Overview: This page contains an exhaustive study of the various 2-XL models (foreign and domestic). It is intended for collectors and the casually interested. If you have information or images to contribute, please contact the webmaster at netadams @ gmail.
- 1 “Thank you for turning me on!”
- 2 The Original 2-XL by Mego, 1978-1981
- 3 Mego 2-XL — International Versions
“Thank you for turning me on!”
A generation separates two versions of 2-XL, introduced in 1978 by Mego and again in 1992 by Tiger Electronics. The talking robot was a popular educational toy whose success anticipated interactive learning in the subsequent digital age. 2-XL’s creator Dr. Michael Freeman championed the use of technology in the classroom, believing learning could be engaging as well as disciplined.
Though a capable programmer, Freeman employed analog technologies (8-track and standard cassettes) to drive 2-XL, in order that the toy might be affordable for families. 2-XL only simulated an interactive experience, though some might argue that all computer-based interactions are, technically, simulated. The voice for both versions of 2-XL was that of Freeman, though significantly altered to appear computerized — 2-XL, however, retained Freeman’s Brooklyn accent!
Despite 2-XL’s popularity, the toy enjoyed short production runs. Between 1978 and 1981, Mego produced 500,000 or more 2-XLs, before the company declared bankruptcy in 1982. (A series of poor financial decisions, including rejecting a contract to produce action figures for the Star Wars franchise, doomed the company.) Tiger Electronics reintroduced 2-XL in 1992, offering a newly designed 2-XL that retained the toy’s voice and personality. Tiger ceased production in 1994. One imagines the dominance of the personal computer rendered 2-XL superfluous.
To keep retail costs low, neither version of 2-XL was technologically advanced. The Mego iteration operated on 8-tracks; the Tiger version on standard cassettes. Nonetheless, the robot offered children genuine interactive experiences when computers were still relatively expensive. It is worth noting Freeman’s original (non-commercial) robots were computer-based — Freeman used discarded computer parts for two private projects. Implementing the same technology commercially would have been cost-prohibitive. In this sense, 2-XL served as a stopgap until the price of computers fell within reach of families. That said, 2-XL’s importance should not be underestimated: he made possible an experience society was only beginning to imagine, that of computerized interactive learning.
The generation that separates the two versions of 2-XL makes the toy unique in pop culture, as people who owned the seventies model may well have children who enjoyed the nineties version, with no intervening generation to appreciate the toy. Despite being widely popular, 2-XL is generally unknown to people outside those groups.
Freeman continued his work beyond 2-XL, designing Kasey the Kinderbot for Fisher Price in the early 2000s. That toy featured a new voice and personality, and new technology: the Fisher Price toy was computer-programmed.
This site focuses primarily on the Mego 2-XL. Only passing reference is made to the Tiger and Fisher Price versions of Freeman’s inventions. For more information on those machines, visit 2XLRobot.com.
The Original 2-XL by Mego, 1978-1981
Nearly 200,000 2-XLs were produced in the first two years of the robot’s run, and about 500,000 units were produced over all, a figure based on serial numbers. Sometime in the middle of its production, around 1980, Mego modified the appearance of 2-XL slightly. The changes, minor alterations, were mostly aesthetic. One might say Mego merely tweaked 2-XL on occasion. For collectors, the modifications are noteworthy.
Commonly, the types of Mego 2-XLs are called Mego Type 1 and Mego Type 2, the distinction between the two being chiefly alterations to the robot’s eyes and flashing lights. Yet within these types are still more variations, representing even subtler tweaks. In order to retain the original designations (established by collectors), I have added descriptors to versions of the two types. They are the following:
- Mego Type 0 — the prototype. A non-operational prototype was created in 1978 and sent to engineers at a factory in Taiwan. The resulting production model was featured on the side panel of 2-XL’s box for most of its run. I doubt whether the prototype or production model are anywhere to be found. The webmaster at 2XLRobot.com once mistakenly identified the production model as a retail model, labeling it the “2-XL Mk 1.” He now calls it the Mythical Type O (read about it here) — I like the designation, so I retain it.
- Mego Type 1 “Brainy” — the slogan on this version says, “You Can Call Him Brainy;” also, the volume-control label is absent. After about 25,000 2-XLs were manufactured, a volume-control label was added, and, for a short while, these 2-XLs were distributed in the remaining “You Can Call Him Brainy” boxes. I hesitate to call this version of 2-XL the Mego Type 1 “Brainy 2″, but, as a collector, this is a noteworthy variation.
- Mego Type 1 “Personality” — the slogan on this version now says, “The Robot With A Personality;” a volume-control label is present.
- Mego Type 1 “Institutional” — a classroom 2-XL was marketed in the late 1970s, but I’m not certain that this type ever came to fruition; this model included a headphone jack for use in a classroom setting.
- Mego Type 2 “Transitional” (two variations) — this type sports the updated facial features of what is known as the Mego Type 2, but retains the older rear panel with a hexagon-shaped speaker grill. Early transitional 2-XLs have the older-style eyelets, but which are colored red, not silver; later transitional 2-XLs have solid, red discs for eyes.
- Mego Type 2 “Personality” — this version is most common and dates to early 1980. It features red discs for eyes, a new rear panel with a round speaker grill and responsive flashing lights. The slogan on the packaging reads, “The Robot With a Personality,” and features an image of the older Type 1 2-XL — evidently the changes were so minor, Mego did not feel compelled to alter the box!
- Mego Type 2 “Closeout” — this last type shipped in a modified box (the front and rear portions are pasted onto a generic box — there are no side-panel images). One version of this type has a different button label — the owner of it claims it is a production sample.
To identify each of these versions as a type (e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) is frankly unnecessary. The most notable and consistent difference between these versions are the eyes. One might as well keep the original designations, as to change them would only add confusion.
Overview of Major Differences —
|Mego Type 1||Mego Type 2|
|Eyes: Small red lamps that remain steady as robot talks||Eyes: Large red domes that flash as robot talks, and more
brightly as the volume is raised
|Forehead light: Flashes as robot talks||Forehead light: Remains steady as robot talks|
|Speaker grill: Octagon shape||Speaker grill: Round shape, larger slats|
|Trademark panel: Flush on unit||Trademark panel: Raised surface on unit|
Within these versions are still more variations! Some Type 2 units have the original rear panel; some have a flush surface area around the trademark plate; also, the “Q” on the “Question” button varies on all types, being either dropped (two styles) or flush. Variations in the color of the unit are insignificant and probably unintentional (some units seem slightly darker than others, though this is probably due to variables in the manufacturing process and aging). See the expanded descriptions for details.
Mego Type 1 “Brainy”
The original 2-XL lacked a volume-control label, and was packaged in a box featuring the words, “You Can Call Him Brainy.” Later, Mego added the volume label, but not before using up the remaining “Brainy” boxes. The 2-XL in the image (left) appears on the front of the original box.
It is also worth noting that the General Information tape featured on the “brainy” box has a different label, lacking the “wrap-around” portion. It’s not certain that any tapes featuring the original label were ever distributed.
Adding the On/Off/Volume label seems a good move as that portion of 2-XL is barren without it — also, people may have been confused as to turning the unit on and off (some might have reached for the red globe at the top of his head!). Changing the slogan also seems a good move. “You Can Call Him Brainy” sounds boastful — I’m smarter than you! 2-XL’s real selling point was, in fact, that he had a personality. The newer slogan would read, “The Robot With a Personality.”
The very early advertisements featured the “Brainy” 2-XL, and the academic version (see below) appears also to have been of this variation.
Apart from a volume-control label and newer box, there is little to distinguish the “brainy” model from the “personality” model.
Serial numbers for “brainy” 2-XLs are very low (I own two: 13587 and 21956). In terms of collectibility, the “brainy” is harder to find on eBay, but not quite rare.
Other notes: The “brainy” version features only the slightly-dropped Q on the question label (see “The Question” section for details on the question label). Also, the Styrofoam packaging for the earliest models is hand cut. Mego did not anticipate 2-XL’s success, and kept the initial production simple.
Mego Type 1 “Personality”
As 2-XL grew in popularity, Mego amped up production of the the toy. The company added the aforementioned volume control label and updated the packaging. The slightly tweaked 2-XL is featured on the box. One can only surmise when this change occurred, but probably in late 1978 (the toy was only introduced in November) or early 1979.
A word, now, regarding 2-XL’s operation:
The Mego 2-XL employed 8-track tapes for its programming. In the patent application for the toy, Freeman considered using reel-to-reel tape, but the 8-Track format afforded him more freedom to simulate a computerized experience.
An 8-Track is a type of magnetic tape that is divided into four bands of stereo (two-dimensional) sound — thus “8-Track”. This format was a popular in the 1970s, and served as an alternate to vinyl. The way an 8-Track operated was simple: pressing one of four buttons, people could switch between four songs at a given time. Problematically, there was no way to reverse the tape, and fast-forward, if it was included on a player, was slow. Once the standard cassette was introduced, the 8-Track fell rapidly into disuse.
Despite the limitations of the format, 2-XL’s developers could simulate an interactive computer experience. On one band, 2-XL asked questions and told stories. When a child pressed a response button, the child effectively switch recordings. The recordings, being synchronized, gave the impression that 2-XL was responding intelligently to the child’s responses. (As a kid, I remember quickly changing my answers to hear the other recording — one did this once one grew too familiar with the program!)
Employing the 8-track format constitutes a clever “work around.” In the 1970s, computers were indeed gaining ascendency, but were still too expensive to be practicable as a child’s toy. Note that the first Apple computer sold for $666 in 1976, while 2-XL retailed from between $70 and $50. Also note that computers required a certain amount of programming to operate, something we tend to forget in the age of the tablet computer, and that 2-XL worked “out of the box.” The “simulated” interactive experience of 2-XL was very real.
Now a word regarding 2-XL’s style and design:
2-XL, as conceived by Freeman, represents the old-school idea of robots and computers. Watch early sci-fi films and notice that robots are made to look (relatively speaking) human, so too 2-XL. He has facial features, a body, and a personality. Regarding 2-XL’s look, see this blog entry — Freeman was not ultimately responsible for the robot’s design.
The “personality” robot measures about a foot high. His forehead light flashes steadily while his eyes remain lit. His programs are inserted into his belly, and his voice is projected rearward, given the placement of the speaker grill on the back panel. What appears to be a headphone jack is really the connection for the power supply.
Out of the box, 2-XL included the robot, a tape (“General Information”), and power supply. The Mego 2-XL did not operate on batteries, despite that some retailers sometimes placed a “do not forget the batteries” label on his packaging! In other words, he was not portable.
The success of this toy was noted in the New York Magazine, July 30, 1979 (see here).
Mego Type 1 “Institutional”
2-XL’s inventor, Dr. Michael J. Freeman, first produced an educational robot in the mid-1970s for his wife, who was a school teacher. Explaining that it was difficult to teach students with varying skills, she inspired Freeman to create Leachim, a computerized robot that anticipated 2-XL. Leachim was a large robot, but soon Freeman was manufacturing smaller units for classrooms in New York City. That a commercial product such as 2-XL could be employed in the classroom was indeed a tantalizing proposition, especially considering that a mass-produced robot would be so much less expensive than Freeman’s other offerings.
Apart from a magazine advertisement, I have not found any evidence that Mego actually manufactured an institutional 2-XL. According to the advertisement, the institutional 2-XL included a headphone jack and headphones. In each image, the cord stretches to the back of the machine, suggesting the jack replaced or was set near the speaker grill, which is a modest adaptation given the location of pre-existing wires. The institutional 2-XL also included a 9-volt adapter, which seems logical given that most classrooms in the 1970s did not contain many outlets — a chalk board was typically the main teaching tool!
The advertisement also states that a number of scholastic tapes were created this 2-XL. Some of the titles appear to be drawn from existing commercial tapes, but others for the specialized purpose of the classroom. I’ve not discovered any of the latter on the Internet. See image for a list of institutional titles.
Undoubtedly, some creative teacher likely employed the commercial 2-XL in his or her classroom. That an actual institutional machine was every actually created remains uncertain, but quite possible. Though one would expect to find at least some reference to the institutional machine on the Internet or in printed publications (and I have not), it should be noted that not everything from the 1970s and early 1980s has been digitally archived.
The following mention of 2-XL in the book The Cybernetic Imagination in Science Fiction by Patricia S. Warrick states, “Robots are also beginning to appear in the home and the classroom where they can both entertain and educate. A robot named 2-XL (to excel), now available from Mego Corporation, can ask questions and accept objective answers such as multiple choice, yes/no, and true/false. Leachim, a robot teacher developed by Michael Freeman and Gary P. Mulkowsky, is being used experimentally in a New York City school (link)” The last statement is not entirely accurate, as it was Freeman alone who developed Leachim. Mulkowsky worked alongside Freeman, developing 2-XL’s programs.
To learn more about Freeman’s inventions in the classroom, click on the following links:
- The Robots are Coming, by Douglas Colligan, New York Magazine, 1979
- Marvel of the Bronx, Time Magazine
- Robots: Fact, Fiction and Prediction, by Jasia Reichardt
One additional photo?
The 2-XL featured in this advertisement is a Type 1 “Brainy”. It may well be the institutional 2-XL or simply the regular 2-XL used for the ad. Note that the volume-control label is absent. If the institutional 2-XL is indeed a “Brainy,” this indicates the educational version was conceived from the onset.
Mego Type 2 “Transitional”
At some point (probably around late 1979), Mego altered 2-XL’s design yet again. These modifications resulted in the final version of the toy, the primary modification being the style of the eyes. Instead of holding steady, now, 2-XL’s eyes flashed as he spoke. This made the talking robot more emotionally responsive, a tall order given 2-XL’s rather staid expression. Undoubtably, such a modification required alterations to the toy’s circuitry.
The transition from Type 1 to Type 2 happened gradually. First, it seems Mego replaced 2-XL’s silver eyelets with red eyelets — see the image to the left. (To note, some early “Brainy” 2-XL’s display similar red eyelets, but quite infrequently.) Then, Mego replaced eyelets (silver or red) with discs, making the robot more attractive and giving him a bit more personality. The Type 1 eyes are small and non-expressive.
The earliest Type 2s retained the older rear panel, with octagon speaker. My guess is that Mego used the older molds or left-over rear panels until the supply was exhausted. Or, Mego simply continued to modify the Type 2 until arriving at the final design.
If my recollection is correct, my brother and I owned a Type 2 model. Functionally, nothing changed, save his flashing eyes, and 2-XL still operated on 8-track cassettes. The modification is so subtle, that people sometimes fail to notice the differences. Mego even retained the older Type 1 model on the box (that never changed) and only gradually employed the Type 2 model in later advertising. Most international models would be of the Type 2 variety, suggesting 2-XL’s expanded world-wide presence occurred sometime around 1980. (See the section on international 2-XLs below.)
Mego Type 2 “Final”
By far the most common 2-XL is the Mego Type 2 “Final” — the last iteration of 2-XL. In addition to modifications to 2-XL’s facial features, the rear panel has been redesigned, featuring a round speaker grill, with slightly wider gaps (presumably to improve sound). The patent label, however, is inconsistent: it is sometimes flush with the surface of the toy or else raised slightly.
My brother and I owned a Type 2 model, which means we didn’t get ours until 1980 or 1981 — my family were always late adopters. On eBay, the Type 2 model is frequently described as a 1978 toy, which is correct only in that 2-XL was originally released in that year. The Type 2 2-XL did not appear until 1980.
The design of the Type 2 model was employed for most international versions of 2-XL: Spanish (Mexico), Italian, German and French (Canada). The Type 1 design was used for the original French-Canadian version, the only foreign-language 2-XL to be released in both forms, but superseded soon thereafter by the newer design. For information about international versions, see the table of contents.
Mego Type 2 “Closeout”
The final change occurred in the packaging. As Mego headed toward bankruptcy, it began to sell off its remaining stock of toys, including 2-XL. Program tapes were shrink-wrapped and discounted, and the robot was retailed in a simpler box. Images from the “personality” box are pasted on the front and back portions of a generic box.
It would be interesting to note the serial number on these 2-XLs, as this would offer clues as to exactly how many 2-XLs were manufactured. If you have one, please e-mail: netadams @ gmail (dot) com.
One collector offers images of a “production sample” dating to 1981, featuring the close-out box. This 2-XL is noteworthy for two reasons: one, it has a different button label; and two, it has a different volume nob. You can read more about this version here.
Collectors note there are three versions of the Q on the button label. The “transitional” Q (see below) is the rarest — and, frankly, the ugliest. It does appear that it is possible to establish a chronology for the different types of Q’s. What I call the original Q appears on early Type 1 models; the “transitional” Q on the middle Type 1 and Type 2 models; and the “final” Q on the last Type 2 model. That there is some overlap suggests the manufacturer was exhausting pre-printed supplies during 2-XL’s run.
One other note, I have Type 1 “Personality” 2-XLs with the final Q style. Why that Q would appear on the Type 1s and Type 2s, I don’t rightly know. I sometimes suspect that the “transitional” Q label was really a replacement label. On the two or three 2-XLs I own with this Q, the label adheres poorly.
Whatever the case, completists would have to collect several versions of the different types to fill out their collections.
The original “Q” — tightly kerned, and the tail is slightly dropped —
The transitional “Q” — tail on the “Q” is noticeably dropped —
The final “Q” — tightly kerned, but tail is not dropped —
Production sample dating to 1981 —
One wonders why the Q was so susceptible to change. One guess is that, aesthetically-speaking, the Q proved bothersome. Kerned tightly — kerning is the space between letters — the Q infringes upon its neighbor. Kerned loosely, well, the word looks sloppy. Dropping the tail allows for tighter kerning. Such things do apparently trouble designers. I note that Steve Jobs, designing Macintosh computers, spent hours working and reworking various elements. The little things do matter.
That said, it does appear one other element was modified: the font on the forehead label for the words 2-XL™ is slightly bolder on later models. To avoid being totally retentive on this point, I will refrain from regarding this as another “difference.”
For the sake of completeness, let us also include two variations of the Spanish 2-XL’s button label:
The common label —
The less common label —
For more on the Spanish version of 2-XL, manufactured for the Mexican market, see the table of contents.
Much of this has been discussed earlier, but to recap:
Packaging was accomplished early in 2-XL’s run, resulting in two, very similar boxes. The first (pictured right) features the early Type 1 and the slogan “You Can Call Him Brainy.” The second (pictured left) features a subsequent Type 1 model and the slogan “The Robot With A Personality.” The two boxes are very similar and the casual observer might not even notice the differences. The “Brainy” box features the same image and text on the front and back; the “Personality” box features different text on the back.
The image of a boy and girl playing with 2-XL on the side panel features, oddly enough, the production model of 2-XL (notice the power supply plugs into the right of the unit). The lettering on the button label is also different, displaying a computer font.
Sometime toward the end of 2-XL’s run, Mego produced a third box, using the cover image of the second. There are no side images, but there is text. One imagines this box was cheaper to produce, as the cover seems to be pasted onto a generic box.
Photos (click images to enlarge):
Mego 2-XL — Patent Images & Prototype
When Freeman first envisioned 2-XL he conceived a robot with humanlike features: arms, legs, face, etc. Today, a robot’s exterior qualities are generally determined by functionality, i.e. what it does. They are designed accordingly. That disc that vacuums some people’s carpets is a robot. Freeman conjured intelligent, social machines that closely approximated the human form.
Below are two images from Freeman’s patent for a “Real time conversational toy having secure playback response,” which was filed in 1976, some two years before 2-XL’s introduction. The images below look similar to earlier robots Freeman created.
He created Leachim, a computerized robot, for his wife’s classroom:
Freeman was not ultimately responsible for 2-XL’s look, which would be very different upon release. One imagines several reasons for this development: (1) a robot, as illustrated above, would be more prone to damage — think broken arms and legs; and, (2) a boxy robot would be easier to produce and package.
According to the Mego Museum, the exterior of 2-XL was designed by John McNett:
A paradigm-shifting product (due to its elevated price-point, which pundits proclaimed would kill the product), 2-XL was monumentally successful for Mego. John named, styled and developed the product, which was invented by Dr. Michael Friedman, the man “who did all the voice recording.” John pointed out that “the complex chin design is a grafted-on Micronaut part, used as an expediency because Marty didn’t like the plain, deadpan look on 2-XL’s face.” Faced with a production deadline, Mego “didn’t have time to redraw the styling. So [they] just glued the chin onto the model (prototype), and shipped it off to the orient.” John later added that “Sid Noble created and developed the flashing red eyes for 2-XL, shortly before its release to the [factory in the] orient.” — source
The side images of the retail box includes the prototype of 2-XL, which was created for the purposes of manufacturing and marketing, to see what the finished product would look like. The robot featured on the side of the box is a production sample.
Why the company never updated the box remains a bit of a mystery. I remember as a child noticing that my 2-XL, a Type 2, did not match the images on the box. But I didn’t care much either — I don’t think I kept the box very long. Probably Mego didn’t think it would matter much.
Christopher Goodnough at 2XLRobot.com once identified the prototype as an actual product. His story dates to 1980 (during 2-XL’s production) and makes for interesting reading (see here). Certainly, if one could acquire the production sample, that would increase greatly the value of ones collection!
The production sample also appeared in early advertisements for the toy, though it’s likely the unit was a non-functioning model. It’s evident that Mego wanted to begin promotions while 2-XL was still in development. Still, Mego never updated the box.
Noticing the Differences —
The prototype uses a slightly different mold (perhaps a one-off mold). Notice the “arms” above the 8-track slot — they are flat, not angled. Also notice that the power cord plugs in on the right, not the left, and the power button (obscured by the child’s hand) is on the left, not the right. His eyes appear to be different and he is missing 2-XL’s distinctive red “button” on the top of his head — the button is simply a non-functioning globe. The answer label is also different, displaying a “computer” font.
Mego 2-XL — International Versions
Mego introduced 2-XL to international markets soon after its release in America. The first foreign-language model was a Frech-Canadian version, featuring English and French labeling (it’s the only international model offered in Type 1 and Type 2 formats). German, Italian and Spanish models were offered later.
How popular 2-XL was overseas is uncertain. Judging from what is regularly offered for sale on the Internet, the Spanish-language 2-XL, manufactured for the Mexican market, was most successful. The Spanish-language 2-XL is often sold at MercadoLibre.com. The French-Canadian version appears less frequently, but still robustly on eBay.
United Kingdom (Burbank Toys)
Burbank Toys marketed 2-XL in the United Kingdom. According to ForeignMego.com, Burbank Toys distributed a small line of Mego products in England, principally action figures. The site notes the company’s logos often pasted on original packaging, though sometimes it is printed.
The 2-XL model I’ve seen in photos of the Burbank Toys product is a Mego Type 2. It was distributed in a slightly altered box, featuring the distributer’s name (which appears to be printed), and included what appears to be the same “General Information” tape packaged in U.S. versions. The second iteration of 2-XL, manufactured by Tiger Electronics, was distributed by Tomy in the U.K. Tapes for the Tomy version, featuring the original voice of 2-XL, were sometimes altered for the U.K. audience. I’m not sure the same applies to the robot distributed by Burbank Toys.
French-Canadian (Grand Toys)
I’m still working on this section. Please stay tuned.
Spanish (Ensueno Electronica)
Hola! A Spanish-language version of 2-XL was offered by Ensueno Electronics sometime in the middle of 2-XL’s run. Only a Type 2 has been noticed. Sales of the Ensueno 2-XL must have been robust, as more than a dozen program tapes were offered (see complete list here). This 2-XL featured some of Mego’s original sounds, but an entirely different voice. The voice is “cute,” but not robotic.
A Spanish “prototype” appears in a 2-XL commercial. I’m guessing it is a prototype, as the cassettes in the commercial appear to be English tapes used as props. Note that the button label is very different in the commercial — see image below:
As noted above, there are two versions of the button label. Here they are again:
Common label —
The less common label —
Below are images I’ve gleaned off the Internet:
More photos of this 2-XL can be found at the Old Robots website.
Videos of the Ensueno model in action:
- General Information in action — see here.
- You can see Astronomia 2-XL en el Espacio (“2-XL in Space) here.
- Here’s a video on YouTube from a Spanish-language television show from the 1970s or early 1980s — click here.
- This one appears to be from somebody’s tech blog — press here.
You can view images of the Ensueno 2-XL at 2XLRobot.com too.
The Ensueno Electronica version of 2-XL is offered infrequently on eBay but often on MercadoLibre.com. I don’t know that one can very easily shop on MercadoLibre.com from the U.S., but many 2-XLs are offered, including the later Tiger version.
Spreche deutsch? Well, Mego offered a German-language 2-XL too. Not sure how many of these were manufactured; it seems only a Type 2 model was ever made. I know of only two tapes.
Photos gleaned from the B.A.M. Store on eBay.
Italian (New Giogo)
Both the seventies and nineties versions of 2-XL were sold in Italy, although I haven’t found any tapes for the seventies (Mego) version; there are more than a dozen for the nineties (Tiger/GiGi) model. There is scant information regarding the Mego 2-XL, except that “Italian toy company New Gioco” distributed the robot successfully, according to the Mego Museum.
I’ve searched the Internet exhaustively for samples of this 2-XL and found only two, one of which I purchased on eBay. In terms of collectibility, this model is indeed very rare. How many of these are offered in shops in Italy, I do not know, but I imagine that if they offered them on eBay.com, they’d find a number of takers.
The New Gioco robot features an Italian-language button label, but no special branding otherwise. The volume control label is in English, perhaps suggesting the robot was made in the U.S and only slightly modified for the Italian market. (Note: Of all the international 2-XL’s, only the Spanish version for the Mexican market was rebranded and thoroughly translated.) One should bear in mind, however, the 2-XL is simply a toy 8-Track player — the tapes are the key component of the robot. The serial number label is the same as that found on American 2-XLs. The Italian robot is a Mego Type 2, indicating it was released around 1980.
One other interesting note, the question button uses a Type 1-like “Q” for “Domande.” Not sure why Mego selected a “Q” for the question button, but there it is.
Note: My New Giogo 2-XL was missing two buttons (far left image), so I robbed another 2-XL for the missing parts (middle image). You can watch a New Giogo 2-XL in action, playing an Italian music 8-track, but not a 2-XL program — press here.