Mego Planet of the Apes


The apes section has been written by some of the best known Ape collectors out there, the Mego Museum wishes to thank (in alphabetical order) Mike Jimenez, Anthony MacElveen (ABMAC) and Calvin Weaver for their amazing input, info and photographs.

Intro written by Anthony B. McElveen.

Perhaps Mego's biggest success in movie and television based licenses, the Planet of the Apes line of action figures debuted in 1974.

This was the year following the last of the five Ape films (Battle for the Planet of the Apes), and the year the television series began on CBS. Based on the first classic film, five characters were featured in the initial assortment, including four apes and one lone human. Rather than sculpt a figure based on the Charlton Heston character of "Taylor," or either of the other actors, Mego created a generic representation of our species based on no specific person. (Editor's note: It has been confirmed that Mego did not have the rights to Charlton Heston's likeness.) Named simply the " Astronaut," he was given a flight suit, space helmet, and classic 1970's sideburns. The Chimpanzee figures, Cornelius and Zira (the lone female of the line) were made, along with the diabolical Orangutan, Dr. Zaius. As for the gorillas, once again a single, somewhat rough representative was created, called the "Soldier Ape."

The second series of Planet of the Apes figures was based on the short lived television series, released in 1975. Two humans bearing terrific likenesses of the actors were created, but one suffers to this day from a Mego "typo." The character of Alan Virdon was misspelled "Verdon" in all Mego packaging. His companion, Peter Burke , has been ribbing him about it ever since. Roddy McDowall, who played Cornelius and Caesar in the films, came to television to play a different Chimpanzee role, Galen. The similarities between the Galen and Cornelius figures continue to daunt collectors. This time, Mego created two gorilla figures, with more detailed sculpts. The gorilla generals, Ursus and Urko, have a controversy all their own: For some unexplained reason, EACH figure was released under BOTH names, making both names "correct" for both figures. The confusion has never cleared up.

For the purposes of this site, the helmet-head general shall be referred to as Urko, and the general without helmet is Ursus . To avoid confusion, collectors often refer to them as just "helmet head" and "non-helmet head."

The figures were accompanied by some very creative playsets and accessories, most of which are now featured on this site. Few of these sets had even remotely similar counterparts in the films or on TV. These 8" action figures were sold both in boxes and on blister cards. Note that, though the figures themselves were made several years later, all figures are marked with the 20th Century Fox copyright date of 1967, when the first Ape film was underway. Mego also produced a line of six " Bend 'n Flex" figures featuring some of the same characters.

A number of Playsets were created for the series, while the treehouse and village were recycled from lines such as Action Jackson others such as the Forbidden Zone Trap and Fortress were unique to the line. Recently added is the Action Stallion the apes battery operated horse.

Planet of the Apes was a runaway success for Mego, they wisely outbid rival AHI for the license and it become the fifth best selling toyline in 1975, a mighty achievement..

For more Mego Ads and clippings, click the link.



Like the first series of Planet of the apes figures, the second series ( Galen, Urko, Ursus, Virdon, and Burke) also have three card variations for each figure. Unlike the first series, these variations have to do with copy right information and the Ursus / Urko switch. The first issue cards credits Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp with all the characters. On this card Urko has a helmet (as he did in the TV show) and Ursus is the black faced general.

Since Ursus was not part of the TV show, a correction was made and a second card was issued with an asterix next to Ursus's name, creditting the character to Apjac Productions Inc. and Twentieth Century with all the rest of the characters still creditted to only Twentieth Century. For, as of yet, some unknown reason, Mego decided to switch the names of the Urko and Ursus figures leading to the third and last variation. Figures on any of these three cards can be found with either a type one or type two body.

General Urko  Galen   Virdon and Burke   General Ursus  

Dr Zaius   Cornelius   Zira   Soldier Ape   Astronaut  

Mego Ape Playsets  

The New "Mego Esque" Gallery features Ape Action Figures not made by Mego that you may remember such as the AHI Action Apemen......