Monday, January 21, 2008

RETRO TOY FLASHBACK # 73: Electroman (Ideal; 1977)


In the mid 1970s, post-Watergate, post-Vietnam, post-Energy Crisis, America was looking for nostalgic superheroes, ones who could wash away the national blues with the time-honored principles of truth, justice and the American way. On television, The Six Million Dollar Man, Wonder Woman and The Bionic Woman spoke meaningfully to that urgent desire, racking up considerable ratings and meeting with tremendous popularity.

On toy shelves, it was the same story, The Six Million Dollar Man line from Kenner was big business, and left the other toy companies scrambling to compete. Mattel came up with Pulsar: The Ultimate Man of Adventure (a man in a black-and-red jogging suit with a transparent torso). Hasbro re-fitted G.I. Joe as the futuristic SuperJoe. And Ideal came up with an even more bizarre superhero, the 16 inch-tall super dude, Electroman!

Described as "Ideal's amazing electronic sentinel," Electroman (we don't know his secret identity...) wears a bright red, black and yellow uniform with a dazzling "E" (for Electroman, we presume..) emblazoned on his barrel-sized torso. He also wears tall black boots and a yellow cape.

The hero's oddest fashion statement, however, is no doubt his elaborate helmet, a clunky red affair that shoots laser beams (really just a flashlight, okay?). By adjusting a knob on the base of Electroman's neck, you can change the settings of the laser ray from Stun, to Radar, to Guard. Toy catalogs described the settings this way: "Electroman's computer brain can detect the slightest movement and sound a warning...In radar position, he sends out flickering light that changes to a steady beam when he finds an enemy position." Electroman runs on three C size batteries.

Electroman's nemesis was sold separately, a brown hulking monster ("half man/half monster") with red eyes, white fangs and a reflector embedded in his head, "Zogg The Terrible." Zogg was described on his black box as "A Creature so awesome only Electroman or you can defeat him." Zogg also came with a black and red laser gun which you could use to zap him, if you didn't want to summon Electroman and his strange head gear. When hit with Electroman's laser ray, Zogg would topple over. Mission accomplished.

An odd historical footnote: Electroman actually shared his colorful costume (but not his helmet) with a foxy chick named Black Magic Crissy, a tall African-American woman in white platform shoes. She came with five different hair attachments, but I'm not sure what her superpowers were.

You can see images of Electroman and his foe in action (with catalog copy) at Plaid Stallions, one of my current Internet obsessions (which gazes at all facets of 1970s culture, including toys).


6 comments:

  1. Man, you've taken me back so many years!!!!
    I was trying to remember what this toy was called until I found your site. All I could remember was the big light on his head and Trogg's giant reflector on his head that made him looke like an evil alien retro doctor. Thanks for this post!
    -Loran.

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  2. Gangrel6:51 AM

    I just wanted to thank you for this post. I remember my brother and I each had one of these as a kid, and it's been a pain to track down. Our parents never went for the bad guy for Electroman, but we did get the Pulsar figure to fight.

    Ahh, the memories. Thanks again!

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  3. Anonymous11:44 PM

    I had and still have my Electroman from 77. I remember he came with an extra reflector to activate his super powers and as a kid I would test his superpower light/movement detecting capabilities with a round reflective disc. The headlamp would flash and a siren would sound. A great toy for dectecting unwanted intruders.
    He also worked well as a flashlight. A fun toy till this day.

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  4. Definatly brings back memories.. Thanks very much >>Now can anyone help me find a zogg the terrible:) tracybernsee@yahoo.com hugs and Love to the sight creator
    P.S (also a bulletman figure?)
    Once again thanx:)

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  5. I have that Electroman, and it still works. Like TBURNS,I'm also looking for the enemy Zogg and Bulletman the Human Bullet, but they're hard to find and VERY expensive. Bulletman can be found on Ebay occasionally, but always at sky high prices.

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  6. Anonymous1:35 AM

    Dude, it was Black (as in African-American) Magic Hair Crissy.
    Her hair was magic but I don't know why.

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