Pups, Mego and Jet Wheels - Part 2

Posted by: TalesofToyCars in Member Blogs

This article was initially published in January 2004 by Craig Mueller.

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The following is meant to be an elaboration and continuation of the "Tales of the Toy Car" December 2003 issue article titled "AMT Pups & Tuffy and Jet Wheels by Mego". Most of what is known about these brands was already stated in that article, and will not be repeated here. It is hoped that this Part 2 article will shed new light on the AMT Pups with some detailed additional information, as well as, to serve a primary purpose of representing, visually, the various packaging and extras discussed in Part 1.

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In my collecting, I've been fortunate to have come across two advertisements for AMT Pups which tell a story within themselves. The first and seemingly oldest, which appears to be a salesman's early preproduction trade ad (Fig. A), introduces four new 1/65 scale Pups models. It lacks assigned model numbers and specific detail compared to the second newer ad (Fig B). It also is vague on any release date just stating "order now!". What is most interesting about this first ad, is that the four new Pups are true to their release with the exception of one model. Instead of the 1968 Cougar, it appears that the original plan called for a 1968 Javelin instead. The early ad's model features include, authentic scale and detailing, vinyl tires, detailed interior, and transparent plastic windows. The second newer ad is much more specific, stating that the four 1968 models could be ordered now, and would have a Spring/Summer release. From the previous ad, it offers the additional features of wheels that rotate and are turnable, durable steel axles, a unique color to each car in non-toxic paint, and lastly, Amt's famous super-detailing. They no longer felt the need to mention the detailed interior or clear windows. This newer ad spelled out the actual four 1968 models as the Mustang #D451, Camaro #D452, Dodge Charger #D453, and Cougar #D457 (note the jump in model number). Most of these models and the Pups packaging can be viewed in the December Part 1 article. Another interesting fact from the second ad is that four more 1968 model Pups were slated for production and were stated as "coming soon". They were valid enough to have model numbers and were the Corvette #D454, Toronado #455, Fairlane #D456, and Javelin #458. The model numbering completes eight consecutive numbers, but strangely jump out of order between release one and release two. Unfortunately, the second group of models were never to be produced. This is probably attributable primarily to the introduction of Mattel's Hot Wheels. The Pups were made well, but had plain primary color paint jobs and slow Lesney Regular Wheel style tires and could not compete with the Redlines' mirrored spectraflame paint jobs and fast rolling track capabilities.

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The four produced Pups models reappeared, shortly after their brief AMT existence, in the form of Mego Jet Wheels (Fig. C) and then as Mego Jets (Fig. D) with low friction type wheels and axles to try and compete with Hot Wheels. The Jet Wheels and Jets introduced four more street car models which were the Corvette, Amx, Riviera, and Corvair, featuring a new 910* numbering system for each. As mentioned in December's part one article, this was also the introduction (regarding this article's scope) of the eight F1 cars (Fig E). These were the same castings as the previous Penny and Zee F1's and had a 820* numbering system. They are the Cooper Maserati, Ferrari 36V, B R M H16, Lola - Climax, Eagle, Honda V12, Ferrari, and Lotus - Climax. These casts also appeared under packaging names of Super Speedy, Minibox, MiniRacer, Mitey Mite Zip Car, Redondo, Remco Racing Wheels, Lincoln International Pocket Series and who knows how many others. The repeated rebirth of these F1 casts throughout all the brands mentioned, is worthy of an article within itself.

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 It is interesting to note the two different Jet Wheels reverse color packaging (Fig. C). I have seen probably 20+ packages and have only witnessed the one type with the street cars and the other type with the F1 cars. Seeing as both types of cars are listed on both types of packages, I cannot confirm that the street cars and F1's were unique solely to each package type. Other than color reversal, the Jet Wheels packaging have one other difference. The street car package has the logo "Fastest Metal Cars in the World", whereas, the F1 package has the motto "Fast! Fast! Fast!". I am pretty sure that the street car package version is older, since the later Jets package carries on the "Fast! Fast! Fast!" logo. I theorize that the "Fastest Cars in the World" motto" could have been challenged in court by Mattel based upon validity of statement, thus forcing the change to "Fast! Fast! Fast!". I cannot say for sure, but it seems logical. Mego clearly seems to have been trying to piggyback Mattel. Along those same lines, notice the Jet Wheels F1 cut card package (Fig. F). I am convinced that this is an intentional factory cutting with the sole purpose of perfectly removing the "Jet Wheels" name, front and back. I've seen this cut card various times at totally different locations, cut precisely the same way. I also speculate that this was a move by Mego in response from legal pressure from Mattel regarding name similarity. Again it seems logical, and, why else would cards be cut to remove literally nothing but the brand name, while maintaining the company logo? I also know it is definitely cut because on one card back you can see a residual sliver of the bottom of the "Jet Wheels" name caused by an imperfect cut. This could have been a quick fix to continue sales, until the" Jets" cards could be produced. A last interesting strange observation is that the packages read "Jet Wheels", where as, the car chassis read the singular "Jet Wheel" name.

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Mego released a "Jet Car" 10 ft. track set (Fig H) which came with a street car in the same plastic garage, but without the card back. As stated in Part 1, it is unknown if all eight cars were released in this set. Also put out by Mego was a 12 ft long "Jets Speed Track" (Fig. I) which came with no car. Both Mego track sets mentioned use with other brand cars, but the latter, actually specified Speedline, MiniMarx, and Matchbox. It is unknown if these are the only two track sets released under the Mego name. Also shown, is an actual Jet Wheels store display carton (Fig. G).

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Believed to be next up in the packaging story, is the Tuffy line (Fig J). Tuffy did not feature the eight F1 cars, but added a new street car which was the Pontiac Catalina or Bonneville. As described in Part 1, Tuffy released it's own line of four working headlight trucks (Fig J) similar to Marx. Also, four of the Tuffy cars are literally the exact four original Pups, simply with the AMT letters ground off of the base (Fig K).

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Lastly, I believe, came the Super Speedy series (Fig L), utilizing the previously mentioned street cars and adding the final cast which was the Torino. Super Speedy is believed to be the only brand featuring all ten street car models (Fig. M). Also brought back under this name, were the eight F1 cars. Super Speedy released a more advanced 12 ft.track set (Fig. N) featuring a loop clip and an anchor, along with a street car and an F1 car. Unique to this brand name, were the two different types of sticker wheels (mag wheel for street cars and wire wheel for F1's). All six wheel types (Fig. O) pertaining to these brands are described in detail in Part 1. Unlike Jet Wheels and Jets, Tuffy and Super Speedy show no affiliation to the Mego brand name. There was also an interesting variations in bases (Fig. P), as seen with the four Chargers pictured. The bottom base shows the "Pups" version featuring the "AMT" logo. This base was then modified to reflect the "Jet Wheel" name. Strangely then, Mego produced a whole different chassis with the same "Jet Wheel" name, that read with the car direction reversed. Did AMT perhaps feel that the first "Jet Wheel" base was too similar to their original base and force the change? Lastly, this newer base was then modified to cover up the "Jet Wheel" name, to be used in one of the newer lines. The last photo (Fig. Q) demonstrates a wide variety of colors used upon a single model, throughout the various brand names. These brands featured solid primary colors, metallic finishes, and even mirror finishes.

A fascinating aspect of these odd obscure brands is that, as a collector, you will never necessarily know when you have found them all (unlike redlines where there are very few unknowns and mysteries left, that have not already been published). There are no books spelling out the anywhere near the whole picture of these rare cars. I have written my findings based on years of enthusiastically hunting these models. I cannot say with any certainty that these are the only brand names and/or track sets, etc, and I am certain I have not witnessed all the many colors. Therefore, the hunt will continue indefinitely with no known end in site, and I will remain a happy collector!

Sources: Tales of the Toy Car December 2003 Article "AMT Pups & Tuffy and Jet Wheels by Mego" by Breithaupt, Gras, and Mueller, e-Bay photos of AMT Pups Advertisements and Jet Wheels Store Display

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