One of the most unlikely – but nonetheless wonderful – additions to my vintage action figure collection over the last couple of months must surely be this beautifully detailed 12 inch Mego figure of legendary Hollywood and television character actor Ernest Borgnine. Borgnine died at the grand old age of 95 in 2012 after a glittering career, which saw him win an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1955 for Marty, and star in classics such as The Wild Bunch, The Dirty Dozen, and my personal childhood cult favourite The Poseidon Adventure. This action figure, however, commemorates a real turkey in his resume - The Black Hole - Walt Disney’s 1979 sci-fi blockbuster.
The film may have been a stinker, but Borgnine was great as always, and the accompanying action figure was really rather good! Having grabbed a Maximilian Schell as Dr. Hans Reinhardt recently, I couldn’t resist adding Ernest Borgnine as journalist Harry Booth to the set. Issued to coincide with the movie in 1979, it can come as no surprise to hear that these figures didn’t sell well when the movie proved a flop. Cancelled toy lines make for collectible figures 35 years later!
The facial sculpt on this figure is really fabulous – it’s a superb likeness for a late 70s figure. His hair is only slightly greying at the temples, rather than completely grey as he appears in the movie, but there is a more startling difference between this figure and the movie. Possibly the figure was finalised before final costume decisions were made at Disney, because the chunky brown sweater this figure wears bears only a passing resemblance to the top worn by Borgnine throughout The Black Hole. Mego would improve on this detail with the 4 inch version of this figure.
As Borgnine was the only heavily built actor in the film Mego opted for the “muscular” 12 inch body type for this character. The rest of the figures in The Black Hole line use the more traditional “skinny” body. Articulation is very good with 14 points at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, knees and ankles. The copyright information on the back reads “© 1978 Mego Corp / Made in Hong Kong” over two lines, while the head is stamped “© Walt Disney / Productions 1979” along two lines at the base of the hairline, and is completely hidden by the high neck sweater. The only grip with this vintage find is that he has sadly lost his brown boots.
I’ll certainly be tracking down further Mego figures in The Black Hole line. Collect them all, you KNOW you want to!