Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Collectible of the Week: Navarone Playset (Mego; 1981)




As a child, I generally didn’t collect military toys, preferring instead sci-fi, horror, and fantasy merchandise.  But I made a happy exception for this incredible toy, the awesome “Navarone Playset.”

Apparently, his toy was “loosely” (meaning unofficially…) related to Alistair Maclean’s 1957 novel The Guns of Navarone, which concerned a team of Allied soldiers launching an assault on a German fortress on the (fictional) Greek island of Navarone.   

The novel was adapted to film as “the Greatest High Adventure Ever Filmed!” in 1961, by director J. Lee Thompson.  It was a huge hit, and spawned both a written and filmed sequel, Force 10 from Navarone.  The 1978 movie starred Harrison Ford and was directed by Guy Hamilton.

In real life, there was no Battle of Navarone, but that inconvenient fact did not prevent Marx Toy Company, in 1976, from producing this multi-level mountain fortress, replete with two armies.  As you can see from the graphic, it originally sold for under $15.00 dollars.

The version of the toy I own today, however, is not from Marx at all, but rather from Mego.  Thus I can only assume that Marx sold the Navarone Playset mold at some point between 1976 and 1980.  When I was a kid, I’m pretty certain I owned the original Marx version, and not the Mego re-do.  This molded-in-black Navarone (from Mego) is for my son, Joel.

Anyway, the Mego version you see here in photographs urges one to “Recreate the World War II Battle of Navarone with this unique and exciting action playset.”

Navarone comes with:

Two foot-high mountain
2 complete armies (92 soldiers)
4 military vehicles
2 long-range cannons
Complete play area in front and back
5 play levels
Working elevator
Working hoist
Authentic WWII flag labels.”


Honestly, as a kid I didn’t want to relive the past with this awesome mountain playset.  Instead, I utilized Navarone as a base for the Galactic Empire with my Kenner Star Wars figures.  In fact, I remember having a number of great adventures with Navarone but almost universally in a sci-fi setting.  I remember one particular adventure in which the crew of the Enterprise (Mego; 1979) had to go behind enemy line -- the Romulan Neutral Zone -- and destroy the base.

5 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:38 AM

    John your Marx/Mego Navarone playset review reminds of the ‘70s because I had forgotten about the Marx Toy company. It also brings to my attention the two most important annual publications in my ‘70s boyhood were both released every September. They were the FALL PREVIEW TV GUIDE and the SEARS CHRISTMAS CATALOG with all the latest toys which I remember this Navarone playset being in 1976.

    SGB

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  2. Anonymous1:48 PM

    Don't forget the Penney's christmas catalogue.....

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  3. Anonymous3:39 AM

    I loved this playset. There was also one that was a Martian-landscape there in bright colors, but that's about all I remember.

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  4. Anonymous2:57 PM

    The Mego Corporation purchased the molds from the Quaker Oats company (they bought out the Marx toy division in the early 70's) of the Navarone, Battleground and Fort Apache playsets. For the most part they kept them the same other than the occasional playset box change in the early 80's. I personally have owned all three sets of both Marx and Mego. The Mego Navarone set that I have in my possession is mint and the mountain is the grey mountain, not black as in the later years. The set came w/out the playmat and grey howitzer but everything else is the same. Great set with even greater memories!

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  5. Looking to buy one. Please help!!

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