The 6 Greatest Bionic Man Knock Off Toys
I gave up writing a weekly list for Topless Robot, in order to finish writing Rack Toys. I will admit to missing it from time to time, so Iím going to keep fresh by churning out the odd one for PlaidStallions.
The Kenner Six Million Dollar Man toy line is one of the most memorable and successful toy lines of the 1970s.
With the bright light of big sales, you attract a few moths. A lot of competitors come and try to "cut your grass" as a former boss of mine would say, as the list goes on we'll see it gets more and more blatant.
6: PULSAR (MATTEL)
When faced with the overwhelming popularity of Steve Austin, Mattel decided not to play in the Cyborg sandbox at all but went sideways and made an all organic superhero.
That's pretty clever, combating steak with a vegan alternative, as a bonus, Pulsar was super gross to look at, something young men enjoy. Mattel sold the character for two years and didn't pay anybody a dime in licensing.
5) MIKE POWER: ATOMIC MAN (HASBRO)
The rumor is somebody at Hasbro suggested licensing Six Million Dollar Man and was met with a sound "no" for paying anyone.
The answer was for Hasbro to create their own cyborg superhero, the aforementioned Atomic Man had clear limbs (but oddly fleshy hands and feet, how did that work?) . They dressed him with some Joe hammy downs but included a cool handcopter accessory, so Atomic Man could fly, which was an advantage over Steve.
Atomic Man sold brilliantly until Kenner released Steve Austin and a nation broke up with Mr. Power.
4) Doctor Kromedome (Mego 1975)
Steve Austin dolls were a smash for Christmas 1975, the only problem was, he didn't have a bad guy to fight.
Montgomery Wards enlisted their pals at Mego, with whom they had a good relationship for catalog exclusives and Mego spent a whole afternoon thinking about it.
With his purple cape and swagger stick, Dr K kind of looks more like a pimp from the year 3000, more than a real menace for Steve Austin, which is why he's so incredibly awesome. I mean, just look at him! I like to envision the voice of Patton Oswalt coming out of my Dr. Kromedome.
3) Electrogenic Arm (Funstuff)
The people at Funstuff figured out a brilliant way to catch real sales heat from Bionics without paying Universal anything.
Electrogenic arm was a hunk of plastic with a circut sticker on it, that you rolled up under your sleeve and pretended to be Steve Austin.
It was just a small step away from something you could do yourself with crayons and cardboard, there's something beautiful about it really.
2: SONIC MAN AND SONIC WOMAN (TOMLAND)
Tomland Toys was never one for subtly, they seemed to go as far as they could without getting sued, that's why the majority of their Star Raiders action figures look like little kid drawings of Star Wars characters.
However, they really didn't seem to care to much when it came to this Bionic duo, with their track suits and metal arms. It looks like some alternate Universe where Steve Austin and Jaime Summers were played by Gary Collins and Mary Ann Mobley.
1: ROBOT MAN WITH FOUR FACES (MF)
Seriously, this exists. Coming from France, Robot Man is more of a swipe at Kenner's awesome Mask-A-Tron than a dimestore Lee Majors but what sets him apart is that whomever made him went for the trifecta of rip offs when putting him together. Check out his masks:
John Saxon, G.I. Joe and a Cornelius from the Planet of the Apes. If the toy makers had have added Darth Vader, the world would have exploded because it was too much awesome.
Robot Man may be the greatest knock off ever, well except for this dude.
More Top Ten Fun