The Six Billion Dollar Man is a movie barely alive. Can we rebuild it…better, stronger, faster? I hope so because I’m a huge fan of the original series and Lee Majors. Whether Mark Wahlberg’s cost-of-living adjusted movie takes a giant bionic leap into the movie theatres is yet to be seen, even if you have a bionic eye! While waiting out delays, let’s take a fun look at some of the collectibles in the comic book world. We may even check out an “action” figure along the way.
Lee Majors, Six Million Dollar Man, meet Mark Wahlberg, Six Billion Dollar Man. The Dynamite Season Six series explored the further adventures of the world’s greatest cyborg. Issue 2 cover art by Alex Ross. Listing prices range from $3 to $15 on eBay for ungraded Season Six issues.
We Have the Technology. At Least, GoCollect Does!
While Mark Wahlberg’s movie is stumbling like Steve Austin’s first attempt at walking on bionic legs, Charlton’s Six Million Dollar Man #1 comic races. The comic that debuted in 1976 holds a graded 9.8 FMV of $450 on GoCollect. Interestingly, Charlton also published a black and white magazine-size Six Million Dollar Man in parallel. A couple graded 9.6 copies of the magazine’s first issue sold for an average of $200 each on eBay in Aug/Sep 2020.
Both series enjoyed excellent art. The comic series featured Joe Staton’s pencil work. A long time comic book veteran, Staton pleased many readers with his Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes works. On the magazine series, early issues contained some Neal Adams art along with the artists of his Continuity Associates. More on that later.
Six Million Dollar Man 4 complete 22-page story with original art by Joe Staton sold for $1,800 in August 2020. At just $82 per page, the art sold reasonably low. Though beautifully illustrated, I see two reasons for the low price. Pages from the story don’t contain the typical costumed superhero action. Also, possibly for licensing reasons, the comic Steve Austin only “resembles” Lee Majors.
Six Billion Dollar Art. Man, I Hope We’re Kidding.
Though original art prices exceed cost-of-living increases lately, fortunately, no billion-dollar sales exist, yet! Where million dollar sales seem more plausible than before, art celebrating the Six Million Dollar Man still sells ‘cheap’. Let’s start with some of the magazine art by Neal Adams and the Continuity Associates artists. The page on the right sold in 2008 for $263. That was long ago, but other similar pages sold for about $100 more in 2016. Most of the art in the magazine is probably drawn by other artists in Adams’ style (and perhaps with direction from Dick Giordano). MANY highly respected artists worked for Continuity, and these pages may have sold higher if credited to the specific artist (if not Adams).
The bionic man did not originate in the mind of a television producer, but rather in the mind of Martin Caidin, author of Cyborg. That book is currently out of print. So, expect to pay an outrageous sum for a physical version of the story or about five bucks for a PDF (I hope they are authorized copies.) One of the reprints of Cyborg featured cover art by Boris Vallego. Of course, Boris has a huge portfolio of paperback art, often of the sword and sorcery variety. I suspect the 1978 cover art by Boris for Cyborg falls in the category of VERY shrewd investing since it sold in 2006 for only $2,629. If and when the Boris Cyborg art comes back to the market, the profit margin should be tremendous. The only caution is if the rights holders fail to keep the Steve Austin alive in the hearts of fans. Nothing can kill a fictional character except being forgotten! Again, where is the Six Billion Dollar Man movie?
What do you call an Oscar Goldman toy?
I want to take a moment to remember Richard Anderson, who played Oscar in both Bionic series. Anderson’s character glued the two series together. In fact, he was like a father figure to Steve and Jamie.
One thing struck me as funny. Heritage Auctions described the toy to the right as “Doll-Oscar Goldman“. Now, I always hated for my action figures to be called dolls, but can Oscar truly be described as an action figure? I’m thinking he should be described as Oscar Goldman – OFFICE figure! By the way, in 2001 the toy sold for $48. eBay has similar figures available in-box from $275 to $400.
The Six Billion Dollar Bottom-line
At one time in the past, the “photo” cover increased collector interest in movie and TV comics. With all of the modern variants, photos, painted and line-drawn, I suppose the distribution method and supply trumps all other considerations for in-demand covers. Just as the whims of fancy can affect what people prefer, the tides of time can sweep out characters that are dear to people of my generation but only trivia to modern collectors. So, if you love the Bionic couple, buy and enjoy their collectibles. On the other hand, if you are only speculating on something from a thrift shop, you may want to write letters to the Six Billion Dollar Man producers to get Steve Austin back on the operating table… and soon!
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