Last week, we explored the game inspired by that 1970s icon, the Six Million Dollar Man. This week, we turn to the fairer electromechanical sex.
This Week’s Game: The Bionic Woman.
Manufactured by: Parker Brothers.
Copyright Date: 1976.
Recommended Ages: 7 to 12. (Curious that Parker Brothers recommended the Six Million Dollar Man game for ages 7 to 14. Perhaps they figured that girls mature earlier and set aside toys like this at a younger age.)
Box: My copy is a bit faded, but the color scheme is vivid greed and hot pink. We get a pretty close-up illustration of Jaime Sommers, along with her “autograph.” The action scene seems to show her trying to capture a mountain lion with a wispy net. I wonder what that mountain lion ever did to her.
Game Board: It’s disappointingly generic–trails of white dots and pink lines across some forested terrain. Looking closer, you can see some situations crying out for bionic attention, including a power plant inferno.
There’s also this train derailment.
Object: “Jaime Sommers, the Bionic Woman, needs your help. She must travel by airplane, helicopter, and automobile to carry out many dangerous adventures. Your job is to help Jaime through these adventures and assist her whenever you can. If you cover a lot of territory and complete the Top Secret Assignment…you may win the game.”
Game Play: I’ll try to make this as simple as possible, which is more than I can say for Parker Brothers.
That’s a lot of words.
All players start at “H.Q.,” and receive an Adventure Card telling them where to go and how many points they will earn.
These cards make you understand how tough Jaime’s life must be. She not only does standard superhero stuff like stopping runaway school buses, but must also be on call to repair faulty hospital equipment.
Players head to the space on the board that corresponds to their adventure number. They can either travel by “automobile”–following the white circles; by “helicopter”–sliding up or down the pink lines; or by “airplane,” which requires landing on an Airport space by exact count and then moving to any other Airport space.
When you complete your adventure, you can accept your points or take a double-or-nothing gamble that requires rolling 7 or higher. Then you start a new adventure. When a player rolls double ones or sixes, their mission becomes a Special Assignment, which earns 50 bonus points. After players have completed four Special Assignments, the next double ones or sixes trigger a Top Secret Assignment. That carries 100 bonus points, and its completion ends the game. Since the player with the most points wins, getting the Top Secret Assignment is usually the deciding factor.
Six Million Dollar Shout-Out: Sometimes, instead of an adventure card, players receive a “Steve Austin Assists” card. The idea that Jaime requires this assistance seems a little sexist. And since Steve only lets you double-roll one die, his help isn’t worth much.
Game Pieces: Regular plastic pawns. There are also white plastic clips players attach to their cards–one clip designates a Special Assignment; two clips indicate a Top Secret Assignment.
My Thoughts: I would have been thrilled to receive this game in 1976. I don’t think I would have played it much, though, after scanning those intimidating instructions. If anything, my friends and I might have come up with our own simplified scenario.
Bonus Feature: For a show that only lasted two years, The Bionic Woman inspired many toys. Kenner’s Jaime doll was surprisingly ugly, but it was fun to open her leg panels to see her bionic parts. And, as you can see here, her bionic side and her feminine side co-existed happily.
She had many cool accessories (the dome house!), documented on the fun site Retrojunk.
Other Spin Again Sunday posts you might enjoy:
The Muppet Show