While Kenner may have been the first company to hit paydirt with “mini-action figures” in the 3 3/4″ scale (a scale determined by the size needed to make the accompanying Millennium Falcon toy affordable to both manufacturer and consumers), Mego that ball and ran with it at full speed, producing numerous figures in an identical scale. Formerly known for its large-scale Star Trek figures in the early 1970s – a line which coincided not with the series’ original broadcast, but with its syndication success and the animated series – Mego cleverly decided to try to siphon off some of Kenner’s (and Star Wars‘) market share by creating both licensed and original characters in that scale. The die-cast metal Micronauts led the way, though when Mego won the licenses for TV shows such as Buck Rogers, and movies like Disney’s The Black Hole, those figures were produced in a similar 3 3/4″ scale.
This was great news for kids (and probably bad news for our parents), because now there were whole new populations to stand alongside those heroes from a galaxy far, far away, folks who could stand in the same playsets and fit in the same vehicles. The Black Hole figures were among the cream of Mego’s licensed crop. In pre-production for at least as long as Star Wars was, The Black Hole was trapped inside its own Hollywood development event horizon until Lucas’ movie struck gold. That event brought a lot of space epics out of development hell, for better or worse, at other studios, from Paramount’s long-stalled Star Trek movie to The Black Hole (formerly a disaster movie script called Space Probe One) at Disney.
Easily the highlight of the movie and its toy line were the unique robots. Faceless “Sentry robots” seen throughout the derelict U.S.S. Cygnus were clearly men in suits, but the starring robot characters were different. Though clearly influenced by R2-D2’s cute factor, VINCENT and Old BOB “floated” throughout the movie, obviously employing some clever futuristic anti-grav technology (and, in a few scenes, all-too-visible piano wires). The floating behemoth Maximillian (a character which had its name before actor Maximilian Schell was cast as its taskmaster) was also represented, both figures featuring a clear plastic stand to simulate their hovering ability. An Old BOB figure was made as part of the original line, but, along with a repaint of the Sentry Robot figure to represent the Sentries’ leader STAR, it was generally available only in Europe and has since become a pricey rarity.
Other figures in the Black Hole range included Dr. Hans Reinhardt (in a ceremonial outfit he only wore for about the last 1/3 of the movie), Captain Dan Holland, Lt. Charlie Pizer, “embedded space journalist” Harry Booth, Dr. Kate McCrae, and the ill-fated Dr. Alex Durant. Pictures of a prototype U.S.S. Palomino space capsule made the rounds, but the movie’s lack of stellar box office success prevented Mego from introducing any vehicles or further characters.