In 1986, toy manufacturer, LJN produced a collection of action figures and playsets which carried the title Bionic Six. The toys were a tie-in with the then forthcoming American-Japanese animated show of the same name.
While the animated series never quite hit the heights of its peers, and is not that well remembered today, the toys have retained a certain level of charm and popularity. In fact, if you have Bionic Six figures in your possession, they are in excellent condition (more about this shortly) or they are boxed, then you have something which is becoming increasingly more collectable.
In this post, I am going to talk a little about Bionic Six toys, to explain what they are, why they have a certain collectability, and why they were (and still are) pretty awesome!
What is Bionic Six?
Produced by TMS, Bionic Six was a short-lived animated series about a family of super heroes. The show ran for two seasons, comprising a total of 65 episodes (22 episodes in the first season, and 43 in the second).
Bionic Six told the story of the Bennetts – a multicultural family who are granted superpowers through incredibly advanced bionics. Across the course of the series, the Bennetts find themselves constantly locked in battle with the villainous Dr. Scarab and his gang of gruesome miscreants.
Now I would love to share a cavalcade of Bionic Six screen grabs for you, to highlight how good the show was; but to date the series has not been released on DVD, Blu-ray or digital.
The only copies of the Bionic Six show currently doing the rounds have not come through any official channels and are best described as “fuzzy” at best. Actually, the quality looks pretty awful because all the available copies of the show are taped editions, taken from when Bionic Six originally aired back in 1987.
Anyway, that’s enough about the show. Let’s talk about the toy line…
The full set of Bionic Six toys
In 1986, LJN produced one wave of toys, which included a mix of figures and playsets. The Bionic Six toys included 13 action figures, and six playsets.
The collection broke down as follows:
- Figures: Bunji, Eric, F.L.U.F.F.I, Helen, J.D., Jack, Meg, Chopper, Dr. Scarab, Glove. Klunk, Madame O, and Mechanic
- Playsets: Dirt Bike, Quad Runner, Flying Laser Throne, Laser Aero Chair, M.U.L.E.S Van, and the Secret Headquarters (aka the Super Hi-Tech Bionic Laboratory)
Beyond this wave of figures/playsets (as well as a Halloween costume from Ben Cooper), no further Bionic Six toys were produced. The line, just like the cartoon series, ended rather abruptly and has been somewhat lost to time.
Why are Bionic Six toys so collectable?
Although neither the show or the toyline were particularly huge back in ’86/’87, Bionic Six toys do have a loyal following today, with Bionic Six fans as well as general toy collectors keeping a look-out for them at collector fairs and flea markets. So, why is that?
Well, there are multiple reasons for the interest in Bionic Six toys, and they are as follows:
- There is only a finite amount of toys produced – making it not impossible to collect the whole set
- They are visually appealing with some imaginative designs and nifty colours
- They hold more value if they are in good condition – something common with most toys, but particularly important with Bionic Six toys
The first two points are self explanatory, but that third point needs a bit more clarification and this brings me neatly onto something I have yet to mention.
Unlike most ’80s toys, which were made from plastic, Bionic Six toys were a mix of plastic and die-cast metal. This made the Bionic Six line quite unique, yet also quite problematic for playtime.
Take a look at this Mechanic figure below. His arms and head are made from plastic (as is the green translucent scarab in the middle of his chest), but his torso and legs are die-cast metal.
An interesting mix of materials, and it sure adds a certain quality to the figures (as well as a little more heft). However, look closely and you will notice the problem with die-cast – it gets damaged easily.
The problem is more apparent with this Klunk figure. The chest and bottom parts of his legs are made from die-cast and as you can see, the paint has flaked away considerably around the lumps and bumps of his body.
To be fair, this figure is in pretty good condition. I picked him up off eBay, after waiting for some time to find one that was in decent condition (I have seen some pretty beaten up Bionic Six figures).
What these two figures tell me, is that whoever owned them before I did, didn’t play with them that much. If these figures were regularly taken out of the toy box, they would be in pretty bad shape by now.
Speaking from experience, I owned four Bionic Six figures when I was a kid (my brother also owned one), and the die-cast was not good for continuous use. The paint would flake off the metal, and in no time at all large sections of the figures would turn silver.
So, if you own a Bionic Six figure and it is in excellent condition, with barely any paint flaking, well done – this is something to hold on to. And if you have one of the figures in its box, this means the paint will be in perfect shape, so this makes the figure even more desirable!
Due to the die-cast, there are less figures in good shape than there are in bad/poor shape, and as loose Bionic Six figures run the risk of further damage when stored or moved around, the boxed figures have gained a lot more interest from traders. Some people will only collect this line if they are boxed.
Are the toys easy to come by?
So, Bionic Six was short lived, ay? And there’s that die-cast problem too. It must be super, super rare toy line then, right?!
Erm… yes, and also no.
Take a look on eBay (after you have finished reading this post) and while you won’t find hundreds of Bionic Six toys, like you would TMNT, Masters of the Universe or Transformers, you will be able to find some.
I am a Bionic Six collector (strictly loose figures in decent condition) and I have managed to buy six out of the thirteen figures so far. I would say, I have also had the opportunity to buy three or four others, which is close to the whole set of 13.
As someone who frequents toy collector fairs, such as the excellent Barry Potter Fairs, I have also seen a number of the figures doing the rounds at the shows too. These tend to be boxed figures, with a higher price tag, but they are out there if you know where to look.
The Bionic Six toys that are much harder to come by are the playsets. I would say I have only seen a couple of the playsets on eBay and/or at shows, and they usually sell for decent money.
So, yes they can be a bit harder to come by, but certainly not unobtainable.
What is the most expensive Bionic Six toy?
If you are looking to make money on Bionic Six toys, then you must understand this is a niche market. Bionic Six didn’t have the same exposure/interest as other cartoons/toy lines, so not everyone will part with their money for the toys.
BUT… as discussed in this post, Bionic Six toys have become collectable in recent years, so if you have some hidden in the basement, then you should dig them out! The playsets and the carded figures carry the most value, so this is where the money can be found.
A boxed, Secret Headquarters would be nice to have in a collection and also nice to sell on to an interested party. Keep your eye out for this one in particular.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post on Bionic Six toys. I hope you have found it informative.
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