Saturday, October 10, 2015

Bionics in Miniature (Part 1: Introductory Ramblings)

Part 1    Part 2    Part 3    Part 4    Part 5    Part 6

Ah, The Six Million Dollar Man.
Steve Austin, astronaut. A man barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world's first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better... stronger... faster. 
It was a spectacular and glorious show, when I was five to ten years old. But sadly, for me, it hasn't held up. I recently got ahold of that Complete Collection box set, and I have to say it's been the bonus interviews and featurettes that have held my interest over the actual episodes. Certainly not all, but a lot of those episodes felt anywhere from mildly dull to nearly impossible to get through, this time around.

Sigh. See what growing up does to you?

I do still love the idea of it all, though. Even if today-me doesn't get quite the same thrill that ten-year-old-me got, back in the day.

And there are exceptions, of course. It's awfully hard to walk past the likes of "Day of the Robot" or "The Secret of Bigfoot" without stopping to visit awhile. Ten-year old or not.

The Six Million Dollar Books

Anyway, time for a little Six Million Dollar Man (SMDM) literary backstory.

The show was spun off of a series of four novels written by Martin Caidin (and the novels have held up over the years). The first two, Cyborg and Operation Nuke, were published before the TV series was ever created. I can still feel their weight and see those steel-gray dust covers (cyborg-gray, right?). It was first edition copies like these I borrowed and read, more than once, from my town's little public library (it seemed big at the time).

I never actually owned copies of any of the books until I was an adult, when I picked up the first two as paperbacks (with much more exciting covers, I might add).

"From my very own collection," he said proudly.

Caidin's last two novels, High Crystal and Cyborg IV, came out after SMDM was already on the air. And later, they were re-released as part of a SMDM TV tie-in novelization series.

Out of the six TV tie-ins, numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5 were novelizations of various TV episodes, while numbers 3 and 6 were reprints of Caidin's last two original novels. I grabbed this set, as an adult, too.

Likewise, from my collection.

I also own a couple of other books: another tie-in novelization, taken from the first Bigfoot story arc, and then one of those little all-about-your-favorite-tv-personalities books you could order from that Weekly Reader book club in elementary school. Remember Weekly Reader? Oh man, I lived for Weekly Reader.

And yet again, my collection.

There were a few other tie-ins which I don't have but, now that I've researched them for this post, I want them. One was another SMDM tie-in, called International Incidents, and then there were two Bionic Woman tie-ins: Welcome Home, Jaime and Extracurricular Activities.
Brief pause... annnd... now all three are Amazon-purchased. Only a few bucks each, too. Woo, I love the internet.

The Six Million Dollar Dolls

Anyway, the point of this particular post is not really the show, or even the books. It's the toys. Or, more specifically, the action figures. Of which I have all. And will be taking a look at, one by one, and sharing my thoughts right here on this very blog.

I actually have two collections of SMDM action figures: the original Kenner dolls from the toy-tastic 1970s, and the short-lived Bif Bang Pow! dolls from the still-in-the-midst-of 2010s. The two collections are very different from one another, but each has its charms. Okay, the Kenner dolls have more charms than the newer stuff. But the newer stuff is, well, new. And that's cool in and of itself.

But I've chuntered on long enough for one day, so the actual dolls will have to wait. Some longer than others. There are a lot of 'em:

Steve Austin
Steve Austin with Bionic Grip
Steve Austin with Biosonic Arm
Bionic Bigfoot
Oscar Goldman
Jaime Sommers
Jaime Sommers with Mission Purse

Bif Bang Pow!
Steve Austin (with sound byte key chain)
Steve Austin with Khakis (with and without mustache, woo!)
Astronaut Steve Austin
Mr. X (oh so sadly, never actually produced)
Bionic Bigfoot (with his very own sound byte key chain)
Oscar Goldman
Rudy Wells (with three heads!)
Barney Hiller

That's a lot of figures. Of course there were more than dolls in the original toy line--play sets and the like, but I was really only ever interested in the dolls. So those are what I have and can actually comment on.

Oh, and I'm skipping that wee doll line Zica recently put out. I don't own (or plan to own) any of them. Figures that small have never been my thing, on account of the lack of features and detail inherent in the format. So this will mostly be a Kenner/Bif Bang Pow! party.

Until then.

And... Back to the Books

[at a somewhat later date]

Guess what came in the mail, this week?
(You are correct, sir....)

The two BW books became mine with no sweat. But getting my hands on International Incidents turned out to be a little more involved. I'd even say the process was pesky. If I had to describe it.

First attempt was through Amazon, and I (prematurely) congratulated myself on how quick and easy it is to find old books these days. But, when Amazon actually sent me some other book, I went back and double-checked the link on the book's product description page. Turns out their link was faulty and had led to a completely different book, which I then bought unawares. Damn.

Second try was through Alibris. They happily took my money and said the book was on the way, then emailed a few days later to say "Just kidding, the seller doesn't actually have the book, but here it is at this other seller for five times the price. If you still want it." No thanks.

Third time was the proverbial charm, though. AbeBooks had it listed for a (fairly) reasonable price, and I again snatched it up. And they delivered the book right to my door. Now it's my favorite one 'cause it was such a pain in the ass to obtain.

This is the end of my little book adventure addendum. Bye.


Todd Reisom said...

"International Incidents" sounds like a story I'd like to read. Based on the Smash hit ABC TV series."
Even better. I love references to smashingly new things that are decades old.
Thanks for the heads up.

Kieran said...

I had the Steve Austin with the bionic grip. Spent many a happy hour with that. You could look through his eye, peel his arm back to bare his bionic components; also there was a red button at the back which you could press and this would operate his bionic arm. Ah, happy days...

dan said...

Yes indeed, Kieran. Ol' Bionic Grip Steve is covered with excruciating detail in Part Three of this series. Happy days, for sure.