The Six Million Dollar Man is an American television series about a fictional cyborg working for the OSI (which was usually said to refer to the Office of Scientific Intelligence, but sometimes was called the Office of Scientific Investigation as well as the Office of Strategic Intelligence. The show was based on the novel Cyborg by Martin Caidin, and during pre-production, that was the proposed title of the series. It aired on the ABC network as a regular series from 1974 to 1978, after following three television movies aired in 1973. The title role of Steve Austin was played by Lee Majors, who subsequently became a pop culture icon of the 1970s. A spin-off of the show was produced called The Bionic Woman. And, FYI, the name Six Million Dollar Man comes, not from his income tax status, but from the fact that the operation that changes the astronaut costs at least six million dollars.
Kenner signed on for the rights to produce toys for the series and began distributing in 1975 what would become one of the most popular action figure lines of all time. Kenner released three versions of Steve Austin as well as Oscar Goldman, his boss, Maskatron (his unstoppable enemy) and of course this line wouldnt be complete without BigFoot. Related are the Bionic Woman action figures which included The Bionic Woman herself and her evil nemesis The Fembot.
After seeing the initial success of the basic action figures, Kenner released numerous playsets and accessories to compliment this line as described herein.
The standard Six Million Dollar Man was released in three versions. The first version came with an engine block and the left arm is NOT removable. The second version featured an engine block as well but a left arm that could also be popped off. The third version featured a "bionic grip" and a steel beam for him to lift instead of the generic engine block.
Bionic Grip (Version 3)
Enemy of the Six Million Dollar Man
My #1 most favorite action figure of all time (growing up any way). The box says it all! "Add new realistic competition to your bionic adventures. Shrewd! Strong! He can fool your friends with mask disguises. His robot body is full of electronic pretend gadgetry-two "weapon" arms make him ALMOST invincible! Only you and Steve Austin know where to strike MASKATRON and "pow"-arms, legs-even his head flies off! Dressed in civilian clothes. MASKATRON has two special weapon arms. Vice grip arm, and super suction arm make him an invincible foe of Steve Austin. MASKATRON face masks make him look like Steve Austin or Oscar."
Ironically, Maskatron is the only SMDM figure that has a Steve Austin face without a big giant black eye. You'd think that would be enough to identify him, even with his mask. Maskatron had a number of pressure points that Steve could hit to make his arms, legs and head pop off. Sliding locks would keep them in place, but they never really worked well. His back opens up to reveal a cavity in his chest where you can keep his different masks - three in all (Steve, Oscar and "Human" Maskatron).
The Oscar Goldman doll was one of several large-size action figures relased by Kenner Toys in the late 1970s to tie-in with both The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman. Unlike the dolls based upon Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers, 12-inch Oscar Goldman doll came with no special features on its own, and was dressed in a sports jacket and pants indicative of the late-1970s style worn by the character on TV. The doll came packaged with a briefcase containing several items; if the briefcase was opened incorrectly, however, the briefcase self-destructed, bouncing into the air and the interior changing to appear as if it had been destroyed (though it could easily be reset). The exploding briefcase is reminiscent of a similar gadget utilized by James Bond in the novel and film From Russia with Love, but was never featured on either of the TV series in which Goldman appeared.
The Bionic Bigfoot is an awesome action figure - well, for collectors any way. With a whopping 4 points of articulation he was essentially a Chewbacca starter-kit with a push-button on his chest that luanched a square piece from his chest. One annoying note is that the paint on his face is a thin flesh color and after hitting the ground while fighting with your Bionic Man his nose usually is dinged up and missing paint.
The Venus Space Probe is one of the rarest of the Kenner toys and definitely the most valuable of this toy line. An example of a "reach" to expand this toy line, it was based on a popular episode in which a Soviet probe destined for Venus is launched and then malfunctions, bringing the probe down in the United States. Because it is made of a new alloy, unknown to American technology, Soviet scientists and agents are anxious to recover the probe, which has landed in a remote section of Wyoming. A farmer who encounters it fires his gun at it, and the probe retreats, causing consternation among locals. The Soviets alert their agents stationed in the area (one even operates a very capitalist gas station), "Have you looked at the sky lately?", while they secretly move Irina Leonova there with equipment to order the probe to shut down, and another agent who has a missile to pierce the probe's shell. The probe does not respond to the shut-down order, then Irina recalls the farmer shot at it, so the computer might reason it was near a volcanic eruption and be moving away, on "total override". Steve Austin and the OSI arrive, and Steve recognizes Irina. During an encounter, Irina and the Soviet agent are sent on the run by the probe, and Steve tracks the probe. When Irina regains consciousness, Oscar tells her that Steve is tracking the probe; she is alarmed - she designed the probe for Venus' hostile environment. The life-like probe, programmed to "think" it has landed on Venus, is on a course leading to a small town as Soviet and American forces try desperately to stop it. Steve Austin is able to help with the assistive technology devices he uses due to his bionic powers.
Venus Space Probe from the Show
The Venus Space Probe was a toy in the Kenner line of officially licensed Six Million Dollar Man products. It was billed as "Steve Austin's alien mechanical adversary", and meant to be used in conjunction with the Steve Austin doll. It mimicked most of the functionality of Irina Leonova's device seen on screen. It had several moveable parts, including a spring-loaded missile launcher, rotating turret, magnetic sampling arm and exploding panels. Furthermore, the front pincers could be activated by a lever on the rear of the toy, and its wheels made a distinctive noise as it was moved. The device was a somewhat inaccurate replica. Not only was the toy out of scale with the Steve Austin doll (compared with Lee Majors' relative size to the televised prop) it also was of a somewhat different overall design to its onscreen counterpart.
Note the price: $14.96. Probably worth 50 times that now.
The first version of the doll was dressed in a white jacket with stripes and blue pants. The pants include velco-fastened compartments that could be opened in order to be able to access the bionic modules contained within the doll's legs. A similar module was in the right arm. (By comparison, the Steve Austin action figure only had bionic modules in his arm, not his legs.) The doll's head emitted a clicking sound when turned, intended to simulate the operation of Jaime's bionic ear. Unlike male character releases in the Kenner series, the Jaime Sommers doll had simulated, styleable hair, similar to that of a Barbie doll, as opposed to the male characters that had moulded hair. (The Fembot action figure also had simulated hair.)
The second edition was described on page 91 of the 1977 Kenner Catalog:
THE BIONIC WOMAN with NEW MISSION PURSE!
. . . beautiful, fully articulated figure modeled after Lindsay Wagner, the star of The Bionic Woman TV show. Bionic Modules in right arm and both legs. Turn her head from side side and actually hear a Bionic pinging noise when Jaime Sommers uses her Bionic ear. Dressed in new, stylish blue jumpsuit with Bionic Woman symbol on chest. Platform shoes match her Mission Purse, NEW MISSION PURSE - literally loaded with adventures! A map case holds two maps; Top Secret mission assignment from Oscar Goldman; code-case with decoder sheet; wallet with photos, ID card, credit cards and "money". To keep Jaime Sommers Beautiful, there's a brush and comb and a cosmetic case complete with "make-up" and mirror. Ages 5 and up.
The Bionic Adventure Sets were three different suits that the Steve Austin doll could wear. Made by Kenner, they debuted in 1976. They included not just a full outfit change, but also mission-specific accessories.
Flight at 75,000 Feet Set
Included jumpsuit, helmet, boots, goggles, altimeter and parachute pack. You have to hand it to Steve though, he nearly died on a test flight and wound up the walking nemesis of metal detectors world wide because of it but here he is, ready to go on another test flight. Have a heart Oscar!
to Mars Set
Included space suit, boots, gloves, helmet and life support pack. The helmet, when affixed to the doll's head, affected the color of doll's vision, making it appear that Steve was on "the red planet".
Undercover Assignment Set
Included denim leisure suit, watch, brown shoes and portable bionic system. Easily the least "dynamic" of the whole range, the outfit was the closest the doll came to having streetwear.
Bionic Transport and Repair Station
The Bionic Transport and Repair Station was the best known playset issued as part of Kenner Toys' The Six Million Dollar Man line. It was issued at the same time as the Steve Austin action figure to launch the line.
The playset consisted of two forms. When closed down, it resembled a rocket ship, within which the Austin doll could be placed, his head visible through a window. When opened, the rocketship transforms into a bionic repair facility, with tubes that could be plugged into the bionic modules contained within the Austin doll. Among the features of the repair station were several glow-in-the-dark dials that simulated X-ray images of Austin.
Bionic Mission Vehicle
Steve's custom-made car is packed full of excitement. Coming complete with Uranium that can be ejected, a working wench (who doesnt serve beer) and rockets, this thing does it all!
Critical Assignment Arms
Critical Assignment Arms were an optional set of replacement bionic arms for the Steve Austin action figure. Included were:
All of the arms had a latex skin that could be, and in some cases had to be, rolled back in order to access or "repair" removable components contained within the body of the arm.
Critical Assignment Legs
Not as exciting as the Critical Assignment Arms, the legs are basically just replacement legs with plastic plates that plop off to show more robotic gadgetry.
CB Headset Radio Receiver
Hear Your Own Commands through the Headset!
A real CB radio that actually receives all 40 CB channels. Contained in a futuristically designed, adjustable headset that will fit all heads. Headset contains a hollow microphone unit which allows child to hear his own voice commands to Col. Austin through the headset unit. Radio is decorated with "Bionic" circuitry to add to the fun of pretend adventures. Operates on one 9-volt battery, not included. Ages 5 and up.
The Porta-Communicator was an accessory for the Steve Austin doll manufactured by Kenner in 1976.
It was a toy that came in two parts. One was a backpack that could be strapped to Steve's back. The other was a microphone connected to the backpack by a wire. When the user spoke into the microphone, a speaker concealed in the backpack would amplify the user's voice. Thus, users could somewhat simulate the effect of talking to Steve remotely.
The packaging on the product was somewhat misleading in that it claimed the device could "transmit" the user's voice to the backpack, and said there was "no limit to the exciting adeventures you can create" with the device. The "limit", however, was the length of the wire that connected the two parts of the toy. Though it did say that there was a "10 foot cord included", the packaging seemed to imply wireless communication, as with a walkie-talkie.
Bionic Mission Control Center
This inflatable playset was pretty much a complete failure due to the flimsiness and just lack of excitement - despite the escape hatch feature. Ok, that was a bad idea too.
Back Pack Radio
The backpack radio is a real supposedly working radio and you can apparently pretend Steve is listening. An antenna in the side picks up the signal and inside the backpack is a headphone piece and a metal clip that you would need to attach to a metal surface.
The O.S.I. Headquarters was a playset that I actually never even knew existed as a kid. That said, I probably would nto have wanted it. Complete
Here is a toy Kenner made that I bet you didnt know existed. Ever wonder who would win in a drag race - Steve Austin or Bigfoot? Well, thanks to Kenner you could find out with the Dual Launch Drag Race Set! Featuring Steve and Bigfoot, this playset used giant, fragile pumps to launch these guys against one another at break-neck speeds!
This is a very rare piece of vintage toy history, but probably not the most wanted thing on your wish list.
Have a question about a toy you have or one you are looking for? Send me an e-mail!