Bionic Six is an American/Japanese animated television series from the 1980s, produced by distributed by Studios USA and MCA Television (later renamed NBC/Universal Television). The renowned Japanese animation director Osamu Dezaki was involved as chief supervising director. His distinctive style (i.e. Astroboy, Golgo 13, Cobra) is very noticeable.
The main character of the series, 'Bionic-1', is a machine-enhanced human being by means of bionic technology, much like The Six Million Dollar Man. On a vacation in the Himalayas, Bionic-1 and his family were set testing out newly-designed ski equipment. They were attacked by aliens and during the battle, in which Jack Bennett reveal his abilities to his children for the first time, an avalanche occurs and the Bennetts are all buried alive under radioactive snow. All, but Jack (whose bionics made him immune to the radioactivity), are thrown into paralytic coma. Unsure about how to save them, Bionic-1 brings the family to his boss Professor Sharp's lab. Sharp deduces that the bionic augmenting process that Bionic-1 underwent, would nullify the effects of the radioactivity. Each family member was given a specific bionic power, and thus they formed a team named Bionic Six.
In the near future, Earth is at grave risk from a wide variety of menaces from aliens to mad scientists. Professor Sharp, head of the Special Projects Labs (SPL), creates a new form of technology to augment humans through bionics. His first subject was Jack Bennett, a test pilot who secretly acted as Sharp’s field agent as Bionic-1. On a family vacation in the Himalayas, an alien space craft lands nearby and is detected by Professor Sharp who requests that Jack investigate. During his investigation, Jack discovers that the aliens are trying to locate a mysterious buried object that emits radiation of an unknown type. Jack attempts to recover the object and the aliens attack him, forcing him to reveal his enhanced abilities in order to protect his family who, except for his wife, were unaware of his secret abilities.
Fearful of Jack’s incredible powers, the aliens trigger an avalanche that buries the entire family and also exposes them to the unusual radiation of the object. Jack frees himself but discovers that his entire family is in a deep comatose state. Theorizing that Jack’s bionics protected him from the radiation, Professor Sharp implants bionic technology in the others, awakening them. Afterward, the entire family operates as the greatest high-tech team of adventurers and superheroes of the future, the Bionic Six.
Their most frequent antagonist is a mad scientist known as Dr. Scarab and his legion of high-tech robots and a collection of henchmen; Glove, Madam O, Chopper, Mechanic, and Klunk. Perhaps ironically, Scarab himself is Professor Sharp’s brother and is obsessed with gaining immortality or alternatively, ruling the world. He believes that the key to both lies in the secret bionic technology invented by his brother and schemes to possess it. His collection of dim-witted henchmen include Glove, his second-in-command who wears a blaster glove in combat and longs to assume Scarab’s position although he lacks Scarab’s brilliance; Madame O, a female who wears an elaborate mask that hides her features and uses a weapon similar to a harp in shape, that unleashes powerful sonic blasts; she constantly flatters Scarab although her true desire is for money and power; Chopper who wields a long chain; Mechanic who is apparently an idiot savant, a brilliant but otherwise dim engineering genius who is equally adept at using tools as makeshift blunt clubs; and Klunk, a monstrous creature apparently composed of a glue-like slime who possesses tremendous physical strength.
- Professor Amadeus Sharp is the genius scientist who infused the Bionic Six with bionics. All of his research is supported by the government, and Sharp's technology must be periodically reviewed by government agency Q10. He lives alone in his private museum; beneath which holds his secret Special Projects Lab, the hidden base of the Bionic Six. Amadeus is also Scarab's brother. Sharp is a genius in the fields of aeronautics, animatronics, archaeology, bionics , and neurology. He was voiced by Alan Oppenheimer.
The Bennett family includes Jack, Helen, Eric, Meg, J.D., and Bunji. They live in the fictional city of Cypress Cove, in northern California. Each member wears a special ring and a wristcomp (a mini-computer hardwired into the wrist), which they use to activate their Bionic Powers. The Bionic Six can also pool their powers, creating a "Bionic Link" when joining hands. This link gives them greater powers and abilities.
- Jack Bennett, aka Bionic-1 is an engineer and an expert test pilot. Jack Bennett enjoys cooking, and participated in the Paris Food Conference. Bionic-1's powers include super sight, optic beams and enhanced hearing. Bionic-1 was voiced by John Stephenson.
- Helen Bennett, aka Mother-1, is Jack's wife. She is an oceanographer and an accomplished marine biologist. Mother-1 possesses psionic powers and can also create optical illusions/holograms. She was voiced by Carol Bilger.
- Eric Bennett, aka Sport-1 is Jack & Helen's blond, athletic son. At local Albert Einstein High School, Eric Bennett is a shortstop on their baseball team, the Einstein Atoms. Moreover, he often works various baseball expressions into everyday conversation. As Sport-1, he displays various electromagnetic powers. He can attract or repel metallic objects with tremendous force, or even rip them apart. This force is directional and - by varying the shape of his hands, or by using one or both arms - Sport-1 can adjust the strength of attraction/repulsion. He frequently uses a baseball bat to return attacks to their source. He was voiced by Hal Rayle.
- Meg Bennett, aka Rock-1 is Jack & Helen's daughter and is Eric's younger sister. Meg Bennett is an excitable and somewhat ditzy girl who loves music... and who says "So-LAR!" (another word for "awesome") very often. She also makes frequent use of the prefixes "Mega-!" (as befitting her first name) and, less frequently, "Ultra-!" At Albert Einstein High School, Meg is a member of the debate team and dates a classmate named Bim when he isn't seeing Janet Sutton. She and Eric are the only Bennett kids biologically related to each other, and to their parents. As Rock-1, Meg can shoot sonic beams from blaster units mounted on her shoulders. (The blaster units were only visible while she was in "bionic mode.") She can also run at incredible speeds (even faster than the rest of the team). Meg was voiced by Bobbi Block.
- James Dwight "J.D." Corey, aka IQ, is Jack & Helen's intelligent, adopted African-American son. He enjoys boxing, though he is not very good at it. As IQ, he has both super-strength and super-intelligence. (J.D. was the only member with a codename that didn't include the number "1".) He was voiced by Norman Bernard.
- Bunjiro "Bunji" Tsukahara, aka Karate-1, is Jack & Helen's foster son. He was placed under their guardianship after his own father disappeared 10 years ago. Bunji is a cute, but troublemaking, Asian-American karate enthusiast. As Karate-1, he has enhanced martial arts skills, made more formidable with his bionics. He was voiced by Brian Tochi.
- F.L.U.F.F.I. is a gorilla-like robot who lives with the Bennetts. His behavior seems conspicuously unintelligent, but he is actually quite helpful to the Bionic Six, whether he is helping the Bennett kids with their homework, or assisting the adults in perilous scientific experiments. Unfortunately, F.L.U.F.F.I. has one serious weakness: a craving for aluminum. If he isn't fed regularly, he'd think nothing of eating the Bennetts' pots and pans. F.L.U.F.F.I. was voiced by Neil Ross.
Like any great superheroes, the Bionic Six has an archenemy in Dr. Scarab (real name Dr. Wilmer Sharp, he is Amadeus Sharp's brother, a large, evil, and occasionally comical man who yearns for the secret to eternal life. He has assembled a rag-tag group of people, having given them bio-mechanical powers. He was voiced by Jim MacGeorge.
- Glove - Named for his blaster glove which could fire both beams and projectiles. He serves as the field leader in Scarab's plans (and hence the one usually punished the most for failure) and constantly schemes to replace Dr. Scarab as leader. He has a particular rivalry with Bionic-1, but tends to flee at the first sign of defeat. He was voiced by Frank Welker.
- Madame-O - A blue-skinned femme fatale who wears a full face mask and uses a "harp" weapon to fire sonic blasts. She has a habit of ending many of her statements with a pause and the word "...darling." She was voiced by Jennifer Darling.
- Mechanic - A dimwitted, brutish type man who uses various mechanical tools as weapons. He tends to have a soft spot for animals and a short temper. He was voiced by Frank Welker.
- Chopper - A chain-wielding thug who articulates sounds as though he is revving up a motorcycle. He was voiced by Frank Welker.
- Klunk - An inarticulate monstrosity that appears to be made of living glue. Immediately after his creation, Scarab noted to himself to "use a little less power next time." Though relatively unintelligent, he is considered one of the most dangerous to engage in combat due to his high resistance to physical attacks, and his ability to entangle his attacker. He was voiced by John Stephenson.
Dr. Scarab has tried to create additional minions with limited success, usually due to interference from his jealous existing henchmen. Some of them include:
- Mrs. Scarab, aka Scarabina- Dr. Scarab's attempt at creating a perfect wife for himself; a beautiful woman possessing his intelligence and Mother-1's psychic powers. Madame-O interfered with her creation, resulting in an obnoxious female version of Dr. Scarab who was utterly devoted to him. Scarab, though repulsed by her, attempted to use her to his advantage. She eventually caught on to his manipulation and left him. Later returned, trying to win his affection by creating opposite-sex versions of his own henchmen to overcome the Bionic Six through sheer numbers. That plan also failed due to personality conflicts and double-crosses.
- Shadow Boxer - Taking a down-on-his-luck former boxing champion and trying to give him powers, Dr. Scarab instead created Shadow Boxer by accident with Glove's interference. Instead of being merely another super strong minion, Shadow Boxer also gained the ability to solidify his shadow and act under his direction. He apparently lost this ability when Bionic-1 exposed his shadow to a massive amount of light and it faded away.
Whenever Scarab and his team are disguised with their Bionic Masking Units and feel ready to remove their disguises, they slam their fists to their chest insignias, and exclaim "Hail Scarab!" (Scarab, however, usually exclaims, "Hail me!"). Doing so also serves another purpose — the activation of a temporary strength enhancement.
In addition to his henchmen, Scarab also uses robots, which he called Cyphrons, in his fight against the Bionic Six. The Cyphrons are, like the rest of his minions, generally incompetent though dangerous in large numbers. Attempts to create more advanced units would usually backfire on Scarab.
Bionic Six also featured a number of recurring, supporting characters.
- Perceptor- Peter Wilcox was one of the finest bionic researchers under
Professor Sharp. Due to his impatience, Wilcox tested their bionic experiment on himself. The experiment bestowed on Wilcox bionic abilities, but at the cost of his own sight. Blaming technology for his blindness, Wilcox became the anti-technology vigilante known as the Preceptor. However, after a confrontation with Sharp and the Bionic Six, Wilcox renounced his ways and became a hero. Perceptor was voiced by Neil Ross.
- Dr. Hugo Fish- An eccentric scientist and colleague to Professor Sharp. Dr. Fish constantly invents devices with unusual functions, including food that grants creatures enhanced intelligence, a device that gives people the ability to create art, a animatronic theme park, and a device capable of generating giant mushrooms. These devices frequently put him in between the Bionic Six and Dr. Scarab's group. Dr. Fish was voiced by Howard Morris.
- The Bandroids- Created by Dr. Bruce "Bad Brains" Huxter, the Bandroids are androids designed to perform as a musical band. The Bandroids are: guitarist Rivet Rick, keyboardist Techno Tex, bassist Metalhand, and drummer Bob. Each Bandroid has their musical instrument designed into their chassis, and each Bandroid has some special ability: Rivet Rick can generate force fields, Techno Tex is equipped with 2 six-shooters, Metalhand can grow in size and has a jet pack, and Bob can generate electrical blasts from his drumsticks. The Bandroids have had 4 straight number one hits, and frequently perform in concert.
- Kaleidoscope- Harlan Nails was a brilliant scientist who worked alongside Prof. Sharp in the field of Bionics. During that time, he created a device that could temporarily rearrange an item's atomic structure. After being snubbed by Sharp, Dr. Nails continued on to experiment, partnering with Dr. Scarab instead. Nails created an outfit from his invention, and became a master of disguise. Calling himself Kaleidoscope, Nails became Scarab's partner-in-crime, until Scarab turned on him. Kaleidoscope was the true inventor of many of Scarab's technology, including his Bionic Masking Units and the first generation Cyphrons. After spending 20 years in jail, Nails is released into the custody of the Bionic Six to help track down Scarab. However, the newly escaped Kaleidoscope has only one thing on his mind: revenge on both Dr. Scarab and Prof. Sharp.
- Main article: List of Bionic Six episodes
The first season of Bionic Six introduces audiences to the Bennett family, and to Scarab and his goons. Karate-1's origin is explored, and the mystery of his missing father is introduced. The origin of both the Bionic Six and of Scarab and his goons is revealed early on in the 22-episode run. The supporting characters of Dr. Fish and Perceptor are introduced.
The second season continues on from the first seamlessly. Old supporting characters like Perceptor and Dr. Fish return, and new characters, such as the Bandroids are introduced. The highlight of the season is the two part episode "I, Scarab," where Professor Sharp creates a second Bionic Six to rescue the original team. This second team is made up of supporting characters from prior episodes (Kaleidoscope, Perceptor, and the Bandroids).
Produced by LJN in 1986, the line consisted of 13 figures (Jack, Helen, J.D., Eric, Meg, Bunji, F.L.U.F.F.I., Doctor Scarab, Glove, Mechanic, Madame-O, Chopper, and Klunk), 5 vehicles and one playset. These figures and vehicles were made up of plastic and die-cast metal with some of the figures having see through limbs. The 13 figures were designed and copyrighted by Paul Samulski on behalf of LJN. F.L.U.F.F.I. the robot ape was hard to find early in the series' release, but was easy to come by later on as the line lost popularity. Today, the line remains moderately collectible with the playset and vehicles being the hardest to come across.
Grosset & Dunlap Publishing produced the Bionic Six Super Picture Book, a collection of color and black & white pin-ups of the Bionic Six, Dr. Sharp, F.L.U.F.F.I., and Scarab's team. The books art was supplied by Vince Perez and Lisa Santangelo.
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