REVIEW: MIKE POWER - ATOMIC MAN
By Thomas Wheeler
Towards the end of the original
12" G.I.Joe's run in the mid 1970's, two
very interesting characters were introduced into the line: Mike Power,
the "Atomic Man"; and Bulletman, also known as "The Human
Although G.I.Joe had started
out as a purely military figure when he was
first introduced in 1964, by the mid-1970's, the military was no longer
in fashion in the pop-culture arena, due to the events of the Vietnam
and the reaction towards it by a percentage of the young people in this
country. In order to continue to be marketable, the G.I.Joe line had
veer away from his military roots, and become more of an "adventurer".
The Adventure Team was formed, and the way was open for a couple of
characters to be introduced that could nothave plausibly been brought
into the line before.
One was Bulletman. Essentially
a super-hero, the figure had chrome-plated
arms, red tights and boots, and a pointed, chrome-plated helmet. His
primary ability seemed to be crashing through walls with his head.
Must've given him a dickens of a headache. Interestingly, there is a
group of Bulletman devotees to this day, that stage Bulletman races
G.I.Joe Conventions, and raised quite the cheer when someone in a
Bulletman costume joined a skit at the 2004 Convention Dinner. Bulletman
doesn't need me to promote him.
So I'd like to talk about
the other guy -- Mike Power, Atomic Man. One
might think it would be difficult for a super-hero in a pointy chrome
helmet to get respect in a group of tough adventurers like the original
Joes (especially if you consider the exposed legs of the costume --
Bulletman apparently took some costume hints from Robin the Boy Wonder),
but Mike Power seems to have really been swept under the rug. Heck,
encountered Hasbro execs that think his name was Mike Powers. You don't
see them adding an extra "T" to Bulletman.
So, what's the background
to Mike Power? One of the most popular TV
series in the early 1970's, especially among the younger crowd, was
Six Million Dollar Man". Astronaut and pilot Steve Austin (and
mean the WWE wrestler here, friends) was in a horrible crash, so the
government rebuilt him. They gave him "bionic" (a contraction
"biological" and "electronic") limbs to replace
his ruined legs and right
arm, and also gave him a bionic left eye. These prosthetics were super-
powered, essentially, and allowed Austin to lift massive weights with
arm, run at up to 60 miles an hour, and have telescopic vision with
eye. The show starred Lee Majors, and was based on the novel "Cyborg",
The series was hugely successful,
ran for about seven seasons, as I
recall, created a very successful spin-off series, "The Bionic
starring Lindsay Wagner as Jamie Sommers. For a while, it seemed that
bionic beings were everywhere. There was a bionic Bigfoot, and even
bionic dog, named Max -- short for Maximillion, which is what he cost.
was a German Shepherd from which, once might assume, no cat or fire
hydrant was safe. I half-expected to see an episode featuring something
like Chipper, the bionic squirrel, in a heartwarming story called
"Rescued from Roadkill".
There were also afew "reunion"
movies in the mid to late 80's. One of
these attemped to introduce a "bionic teen" whose more advanced
allowed him superior abilities to his predecessors. The last such movie,
unfortunately, only showed how out of shape Majors had gotten, as the
"high-speed-bionic-run-in-slow-motion" stunt only served to
Majors' stomach flab bouncing around. Wanna do something about that
bionic gut, there, pal? Would've been funny if it hadn't been just a
little gross at the same time.
There was, of course, a "Six
Million Dollar Man" toy line, that was also
highly successful. It featured a wide range of 12" scale action
and assorted playsets. And it was from Kenner, which at that point in
time was not part of Hasbro, and which had yet to soar to the heights
that it would in just a few years with "Star Wars".
Hasbro, however,clearly saw
the value of a character with super-powered
artificial limbs. They couldn't use the term "bionic", since
the company that was producing the "Six Million Dollar Man"
TV show, had
locked that word up for all intents and purposes. But Hasbro would still
not be easily deterred, and so, along came MIKE POWER - ATOMIC MAN!
Now, Steve Austin's prosthetic
limbs were not obvious. His arm and legs
were covered with a lifelike artificial skin, thus saving Lee Majors
having to undergo actual amputations for the show, and the studio from
trying to come up with special effects that would've likely been
impossible in the 1970's. The graphics diagramming his limbs during
opening credits were probably tough enough.
Mike Power, strictly existing
as an action figure, was under no such
constraints. And of course if you're going to make a toy with "super-
powered" prosthetic limbs, you're going to want to show them off
bit.To that end, Hasbro molded them in transparent plastic, and gave
internal workings molded in, some of which were actually part of the
articulation of the limbs.
The figure was, for the most
part, a standard 12" G.I.Joe figure of the
time, right down to the "Kung-Fu Grip" hands. Mike Power wasn't
extensively equipped as his six million dollar counterpart. He had an
atomic right arm, and an atomic eye, but only one of his legs was
artificial. Somehow, based on the information provided with the figure,
he was still supposedly able to run at humanly impossible speeds.
Personally, I'd think this would give him a heck of a limp, or maybe
really nasty hamstring pull. But perhaps there were some enhancements
his otherwise natural-looking leg of which we are not aware.
Now that I look at it, the
articulation jont for his right foot is molded
in a sort of mechanical grey...
Mike Power's atomic hand
and foot were molded in standard flesh-tone
plastic. This saved Hasbro the problem of having to work some internal
workings into a rather small foot, or figure out how to do a kung-fu
hand that looks mechanical.
Mike Power's arm did have
an additional ability. The figure came with a
hand-held helicopter blade mechanism, and it could be placed in the
of the atomic arm, and then a dial near the elbow could be spun, allowing
the figure to rotate the helicopter blades, and supposedly fly using
technique. Gotta give Mike Power credit -- flying is one thing Steve
Austin could never do!
The figure had a unique headsculpt,
which it really needed in order for
the atomic eye to work. The head sculpt isn't particularly distinctive,
although neither did it especially resemble the common G.I.Joe headsculpt
of the time. If anything, it looked a little like a cross between two
Mattel products -- Ken and Big Jim. Or maybe what either one of them
might look like had they been sculpted to be Joes. There is the
traditional scar on the face, although it's on the opposite cheek from
where G.I.Joe usually had one.
As for the atomic eye. There
was a little hole near the top of the head,
covered by clear plastic. This was a separate piece that led to the
eye. When light hit this hole just right, it would make the eye look
it was lighting up. Kids could make it look like it was flashing by
putting their finger over the hole on top of the head. The idea probably
worked pretty well in direct sunlight, and it's certainly a technique
that has been used on quite a few toy products since then. One fairly
recent example I can think of would be Jawas from the Star Wars line.
believe that even General Grievous' Bodyguards from the Star Wars Episode
III line have this feature.
There was one playset for
Mike Power, a sort of Diagnostic Testing and
Training Center, that let kids play with Mike Power and have him lift
"massive weights" and "run at high speeds" to make
sure all of his atomic
equipment checked out properly.
The figure came dressed fairly
simply, but could realistically be
outfitted in any G.I.Joe uniforms. But to show off the atomic limbs,
Power was given a camouflage short sleeved shirt, and shorts. I should
mention that the trousers and boots Mike Power is wearing in one picture
here are not original equipment. I'm honestly not sure what happened
the shorts, but I wasn't about to let a pantsless action figure go about
Mike Power seems to be a
largely forgotten part of G.I.Joe these days. I
have seen occasional 3-3/4" customs of him, that use parts of Cobra
B.A.T.s, which is actually fairly clever. But for the most part, his
doesn't come up, and when it does, too often people want to put that
at the end of the last name. And yes, he was a pretty blatant rip-off
the Six Million Dollar Man. But I always thought he was pretty cool,
I hope this review gets him a little bit of the respect that I feel
deserves, as an interesting part of the best-known action figure line