Sunday, July 06, 2014

Nostalgia Theater: Mego's Planet of the Apes Action Figures

This Friday marks the long-awaited premiere of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and I can't wait to talk to you about that, but I thought I'd ring in a very busy week of Apes-related features this week with a look back at long-defunct toymaker Mego's Planet of the Apes action figures and accessories. Begun in 1974, after the final feature film had already finished its run, the Mego Apes line included several iconic movie apes such as Cornelius, Zira, and Dr. Zaius, as well as a generic human astronaut (presumably because it was cheaper than getting likeness approval from Chuck Heston). Eventually, it also expanded to include characters from the there-and-gone TV series (more on that next week!) before eventually closing up (click here for the full skinny).

Related: Nostalgia Theater: Animated Apes Edition

I'm a post-Star Wars kid, so I wasn't even born when these all came out, but as a lifelong ape-ologist, it wasn't long before I was trying to track them down. And while I never found the originals at a reasonable price, I do own some wonderful replicas put out a few years ago by a company called EMCE. There have been several high-end Planet of the Apes figures from a variety of manufacturers since, but none have matched the sheer quirkiness of these things. To wit, check out this collection of vintage mid-'70s commercials for Mego's Apes, and observe how they're like little mini-movies, many of which seem to revolve around the horrible tortures the apes can inflict on the poor humans. Also observe that, for whatever reason, the commercials use a re-scored version "Also Sprach Zarathustra!" (from 2001: A Space Odyssey) for musical accompaniment. Weird.

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