I grew up a big fan of comic books and the superheroes that filled their pages. Characters like Iron Man, Spider-Man, Green Lantern, and Batman were among my favorites. Marvel and DC owned the big names but it was actually a much smaller character that stuck with me the most. Action Man was a CG cartoon (although there was also an animated/live action combo by the same name earlier that I never watched) with horrible voices for the supporting cast but the concept was solid.
The main character, an extreme sports star nicknamed Action Man, was uncovering a new ability that used math to analyze his surroundings and come up with a means to accomplish what he was intending. The world would shift into slow motion and the key components involved in the successful steps would highlight a different color. I liked the ability because unlike other superheroes, this seemed within reach. It is one of the pop culture things from my childhood that has the deepest impact and stuck with me the longest.
Right before enabling his power, the main character would shout “Amp It Up!” (better than some of the other 90s nonsensical words used in the show to seem hip). He would then analyze the environment and go to work using his extreme sports skills to pull off the mission. While I can’t slow down time and don’t have strings of math equations come from my head to highlight what objects I should utilize, I follow this way of thinking. I’ll shout (or maybe just think loudly to myself) “Amp it up!” and find a way to pull off what I’m trying to do. Sometimes it would be running down a frisbee after hurdling one object and jumping off another to get enough height. Othertimes, it could be about traffic and tracking all of the different cars in motion and coming out on top and not be behind the person that slows way down before getting into the turn lane.
After years of searching, I finally managed to find a (low-quality) copy of this Action Man. I’ve been able to find the horrible-looking animated/live-action combo show but below is the first episode of Action Man embedded. It has two scenes of the “amp it up” power – one within the first five minutes and another near the 18 minute mark.
The main story of Action Man follows the main character and his support team, all around good guys, as they compete in extreme sports against other athletes, most noticeably Alex’s rival. The rival turns full-blown evil and becomes a pawn for Dr. X. With nanobots injected, he’s able to outcompete Alex. This went on for about 2 seasons, I believe, but I missed out on it after a little while when they moved the show to 3 o’clock in the afternoons and I didn’t get off of the bus from school until 3:38pm.
Regardless of how annoying the voices are and how hyper the terms were, I still take “Amp it up!” and the respective philosophy from the show. I believe it puts a big emphasis on qualities that I respect and try to groom in myself – planning, awareness, coordination, observation, thinking out possibilities, understanding physics, and quick thinking. In other words, “Check it out, dial it in, amp it up!”