From the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, ABC’s The Love Boat television show provided an antidote to any wintertime stay-at-home blues. Over nine seasons and 250 episodes, the beloved Love Boat crew and an array of guest stars set a weekly course for adventure and romance on the tropical high seas.
In the early 1980s, Mego attempted to capitalize on the show’s popularity with an action figure line and playset. The company released six figures, featuring the show’s main protagonists: Captain Merrill Stubing; Ship’s Doctor Adam “Doc” Bricker; Yeoman Purser; Burl “Gopher” Smith; Bartender Isaac Washington; Cruise Director Julie McCoy; and the captain’s daughter, Vicki Stubing.
A MATTER OF SIZE
In what can politely be described as a questionable manufacturing decision, instead of fabricating the line in typical fashion-doll size, Mego rolled out the Love Boat crew in a 3 ¾-inch format with minimal articulation and accessories. At that time in the toy market, miniatures were most often used for boy-oriented toys and popularized when Kenner introduced them as part of their Star Wars line of action figures.
Each member of The Love Boat crew was packaged on a traditional blister card, complete with simple one-color line-art backs of the entire set, clearly a cost-cutting measure. Unfortunately for Mego, the cards were often placed among other similarly sized action-figure lines from other toy companies.
A SINKING SHIP
Not wanting to leave The Love Boat crew stranded on store shelves, Mego also produced a Love Boat playset. It was primarily released in Canada, with a minimal quantity appearing in the US.
Crafted of polystyrene, the set incorporated furnishings produced by another toy company and was very fragile, making it somewhat of a collector’s item to find in good condition on the secondary market today.
While Mego certainly had some hits with licensed television and movie properties, The Love Boat toy line was not one of them. With the demise of Mego in 1983, fans of show were left to wonder if the company had ever planned a second wave of action figures featuring some of the ship’s iconic guest stars, like Charo, Barbi Benton, Arte Johnson, Rex Smith, and my personal favorite Andy Warhol.
Todd Coopee is Editor-in-Chief of Toy Tales, an online publication that covers toys and games past and present.