Wednesday, November 07, 2007

RETRO TOY FLASHBACK #69: Pulsar: The Ultimate Man of Adventure (1976; Mattel)

In 1976, Kenner dominated the toy market with its excellent and diverse line of toys related to The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman. Desiring a share of that same market, Ideal produced a 16 inch superheroic figure named Electroman (with an enemy alien called "Zogg"), Mego produced "The Bionic Villain" Dr. Kromedome(!) and not to be left out, Mattel got into the act with an interesting hero of their own called Pulsar, "The Ultimate Man of Adventure."

As advertised on his box, Pulsar stands an impressive "13 1/2 inches tall with space boots and costume. Jacket has emblem on his right breast. Transparent chest exposes "workable" vital organs. Two computer "brain" mission disks & complete instructions included."

Thus, this white-haired hero (with a very serious face...) wears a spiffy black and white uniform with lightning emblem or insignia on his chest. If you remove the velcro wrappings of his suit, you can see all the major organs of Pulsar's chest: lungs, heart, intestines, everything. You can even see his blood flowing around in there. "You activate his vital systems!" screamed the box, advising children to "Push his back, Heart beats! Lungs breathe! Blood flows!" I guess this was competition of sort for Colonel Steve Austin, who had a bionic arm and a bionic eye.

Pulsar also, apparently, could be programed for each mission you sent him on, and you could lift his up face and "insert mission disks" directly into his brain. "He almost comes alive!," said the box. Recommended for ages 5 and up, "no mission is impossible for" Pulsar.

The intrepid Pulsar fanatic could monitor Pulsar in a well-constructed playset (sold separately) called the Life Systems Center. This device allowed you to "program him" for missions, "double-check X-rays", "light-scan his brain", "set all systems," and "activate vital organs." Molded in blue plastic, the Life Systems Center is essentially a very large laboratory wall with three sections. In the left-most section is a body-length X-ray scanner, "screen" and machine (which lights up; batteries not included).

In the middle section, Pulsar is strapped in with a belt, for monitoring, and there are "shoulder braces" and a "brain probe light."

And in the right most section of the Life Systems Center, you have your control panel,which you activate with a large press-key molded in orange, here described as a "remote activator." A wheel allows you to change Pulsar's program from "status check" to "Go*Program A4*Go," to "Backup Program" to "Start Program" to (in red letters) "All Systems Max." There are also programs D10, C8 and B6...whatever they are.
Pulsar's "Pulsatronic system" is monitored and can be keyed with a control dial set on "verge" or "C8" or "0.20." His biologic system can be made to read "verge," "go" or "limit" and his Power Systems also includes several cryptic read-outs. It's all very technical and neat, if you are living in the year of the Bicentennial. Heck - I love it.

Finally, not pictured (because I don't have him...yet...), is Pulsar's dastardly nemesis: Hypnos, "The Ultimate Enemy." Hypnos is a villainous-looking humanoid who has a giant hypno wheel embedded in his chest. Molded in black and purple, he's pretty scary and alien-looking.

I remember seeing "Pulsar The Ultimate Man of Adventure" in toy stores when I was six years old, and passing them up for Six Million Dollar Man and Space:1999 toys, but really, Pulsar is pretty damn cool. I don't exactly what precisely his skill set is, except that he has a transparent chest, but still, he seems like a pretty neat collectible. He didn't have the advantage of his own TV show, so maybe I need to create one. Now I just need to find someone with a see-through torso...


  1. Anonymous12:21 PM

    Knew someone who had a Pulsar and Hypnos figures. I used to have an Electroman with flashlight head. I used to own a Bulletman figure from G.I. Joe. I still have my Big Trak though it is not functioning. Maybe I can get it fixed.

  2. An old aunt (who is still living)gave me Pulsar for Christmas in 1978. I still have it, complete with the brain discs and the still working "blood". The emblem on his jacket is still in place, the Velcro still works, and the shoes still open and close. Mattel sure made durable toys in those days. He is just one of several "bionic copycats" of the era. I also have JJ Armes and Mike Power/Atomic Man. And yes, I have ALL of the Bionic figures.


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