I first saw "Maskatron" in a Coast-To-Coast store as a young lad. I'd had quite a coup getting my parents to give in and get me a "doll" for Christmas with Stretch Armstrong, which I wrote about in another article, and my friend down the street already had a Steve Austin doll. With not even a birthday in sight there was no hope of my acquiring the figure and it drove me half insane with a need to possess this dastardly digital doll. The packaging was enticing--the doll was big and loaded with "extras." The figure had clear acrylic "robot parts" revealed in his chest and on his face, his extra (human) faces were exquisitely detailed and he was colored in a pleasing metallic silver and purple. He came with a very John-Saxon-esque plain white turtleneck, slacks and black tennis shoes and the box art showed him, basically, kicking Steve Austin's bionic butt.
I eventually saved up enough allowance money to purchase the toy (for something like $7.99) and it was a kind of rapture I'm unlikely to feel again in my lifetime to cradle that big item all the way home. I hacked away at the tight plastic sealing and no doubt spilled all the little spare parts all over the place.
In no time at all I was chasing my brother around the house shooting Maskatron's limbs at him, and our grumpy cat; I used the pincher-arm weapon on my screaming sister at least once and I believe I stuck the suction arm to my mom's forehead when she was taking a nap. It was one of the most versatile toys I ever owned.
Not having "Steve" in the house to rough up, or even Jamie, and my sister's Barbies being strictly off limits to being ravaged by a robot menace, I fear my Maskatron led a lonely existence. I'd put on his "John Saxon" face and he'd look so ticked off with the world--imagine being a villain and not having any good guys to torment! I'd put on the "Steve Austin" face and pretend I had a 6 Million-Dollar Man doll but it just wasn't the same without the red jumpsuit and "bionic" eye. I'd put on the Oscar Goldman face and...yawn...he was utterly boring.
There was mindless fun to be had shooting off Maskatron's arms and legs and then sticking them back on again. Eventually I learned you could do the same thing with his head...and then I found you could, if you were careful, unhinge his thighs and biceps too, and his remaining torso looked something like a mini space vehicle that would soar over the heads of my brother's toy "synthetic people" set, the "Micronauts" (another article for another time!).
Maskatron lasted a long time on my list of beloved toys because you could do so much with him, but in the end, like most of us, his joints began to fail and his body became old and less reliable. Some water or something seeped into his bionic parts, making them look warped. His faces didn't stay on right and I lost his pants and one of his shoes.
For years Maskatron kept my "Stretch Armstrong" doll and all my old Ravel plastic horror movie models company in the dark and dank of the toy graveyard that was in the basement of my parents' house. One day, not too many years ago, my mom presented me with the remains of Maskatron and I was surprised he was in decent shape, all things being relative, and I have him still. The dolls aren't worth a lot on eBay, even in remarkable shape, which leads me to believe they must not have been that rare; in my town there was only one, and I owned him, and was proud. But nowadays, if you really want a bionic doll, it will cost you a great deal less than 6 million, which, considering the cost of living these days, is fairly remarkable!