Dr. Evil I

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Dr. Evil catalog page © 1968 Ideal Toys.

Dr. Evil I

(pop culture)
“And so, Captain Action, the contest is over! Soon you will be helplessly in my power!” sneers a ghoulish figure with a pale-blue complexion and an exposed brain as he lords his mind-controlling “hypnotic eye” over his shackled adversary. This is the original Dr. Evil (no relation to the Austin Powers character), first seen in an advertising campaign for his 1968 release from Ideal Toys. The original supervillain action figure, the poseable, 12- inch Dr. Evil followed in the plastic footsteps of his heroic counterpart, the G.I. Joe–like Captain Action, who premiered two years prior. The Captain could be dressed in an array of costumes (each sold separately) of licensed superheroes from Aquaman to Spider-Man, but his arch-enemy had no such supervillain outfits (although Joker and Red Skull uniforms are rumored to have been in development but never produced). “The sinister invader of Earth,” Dr. Evil sported a shimmering blue Nehru jacket and trousers, sandals, and a gold medallion, and was packaged with a “laser gun” and a Caucasian, bearded rubber mask (slipping over the figure's head, concealing his alien face but not his hands or feet), allowing him to assimilate into Earth culture as Dr. Thorpe, “a benign gentleman.” A gift set released during Christmas 1968 armed Dr. Evil with an array of “evil, evil things” including a “thought sensor” helmet, a “reducer” shrinking wand, an “ionized hypo,” the hypnotic eye, a lab coat, and an additional disguise, the Asian mask of Dr. Ling. DC Comics readers know of Dr. Evil from two additional sources: a Kurt Schaffenberger–drawn house ad appearing in the publisher's line in 1968 and in issues #3 and #4 (1969) of DC's Captain Action series, written and illustrated by Green Lantern artist Gil Kane, which posited the bad doctor as the transmogrified father of Captain Action's late wife. Manufacturer Playing Mantis reissued both Captain Action and Dr. Evil in a short-lived figure line in the late 1990s. With his figural rebirth, Dr. Evil was finally accompanied by licensed supervillain ensembles: Flash Gordon's enemy Ming the Merciless and the Phantom's arch-foe Kabai Singh.