Spotlight on: ITV's 'The Six Million Dollar Man'

12 September 2008
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Spotlight on: ITV's 'The Six Million Dollar Man' Images

In 1974, a new programme started on ITV called the Six Million Dollar Man.

The main character was played by Lee Majors, a man who is one of my childhood heroes.

The show starts with Colonel Steve Austin, an astronaut and NASA pilot who is involved with the testing of a new prototype aircraft which was actually a real plane called the Northrop M2-F2!

After detaching from its mother ship (a B52), trouble soon envelops Colonel Austin, resulting in a horrific crash; the footage shown at the start of the show was actual film of a Northrop M2-F2 crashing where, unbelievably, the real pilot walked away without a scratch!

Our hero, however, was not as lucky. He is seriously injured and written off by NASA. Then in steps a gentleman called Oscar Goldman (Richard Anderson) from an organisation called O.S.I. (Office of Scientific Intelligence). 

He has a multi- million dollar budget, along with a project titled C-1, and, as an experiment, a plan to create an individual - half human and half machine.

A top cyborg research and development scientist Rudy Wells (Alan Oppenheimer) is on hand to work on the project, and Colonel Steve Austin is just the guinea pig they have been waiting for!

After some persuasion, and facing the reality of a life in a wheelchair, Steve Austin agrees to the surgery and receives two bionic legs, a bionic right arm and bionic left eye.

Here is the cool stuff. His legs can propel him to 60mph with a 4920 watt continuous duty backup chip; his arm has the strength of a bulldozer and 1550 watt continuous duty back up chip, and his eye has a zoom lens of 20.2 to 1 with infra red function.  You don’t get that on the NHS!

He soon gets used to his new eye and limbs; then starts a series of adventures and rescues. 

Bionic booty

Merchandise for the show is massive with just about everything you can think of having been produced. Action figures, games, annuals, jigsaws, trading cards, construction kits, wallpaper, dressing-up suits, thermos flasks, lunch boxes, and so on and so on.

six million dollar man action figure

Figure with feature bionic arm

The most popular merchandise products were those from Kenner/ Denys Fisher, Kenner being the American front and Denys Fisher being the UK licensee. The 12-inch action figure is probably the most remembered and revered toy, the first having a bionic feature arm with roll back skin and removable bionic modules.

The impressive limb had a push-button mechanism in the figure’s back which, when depressed, lifted the engine block supplied in the pack; plus a cool bionic eye, which you operated by looking through the back of his head; a trendy red track suit, and white socks trainers finished off the overall toy.

One thing to note when purchasing a figure is the condition of the ‘skin’ on the arm as this deteriorates over the years and finding one with mint rubber skin is quite hard. You will have to part with anything up to £250 for a real, minted version. However, you can obtain lesser versions cheaper.

There is a second version with ‘Bionic Grip’ and orange rubber girder rather than engine block, the main difference compared to the first issue, being a ‘gripping’ hand.

The third is the rarest, the ‘biosonic’ version which is basically a karate chop arm action version of the doll.  Strangely, included with this, is a kids size seventies steel identity bracelet, in chromed silver - very Del boy!

There is a rare version of the doll in orange test flight suit with extra outfit which is very tough to track down and worth in excess of four hundred pounds! It is the first issue, however, that is the most desirable as this is the one we all seemed to have.
There are some nice accompanying dolls to go with Steve. The Oscar Goldman doll is dressed in checked jacket and chinos and comes complete with a simply fantastic exploding brief case. Expect to pay up to £200 for a mint example.

The Bionic Bigfoot with chest exploding feature has a value of £500, mainly because the toy was only easily available in the U.S. 

Then, we have Maskertron, with three different disguise face masks, arm weapon attachments and exploding body. This will set you back about £250 and is my favourite out of all of them.  Well, you have to love the bad guys don’t you?

There’s also the weird and fantastically rare figure ‘Dr. Kromdome’ but this is a totally different kettle of fish. 

Montgomery Ward, the American department store, felt they were missing out on the bionic action and wanted an exclusive toy for their stores, so they contacted Mego to produce a fictitious character.

What came back was a very odd-looking silver and purple outfit clad baddie, with a purple cane, chromed helmet and robotic camp face paint - oh dear! 

I think they had all been on the wine that afternoon. The doll was of very poor quality and its box was a simply boring. There were no special features like the ones Kenner had incorporated so it subsequently failed to sell well at all.

Ironically, this makes it of the hardest action figures to find, period! If you want to acquire a boxed example expect to pay £800 pounds minimum for one (it took me six years to obtain my example). 

This is also because you are also competing with Mego collectors who place a high value on this piece.

Other toys in the Kenner/ Denys Fisher line-up include, special feature bionic arms, legs, crystal working back pack radio, porta communicator, OSI office sets, three outfits for Steve, the cool repair and transport station, vehicles, a ‘give a show’ projector set, and a very rare Venus space probe toy; a kind of craft /vehicle come terminator crossed with a dustbin enemy for Steve to battle with.

six million dollar man stickerssix million dollar man radiosix million dollar man toy

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