Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Collectible of the Week: Flash Gordon Playset (Mego; 1977)
This is another Mego playset from the 1970s for which I harbor deep and abiding love. In 1977, Mego manufactured a line of toys from Flash Gordon (1936), including four 10-inch action figures (Flash Gordon, Ming the Merciless, Dale Arden and Dr. Zarkov), and this terrific playset/carrying case.
"The world of Mongo comes alive in this double sided playset" the box informed kids. "One side is Ming's Throne Room complete with Ming's throne."
"The other side is Dr. Zarkov's secret laboratory with a simulated computer and (3) computer cards."
The set also "fits all Flash Gordon figures (not included.)"
Like the Star Trek, Planet of the Apes and Wizard of Oz playsets, this Flash Gordon playset is constructed of hard cardboard, surrounded by laminated vinyl, I believe. The illustrations on this set are really quite beautiful as I hope you can see, and strongly evocative of Alex Raymond's art work.
The three computer cards included here are double-sided, and feature images of all the characters, plus a city of Mongo, plus a rocket on approach. They slip down through the top of the computer, into the viewscreen panel.
You might think that the timing (the mid-1970s) was weird for a Flash Gordon boomlet but I remember in the mid-1970s -- around the time of Star Wars -- finally getting to see the original serial at my local library. On Friday afternoons, I think, I went to see it, one chapter at a time over a span of weeks. Also, if I'm not mistaken, some TV stations had begun to play the original Buster Crabbe serials as well. It was kind of a mini -Flash Gordon fad. My grandmother from Texas (now deceased), was thrilled to see the serials again because she had loved them as a kid. It was pretty awesome, actually, that my grandmother, mother and I could all sit down and discuss together Buster Crabbe and Flash Gordon.
Today, I don't own any of the Flash Gordon action figures, alas, which came equipped with plastic swords and cool helmets. But I do own this wonderful Mego playset and its box, which remain in excellent shape.