Friday, September 02, 2005

Presenting my memories of the Six Million Dollar Man

As a child of the late 70’s and early 80’s, the Six Million Dollar Man was huge. Mega huge. You could see his influence in the playground as kids jumped in slow motion shouting ‘nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah.’ He was huge in Oz for years after it’s run finished in the States when regional TV stations could actually afford to buy episodes to screen. That's how we also got to know and love Get Smart and the campy 60's Batman series.

"Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster."

Just how cool is that? And I love the fact this was a government project that billed at just six mil, even if it was just 70’s money. Get an Oz department on that bad boy and I’m sure we could have blown it out 100 times that.

Cue obligatory wiki reference –

According to the above wiki entry, Steve Austin, the protagonist, an Astronaut messed up in a crash and fitted out with cybernetics, he had the following post-op powers.

A 20.1:1 zoom lens along with a night vision function in the left eye.

Bionic legs allowing him to run at tremendous speed and make great leaps. Austin's upper speed limit was never firmly established, although a speed of 60 mph is commonly quoted since this figure is shown on a speed gauge during the opening credits.

A Bionic right arm with the equivalent strength of a bulldozer

At any rate having the action figure to wield in the playground was indeed the bomb. And I had one. Yep, me. A nerdy portly kid with his own red suited wűnder cyborg killer doll.

So how did the powers translate in the action figure ? (pictured)

The eye was not in fact telescopic but weirdly distorted completely useless 1:4 vision. If the doll’s eye was akin to the specs of your own, you’d be granted legally blind status.

While the eye was lame, his legs did have kewl compartments that opened up. One had electronic circuit boards you could remove. The other had a grappling hook in his thigh. I’m not sure exactly what practical application a thigh mounted grappling hook would have, but I’m sure a practiced spelunker could tell me. Trouble was the construction of these compartments made his legs weak. They snapped off real easy.

The arm was the kewlist thing in the doll (yep, it’s a doll – not an action figure – my adopted grandma even made clothes for him out of old day glow green curtains). It was naturally bionic in appearance (see pic) and its hand would pull off on a regular basis (hee, hee).

But the whole ensemble was completely ruined by the add on of what supposedly rock your socks off effect. His arm you see could be clicked upwards. Presumably so he could then power his fist down, bulldozer style, into what ever man or materiel stood in his way.

Trouble was the clicker to raise the arm was in his back. And not a discrete thumbing dial or anything like that. An actual two cm long red push lever that looked like the tail end of a steel girder.

So that’s what I pretended it was. A steel girder from the crash of his spaceship. That they had been unable to be remove for some reason. Perhaps they forgot about it? Either way it gave my adoptive grandma no end of trouble as she attempted to cut out a snug hole for the lever with her gnarled arthritic fingers ('Grandma, the new jacket, when's it goanna be ready??? F_ck')

The other kewl trait the Six Million Dollar Man Doll had was that it was constructed of a heavy duty robust plastic. It weighed a fair bit. Which meant that if any f_cker tried to nick it, you could lash out and pound them one with cybernetic powered justice.

Which probably explains why his legs eventually snapped off.


  1. I always wanted one of them - especially the later versions that had the clear plastic arms and stuff.

    My brother and I had Gi Joe instead, the original ones that stood 12" high and had real hair that felt like velvet. We had two of them, and an inflatable boat and a helicopter.

    That helicopter was so kewl - it was HUGE and it had a winch on it, and our dad helped us repaint it from the girly rescue yellow that it came in to a much more military olive drab with black interior.

    Thanks dad!

  2. I had one too! We used to take him outside into the sand pit and play with him and other dolls (yep not action figures) we had- namely Masters of the Universe.

  3. (wiping tear from his eye) ... ah, such memories brought back. And you an me being around the same age an' all.

    But I can go one better - the Mork doll! In fact I think I still have it somewhere. And my son is now the proud owner of my brother's Transformer doll.

  4. Ah Masters of the Universe, GI Joe, and the Transformers. All seminal action figures (AKA Man dolls) from the 80's.

    I used to wonder who would win in a fight between those three. I think on balance it would be the transformers.

    The Masters of the Universe may have master all things universal. Except the ability to sit, or even stand with any confidence.

  5. My brothers and I even had the 30" Luck Skywalker Doll and Princess Leia Doll. They too made their way into the sand pit.


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