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Saturday, March 24, 2012

THE MEGO ELASTIC SUPERHEROES


THE MEGO ELASTIC SUPERHEROES

A Complete Collector’s Analysis



By

John “The Mego Stretch Hulk” Cimino




INTRODUCTION

During 1979, the year of their 25th Anniversary, Mego Corporation was beginning to show signs of losing their war to other toy companies and success that they had in the earlier part of the decade. At this time Mego went after Kenner’s market share by taking their idea of a stretch toy that was incredibly popular with kids during the last three years called Stretch Armstrong. Thus, in April of that year, Mego’s “Elastic Superheroes” line was born! Spider-man, Superman, Batman, Hulk and Plastic Man (who was included in 1980) became these chunky, corn syrup filled latex 13” super figures. And for the youngsters, Mickey Mouse, Casper, and Donald Duck were released. There were also 4 commercials produced for this line, 3 included the Superheroes while 1 showcased the other characters. 



Marvel Mego Elastic commercial



DC Mego Elastic commercial



Disney Mego Elastic commercial



At first, these figures were a hit but as time went on this line proved to be more of a problem to a company that found it harder and harder to rebound from them. “I wouldn’t call it a bust, but it had all kinds of heartaches,” said Mego warehouse manager Ray Demato. “They used to explode, and the corn syrup would go all over the place. They may have sold a lot of them, but they all ruptured!” Also it was stated that the warehouse soon began to have rat problems. But those weren't the only obstacles. In 1981, Kenner filed a lawsuit against Mego. They claimed that Mego “knowingly and willfully misappropriated” trade secrets regarding the manufacture of stretch dolls. This case can be read in full at this link:






The Mego Elastic toy ads that appeared in the 1979 December comics of DC and Marvel. 


As a result, Mego stopped producing the Elastic figures in July of 1980 with the remaining figures on the shelves recalled and destroyed. Those that didn't make it back to the factory were found in clearance bins and eventually fell into toy obscurity. A sad ending to a great line that would go unnoticed to collectors and fans for many, many years.

There would be times through the 80’s and 90’s that a stretch hero would turn up at a toy fair, in a toy article, a price guide, or pictures of them on random articles on Mego. Even Mego legendary collector, John Bonavita made a price guide in 1999 called “Mego Action Figure Toys” that listed them. But truth be told, many of these figures remained invisible next to other Mego toys and sales for them were low (selling between 200.00 thru 400.00 dollars for ones that were MIB). Many figures that managed to be stored had to be in perfect conditions because soon they were leaking and being discarded, this only added to their ability to not be desired by collectors.


The Heroes World Catalog #2 ad from 1979 featuring the Elastic Superheroes selling for 16.99 each. 


When EBay started to pick up steam in the 2000’s, things that were not readily available to collectors and fans now had axis to them. When the generation that grew up with toys in the 70’s got a taste of the childhood blues and went looking for things to reclaim their youth, it was no surprise that Mego, Bruce Lee, Kiss, Shogun Warriors and Stretch Armstrong were at the top of their want lists. Prices would now skyrocket due to demand. Figures and accessories that were totally mint in the box were going for big money.

In the summer of 2006, crazed collectors battled it out for a perfect MIB Elastic Batman that was never seen on EBay before. The final price ended at an astonishing 15,100.00 making this one of the highest selling Mego pieces ever (not to mention the 14th highest sale ever on EBay for a toy)!!! Sure enough after this, awareness for the Mego Elastic line was the center of the Mego universe. A Hulk Elastic soon sold a few months later for a whopping 7,400.00!!! Mego fans and collectors alike were surprised that these were selling so much more than before. New discoveries on how truly rare and fragile these figures were was now becoming known. Finding a perfect Mego Elastic figure is next to impossible today and if one is found it can go for mucho $$$$!!!

Times really have changed in the Mego collectors market. A line of figures once thought to be almost obsolete is now one of the major players among collectors. And even the imports, like the Denys Fisher Stretch Hulk and the Ensueno Elastico Superheroes (who also produced a commercial for their stretch figures in Mexico) have risen into prominence. 

So how much does the Mego Elastics really sell for? What do I look for? What do these things come with? Well, there has never been a definitive guide to this line of figures until now. I’m here to put an end to the myth of over-hyped prices and false claims. I’ve kept a keen eye on this market for years as well as speaking to a ton of dealers, sellers and collectors and asked them directly what they paid and sold their stretch figure for (and in what condition). What I got were some interesting numbers. As we know, there can never be a definitive price on something someone would pay for a toy, so remember that this is just a guide. Any buyer must use their own discretion. Then I’ll write about restored figures and reproduction boxes, instructions, etc. and what effect they have on value. And finally, I’ll end off this write up by showing some pictures throughout the history of these stretch figures with some interesting info. 





Mego would go all out to promote the “New” Elastic Superheroes line in the Mego 1979 promo toy catalog. Notice the Hulk got his very own solo page because of his rise in popularity due to the live action series that starred Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. 




THE NEED TO KNOW

If you’re getting into this line you need to know the variables and different things these figures have and come with. This is what you need to look for:




1.) FIGURE:

This is one of the rare times that the overall condition of the actual toy depends on the price. Some toys and figures can get away with a few problems as long as the box is nice. This is not true for these toys. These figures are very fragile that a minor imperfection can be a big difference in value. You need to look for the body (skin/latex), brightness of colors, bubbles, head, neck (leaks are common here), fullness of syrup (this is very important because some figures that are more full and supple than others can demand a higher price).





2.) COFFIN, COVER AND BOX:

Like any toy the box is a must for the ultimate collector. There are three basic pieces to a Mego Elastic box. The styrofoam coffin that the figure lies in, the clear plastic cover that is placed on top of the coffin that holds the figure in place and the box itself. These pieces must be present and all available when determining the price of the figure.




3.) OUTFITS:

Each figure comes with an article of clothing that makes up the costume of the character. I will list each individual piece with each figure below. The colors and conditions of each piece of clothing is very essential to the value of the figure.




4.) INSTRUCTIONS:

Each figure came with an instruction sheet with wording on both sides. One side would tell you how to put the outfits on the figure and the other side would tell you how to use your figure and what you should do if it leaks. The instructions for Hulk, Spider-man, and Plastic man had individual instructions for each of them as Batman and Superman were both shown on one instruction sheet together. It should be noted that sometimes the wrong instructions for a character were put in with the wrong figure. This is something to look for and hopefully doesn’t hurt the value even though all the instructions basically say the same things.

Here are two fully complete examples of a Denys Fisher stretch Hulk and a Mego Elastic Hulk. They include complete and mint boxes, covers, instructions, coffins, outfits, and figures. When a figure is listed as “complete” it will include all the pieces listed here. 



THE PRICE CATEGORIES

The figures are priced in these categories.




LOOSE BOX (LB):
This is a price range for a loose box without the figure itself. It may or may not contain all the pieces to what the figure originally came with (box, lid, instructions, etc.). A high-end price is generally for a C-10 mint box.




LOOSE/DAMAGED (L/D):
This is when the figure has no box and may or may not have a full outfit and is suffering from skin, body and or syrup damage. Figure could also be leaking as well.





LOOSE/COMPLETE (L/C):
This is when the figure is complete with outfit and in mint shape but without a box.



MINT IN BOX (MIB):
This is where the price value jumps dramatically because it is so hard to attain a truly mint unrestored stretch figure and box with all the fixings included. This is a range of prices from where there can be many variables but for the most part the figure and box is present and complete. It can sell for the low-end price depending on some factors (a ripped box lid, for example) or the high-end price (absolutely flawless). Use this range when purchasing a boxed stretch figure.

In the three examples of MIB stretch figures pictured above, you’ll notice that the Plastic Man figure is deflated and damaged. But being that it is boxed and complete, it can still command a low-end MIB price tag. The Superman figure and box seem absolutely flawless and should command a high-end MIB price tag. The Hulk figure seems perfect except for some box damage and could be within the middle range of the high and low-end MIB values.




THE DC HEROES



Mego's promo toy catalog from 1980 introduced the new Plastic Man Elastic hero to the line 



BATMAN

The caped crusader has always been a huge Mego seller in all their toy lines so it was no surprise to add him to the Mego Elastic Superheroes. The head sculpt is exceptional with traditional Batman scowl and the figures outfit includes a blue cape and black shorts with a yellow trim. But this figure is more than just an awesome representation of Batman. This figure is probably the most important stretch figure of the 21st century! Why may you ask, because this figure basically opened up the entire stretch market back in 2006 when a "flawless" MIB figure sold for a whopping 15,100.00!!! And with that sale came new interest to the stretch market making prices skyrocket! A year later in 2007 another boxed Elastic Batman showed up and despite its flaws, still netted 7,500.00! Today, those sales are the stuff of toy collector’s legend. And throw in the fact that this figure is extremely rare with only a small handful remaining in various conditions. This Elastic figure will always be tops in the entire stretch market and in the realm of all the Batman memorabilia that's out there!! HOLY INFLATION BATMAN!!!!

LB: 200.00 to 300.00 L/D: 1,000.00 L/C: 4,000.00 MIB: 6,000.00 to 15,000.00




SUPERMAN

The Man of Steel stretch was one of the more produced figures in the line but today there are very few of them around. He comes with an awesome Christopher Reeves-like face head-sculpt red cape, and red shorts with yellow trim. He also comes with a yellow “S” decal that was made to be put on the back of his cape. This decal is one of the most commonly missing pieces. It can also sometimes be found already stuck on the back of his cape. Make sure you look for this because a perfect decal still intact may command more money than a sticker that is already removed. Despite his numbers, finding an unrestored Superman in flawless condition is very hard to do.

LB: 50.00 to 100.00 L/D: 300.00 L/C: 600.00 MIB: 2,000.00 to 5,000.00


This is the "S" decal that came with the Elastic Superman figure that was to be stuck on his cape.


PLASTIC MAN

Plastic Man was the last and most perfect figure in the stretch line to be released. It should also be noted that this was the very first Plastic Man figure ever made, and it represents the hero and his powers so well. He had the goofy head sculpt and red outfit top, red shorts with black belt trim. He was just about perfect! It’s a wonder why they never did a Mr. Fantastic figure. And why not add him? Mego was trying to capitalize on the Saturday morning cartoon that was playing on ABC stations in 1980. But as perfect as this figure was to the toy line, he just didn’t match up. He wasn’t a big seller like the other Elastics so he was the least produced. Mego would also soon lose the court case with Kenner and most of these figures were removed from shelves and destroyed. With the ones that did sell, very few had survived eager kid’s hands. And what all this managed to do was make Plastic Man one of the rarest stretch figures in the world today. A discovered MIB Plastic Man actually sold for a whopping 5,900.00 in May of 2008.

LB: 100.00 to 200.00 L/D: 500.00 L/C: 1,000.00 MIB: 4,000.00 to 6,000.00




THE DC IMPORTS

Mego expanded its stretch base to Mexico with the creation of the Ensueno Elastico figures. These stretch figures are not as in demand as their Mego versions, although stretch collectors can't get enough of them. They were slightly different from their American counter parts. Their boxes were taller and flatter, they didn't come on styrofoam coffins, the plastic lids were a different shape, they didn't come with instructions, and the fabric of the figures outfits were thicker. Batman, Superman, Spider-man, Hulk and Plastic Man stretch figures were made before the stretch line came to a halt. Today, the remaining figures left are very difficult to find. 



The complete Ensueño Elastico Batman, Superman and Plastic Man figures can be seen here.



BATMAN

The Dark Knight Detective is always a guaranteed seller, even overseas. The Batman Elastico figure is very, very rare and one of the toughest stretch figures to find in any condition. Finding one in flawless condition could be one of the hardest things a stretch collector can do. This Batman looks much like his American version with the same head sculpt, and skin color, but has a pure black cape and shorts (which sometimes has a yellow belt trimming on it). He may not command the respect his Mego version does but this stretch is highly wanted and desired by all major stretch collectors and it can command a major price tag on the open market.

LB: 200.00 to 300.00 L/D: 1,000.00 L/C: 4,000.00 MIB: 6,000.00 to 15,000.00







SUPERMAN

Superman's popularity on a worldwide scale is extraordinary. This version of Superman has the most noticeable changes to his Mego version. Although this figure sports the same head-sculpt, he has a much darker blue latex skin color, darker red shorts without the yellow trim and he doesn't come with a yellow “S” decal to stick on his cape. I'm sure the more Superman collector's know about this toy the more his demand and value will increase.

LB: 100.00 to 150.00 L/D: 300.00 L/C: 600.00 MIB: 3,000.00 to 6,000.00




PLASTIC MAN

This version of Plastic Man has never been seen and questions will always come up on how rare it truly is. Only a few hundred Plastic Man stretch figures were released in America back in 1980 before the Kenner lawsuit came into effect and stopped production. So one can assume about the same number was released by Ensueno to the public in Mexico. But if this figure ever did come up, the price ranges would still be in the same ballpark as the American version. There has never been a still picture of this figure so I couldn’t include it. But you can check the link at the start of this section to see footage on this figure. From that footage you can see that the Ensueno Plastic Man figure looks much like the American Mego figure without much difference.

LB: 100.00 to 200.00 L/D: 500.00 L/C: 1,000.00 MIB: 4,000.00 to 6,000.00



Around the late 90's, a few gray bodied Plastic Man figures in clear plastic bags started showing up from Mexico. In the 2000's a few Superman's surfaced. Today, these are commonly mistaken as being rare prototypes, but the truth is, they are not. They seem to be factory sealed seconds that came from some warehouse with possibly excess material from the Ensueno Elastico days. They have gray bodies that are made from a thin latex lining and are not filled with any corn syrup. Either way, these are a cheaper way to own a stretch figure without the expense or the headaches. 



SUPERMAN

The rare gray bodied Mexican Superman is more tougher to locate than the Plastic Man of this type. There seems to be a few of them floating around and all seem to be in pretty good condition (some are packaged and some loose). The head sculpt is the traditional Christopher Reeves-like face that states “DC Comics 1980” behind the neck. This anomaly of a Superman stretch figure stays consistent on the price ranges given.

LB: NA L/D: 30.00 L/C: 100.00 MIB: 100.00 to 150.00



PLASTIC MAN

This Plastic Man figure was the first of these types of Mexican stretches to appear. He is more common to locate than the Superman version. This Plastic Man stretch is much easier to locate than the Mego or Ensueno versions. His head sculpt is also the same with “DC Comics 1980” scripted on the back of his neck. If you are ever in the market for a Plastic Man stretch figure, this one is a great alternative.

LB: NA L/D: 10.00 L/C: 40.00 MIB: 50.00 to 80.00







THE MARVEL HEROES



Mego's promo toy catalog from 1980 shows the power of the Mego Marvels 



HULK

With Mego trying to capitalize on the Hulk live-action series that was all the rage in the late 70's. They distributed the Hulk Elastic figure first and separately from the others (you'll also notice that the Hulk came with a different box). This figure sold a ton, but unfortunately, not many would survive the next 30 years. And today this figure remains one of the most elusive and most rare of the entire stretch line. Finding one in perfect condition is next to impossible, with only 1 known that hasn't been restored in any way and isn't in need of any repair. This Hulk looks fantastic and I believe it to be the best representation Mego ever did of the hero. With his big, bulky body, purple pants and mean green head sculpt, he is the Hulk in all his glory! He is also by far the heaviest stretch figure ever made. With a magical look, it's no surprise why this toy is considered the stuff of legend in the realm of Hulk memorabilia. It remains the supreme “Holy Grail” of all Hulk collectibles! His constant demand from Hulk, Mego and stretch fanatics give this toy a very high price tag (one of the two remaining mint ones sold for 7,400 in 2006 and was later resold for 5,000 in 2008). Not to mention huge sales for Hulk's in poor to good condition. Simply put, this Hulk toy is the strongest one there is.

LB: 100.00 to 150.00 L/D: 500.00 L/C: 1,000.00 MIB: 4,000.00 to 8,000.00




SPIDER-MAN

Ol' Web-Head remains the most popular and most produced figure in the entire stretch line. He is the most consistent figure to appear but he also seems to be the one most commonly damaged. It seems the red dye on the latex skin brakes down more often than the others. So if you are in the market for a Spider-man figure, be sure you are privy to this information and take care of it. But even poor conditioned figures find their way into collections on a regular basis. Hell, I can't remember an auction were one of these Spidey's didn't sell. With his awesome head sculpt and blue pants, Spidey just looks so cool!!! Why wouldn't toy collectors crave one? This figure is highly sought after by all Spider-man collectors and remains one of the premier Spidey pieces they can get. 

L/B: 50.00 to 100.00 L/D: 300.00 L/C: 500.00 MIB: 2,000.00 to 4,000.00






THE MARVEL IMPORTS

Denys Fisher was a company in Europe licensed under Mego (they also produced the Stretch Armstrong and all their other stretch figures overseas for Kenner). In 1979, Mego used their Marvel license to have them make a stretch Hulk figure. This Hulk was manufactured in the Thorp Arch Estates in Wethergy, England. It was only distributed in Europe and was never made available in the United States. It was said to be sold only out of either Kays or Freemans mailorder catalogs. Only a small amount made their way into some local UK stores. One of these stores was called the Asda Supermarket in Doncaster, England. The Hulk had a price tag of only 8.99 (about 15.00 in US currency at the time). This Hulk remains as the only Denys Fisher stretch figure import available.


HULK

This Hulk stretch figure is smaller than his American Mego counterpart. While Denys Fisher had made a great head sculpt, the body was made from the same mold as the Stretch Armstrong (so he was more leaner and muscular). His yellow box graphic design is also made in the traditional Stretch Armstrong set up with side shots of the stretch Hulk locking up against the Stretch Monster. He also came with either a styrofoam coffin or a black hard plastic coffin with lid (both seem to be molded to fit the Stretch Monster). This Hulk remains a rare and elusive stretch (but more commonly found than the Mego Elastic Hulk) with a fair amount of them that are still in great condition. He is also another “Grail” among Hulk collector fanboy's and stretch collectors alike. It could be argued which stretch Hulk figure is in more demand, the Mego Elastic Figure or the Denys Fisher Stretch figure. But whatever your preference, both Hulk's are highly sought after and in demand.

LB: 100.00 to 150.00 L/D: 400.00 L/C: 800.00 MIB: 2,000.00 to 4,000.00
With black hard plastic coffin

With styrofoam coffin


HULK

The Ensueno Elastico Hulk is another very, very rare stretch figure seldom ever seen. It wasn’t even known to exist until it was recently seen in the background of a picture from the “Ensueno Juguetes Elastico Christmas with Chavelo” special that aired in Mexico back in 1980. This Hulk didn’t have a red box that separated it from the other Elastico figures. The box is white with a green Elastico logo at the top and Hulk picture on the side. And judging from the picture below, the Hulk’s green latex skin is a lighter shade than its American version as well as having darker purple pants. The price range of this figure will get at “least” what his Mego version will and I have every reason to believe that the Elastico box alone could go for more than his American red box would. Happy hunting Hulk fans because this Hulk figure will be harder to find than a Gamma-Bomb!!

LB: 200.00 to 300.00 L/D: 500.00 L/C: 1,000.00 MIB: 4,000.00 to 10,000.00


Footage on the ultra-rare Ensueno Elastico Hulk is a sight to behold!



SPIDER-MAN

Now if the Hulk Ensueno Elastico figure is mega-rare, how rare is the Spider-man figure? If you can believe it, it’s probably more so, if that’s possible. Why? Because there is no evidence that it even exists. In all the footage we have seen from the “Ensueno Juguetes Elastico Christmas with Chavelo” special, we never see a Spider-man figure. It is only seen on the Ensueno commercial. There are no still pictures or anything to see this toy so giving a description of the figure is impossible. With that said, it would go for much more in the open market complete with its box than the Mego version.

LB: 200.00 to 300.00 L/D: 300.00 L/C: 500.00 MIB: 4,000.00 to 10,000.00


Ensueno aired 1 Elastico Superhero and 1 Elastico Disney commercial in Mexico (which was just dubbed over versions of the American ones). This is the only known proof that a Elastico Spider-man was available although it has never been seen.




RESTORED AND REPRODUCTION


Let's face the facts, finding a stretch figure is rare. But finding one that is absolutely flawless without any restoration or fix ups with its original corn syrup and box intact is another matter entirely. This section is here to help out collectors understand how values can change (and in some cases not) in the world of stretch collecting.

This is a subject I got to give, Tony Galla from www.stretcharmstrongworld.com  props for because he really perfected this craft and moved the stretch market to a new level. Before this guy came along reproduction boxes, instructions, etc. were nonexistent and any restoration that was made on a stretch figure was very poorly and crudely done.

Reproduction boxes had worked great for Mego's “World's Greatest Superheroes” 8” line in the past and was very commonly done to increase a loose figures value. Today, this process works great for the Mego Elastic line (if it is done well).


A reproduction of the Mego Elastic Hulk box from the masterful work of Tony Galla. It's almost impossible to tell this reproduced box from the original 


Tony, has patched many stretch figures that have been long dead and leaking and reproduced boxes, styrofoam coffins, lids, instructions and even outfits with amazing results. He has even cleaned up boxes that were stained or damaged with corn syrup leakage throughout the years from a figure to look as good as new. His expertise and quality has worked so well in the stretch market, that stretches that were just about in the grave and would sell for very low prices would be restored to glory and command low-end MIB prices!!!

A popular system for restoring a broken down figure is repairing the latex skin with liquid latex and then painting it to the figures exact specifications. Another system is draining and then refilling the corn syrup inside the stretch figure. Sometimes a figure is refilled with cotton or corn cobs (from Vac Man figures). These work well because it still gives the figure the soft, pudgy, thick look that they are known for. While this process also insures that the figure can remain perfect for the next 30 years without any threats of leaks.





This is what good quality restoration is all about. Believe it or not these two Mego Elastic Hulk's are the exact same figure. With latex patch work done to the hands and back, drained corn syrup, refilled with corn cobs and added to a reproduced box, this figure looks just about perfect. Value for this Hulk was originally bought for 300.00 and later resold for 3000.00!  


An Elastic Spider-man that was in really bad shape gets the liquid latex treatment (first pic). Now the “Amazing” has been put back into Spidey with patchwork, cotton-stuffed refill and reproduced blue pants (bottom pic). It is truly a beautiful sight to behold a restored stretch that looks like this. 


So how does restoration and reproduction effect the value of a stretch figure? First, it depends on the quality level of work made on the figure, box, etc. If it is professionally done, the value can skyrocket. A poor job can actually hurt the value of the figure even more. Second, it depends on what the buyer wants. Many collector's go out looking for a flawless stretch figure and most of the time come up short because they are too hard to find. Another problem they face is such a high price tag if they do see one.

Historically, restoration has done wonders for the stretch market. Most collectors don't have any problem with it done on a stretch figure as long as it is still fully complete and it looks good. From all the collectors that I've spoken to, the majority have said that they just want a specific figure that looks good for display and will not leak and have problems in the future. This is the guarantee a restored figure can make. Many toy collectors always chose to stay away from collecting stretch figures in the past because of how fragile they are (some collectors even called them “water balloons”). It seems that restored figures that are filled with cotton or corn cobs are a popular choice. This also works well if a stretch can't be refilled with corn syrup again because the skin may be too damaged to take the weight. Two Elastic Spider-man's sold in 2006 for well over 2,000.00 each that were restored and refilled with cotton and came with original box, coffin, lid and instructions. This was a major investment because the seller originally bought both broken down and leaked Spider-man's for only 300.00 each. Now that's profit!!!





These above pictures of a restored Elastic Spider-man shows just how efficient a cotton-stuffed refill can make the figure look. Even when drained of the corn syrup, it has the same thickness and width as it originally did but this time without any of the headaches. The box and instructions were also cleaned of all the corn syrup staining it had received through years of improper storage. Now this Spider-man won't leak or split and can display in spectacular fashion for another 30 plus years.  




These are prime examples of more restored Mego Elastic Hulk's that now commands low-end MIB prices (which is about 4,000). The Hulk figure at the top had major patchwork on it's latex skin, refilled with corn cobs and given a reproduction box as well as a reproduction styrofoam coffin (it's missing the instructions and plastic cover). This Hulk was sold for 3000.00! The Hulk figure below it also had major patch work on the skin, refilled with new corn syrup and although the box is ripped and missing its plastic cover, it is original (and includes original instructions that is not shown). This Hulk sold for 4,500.00! When a stretch figure gets restored with such quality the value and prestige can increase greatly. 


In ending, restoration and reproduction is a creative and great way to maintain the life and value of anyones stretch figure. So make sure if you are going to operate on one of your broken down stretch figures you go to someone with experience (I wouldn't recommend doing it yourself). I'm sure the money spent on the restoration is well worth the investment in the end. 





RANDOM PICTURES AND INFO

This section highlights some wonderful moments in time in the world of the stretch! It's a treat for all fanatics like me, who just can't ever have enough latex and corn syrup.

James (Jeep) O. Kuhn is the inventor of the legendary
Stretch Armstrong figure back in 1974 (he also created the
Easy-Bake-Oven). He did not receive a patent by Kenner
until 1979. The Mego Elastic line owes everything to this
man since they basically copied his idea. He passed away
at 75 in 2005 from cancer.



The toys that started it all, Stretch Armstrong (top) was released in 1976 and his arch-nemesis the Stretch Monster (bottom) came along a year later in 1977 and broke all the rules for creativity. Kids reaction to these toys were phenomenal and Kenner followed with the release of more figures until popularity dropped in the early 80's. Since then other toy companies have tried to duplicate it's success with different variations of a stretch-type figure but never matching its popularity and quality. 



It didn't matter which versions of the Elastic figures you got, whether it be American or Mexican. The sides onoted that f the boxes showcased other figures you could get in the line as well as different positions you could stretch the figure in. It should be noted that on the back of the box, only the American version had a child stretching the toy while the Mexican version did not have a picture.



These two pictures above tell a lot about the distribution process Mego did with their Elastic Hulk figures and the other Elastic Superheroes. On the top shows an outside shot of KAY BEE toys back in circa 1979. You can see on the left all the Mego Elastic figures that have white boxes stacked. No Hulk figure was included with this assortment due to the fact that the Hulk was released first. The picture on the bottom shows the Elastic Hulk shipping box which just shipped the Hulk figure assortment to a designated store. You can also notice that this particular store that the Elastic Hulk was shipped to sold the figure for 13.92 each. 


Original 8mm film of the Mego Elastic Superheroes Commercial showcasing the Marvel heroes.





Tomart's Action Figure Digest #60 (January 1999)
Some of the best examples in the world of a flawless Mego Elastic Hulk, Spider-man and Plastic Man are pictured in this article/interview on former Mego president Marty Abrams from the collection of Mark Huckabone. And today, I'm the proud owner of this Hulk figure!!!



The two pictures above are from a 1980 advertisement for licensed Marvel character toys that were out in stores at the time. You can see a bunch of the major toy, clothes, and game companies that were into Marvel at this time including; Milton Bradley, Funstuf, Empire, Remco, Hot Wheels, and of course, Mego, just to name a few. Some of Mego's famous World's Greatest Superheroes 8” figures are in full display (both pictures) as well as the Mego Elastic Hulk (top picture). What a great year to be a kid and a superhero fan!! 


The 1979 Mongomery Wards catalog ad shows the power of the Mego Superheroes are still alive and well! The Elastic Hulk and Spider-man are showcased in all their stretchable glory selling for only 14.94 each. Wards opted to showcase just the Marvel figures instead of the DC ones. Take a look at the battle between the Elastic Hulk and Spider-man!!! Can't these guys get along?? 


The 1980 Mongomery Wards catalog ad shows that Mego was definitely starting to lose ground in the toy wars. You can see that the Mego Superheroes were just displayed at the bottom of the page. But the Elastic Superheroes were still present and Wards once again opted to just showcase the Elastic Hulk and Spider-man figures. And wouldn't you know it, both Spidey and the Hulk are once again locked in stretchy combat to show off just how much fun these toys really are. 


The 1979 JC Penny Christmas catalog displays a nice page full of Mego toys. As you can see, Hulk toys is a major feature due to his vast popularity that year. It is also no surprise that the Hulk and Spider-man Elastic figures are featured at the bottom of the page (selling for 13.99 each) since both heroes had live action shows on TV at the time and were very popular with kids. It's interesting to see these figures displayed with the Stretch X-Ray figure made by Kenner since this company would later sue Mego for stealing it's stretch figure idea and kill the entire line.  





Two ads that showcased the Elastic Superman! The Mego Big Ideas for 1980 catalog ad (top) showed Superman as well as the Mego 12” figures, 2-XL, and others that were new bright ideas that Mego was coming up with to hit toy stores in the coming year. The Sears 1979 catalog ad (bottom) showed the Man of Steel with all his stretching powers fighting the 19 1/2” Shogun Warriors Godzilla in an epic toy slugfest! 

This is a picture of a United Kingdom toy catalog from 1979 that advertised the Denys Fisher Stretch Hulk and Stretch Armstrong figures. It also proved some urban myths about the rarity of this stretch Hulk figure that had been surrounding it for years. Regardless of this proof, the Denys Fisher Stretch Hulk is very hard to obtain. 

Two Mego Elastic Stretch figure magazine ads from 1979. The ad at the top leaves many questions to the keen eyes of stretch fanatics. It's unknown why Casper The Friendly Ghost is not mentioned in the Disney line (he could've still been in production during the ads publication). It also shows the introduction of Plastic Man who wouldn't be released until the start of 1980. And take a look at the Elastic Hulk! Here, he is shown with a white box like the other figures. But before the figures were distributed to stores, the heads of Mego wanted the Hulk figure to stand out more on his own and was given his traditional red box and then shipped separately from the others.
 
The Elastic Hulk white box (front)

The Elastic Hulk white box (back)

 This ad shows how Mego was always trying to capitalize on the Hulk's popularity in 1979 (all kinds of Hulk merchandise was selling off the shelves). The boy is playing with the Mego Elastic Hulk in all it's full glory right in the center of the page. Mego was pulling out all the stops at this time to compete with the other major toy companies like Remco who also had both DC and Marvel licenses and were putting out games, accessories and action figures with them that were selling very well. Remco's “Energized” Superheroes were a major threat to Mego's Elastic Superheroes. 


I'm not sure, but is that a Mego Elastic Hulk figure on the cover of Mego's 25th Anniversary 1979 toy catalog?? 


Mego's 1980 toy promotion catalog showcased a ton of new stuff. With the Mego Elastics as a major featured item in this two-page spread, Plastic Man makes his debut to the line.  



The pictures above show all the ideas and upcoming stretch figures that were never produced due to the court case between Kenner and Mego. The top pic shows a girl stretching a Bugs Bunny (this is from the side of the Casper Box). It was said that molds were already made for Bugs, but unfortunately, never made it into production due to the stoppage of the line. The bottom shows the 1980 Mego Spring toy promotion catalog which would also continue the Mego Elastic line promotion with the announcement of the new Plastic Man stretch figure. While the picture is the same as the Mego catalog above, you can see they added the Plastic Man logo to showcase the new figure more. You will also notice that Mego had plans for a Peanuts stretch line including Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Woodstock. It's such a shame Mego had to stop production on this line because they had big plans for it.  




These are Mego promo flyers from 1981 for catalogs and newspapers of the Mego Elastic Disney line: Donald Duck, Casper The Friendly Ghost and Mickey Mouse (top) and the Mego Elastic Superheroes: Spider-man, Superman, Hulk, Batman and Plastic Man (bottom). The front had photos while the back had line illustrations of the toys. It should be noted, that the entire line of figures where over at this time.


A super-flawless Mego Elastic Superman figure stands proudly next to a stretch-like figure that never made it into production. This Mego Frankenbumps prototype box and promo ad is a rare sight to behold. Believe it or not but this Frankenbumps box and ad was sold in 2007 for a cool 800.00! 


Lee's Action Figure News and Toy Review (July 1999)
This article of “Secrets of the Bat-Cave: Mego Bat-Toys 1972-79” shows an early price guide for Mego Batman toys. On the second page a picture and price of the Mego Elastic Batman is shown. Loose he is 125.00 and MIB his value is 325.00. These are prices that rank far below the other Batman toys on this list at the time. This price guide is a perfect example of how the Elastic figures were a relative unknown commodity to collectors at the time. Little did anyone expect that within the next seven years the Elastic Batman would be valued and sell higher than every other toy on this list. It should be noted that the Robin 8” figure (with removable mask) carded and solid box versions were both valued the highest in MIB conditions at 1,500.00 each.





Here are some truly rare pictures of the blue prints and idea notes of the Mego Elastic Superheroes before they went into production. The top is the idea notes for the Elastic Batman. The 2nd pic is the blue prints to the design of the Elastic Hulk. The 3rd pic shows the blue prints to the Elastic Superman. And the last pic shows the sketch and finalized drawing of the decal that was to be included with the Elastic Superman figure. These one-of-a-kind blue prints sell for close to 3,000.00 each while the sketches are worth about 300.00 each. These are all truly a great piece of the Mego Elastics history. 


This is page two of the 1980 Mego toy catalog price sheet. You can see the Elastic Superheroes (bottom left) sold for 11.99 each and for this order form Plastic Man was now included. If you look under Pre-School (top right) you will notice that the Disney stretch figures, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck came in an assortment while Casper and (the never released) Bugs Bunny came as separate orders. Each of them were selling for only 6.99. 



This is the man himself who helped propel the Hulk to stardom in the late 70's with the live-action Hulk television series. Lou “The Incredible Hulk” Ferrigno signing and having fun with the Denys Fisher Stretch Hulk. He signed two boxes for Tony Galla in early 2007. Funny thing is, Lou is known for having the world's biggest Hulk collection and he doesn't have either a Mego Elastic or Denys Fisher stretch Hulk in it! WOW!! 

Lou's star soared along with Hulk merchandise during the late 70's. Here the two biggest Hulk's of the day clash, the television Hulk and the Mego Elastic Hulk!! This is the stuff dreams are made of.


 Lou posing with Mego's “WGSH” Hulk 8” figure in 1979. While this is not a stretch figure, you can still see the influence Mego toys had in the media.


 This is a nice interview with Lou showing a picture of him holding a drawing of a Hulk toy. Hey, it could be the Elastic Hulk figure, right? 

Now this picture of Lou Ferrigno is one of the most interesting of them all. This was taken in the late 70's where Lou was given this gift by a fan. Notice that this stretch figure of the Hulk sports a wig, tattered shirt and pants to resemble the live action Hulk that Lou was playing on television. You may be saying, “Is this another elusive Hulk stretch figure that I've never seen before?” Well, if you look very closely you'll notice that it is a genuine stretch figure. But it's custom made to look just like the Hulk (also notice the custom made nose). Do you think you can guess the stretch? Here's a hint, he was the villain of Stretch Armstrong.



Two shots of the mega-rare Ensueno Elastico Superheroes! You can see minty fresh boxes of Superman, Batman and the Hulk on the back wall, as well as a Superman Elastico in "stretching action". These pics are from the “Ensueno Juguetes Elastico Christmas with Chavelo” special that was shown in Mexico back in 1980. This television special aired a handful of times and served to promote the Ensueño Muñecas y Juguetes toy lines. Kids would participate by competing in low pressure head-to-head match-ups in how they best use the toys they had a chance to try out. All the winners took home Ensueño toys as prizes. And to top it off, Chavelo hosted the proceedings with his fun-loving brand of celebrity. He was huge in Mexico at the time. 


Above is a picture of Mark Pownsey from the United Kingdom. Who's he may you ask? Well, he's the model kid on the Denys Fisher Hulk box! At the top, here is Mark in 2008 at 34 years old holding the Denys Fisher Stretch Hulk box that had a picture of him on it at 6 years old stretching and having fun with the toy. The shirtless picture below is Mark at 10 years acting out his favorite hero, the Hulk. Like it or not, this kid will be remembered in the epic halls of stretchdom forever!! Now if we can just locate all those other kids on the boxes... 



Two “old-school” Christmas photos from 1979 showcasing the Mego Elastic Hulk! These kids must have had an awesome Christmas that year because Santa was so good to them!! Just look at all the other cool toys in the pictures!!!





These last three pics are just a little reminder on the difference between the Mego Elastic Hulk and the Denys Fisher Stretch  Hulk. I'm sure if you look closely, you'll never make a mistake in telling them apart ever again...



THE LAST AND BEST PICTURES OF ALL


Me, John “The Mego Stretch Hulk” Cimino in all my heavenly glory. 


My beautiful daughter Bryn Isabella Cimino at 4 years with the two most perfect stretch Hulk figures in the world! 



Check out the Swass-Cast on the Mego Elastic Superheroes for more fun!!!



More on my life with the Mego Elastic Hulk here:
http://hero-envy.blogspot.com/2011/06/in-search-of-holy-grail-of-hulk.html


Extra Elastic Special Shout Outs and Thanks to these awesome websites and people who have provided me with pictures and endless information on the Mego Elastics to make this article possible!!

Mark Huckabone (heroesol@aol.com)
Tom Frank
Jason Tait
Steve Moreau

"Everybody Loves a Mego!"

 
CHECK OUT OTHER "COMPLETE ANALYSIS" ARTICLES HERE:

WWF WRESTLEFEST
http://hero-envy.blogspot.com/2017/05/wwf-wrestlefest.html
 

   John "The Mego Stretch Hulk" Cimino-May 2008, April 2011 and March 2012
John Cimino is a Silver and Bronze Age comic, cartoon and memorabilia expert that runs a business called "Saturday Morning Collectibles." He buys, sells, appraises and gives seminars on everything pop culture, so if you got something special, let him know about it. He contributes articles to ALTER EGO, BACK ISSUE and THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR from TwoMorrows Publishing and has appeared on the AMC reality show Comic Book Men. He also represents some of comicdoms biggest stars and brings them to a Comic Con near you. John still thinks he's really Captain Marvel, people just don't have the heart to tell him he's just an obsessed fanboy that loves to play superheroes with his daughter Bryn. Contact him at johnstretch@live.com or follow on twitter at @Elastic_Hulk and have some fun.


8 comments:

  1. Hi. You mentioned in your blog about finding some of the kids on the back of the Elastic Hulk boxes. My boyfriend is the kid on the back of the red Mego Elastic Hulk box. If you're interested in getting in contact with him, please email me at mboyd4924@yahoo.com.

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  2. do yo know where can restore one original STRETCH ARMSTRONG ? is leaking and i wanna fix , do you know where or who can fix?

    thanks people

    please write DJ.ELIGIO@YAHOO.COM

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  3. Very informative! Great post!

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  4. WOW!!! Never knew these things were toy gold. I want a Spider-man stretch!!

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  5. I couldn't see myself investing in one of these toys because it's a ticking time bomb ready to burst at any second. And if that did happen the value of the toy would plummet.

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  6. Nice e-mail sent to me by a fellow stretch collector...

    Hello John,

    I recently read your Hero Envy blog entry from last year about
    Mego Elastic Superheroes and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was the
    collector that purchased the Plastic Man of ebay back in 2008
    mentioned in your article. I thought you might like to see some
    pictures of the figure taken when I received it. It now resides in
    an acrylic case designed to prolong its life. Mark Huckabone is a
    friend and I asked his advice when I decided to bid on the piece.
    As you can see, the box isn't bad but certainly not perfect. One
    interesting surprise was that it came with two instruction
    sheets. Unfortunately one is a bit chewed up. The figure is still
    pliable, but not as full of syrup as it could be. No cracks or
    leaks, but you can tell that the figure had been stored standing up
    as the legs are permanently bent in a squatting pose. The skin is
    much smoother than Mark's old one- I suspect because it hasn't been
    exposed to much light over the years. It came with the clothes off,
    so I opted to leave it that way rather than risk damage trying to put them on.
    FYI, one important thing I realized about these figures as I was
    researching how best to store/display them was that they should not
    be shipped by air. In fact, I recently advised the guy who put the
    Ensueno Elastico Superman from Toyhunters on ebay of this
    concern. Rapidly increasing altitude will cause air trapped in any
    sealed vessel to expand to balance the decreasing external air
    pressure. This affect can easily be seen on half-consumed water
    bottles during the course of a flight. Shipping a Mego Elastic
    figure via airplane could easily cause a figure with weakened or
    brittle areas to rupture.

    Best,
    Kelvin

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    Replies
    1. Great to hear that and good information. I recently had that very Ensueno Elastico Superman and boxed Stretch Serpent for sale. Turned out the guy who owned the Superman from Toy Hunter sold it to a customer of mine I commissioned it. Fun stuff!

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    2. WOW! Those are some of the most rare stretch figures around. Wish I had the money for those.

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