MEGO Figures, Big Little Books, comic books of all kinds, and so much more ! The1970's were my own personal Golden Age!! As longtime readers of my column know, I started reading comics because I was enthralled by seeing the Amazing Spider-Man on the season premiere of the fourth season of the classic children's television show, The Electric Company!
The show opens with fan favorite character J. Arthur Crank (played by the late Danny Boyd) sitting on a bench and reading a copy of Amazing Spider-Man. Another great character, Easy Reader (played by Morgan Freeman, yes THAT Morgan Freeman), and a parody on the then popular movie "Easy Rider" sits beside Crank, and tells him that "Spider-Man is going to appear on the Electric Company". Crank, citing the fact that Spider-Man is just a " funny book guy" does not believe Easy. But, not only is Spider-Man ON the Electric Company, but he also steals Crank's comic book! I was so enthralled, that I quickly told my parents: "I want a Spider-Man comic book!" And the die was cast!
Television introduced me to another branch of superheroes a few months later. How well I recall the Saturday morning that the six year old me happened to wake up early. Sneaking into the living room (so as to not awaken my parents) I turned on the television (Making sure that the sound was low). The first image to appear on the screen that fateful Saturday Morning? The SUPER FRIENDS! I can still remember watching the TV that day. That was my first exposure to the fun of Saturday Morning Cartoons! In addition to the Super Friends, I watched Shazam/Isis, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, Inch High Private Eye, the awesome Hong Kong Phooey, Pebbles and Bam-Bam, the Bugs Bunny / Road Runner Show, Speed Buggy, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, The Pink Panther, Land of the Lost, and the immortal Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids (many people do not realize that Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids was actually Bill Cosby's longest running television show! Most people think it is the Cosby Show).
I watched them all, and I loved them all! I still watch the shows 40 years later via DVDs and YouTube! Saturday Morning quickly earned an extremely endearing place in my childhood. It is the same with many people of my generation. This was before the all day cartoon networks, and the DVDs and computers allowed people to watch these shows whenever they please. That was a foreign concept when I a kid. I became a pop culture FREAK!
In addition to comic books and cartoons, I soon discovered other forms of super hero entertainment. I became aware of such wonderment as Peter Pan (later Power) records featuring superheroes, as well as other pop culture icons such as Star Trek, Planet Of The Apes and Kojak amongst others. Some of the records were accompanied by reproductions of the stories on the record. Those book And record combos are hard to find in mint condition today (but they too are available for viewing on YouTube)!
As the 1970's went along, I discovered the Big Little Books, and the Whitman "tweenager" (tweenagers are kids that are not yet teenagers) books that were based on comic book strips and/or TV show characters. To me, these were like extra adventures of the characters that I already loved. But my favorite toy (and the toy that many consider to be THE toy of the 1970's) was the action figures put out by the MEGO toy company !! Yes !! They used an eight inch figure for around 90%t of their entire line . And they had a huge selection of characters !! They had DC and Marvel Super Heroes, as well as Planet of the Apes, The Dukes Of Hazzard, CHIPS, Star Trek, and an incredibly varied and exciting assortment of other figures.
The standard eight inch template allowed kids to "mix and match" the characters! Ponch and Jon could chase after Bo and Luke Duke, before teaming up to squash another of Ol' Boss Hogg's evil schemes! Batman and Dr. Zaius could have an adventure with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock aboard the Starship Enterprise ! Even the SKY was not the limit!
Talk about having your Coke and Pop Rocks too! There were many other toys that I remember fondly in my childhood.There was Spirograph, Operation,Toss-A-Cross, Wheel-Os, Clackers, The Rock ' Em Sock ' Em Robots, not to mention the (at times) nerve wracking Perfection Game!
This is why I have such fond memories of my well spent youth! And, I owe everything to my parents. They made sure to give their only child the best childhood anyone could hope for. Therefore, I dedicate this column to my parents, Jessie and Hazel Frazier!! Thanks Mom and Dad!