Vintage Vault Showcase: Bionic Six by LJN

I had every intention of doing a Bonus Feature for today, but instead I got deep into the Jameson last night and neglected my duties as a good host. Nonetheless, I did have some time this morning, while nursing a hangover, to snap some pictures of a particular Ebay haul that I am extremely happy about. I don’t usually do this kind of thing on FFZ, but we’ll see how it goes. It’s worth pointing out that I’ve looked at LJN’s Bionic Six line here before. Indeed, some of the figures you’ll see here have been reviewed in years gone by and I’ll be doing proper reviews of some of these items in the not-too distant future.

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The Ebay picture that caught my eye!

The Bionic Six was probably one of the last 80’s cartoons that I followed before getting “too old” to watch cartoons. Of course, 25 years later, I find that I’m now “old enough” to watch cartoons again. Anyway, Bionic Six was hokey and goofy but it was loads of fun and it had one of my all-time favorite openings of any cartoon ever. It is perhaps second only to the opening sequence of the now sadly forgotten Mighty Orbots cartoon. I’ve been hunting this collection for a while now and it’s been slow going. I pick up a figure here and there, I upgrade one, but this stuff is hard to find in good shape and at good prices. Well, last week an Ebay Lot went up that not only included beautiful examples of the entire Bennett clan, but the elusive vehicles as well. It was a terrible time for such a thing to show up, as I had already spent my toy budget for the week, but I dipped into my emergency fund and bid anyway. I never expected to get it, but in the end, after a slightly irritating bidding war, I got the collection for what I still think was a ridiculously good price.

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“We’re so very proud to be… A super future family!”

With bionics on, the Bennetts consisted of (from left to right) Sport-1, Rock-1, Bionic-1, Mother-1, I.Q., and Karate-1. They also had a robot gorilla named FLUFFI, but I haven’t picked up his figure yet. The entire Bionic Six were included in the lot, and I was able to mix and match with the figures I already had to put together a set with very nice paint. These figures were partly diecast metal and so paint chipping always came with the territory. Finding nice and minty versions of these figures could be a real bitch. I.Q. is missing his cowboy hat, but I don’t remember him ever wearing it in the cartoon, so I don’t miss it. On the other hand, I have no idea why he’s so huge compared to the other figures. I find that many of the accessories weren’t necessary, but Sport-1 has to have his bat and glove, and I have Rock-1’s shoulder speakers off to the side.

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Hail Scarab!!!

Of course every set of heroes needs bastards to fight. From left to right: Madam-O, Mechanic, Chopper, and Glove. Ironically, my Scarab team is still light one leader. I’ve had multiple opportunities to pick up Dr. Scarab, but the paint has never been satisfactory. He’s mostly white and every chip on that figure is painfully noiticeable. I may just have to break down and buy him carded to get one in acceptable condition. I’m also missing Klunk. Otherwise, I’m pretty happy with the paint on these guys and they all have their accessories.

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Eric, Bunji, and JD taking the Quadrunners for a spin!

The vehicles! The Bennett children used the Bionic Quadrunner and Bionic Dirt Bike to speed into battle. When I set out to collect these figures, I never thought I’d ever own any of the vehicles. They’re hard to come by in any condition. Ironically enough a few weeks ago I found a Quadrunner in mint condition for a very fair Buy It Now price and scooped it up.  A second one came with this Lot, which is a tad played with, but still in great condition. I’m happy to have two because I can store one in the MULES van and keep the other out on display.

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“The Bionic Dirt Bike is So-LAR!!!”

The Dirt Bike is a real tough one to find. Even tougher than the Quads. In fact, the one in this lot is the only time I’ve ever seen one outside of a Toy Show. This one is in great condition. Bright paint, minty chrome, and the springs work perfectly to convert it to attack mode.

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And then there’s the MULES van. Mobile Uitility Energizing Station. Talk about tough to find, this is a toy I never, ever expected to own just because it would always be more than I would be willing to pay for it. Also, it’s got a lot of stickers and some rather flimsy moving parts, and those two things are never a good combination in vintage toys. Like the Dirt Bike, I’ve only ever seen the MULES van for sale once before. It was boxed at the same Toy Show and the asking price was $450. I suppose part of me thought that if I did own the van it would be a beater just to use as a place holder to say I had one. But this one is in remarkably good condition. It’s complete and everything works. There’s some sticker wear, most of which can be fixed with a little glue, and there’s just some minor scratching on the windshields. I can’t imagine ever needing to upgrade this beauty to a better one.

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This beast is big enough to hold two figures in the cockpit and both of the vehicles. The Dirt Bike drives up into the back and it can launch out the top and roll right down the front of the van and into action. The Quadrunner stores inside the front and launches by splitting the cab open and shooting it out the front.

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Bionics… ON!

After spending so much time hunting and pecking at this collection, it’s hard to believe how much of it I completed in just one bold strike. It’s really encouraged me to pick up the last three figures I need. Of course, there are still some additional pieces, like Scarab’s Throne and let’s not forget the Bennett’s Headquarters playset. I’m tempted to say that I’ll never have that thing in my collection, but if this Lot has taught me anything… you never know!

Now, I think I’m going to cue up some episodes of Bionic Six and play with my toys!

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Vintage Vault: Bionic Six Madame-O by LJN

Sigma Six. Bionic Six. Coincidence? Yes, actually it is. I’m not doing any kind of thing with sixes this week. It’s just that I realized it’s been about five months since “Vintage Vault” was a regular feature around these parts. And since then I’ve only done it two times. Sadly, I’m not prepared to bring it back regularly yet, but I did find some goodies and today we’ll look at one of them for this week of Toy Closet Finds. Who’s my favorite femme fatale from Bionic Six? Why it’s Madame-O, daaahling!


And there’s the Bionic Six packaging in all its misspent glory and questionable design. Seriously, LJN, what were you thinking? The cartoon was so beautifully drawn and animated, particularly the intro, and this psychedelic B&W pattern and second-rate character art was the best you can do? Shame on you! On the plus side, with cardbacks this ugly, I don’t care about tearing them open. The back panel shows off every figure the line had to offer. There were a couple of vehicles and a playset too, but they’re not pictured. I’d take this opportunity to offer that Madame-O was another one of those cartoon characters that I had a crush on as a kid, but then I wasn’t quite a kid anymore when this cartoon first aired, so let’s just forget I said anything about it. Awkward!


Some of LJN’s Bionic Six figures were pretty faithful to their animated counterparts, but unfortunately Madame O isn’t one of those examples. I mean… woof! Just check out her head! The hair and the goggles and the mask are all vaguely correct, but Madame-O was all about her alluring eyes and, well how do I put this? THE FIGURE HAS NO EYES!!! In fact, it looks like her face is just one big blank. I can’t help but hope someone in the LJN factories at some point held one of these packaged figures looked at the figure and then across at the character art and wondered how they could have messed up so badly. How hard was it to just paint a couple of eyes on there? Even if they didn’t look like her line art, at least she’d have eyes!

The rest of the figure is actually decent enough. She sports her pink track suit with Scarab insignia on her chest, yellow belt, and her one black boot betrays her obvious hatred for symmetry. She hates symmetry, daaahling!

If you’ve read any of my past Bionic Six features, then you know I’m not a big fan of the die-cast parts in these figures. And I’m particularly not fond of it being used on the Scarab figures. There’s no reason for parts of Madame-O to be metal. She wasn’t bionic. I imagine LJN kept it in all the figures as a bit of a running gimmick and to add some consistency, but die-cast is hard to paint well and it chips too easily. That having been said, Madame-O here has the best looking paint of any of the B6 figures in my collection, and virtually all of them came new and in the package. Her coloring is nice and bright and there’s no chipping at all.


Madame-O comes with a clip-on jetpack and a gun, but I seem to remember that in the cartoon she had a trademark lute or harp or something so she could trade destructive notes with Rock-1. Ah, screw it, these are cool accessories. I’m not going to complain about her not coming with a harp when she doesn’t even have any goddamn eyes.

Jeez, this is a frustrating line of action figures. I collect them because I enjoy the cartoon so much and because they’re all that’s available. As already mentioned, I was a little bit beyond playing with action figures at the time this cartoon and toy line came out, so maybe I’m just not being blinded by the same nostalgia as I am other 80’s toy lines. Either way, they just do not hold up well, and I find myself wanting better. If I had one toy-related wish, I might very well spend it on a full set of these figures recreated in the DCUC style. Well, either that or Kidd Video toys. I always wanted me some Kidd Video toys.

Vintage Vault: Bionic Six Helen Bennett (“Mother-1”) by LJN

Yes, we’ve come back to the Bionic Six here on FigureFan and I thought it was long past time we took a look at one of the good guys for a change, or in this case, one of the good girls. It’s the matriarch of this super-human family, Helen Bennett, better known as Mother-1 when her bionics are turned on.

I’ve said my piece about these cards. I still hate the whole black and white geometric pattern, and oh god, how I hate the character art on this particular card. I’ve already mentioned that the art for Glove and Mechanic were passable but a little off, but Helen’s is just terrible. Seriously, couldn’t LJN have just used a screen grab from the cartoon? Sure you can tell who it’s supposed to be, and I like the pose with her activating her bionics, but it still looks like hack fan art to me. The figure comes incased in a coffin-style bubble with a compartment above the figure for the accessory. I should mention here that I really hate the fact that LJN went with using the Bennett’s first names on the front of the card. She was Helen Bennett in her civies… this figure is Mother-1 and should have been named as such. The back of the card shows all the figures you can get in the line and has a little blurb about the Bennett’s backstory.

So, this is kind of the first figure in which the whole die-cast metal and translucent plastic gimmick sort of makes sense. The Bennett’s are part cybernetic so let’s make parts of the figure out of die-cast and have some translucent. I could argue the logic and the pitfalls behind the concept, but I do get what they were going for here. Helen is one of those figures where the die-cast doesn’t hurt it too much. Helen’s head sculpt is ok. I’m fine with the face, but the sculpted hair is all wrong. You just need to look at the figure and look at the character art to see that. For the most part, Helen had long hair and the figure’s got a soccer mom cut. Surprisingly, this inconsistency isn’t a deal breaker for me.

The body sculpt is pretty simple, as this figure mostly makes use of paintwork to distinguish the uniform. Ironically, the biggest problem with this figure isn’t the use of die-cast, but rather the unsightly seams that run down the fronts of her plastic upper legs. They’re an eyesore. I’m also not terribly thrilled with the clear plastic on her legs. It just doesn’t mesh with her animated, on-screen counterpart.

And then there’s the paintwork. I’ve already mentioned how spotty some of the paint on these figures can be. My Mother-1 is straight out of the package and still looks like she’s been kicked around the playground a couple of times. The yellow paint that borders on her translucent plastic legs is really rough and probably has a lot to do with why I don’t like these clear parts. There are a few other spots of slop and chipping around the figure and the bevy of exposed screws on the back of the figure don’t help the aesthetics either.

You get the same level of articulation as the other Bionic Six figures. The head rotates, the arms are ball jointed at the shoulders and hinged at the elbows, the legs are ball jointed at the hips and hinged at the knees. Mother-1 is not the most poseable of figures, but she’s not all that shabby considering the time she was released.

Helen comes with one accessory. It’s a soft plastic backpack that rests on her shoulders and straps around her waist. It’s all cast in blue plastic and it’s a decent enough piece for what it is, but it’s also completely unnecessary. I don’t recall Mother-1 having any such backpack in the show, and I prefer to display the figure without it. Still, I never get too upset about anything I can toss into a bin and forget about. So long as it’s an optional accessory, I can toss it into a bin and forget about it.

Helen is a decent figure. It’s easy to nitpick given the scale, the decision to go with die-cast, and the age of the figure. The mismatched hair style is my biggest stumbling block, but she’s a nice, colorful figure despite some hiccups in the paint. In the end, she’s sort of a frustrating figure. She’s just cool enough to get by, but she really makes me want a better executed figure of the character. But as we’ll see again and again that’s par for the course with a lot of the figures in this line.

Vintage Vault: Bionic Six Mechanic by LJN

We’re jumping back to Bionic Six this week. I know it was just two weeks ago, but I have a lot of B6 figures to check out, so you’ll just have to indulge me. We’ll keep the ball rolling with Dr. Scarab’s bad guys and take a look at Mechanic, that loveable dullard with a nail gun and soft spot for cartoons and small animals. He was basically the Lenny to Dr. Scarab’s George and while he was usually quick to try to pound any one of the Bennett family into goo, deep down he had a good heart that sometimes got in the way of Scarab’s evil plans.

Ugh, I’m still not digging on this packaging. Mechanic comes in the same coffin bubble on cardback that we saw with Glove, with his accessory in a little compartment above the figure. That black and white pattern on the card is just awful. I’m not real fond of the character art either. Sure, it’s recognizable as Mechanic, but it still looks more like mediocre fan art rather than a licensed work. At least the Bionic Six logo looks good. The back panel has a blurb about the cartoon and pictures of all the available figures, and for some reason Mother-1 is giving the Nazi salute and FLUFFI looks like he’s playing with himself. Hmm…

Before getting into anything else, let me point out that again, the gimmick with these figures was the use of die-cast metal and in some cases clear plastic. The idea sort of makes sense where the bionic Bennetts are concerned, but not so much with characters like Mechanic, who have no bionic parts. Nonetheless, Mechanic’s torso and lower legs are made of die-cast, while the rest is molded in plastic. It gives the figure a nice, satisfying heft, but does little else of any merit.

Overall, I think LJN did a good job with Mechanic’s sculpt vis-à-vis his animated counterpart. He’s the second biggest figure in the line, next only to the Bennett’s ape robot FLUFFI, or possibly JD if you count him wearing his hat. First and foremost, the head sculpt is pretty close. I’m not sure what all the pox marks on his face are all about, but his goofy mouth, eyes, and the way his little hat is perched precariously on his tufts of hair are all spot-on. The rest of the figure is equally accurate and I think Mechanic comes off as particularly good because his simple design, just a fat dude in overalls, is better suited to the die-cast parts. Although, I find the addition of his little die-cast nipples particularly creepy, the body sculpt captures the character design perfectly. The use of the translucent green for his Scarab emblem is just icing on the cake.

The coloring on this figure is also well executed. You basically get a combination of flesh tones, blue in the overalls and the orange in the gloves and hat. There isn’t a lot of slop or bleeding, but you do have that pesky chipping problem that plagues the die-cast parts of all of the Bionic Six figures. Even fresh in an unopened package, Mechanic had some paint chipping on his feet and on his backside. If you’ve shopped around for a loose example of this figure, than you know it’s almost impossible to find one with some seriously chipped up and dirty paint.

Mechanic features the standard points of articulation for this line. The neck turns, the arms have ball jointed shoulders and hinged elbows, and the legs have ball jointed hips and hinged knees. He can also swivel at the waist. Considering when these figures were released, it’s a respectable amount of poseability, although the exposed metal joints and screws definitely detract from the figure’s aesthetics.

A lot of the accessories that come with the Bionic Six figures are less than spectacular, but Mechanic’s actually fits the bill. You get a simple removable tool belt that hooks around his waist.

I’m going to rank Mechanic alongside Glove as being one of the better figures in this line. Sure, the die-cast is completely unnecessary and ultimately detracts from the figure, but LJN still managed to capture the character pretty damn well, given the context. I was always kind of disappointed that he didn’t come with his nail gun, and the paint chipping on the feet, straight out of the package is obviously a bummer, but overall, Mechanic is a solid effort in the line. I’ll give Bionic Six a rest next Friday to look at something different, and when I come back to it in two weeks, we’ll check out one of the Bennetts.

Vintage Vault: Bionic Six Glove by LJN

Another Friday, another Vintage Vault… and another toyline that I haven’t looked at here before! Bionic Six was probably one of the last cartoons of the 80’s that I watched religiously and I just recently took a spin through the series again, which is no small feat as there are a ton of episodes. The premise was a simple weekly battle between the evil genius, Dr. Scarab with his rag-tag band of terrorist freaks and the Bennetts, a family that moonlighted as the bionic superheroes, The Bionic Six. There’s a lot I love about this cartoon: The spectacular intro sequence, the animation, the characters, the voice work, the clever self-deprecating writing. Sure, most of the stories are crap and there are times when it gets just over the top ridiculous, even for a cartoon, but I was pleased to find that it wasn’t just nostalgia that had me going, I still genuinely like it.

Naturally Bionic Six had a toy tie-in, or was that the other way around? LJN produced a short-lived line of 3 ¾” scale action figures. Included were all the Bennett family and all of Dr. Scarab’s evil minions. Sure, there were a few major omissions (What? No Dr. Sharpe???), but for the most part everyone was represented and there were even a few vehicles and a playset. The figures were rather unusual for the time as they featured the use of both plastic and die-cast metal, and some translucent parts to emphasize the Bennett’s cybernetic nature. Today we’re going to start with one of my favorite bad guys of the series… Glove! He was Dr. Scarab’s second in command and basically the Starscream of the Bionic Six universe. Every week he’d try to overthrow Scarab and become the leader, and every week it somehow backfired on him.

And there’s the packaging. The figures came under a coffin-shaped bubble on a standard cardback. Their accessories rattle around in a little compartment above the figure, and as you can see often drop down into the figure compartment. Honestly, I was never fond of the packaging LJN went with here. The crazy black psychedelic pattern on the white card just looks cheap, and not very relevant to the cartoon. On the other hand, I like the use of the Bionic Six logo and Glove’s character art is quite good. The back of the card shows photos of all the figures that were available. It’s a serviceable package, but nothing that makes me feel bad about tearing open this 27 year old figure. Mwahahahaha!

Out of the package, Glove is sort of like a mix between a vintage GI Joe and a Micronaut. He’s a pretty heavy figure for his size, due to the die cast metal used in his torso and legs. He’s not a bad representation of his animated counterpart. The head sculpt isn’t quite there, it looks more like his fellow bad guy, Chopper, to me. Still, overall this sculpt and deco hits all the main points of Glove’s animated design. His green military-style helmet, crisscrossing bandolier straps, and belt of grenades are all spot on, as is his one torn pants leg. I also really dig the translucent scarab emblem on his chest. The legs do feature some unfortunately ugly seams down the fronts, another recurring issue with some of this line’s figures due to the use of die-cast.

One of the problems with LJN’s Bionic Six figures can be the paintwork. Sure, part of the problem is that these figures suffer a lot of paint chipping when played with, but some had issues right out of the package. In this case, however, Glove is actually quite neatly painted. He’s a colorful fellow and I really like the two-tone purple used for his shirt and skin and the way the red and yellow contrasts with his black pants. There’s some slop around they yellow on his grenades, but nothing too bad. Detailed paintwork and die-cast metal don’t usually mix well, so I’m not going to nitpick Glove’s paint too much.

Glove’s articulation includes a rotating head, ball jointed shoulders, hinged elbows, ball jointed hips, and hinged knees. He can also swivel at the waist. He isn’t exactly super-articulated, but he sure beats the standard five points that some figures of the time utilized. Some bicep swivels would have helped a lot.

You get two accessories with Glove, one of which is… well… his glove. It clips on over his left hand and holds on pretty well. It’s a fairly detailed little piece, although I would have been perfectly fine if it were permanently attached to the figure. The other accessory is a black wrist gun that clips onto his other arm. Again, there’s some nice sculpting here for such a little accessory.

All in all, I think LJN’s figure does Glove proud. The personality of the character is well represented here and he’s definitely a colorful and attractive looking figure. Did he really need the die cast parts? Nope. While it sort of makes sense for the members of the Bionic Six, Glove’s character doesn’t have any bionics so the use of metal is just a continuation of that gimmick that does little to benefit the figure other than giving him a nice heft. Still, this is one of my favorite figures in the Bionic Six lineup and I’m happy to have a fresh, straight out of the package example for my display shelf to replace the loose-jointed and paint chipped version from my childhood.

Hail, Scarab!!!