The 70s were a great decade for movies and television, and one character that had surprising success was The Six Million Dollar Man.
Created by Kenneth Johnson and broadcast by ABC, the series was based on the novel Cyborg by Martin Caidin, featuring Steve Austin, a pilot who suffers a terrible accident during an experimental flight.
Like Robocop, his left eye, both legs, and right arm were replaced with $6 million worth of parts, courtesy of O.S.I. (Office of Scientific Intelligence).
Since then, Austin has been a secret agent for the O.S.I., living countless adventures alongside Oscar Goldman, director of the O.S.I., and facing fearsome villains like the robot Bigfoot, and the 7 million dollar man, who as you might guess, didn’t end as well as Steve.
But beyond its innovative premise, the series became popular for its revolutionary action scenes for the time, in which the hero ran in slow motion to simulate super speed, lifted cars with bionic strength, or picked up his targets with his telescopic and infrared vision, (which made a rather distinctive sound that we all loved).
Everyone wanted to be like the character played by Lee Majors, who became an action icon of the 70s thanks to the TV series.
Kids and teenagers were the most passionate about this hero, imitating his slow-motion runs and other skills. It was only a matter of time before an action figure toy line about The Six Million Dollar Man was launched in 1975 by Kenner, reaching such a success in the market that every kid had at least one figure of the series. Let’s have a look at them.
The Six Million Dollar Man Action Figure Line
Steve Austin Standard Figure (1975)
The first figure that they launched was of course the main character, the 6 Million Dollars man himself.
Dressed in his characteristic red pilot’s suit and sneakers that exuded style, along with a piece of fake skin on his right arm that revealed his bionic parts.
But this figure was not only in aesthetics, as it had accessories inside the body just like the one in the series, with bionic sounds included.
As his main “powers”, he had his iconic bionic eye which kids could hold the figure up and look through. In terms of strength, he was no slouch either, thanks to a mechanism that was activated on a button on his back to lift his arm. It even included a miniature car engine block in the box for Steve to lift by the handle.
On the market, this figure can be worth between $80 and $100 on its own, although, in its original box, it can go for as much as $300.
Steve Austin 2.0 (1976)
With such success, reissues were not long in coming, and a second Steve Austin figure arrived in 1976. In almost all aspects, this figure was the same as its predecessor, but with the main difference that instead of a super-strong arm, it had an arm with a bionic grip.
As its name suggests, it had a button with which he closed the palm of his right hand and held on to the object or surface you gave him, as long as it was possible for his size. This one had a miniature steel beam included in its case.
The price of this Steve today is quite similar to the previous one, just a bit more expensive.
Steve Austin 3.0 (1978)
The last version of this figure also had a change in his outfit, eliminating his red suit for a more casual look, with a shirt and pants, although he kept his sneakers and his red and blue color pattern.
Steve’s special power lay in his biosonic arm, or as I prefer to call it, the human axe, as he could bring it down harder than a black belt karate fighter.
His box included fake wooden boards that would break with the use of the biosonic arm.
Although all 3 toys are very hard to find today, definitely the latest reissue is the rarest, so don’t be surprised that on its own it can be worth between $350-$400, and in its original box up to $1700.
The Six Million Dollar Man Accessories
At its launch, all 3 versions of Steve had a great reception in the market, almost every kid had him, and the few that didn’t surely wanted him. Basically, he was the Barbie for boys, although many girls were also fans of the character.
Because of its popularity, Kenner launched many accessories to accompany the little Steve Austin doll errr… action figure.
Bionic Man Back Pack Radio (1976)
This kit had everything to keep the superhero in communication, with an antenna, a cable, a helmet, and headphones. Most amazing of all, the crystal radio was fully functional just add batteries.
When Steve put it on, he looked like a real astronaut and was always on the lookout for I.S.O. transmissions to receive his next mission… or listening to some music. Even the Six Million Dollar Man had a right to relax.
Critical Assignment Arms (1977)
If your Steve Austin’s bionic arm wasn’t enough or you didn’t want to buy another reissue, you could always get the Critical Assignment Arms, which included a laser arm, a karate arm, and an arm with an oxygen tank inside. Yes, that’s how versatile the bionic man was.
By simply removing the bionic arm from your figure and replacing it with one of these, the possibilities increased dramatically, and of course, you could see his electronic parts when you removed the latex skin.
The laser arm had a violet flashlight that was activated with a button, or if you were into fighting, the karate arm made a similar movement to the biosonic, only it also included a small pistol. Finally, the tank arm was just that, a limb with an oxygen tank inside and a mask, in case Steve needed to breathe underwater on a mission.
Critical Assignment Legs (1977)
In keeping with the removable arms, the toy’s legs could also be removed, and replaced with Critical Assignment Legs, which despite having no special abilities or functions, had all the bionic aesthetics.
That effect was achieved by the fact that they were filled with plastic skin plates, which when removed, revealed the metal structure inside the legs. It may not have added more, but they were indispensable if you wanted to build the ultimate Steve Austin… if that was even possible.
Command Console (1977)
Because a secret agent can’t be a secret agent without his respective Command Console. With a chair, cables, radar dish, connectors, and everything necessary for Steve to track his enemies.
The first thing you think when you see the Command Console is that it is too big to be considered an accessory, and you’re right, because it was part of the Mission Control Center, one of the themed playsets of the character, although Kenner also distributed it independently because you never know when you might need a Command Console.
Porta Communicator (1976)
Similar to the Back Pack Radio, this accessory was another backpack for Steve Austin, but it was actually a sort of amplifier that connected to a microphone with which you could talk directly to your superhero.
This was great for the time, as it increased the immersion of kids who could assign missions to the Bionic Man as if they were I.S.O. agents.
I’m not lying when I said this figure was the Barbie for boys, as Kenner also marketed different costumes for him.
O.S.I Undercover Assignment (1976)
If you wanted your figure to go unnoticed in one of your imaginary missions, the O.S.I., the undercover Assignment suit was perfect. With a simple denim leisure suit in the style of 70’s fashion.
Steve Austin looked super cool with these threads, although he didn’t leave aside his facet as an agent, as the set also included a small bionic system.
Test Flight at 75,000 Feet (1976)
His previous flight may not have gone well at all, but that doesn’t mean Steve won’t try again.
With a jumpsuit, boots, helmet, goggles, altimeter, and parachute, the hero is more than ready to succeed this time, although the accessories were of little use if you decided to crash it anyway… Come on, we’ve all done it at least once.
Mission To Mars (1976)
The adventures of the bionic man have no frontiers, not even the red planet is too far away for him.
Equipped with its respective special suit, a life support system, and a helmet that changes Steve’s vision color to make it look like he was on Mars, this suit could not be missing in your toy box if you wanted to test the hero’s capabilities on other worlds.
Steve Austin Playsets
Of course, no figure as successful as Steve Austin could be without his series-themed sets, and boy, did they stand out for their revolutionary special features for the time.
Mission Control Center (1977)
Although something revolutionary doesn’t always refer to something positive, only to something new, and what better case than the Mission Control Center, which sounds like an incredible playset… that you have to inflate.
That’s right, it was an inflatable dome with different accessories inside, such as the iconic command consoles, cables, chairs, and even a TV screen with interchangeable images of different characters from the series.
It would have been a great idea if only the dome was normal and not something as unstable as a balloon… No wonder Kenner released the Command Console separately.
O.S.I Headquarters (1976)
Steve Austin would not have accomplished so many feats without the help of his great partner, O.S.I director Oscar Goldman, whose figure was worthy of his own playset.
The O.S.I Headquarters was an authentic miniature office, with a desk, TV, a map of the United States, and even a window with a view of the White House. It was the perfect place for our hero to receive his dangerous missions.
Bionic Transport and Repair Station (1975)
Almost at the same time, the standard figure was released, the Bionic Transport and Repair Station hit the stores to become a favorite of children, who today remember it as the best playset this character ever had.
This was achieved because it was essentially two playsets in one. When it was closed, it was an incredible rocket that Steve could pilot, perfect to combine with the Mars trip set.
When it was open, it became a bionic repair station, where you laid Steve down to pretend you were repairing his limbs, although the fact that you could connect tubes directly to his body helped the immersion.
Undoubtedly, the quintessential accessory for the 6 million dollar man.
Because an action hero would be nothing without their respective vehicles, even someone whose legs already count as a fast means of transportation.
Bionic Mission Vehicle (1975)
Steve’s main vehicle, although it never appeared in the TV show. At first glance, this toy may have looked like a handheld vacuum cleaner, but in reality, it was a ground rocket that could only be maneuvered by someone as special as Steve (or with his dimensions).
As its main feature, it had a winch that came out of the side and was fully functional. But that was not the only thing, as it also had rockets, a control console, and a piece of ejectable uranium… Of course, it was a fake.
Tower and Cycle Set (1975)
Sometimes, Steve managed to find some free time to play racing games. A case in point is the Tower and Cycle Set, which included his own hero figure inside the Cycle.
It was just a matter of placing the vehicle in the launcher, connecting it to the pump, and pumping it to send the cycle flying like a rocket. Secret agent and race car driver, Steve Austin can do it all.
In 1977, Kenner released the Bionicle Cycle separately to give kids more variety of vehicles without requiring them to buy the complete set.
Venus Space Probe (1978)
How can we forget the Venus Space Probe, known as the Death Probe to fans of the series who remember it as a terrifying villain? This mechanical beast got the Bionic Man into trouble, so I don’t know if it counts as a vehicle or a villain, but here it is.
The Venus Space Probe toy was a bit smaller than Steve’s figure, although it had a host of features inside the rotating turret that made it deadly, such as a missile launcher, a magnetic sampling arm, explosive panels, and grippers that could be activated with a lever. And of course, I’m not forgetting the wheels underneath.
Even though its dimensions were smaller than they should have been and it had a slightly different design than the original, the Venus Space Probe has become the most valuable toy in the Steve Austin line produced by Kenner, mainly because it was one of the last ones they released. So, don’t be surprised to find it for as much as $3000 in its original box.
Other Figures In The Toy Line
With more than 6 TV movies and a series that aired from 1973 to 1978, reaching 99 episodes, the Six Million Dollar Man crossed paths on many occasions with great allies but also with fearsome enemies that became so iconic that they received their own action figure.
We have to start with Steve’s archenemy in Kenner’s line, Maskatron, the robot that can transform into whoever he wants by changing his face.
As in the series, this figure has a removable face that hides an electronic panel, but has 3 faces to cover himself: the main one resembling the actor John Saxon (playing Colonel Sloan, who was kidnapped by Dr. Dolenz to replace him with a robot), one of Steve Austin (without his characteristic bionic eye) and one of Oscar Goldman.
However, his body gave him away, as it had pressure points that when hit, his limbs flew off, although beware, that could also be used as a weapon.
Speaking of weapons, the figure included two replacement arms, one for suction and one for grappling. In addition, he had a compartment on his back where you could store his multiple faces. Maskatron was a real Swiss Army knife, which was even more fun than his heroic counterparts.
Oscar Goldman (1976)
Played by Richard Anderson, Oscar Goldman was the Bionic Man’s sidekick in his countless adventures. As director of the I.S.O., he had access to the most classified information with which he helped Steve defeat his powerful villains.
But the most remarkable thing about this character is that he achieved all this with little need to engage in combat, only with his intelligence and analytical skills. Therefore, his “action” figure was him as we knew him best, with an elegant suit, his refined hairstyle, and a briefcase full of secret files and gadgets.
Although he didn’t have any superpowers like the rest of the toys, because heck, he was just a human, his briefcase was explosive. If you opened it the wrong way (or it fell into the wrong hands), the briefcase would go flying through the air, stirring up the contents. But don’t worry about the mess, as it had a reset mechanism.
In short, the figure of Oscar Goldman, despite not being designed to fight, is an essential part of a collection due to the importance of his role in the series. In addition, it combines perfectly with the playset of the O.S.I. Headquarters.
Bionic Bigfoot (1975)
How can we forget one of the best versions of the Bigfoot legend, and this time it’s a bionic one? Curious, isn’t it? This savage villain tested the strength of our hero, so his figure could not be left behind in size and musculature.
Completely covered in hair (plastic) except for some areas of his face, the figure of the bionic Bigfoot was quite faithful to the original in the series, with a hidden button that deploys a skin plate on his chest, exposing his bionic parts.
At the time, the toy was quite sought after, making it hard to find today. If you’re lucky enough to find it in its original box, be prepared to shell out between $800-$1000.
Dr. Kromedome (1975)
A very curious thing happened with this figure, and it may not have been illegal but it wasn’t quite right.
I’m sure the name Dr. Kromedome doesn’t ring a bell for those of you who saw the original Steve Austin series, and you’re right. Your memory isn’t failing you, it’s just that this villain never appeared on screen.
It all started with the huge success that the first Kenner figures were having in 1975, so the Montgomery Ward store chain didn’t want to be left behind when it came to bionic toys.
Therefore, they entrusted the Mego company with the mission of creating a figure that could stand up to the famous Steve Austin, and what better than an evil doctor with bionic parts that protrude from his body, although to tell the truth, he looks more like a baron of royalty.
Thus, Dr. Kromedome hit the stores with more than questionable publicity, as he was self-proclaimed as a great Steve Austin villain. Regardless of the loopholes in his creation, the figure enjoyed some popularity, enough to sneak into this list.
Today, it is one of the rarest toys from the defunct Mego, as with its original box it can be worth nearly $1000.
Bionic Woman Line Of Figures
Because we can’t talk about the Six Million Dollar Man without mentioning his most famous spin-off, the Bionic Woman.
Her series arrived in 1976, counting more than 50 episodes in which Lindsay Wagner stood out as the bionic superheroine, with a storyline quite similar to her male counterpart and featuring Richard Anderson.
For girls who were already fans of the original series, the spin-off was a great surprise with which they saw themselves represented on television.
Of course, Kenner had to capitalize on that, launching a series of Bionic Woman toys with multiple accessories and a more Barbies-oriented style, but without leaving aside her Bionic essence.
Jamie Sommers (1976)
With her classic two-piece outfit, and bionic modules in both her right arm and both legs, the original Jamie Sommers figure was the perfect adaptation of the character, which also included hair like the usual female dolls, something the male figures didn’t have.
As her special ability, this figure made a peculiar sound when she turned her head, simulating the super hearing of the bionic woman.
Over time, Kenner released more Jamie Sommers figures, such as the Mission Purse edition and the Green Fashion Dress, which mainly changed the doll’s look, such as her outfit, as well as adding many more accessories, from cosmetic elements to mission gadgets.
Of course, the Bionic Woman doll had her archenemies, and those were the Fembots, created by the vengeful Dr. Franklin, who in the series could change their faces like the robotic clone of Sloan that Steve Austin faced.
Basically, the figure was an adaptation of Maskatron, featuring 2 interchangeable faces: one of an unknown woman and the other of Sommers.
The doll could not eject its limbs through the air as Maskatron could, although at least it could interchange its clothes with Jamie’s.
But that’s as far as we’ll go with the Bionic Woman, as she also had her playsets, alternate outfits, vehicles, and countless other products that almost equaled Steve Austin’s total merchandise. This pair dominated the 70’s.
Final Words On The Six Million Dollar Man Toys
We may be a long way from the Six Million Dollar Man’s years of popularity, but his legacy is kept alive by the kids who enjoyed him back in the day. Today they are adults, yet they return to their childhood as soon as they hear the name Steve Austin and Jamie Sommers.
Undoubtedly, Kenner’s line of toys about these bionic characters and their villains is one of the most successful and popular in history that every collector longs to show off in their showcases… Or just to relive their old times when they pretended to be a bionic man who ran at the speed of light.