Wonder Woman. The Incredible Hulk. The Six Million Dollar Man. This was the triumvirate of superheroes that helped define quality family television viewing in the 1970s. Sure there were other heroes, your Isis, your Shazam, but they were B-list and did not have the exposure and popularity of the big three.
What was it about these heroes that inspired the imagination? In the case of the Six Million Dollar Man, the eye has it. The bionic eye, that is. Loaded with implants, the bionic man had an eye that allowed him to hone in on objects at a microscopic level and to possess incredible night vision. According to ScienceAGoGo, he also had “a bionic arm as powerful as a bulldozer, and two bionic legs that gave him the speed of a cheetah in full flight and the ability to leap over tall buildings in a single bound (or was that Superman?).”
However, none of these incredible gifts would have dramatic impact without what Wikipedia decribes as “electronic grinding-like sound effect.” This sound came to typify anything the Six Million Dollar Man did that demonstrated his power. But there is no reason to describe in words what video captures so well:
It might seem impossible that a 1975 toy could be labeled as “new,” but bear with us. The seller explains in the listing, “For Sale Is a Vintage 1975 Steve Austin The Six Million Dollar Man Action Figure. Model No. 65000 made by Kenner. New in the Box.”
That’s all well and good, but here’s the kicker: “I received this as a gift when I was a kid. It remained in my parents’ basement for 30+ years until they moved out last year.” Just like that rare classic car that has never been sold or traded, this item is a one-owner proposition. The toy even includes a bionic arm and eye! Not to mention an invitation to join the Six Million Dollar Man Bionic Action Club. It would be interesting to try and cash in on that invite now, over 30 years later.
The figure is in mint condition. The seller elaborates,
“Bionic eye is still in place and clear.
Bionic skin is clean, with no rips or tears.
Bionic arm works properly.”
To all of this helpful information, we respond, “duh.” It’s the Bionic Man, after all! Not even 30+ years in the parents’ basement could diminish its power and beauty.
The imdb entry for this series has some fascinating trivia about the show. For one, “The aircraft seen crashing in the show’s opening sequence was an M2-F2, a ‘flying body configuration’ built by Northrop. The audio sound effects are from a crash that occurred on May 10, 1967, at Edwards Air Force base in California (although the dialog heard was recorded by Majors). The test pilot, Bruce Peterson, hit the ground at 250 mph, tumbling six times. He lost use of his right eye and had to stop flying, ending his career. Understandably, Peterson has said that he hated reliving his accident, week after week, courtesy of the show.”
Another intriguing tidbit concerns the final season of the television show. The star, Lee Majors, refused to assume his role until the production company settled his contract. The producers flirted with the idea of hiring another actor to take on the role. Among the actors they considered were Gil Gerard, Bruce Jenner, and Harrison Ford. They nixed Ford, however, because they decided he was unsuitable in the role of an action hero. At this time Ford was known for his part as a hood in American Graffiti, but it was before the days of Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Fugitive. Imagine, if it existed, how much an action figure of Harrison Ford as the Bionic Man might fetch on eBay!