his own collection.
Parkdale Novelty would be Mego’s Canadian arm during the company’s highest growth period, airing the commercials, doing live appearances of Apes and Superhero characters and carrying lines such as Action Jackson, Star Trek, the World’s Greatest Superheroes and Planet of the Apes. Often Parkdale would create their own exclusive items and brands, namely the 12″ Superheroes are the brainchild of Morris Kotzer.
This wonderful ad depicting Parkdale Novelty founder Morris Kotzer and his salesman Art as Mego Superheroes shows the incredible sense of humour that Parkdale was known for. Throughout his life and long career, Kotzer would poke fun at himself on the various company catalogs and publications.
Mego Corp and Parkdale Novelty would officially part company in the late 1970s, Parkdale would focus on what is still their core business, plush toys but the story doesn’t end there.
In the early 1980s, the sale of Parkdale Novelty’s massive overstock of Mego Superheroes, Planet of the Apes and most importantly Star Trek figures became known as “The Toronto Warehouse Find”. The majority of this overstock was purchased by a company that would eventually be called “Amazing Third Planet” who would advertise not only in publications like Starlog but on TV as well! These mint on card treasures would be sold to thousands of budding collectors across the globe. The Parkdale Novelty inventory helped start more Mego collections than we’ll ever know…
To celebrate the companies 75th year, Kotzer’s children (who now run Parkdale Novelty) erected a wonderful display of items from Parkdale’s past, many iconic toys have passed through these halls but of course, we were most interested in the Mego selection:
One of the happiest things for me was to see a print out of a MegoMuseum page in the showcases.
As a kid living in the outskirts of Toronto, I looked EVERYWHERE for the Mego Fantastic Four and never found them! I deemed it kind of ironic they’d be on display at Parkdale that day.
One of the more interesting things I was shown was this 1990s attempt to sell Action Jackson overstock outift, Parkdale had a tremendous amount of Action Jackson left over and it only recently found it’s way into collector’s hands. Morris Kotzer had previously rebranded it as “outfits for Superheroes” . This more patriotic approach never got off the ground to our knowledge.
We’d like to thank the Kotzer family for this wonderful trip into an iconic piece of Mego history.
On a personal level, if my dad hadn’t have bought Parkdale Novelty overstock back in the1970s and if Morris Kotzer hadn’t have been so welcoming and patient to a 15 year kid who spent a whopping $150, I probably wouldn’t be writing this at the MegoMuseum at all, so thank you for the inspiration Parkdale Novelty and happy 75th!
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