By Brian Heiler


As the son of Mego Vice President of Research and Development, Neal Kublan, Chris had an insider's look into what made Mego the special place it was. Chris conversed with us via telephone and shared some amazing insights.

Chris Kublan in a 1974 ad for playthings magazineMego Museum: What were impressions going into the Mego Offices?

Chris Kublan:I used to go all the time, it's this tall black monolithic building on Madison. My biggest impressions were the big giant closet with all the toys that Mego made into which I would take a garbage bag. That was one impression.

My dad had this great office, with this burnt sienna colored brown leather soft couch that remember taking a lot of naps on and hanging out on. He had this big desk and he had drawing pads everywhere, in those days everybody smoked, everybody had a little bar, my dad didn't really drink but I remember that it was a loose atmosphere. Everybody was happy to be there, it wasn't like your typical corporate offices which for the record, toy companies now are like that. My experience with the toy industry is nobody is having too much fun and that's disappointing because in those days, everybody seemed like they were having fun.

I remember my dad's friend Neil Saul who also worked there, my dad ended up getting the nickname "Kubby" because Marty didn't want to say "Neal" and get two of them. I just remember Marty was a good leader, he was a guy who knew how to make deals and do things in a large way before the days that really saw it, he was willing to spend money to make things happen.

Again, I just remember the atmosphere was warm and family like. Everybody from secretaries and the lowest box designer, which where my Dad started, seemed to be operating all together. It seemed to be a fairly well oiled machine with the occasional quirk in the mechanism because it was the seventies, people were chilling.

MM: Mego seemed to lose that vibe in the eighties.

Chris Kublan:After my Dad left, you can be sure the risk taking went down because he was a huge risk taker in life, in every way because he was an artist at heart. So I think once that stopped and people were running the company where money was the only consideration, I'm sure that contributed. It seemed that way, I loved all those toys, I don't have a one of them.

MM: You're kidding me

Chris Kublan: No, I literally didn't save any of my toys, it never occurred to me. I don't have any Kiss Dolls, I know they're worth big money. When I grew out of toys, at the same time my dad had left the company.

MM: What were your favorites, do you remember?

Chris Kublan:I loved Micronauts, that's for sure. I'm looking at a 2-XL right in front of me on my desk; I was always a trivia buff anyway. My dad was as good as anyone I ever saw at Trivial Pursuit, we spent many an evening trying to compete at each other.

mego fortress of solitude

I was also a really big fan of the Superheroes and the fortress of solitude. I was really into the Flash and Aquaman, I enjoy those a lot. I have a Fonzie doll, I think my dad got it from Megocon, I never really was much for that.

My sister was on this box for a game Mazeroni, I remember liking that game. I had [Micronauts Rocket Tubes] going all over my room, I had a city, I remember they worked really well.

Micronauts are from the same company that produced Transformers ( Editors note: The company in question is Takara} , Mego would have had it.

MM: This may have been after your dad's leaving but Mego also had a deal with Nintendo.

Chris Kublan: Yeah, I remember talking about it before he left because I was a Nintendo freak It was definitely the kind of thing where, if Mego had have kept it together, they would have been one of three. They would have been a huge player. Instead, it become Mattel and Hasbro, maybe we would have been better off for it , for sure the toys that were coming out of Mego in those days were more innovative than either of those companies and their certainly something "warmer" about them. It just seems like [Mego] were really kids toys, they were cooler.

Chris appeared in the Mego  Parade Float

Chris was one of the lucky kids to play human captives in the Mego Planet of the Apes float..

MM: Tell me about the Planet of the Apes Float.

Chris Kublan:I was wearing some makeup on my face and I was wearing this tiger skin toga and I was supposed to look like a human prisoner and we were in this makeshift jail cell on the float. I remember being "Oh wow!" and someone took a picture and then I went to sleep.

Somebody gave me a cookie and then I went to sleep, which is a lot like now. It was so much fun and a kid being a part of that stuff, it lent to childhood. It makes you feel like a kid that much longer, to hear my mother tell it I was believing in Santa Clause until I was 13. I don't know if that's really true but I'll let it slide.

It was that kind of atmosphere; luckily at home I had the same kind of atmosphere. My mom was very much somebody who wanted to maintain childhood for the kids as much as possible. Christmas was huge in my house and my dad was Jewish, it didn't matter, my mother's Italian it was just the way we were raised. It was a gift, it gave me something you can't replace, being a kid that age that wonder and being exposed to things like that, it was very glamorous. The toy business doesn't have any glamour anymore but in those days there was a lot of it.

MM: Do you remember your dad traveling with Shatner and Nimoy?

Chris Kublan: I remember meeting them both, I used to have a picture of myself with the both of them I know he did some traveling and it was promotion. In particular, he really liked Nimoy because he was so bright. He was an intelligent guy and my dad was the same, so they were talking everything from politics to literature to Stanley Kubrick. All I remember other than that was my sister had a crush on William Shatner.

I even said it in [my father's ] Eulogy, he was my fictional hero, I only have one hero in this life and that was my dad. Other than him it was Ali and James Tiberius Kirk.

Chris Kublan: Another thing that precipitated Mego's demise was that first Star Trek movie, it was not for kids. [Mego] put a substancial amount of money into the line and the movie was just not for kids, I don't know if that destroyed the sales of the item but it couldn't have helped.

I remember my parents coming back from L.A. and the screening of Star Trek the movie and not being thrilled.

Mego basically had been shown trailers that were action packed, they were thrilled [and thought] it was going to be fantastic.

MM: Any recollections of KISS?

Chris Kublan:My understanding of the KISS doll deal was essentially that it was made at Studio 54, my dad was there, [probably Marty] and they ran into Gene Simmons. It was like' Hey you're Gene Simmons from Kiss? We should do some Kiss dolls" and apparently Gene was like "Yeah, excellent" and that's how it went from there.

KISS was embarking on change, the Dynasty album, Kiss's disco phase. I got to see them without their makeup; I went to the gardens for their show. It was the Dynasty tour, it was this white new modernist stage and I got to meet Gene, Ace and Paul all without their makeup. It was a huge highlight for me because I was 11 and a huge KISS fan at the time.

That was one of many experiences at that time

Chris appeared in the Mego Fonzie commercial

Above: Chris Kublan appeared in the Mego Fonzie doll commercial.

MM: That seems for many, their highlight of working for Mego , all the celebrities that were in and out the door.

Chris Kublan: It definitely didn't hurt when they did the Muhammad Ali boxing ring, they had a huge press conference and he was there. I remember I was playing the toy with Ali and the news cameras were watching and when they turned off the cameras people were like "Muhammad! Muhammad!" and he said "Hey, I'm in the middle of a game with this kid and when I'm done, I'll talk to you" He was really a mensch; he was not going to stop a game with a little boy just because people wanted his attention.

The atmosphere at Mego was kind freewheeling at that time, once Micronauts came in. I guess I was in fifth grade , I had this really great science teacher and he wanted to do some sort of Science Fiction project. So, me and my buddies had a day off school and we went to work with my dad.

We were given the Micronaut showroom, a stop action camera and we made a stop action film with the Micronauts. As impatient we were as kids, we didn't take enough clicks and when we ended up played the film back, everything was way too fast, everyone was running around like maniacs.

So later on as a filmmaker, it certainly taught me patience is a virtue when you make a movie. Time really is the most important thing when you're making movies and you need as much of it as possible to achieve anything worthwhile generally.

Mego was the kind of place where they cool about that kind of stuff, they were open to that, I'm sure you've heard about the show room that was the deck of the Star ship Enterprise?

MM: I would have loved to have seen that.

Chris Kublan: Oh God, I sat in Captain Kirk's chair. I remember sitting there going "This is ridiculous" The transporter Room is where they had greeters, they had the greeters standing behind there with a background of Mars, they must have spent forty or fifty thousand dollars on a showroom, that was a lot of money.

MM: It was the flash wasn't it that made Mego great.

Chris Kublan: Yeah, certainly the 70's as an era was about that and certainly inflatedness as well. It was really the beginning of character licensing; they really laid it on thick.

MM: Your dad must have been especially proud of Star Trek because it was his concept.

Chris Kublan: Basically he had said to Marty "I know the show is on syndication, my son stays late, he watches it, somehow I really feel this is a license that people would respond to and we should take a risk with this"

It did well and the bonus my dad got for that he bought his first corvette with.

MM: Your Dad's gambit really kicked off the Star Trek licensing boom.

Chris Kublan: Who'd have thought? Not only as Science Fiction as a whole would appeal to kids but that a show that wasn't even on the air would have the kind of resonance with kids and parents that they'd go buy the products based on them.

I remember that the merchandise was great, the spaceship? It was fantastic, it was really fun to play with. It was the same with the Planet of the Apes, the fortress of Solitude from the Superheroes, it was fun stuff to role play with. Everyone I knew loved it, I mean all that stuff the Batman Exploding Bridge?

MM: The Comic Action Heroes

Chris Kublan:I have this tape of fifty commercials; I don't know how many toys that cool you see now. They had this helicopter that flew in the air. Those were good days.

Chris Kublan is no stranger to the arts, in 1999 he wrote and directed his first feature film "Giving It Up" starring Dabney Coleman. Chris is currently working in the toy industry and plans to return to writing and directing..