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Better, Smarter, Faster: Remembering Kenner’s Bionic Toys of the Disco Decade

Universal’s The Six Million Dollar Man (1973-1978) and The Bionic Woman (1976-1978).

The idea of having an action figure of a mid-level Washington D.C. bureaucrat may not sound terribly exciting. But Kenner’s Oscar Goldman was marketed and sold with the greatest accessory, perhaps, in action-figure history: an exploding briefcase.

If you opened the brief-case in the correct fashion, you could operate a nifty control panel, read secret files (in tiny manila folders), contact field agents and so on.

Open it the wrong way, however, and you’d be greeted with an explosive self-destruct sequence. The outer panel of the case would blow out, and the interior would now be ashes and ruins.

As Kenner’s bionic toy line expanded, Steve Austin received new implants, including the “bionic grip” featured in the toy commercial below. Similarly, new costumes and suits would allow him to conquer new terrain, as the “Mission to Mars” set explains. Here, he donned a very cool space suit.

Every good superhero requires a good villain, and Kenner raised the bar with two fantastic toy villains. First there was the Bionic Sasquatch, for which I could find no toy commercial on YouTube, alas.

If Jaime Sommers (Lindsay Wagner) was more to your taste, then the Bionic Woman Sports Car was the perfect toy ride for the Bionic Woman. The car not only had ample trunk-space, but under the hood was a bionic plug-in station where you could re-power your favorite hero.

The Fembots — creepy androids — were another incredibly popular villain during the Bionic Era, featured in the three part story “Kill Oscar” and later, “Fembots in Las Vegas.”

Here, as you can see in the video below , Kenner pit a Fembot action figure against Jaime. Who was real, and who was…a Fembot?

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