Annapolis Valley Register : 2020-03-19

ARTS : 18 : B8


B8 THURSDAY, MARCH 19, 2020 ANNAPOLIS VALLEY REGISTER • SALTWIRE.COM GO FIGURE Toy firm enlists Halifax hobby artist’s talents BRANDON YOUNG SPECIAL TO SALTWIRE NETWORK At 44, Jason Young hasn't lost his sense of play. Despite working as a chartered profession­al accountant for a large grocery chain, his creative endeavours as a freelance graphic designer have presented him with the opportunit­y to revisit a piece of his childhood. "It's my escape from the business world," says Young, a Halifax, N.S. resident who began drawing while in junior high school. "Something that's fun, light, colourful—something that's not, you know, business." However, business is precisely what Young got himself involved with recently. The artist earned bragging rights for working alongside internatio­nal toy brand Mego Corporatio­n, designing product packaging for action figures, including Stan Lee, Michael Myers, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Dr. Jeckyll & Mr.Hyde. With his designs debuting alongside the company's new wave of figures at the New York Toy Fair in February, it's a feat he never imagined. "My brothers and I played with these toys all the time," Young says of the figurines Mego released during the brand's peak in the 1970s. Founded in 1954, the company produced dolls and action figures of iconic pop culture characters from cinema, TV, comic books and more, becoming industry standard. Unfortunat­ely, bankruptcy in the early '80s made the Mego Corporatio­n a thing of the past. However, its memory lived on in the hearts of many people and, in 2018, the company returned with an exclusive line of its classic figures at Target that was received well. "Like the phoenix coming out of the ashes, they're immediatel­y successful," says Young. Art and graphic design is a hobby for Halifax resident Jason Young, who dabbles in it during his downtime from his regular job and raising his three kids — Jacob, left, Emily, and Nicholas, pictured with their dad in front of his collection of Mego Toys. FROM FAN TO PARTICIPAN­T Young, who was simply a fan at the time, was excited by news of Mego's return and created a "cheesy" comic book mock-up ad promoting the company. What began as merely fun inadverten­tly lead to his involvemen­t. "I posted it to social media, and it just blew up," says Young. "It got a bunch of likes, it circulated like wildfire on all these different pages, and that got the attention of Mego themselves. Somebody from Mego contacted me and told me Marty Abrams, the guy who runs the company, loved it — so that's how I got my foot in the door." Following the positive reception in 2018, Abrams was inspired to relaunch the company in 2020 with a wave of new characters, a project that Young had a hand in. In the summer of 2019, Young, who is self-taught, began working with Mego by designing one product package, which led to the company employing his talents for multiple action figure packages. "I wish I had a time machine to go back to myself when I was 10 or 12 years old, sitting on the floor playing with these figures, and tell myself that I'd be helping with the Stanley figure when I'm grown up," says Young. "I think that would be pretty cool." With his name credited on product packaging, Young is no doubt guaranteed to receive his fair share of acclaim from toy lovers, as well as the industry. "Once my name is out there, I could potentiall­y be contacted by other people," says Young. "But, for me, the hope is that I continue doing Young’s involvemen­t all began when he created what he calls a “cheesy” mock-up ad promoting Mego Corporatio­n. It led to his involvemen­t in designing the packaging of newly-released toys, including this one for Dr. Jeckyl/Mr. Hyde. The packaging of this Stan Lee collectibl­e toy was designed by Young, a Halifax man who says art and graphic design is a fun hobby for him. work for this company that I've loved for my entire life." Notoriety shouldn't be a problem, given the figures will be shipped worldwide. The toys are currently available for pre-order and will even be on shelves in stores such as EB Games. In the Halifax Regional Municipali­ty, they will also be available at Sunrise Records, Giant Robot Comics, and Strange Adventures. Target will carry the toys in the United States. "It's a nights and weekend thing; my downtime, which there's not a lot of," says Young. "With three kids, I'm always running around to basketball games or doing homework. But, this is the little bit of downtime I have that's kind of how I spend it." Young also notes his kids follow in his footsteps with their love of action figures, which are always on display — but available for play — in his man cave. "I'm not one of those collectors that don't touch anything," says Young. "My kids are in the driveway doing Evil Knievel motorcycle jumps, or pulling on my Stretch Armstrong … They're toys, so have at it." While Young awaits the next wave of Mego toys to Young’s art was featured at New York Toy Fair 2020 in February for characters such as Stan Lee, Michael Myers (Halloween), Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Dr. Jeckyl/Mr. Hyde. for people working in serious jobs to find time to bring themselves back down to earth and do something fun," says Young. "If you enjoy something, don't shove it away and say 'I'm 40 years old, I can't do this — it's toys.' If I enjoy it, then I'll do it." become a reality, he says he'll continue to find ways to stay creative with his art. And he encourages everyone to do something they love. Even if it's just a couple of hours here and there—it could lead to something extraordin­ary. "It's an escape from the dayto-day. I think it's important FOLLOW YOUR PASSION Following the launch, Young is back to his regular pace of life, working his office job and being a father, and continuing to keep his creative spirit alive as a graphic design hobbyist.