Six Million Dollar Man
8 Inch Scale
The Six Million Dollar Man is the quintessential 70’s property. I’m not sure if any TV show quite defines the 70’s like that one. It’s the story of an astronaut (at the tail end of those being in vogue) who gets brutally mangled in an aircraft accident and is rebuilt into a bionic man with atomic powered cyber limbs that give him all sorts of amazing powers. One of the things that makes this property so 70’s is it’s style, pacing, effects and of course a heaping dose of machismo and chest hair.
The star, Lee Majors, was a man’s man in the show, always doing his own thing and usually getting the girl in the process. He had a very dry wit and his Steve Austin character (not to be confused with Stone Cold) was something every kid in the era idolized. The Six Million Dollar Man had a toy line in the 70’s but it wasn’t made by Mego. By that point Kenner had already began to realize how much money there was in licensing and they created a very successful Six Million Dollar Man line.
To many Mego collectors, not having the Six Million Dollar Man was a huge gap in their collections and he’s been one of the most customized figures in recent memory. Thankfully, BifBangPow have stepped up to rectify this issue 40 years later with official Six Million Dollar Man figures in a Mego style. Although there were some SDCC exclusives, for all intents and purposes Steve Austin and Bigfoot are the first characters in the line. So has BBP rebuilt Steve Austin to be stronger, faster and better?
The package is a great design of classic SMDM art and honestly it’s quite striking. Some people have complained that is doesn’t accurately reflect how “Mego would have done it” but good God, I’m so tired of everything having to be done in that style. Enough with being so slavishly beholden to how Mego would have done it. These “retro” lines need to stand on their own.
Of all the recent Re-Megos, the Six Million Dollar Man feels the most right to me. That’s why I appreciate these different packages. It shows some growth from the license and it really nails the feel of the show and the products of it without being a retread. The back shows off the other figures in the series, although technically many of these figures aren’t available yet. I should also mention that the cardboard feels sturdier than a lot of these releases and the figure has an inner tray to keep him from flopping around.
Mego and Mego-like figures are built on base bodies with different clothes and head sculpts. For the most part there isn’t much in the way of paint application and such, but Steve Austin has quite a bit of paint and tampo applications on him actually. More on that in a minute.
Let’s get the bad out of the way first. The head sculpt is just so-so. When BifBangPow first showed off this sculpt, red flags should have been raised. Many including myself, expressed some concerns that it just wasn’t very good. When you consider that the head sculpt is arguably the most important thing in a “Mego” figure, you need to make sure you really nail that aspect. Despite quite a few criticisms, BBP assured everyone that this was the sculpt they were going with and they thought it was grand.
Unfortunately this sort of mentality is probably BBP’s greatest weakness. Through the years there have been quite a few SMDM head sculpts done in this scale. Customizers like Bionic Joe have produced heads that look far greater. In fact in Peru, there was a bootleg Mego called El Hombre Nuclear that has a head sculpt that looks a thousand times better than this one. That’s a serious problem and one that shouldn’t have been so easily dismissed by the company producing this figure.
I’ve heard people say this figure looks like everything from Mel Gibson to Roger Moore. The truth is, many people don’t immediately see Lee Majors in the head sculpt. Again, I’m inclined to agree. Thankfully, there is a bit of Lee in there and if you look at it from certain angles, squint or pretend nobody ever made much better head sculpts, it’s not too bad.
Enough about the bad for now. The good is, that the rest of this figure is pretty fantastic and you can tell BBP put some heart and soul into this release. Everything feels quality about this figure. The plastic is harder and just feels sturdier than some of their previous releases.
The outfit is also nicely tailored at this scale and does a pretty good job of replicating one of Steve’s infamous jogging suits, even though it’s made of a different material. It’s a nice job in that regard. Likewise, although the head sculpt itself isn’t my favorite, the paint applications are pretty good on it. There’s a few layers of color that help to really make it stand out.
The head sculpt also isn’t too big (as sometimes these types of figures are) and the skin tone isn’t too translucent as earlier BifBangPow releases sometimes suffered from. This all adds up to make a pretty nice Steve Austin figure. It’s definitely retro and fits the motif that it’s going for like a glove.
Of course the best part about this figure are the bionic limbs. Rather than do some of the more complex things that Kenner did to replicate the bionic parts, BBP decided to crib a bit from GI Joe’s own Atomic Man Mike Power and give Steve some translucent limbs with bionics tampoed on them. It’s a great effect.
Granted it would be great if they could have figured out some way to get this inside of the plastic, as opposed to printed on top, but beggars can’t be choosers. I should also mention that the ankles on this figure are nice and tight and the shoes seem to support him well, so he doesn’t have any of the falling over issues that my BifBangPow Doctor Who had. Huzzah for improvements!
There’s something very satisfying about having a new Six Million Dollar Man toy in my hands. The show is a lot of fun and these toys are definitely something that have that in mind. There’s more collector mentality here than the old Kenner figures, but there’s still some play value too. It’s a nice mixture of the two.
To replicate socks, he has painted feet. I think the jury may still be out on this one, but I understand why they did it. It gives a great sock effect and if they tailored the shoes to allow fabric socks to be put on over, it likely would have made them a tad too big.
BifBangPow produces these figures using the designs of EMCE toys. The two have worked together since the beginning and it’s become very beneficial to both parties as BBP seems to be able to throw around a bit more money to help EMCE create some new molds. This is great in some respects, but I do wish they had gone a bit farther.
The basic design here is following the general EMCE/Mego model with “strings” inside keeping everything together. Technically those strings are rubber bands and truth be told, the one on my Steve Austin is far too tight. This gives him a terrible posture and complicates his standing ability. My brother had one of these snap on him and I suspect it was because it was too tightly strung.
As you can see from this shot from the back, the “natural” posture of this guy is off. I think it’s time we start to figure out a better way to do these figures than the rubber bands or figure out a better system of implementing them. Again, it’s frustrating that some vintage Megos can pose better than these modern Re-Megos.
To that end, one of the big improvements on these modern BBP figures is the addition of swivel biceps. It’s a great thing to add. Cast-A-Way toys has had these swivels for years, but since Cast-A-Way is basically out of the Mego business for the foreseeable future, it’s nice that EMCE and BBP have upgraded.
Unfortunately, they weren’t copying Cast-A-Way so much as they were copying the old LJN figures which had a bicep swivel. They should have just completely aped the Cast-A-Way concept, which replaced the clunky and often useless string ball shoulders with swivel hinge shoulders that still connected via a string. That allows a much greater range of motion and it’s SO much easier to pose. Please BBP, hear our pleas and develop this yourself.
What ends up happening is that his arms have a very limited range of motion before they pop out of socket or move very clunky. Even with all that said, you can pose him fairly well. Especially in the lower half. He looks pretty good in quite a few poses and I think kids would enjoy playing with him. I just wish his arms worked better.
You know my stance on Mego figures, they should come with accessories.
Steve Austin does come with one, although it’s more of a trinket than an accessory. It’s a key chain that plays a few sound effects. It’s pretty cool, especially since electronics usually jack up the price of a toy but it didn’t here.
You can check it out in action in the video above.
At $18.99, Steve Austin isn’t perfect. If this was at retail, you’d almost want him to come a bit closer to the $15 range to truly be a solid value, but since he’s done in smaller runs for largely an entirely online market, the price is fairly reasonable. Of almost all the modern Re-Mego lines that have come out in the past few years, this seems to be the one that most “gets it”. Right now Steve is only sold in a two pack, but you can pick him up here along with his pal Bigfoot for a nice two pack combo. Use code 2102122 for free shipping!
Packaging – 9
Sculpting – 7
Paint – 8
Articulation – 8
Accessories – Sound FX Key Chain
Value – 8
Overall – 8.5 out of 10
In the end, yes this figure could use some improvements. I can get past some of them, but not everything. The weak head sculpt alone is bad, but when combined with being too tightly strung and an articulation model that needs to be tweaked just a bit holds this guy back. With just a few changes it could be practically perfect while still being “retro”.
Despite all that, this figure still scores a pretty high 8.5 because he’s a lot of fun. There’s more right than wrong here and the overall improvement in quality for these products is definitely noticed. That’s why it’s frustrating that just a few more things weren’t tweaked before the final product.
Still, it’s hard to deny that these are fun toys. It’s great to finally have an official version of the Six Million Dollar Man in Mego scale. BifBangPow may not have gotten a complete homerun here, but they definitely got a double or triple base hit.
One simple improvement I made that requires no skill at all, is to cut the front of the jacket with a pair of scissors. Steve Austin seemed to always wear his jacket about 3/4’s of the way zipped up. I’m not sure why BBP didn’t do this to begin with. Instantly the figure’s overall likeness improves with a simple snip of the scissors.
It looks WAY better. Hopefully this won’t lead to much fraying or depreciation over time. All in all, this is a pretty great figure, held back just a bit but could probably be rebuilt to be perfect. Funny thing, that. Stay tuned tomorrow for a review of Bigfoot and plenty more Megoish stuff in the days ahead during Mego Month here at Infinite Hollywood!