Brian Savage Interview
What was your first GI Joe figure?
I'm not really sure what my first GI Joe was... probably the Action Soldier as I got him sometime around 1967-68.
Have you ever customized a GI Joe figure, either kit bashing a 12" or frankensteining a 3 3/4"?
Yes. I came into this field from being a 12" G.I. Joe Collector (back about 1987-88 is when I started collecting). We used to have to do a ton of customizing as there was nothing at retail, no collecting books, and no Internet. So, for many years, the only way you got a specific figure was to make the accessories yourself, or commission someone else to make them for you.
My preference is not so much for making accessories but making dioramas. I once had custom dive gear made for my Joe, along with accessories and equipment to fit a 1/6th scale dolphin and manta ray (mines, tanks, spear guns, etc.). I then put these figures in a 55 gallon aquarium along with 55 gallons of wonder world gel I bummed off of a contact at Hasbro. It was really cool as the figures appeared to float in the water as they were completing their underwater mission. I entered this in a contest and got second place. I didn't get first place because the guy that won, figured out how to make it snow (fake flakes) in his diorama of a foxhole at the Battle of Bastogne (the flakes came floating down while you watched it).
Also, every time the G.I. Joe Collectors' Club makes a new figure or convention set, we have to come up with the figures so in essence, we make customs that are eventually produced by the Hasbro factories.
Do you own any 3 3/4" figures, playsets or vehicles, and if so, which ones are your favorite?
Almost all of the O-ring figures and every 25th Anniversary figure made. I think the Defiant is my favorite piece.
Can you clear up the differences between Fun Publications, Master Collector, and the GI Joe Collectors Club?
Fun Publications, Inc. is our company. Master Collector is one of our web sites and was the classified ad publication for trading toys. We ceased publication of the print version of MC a year ago. The G.I. Joe Collectors' Club and the Transformers Collectors' Clubs are officially licensed by Hasbro and are business units of our company. That means every figure or accessory we produce are officially in the cannon of G.I. Joe.
You are obviously a fan of G.I. Joe, but you also have a business to run in the Club. Do you ever find yourself torn between what you want to see done as a fan and what you think needs to happen to keep the business going?
Yes. For example, every project usually starts out as a 12 on a scale of 1-10, but by the time it hits production it is about an 8.5-9 because there are just some things that don't make financial sense or can't be done. We can produce anything the fans/collectors want if they will buy it. But, no one wants G.I. Joes that cost $2,000 a piece....
What is the biggest consideration you have to make when approving a convention set?
It's a little science, a little business, a lot of creativity and a ton of work to produce figures, accessories, and sets of figures. We have to consider the character's persona, the look, the story and the figure's popularity. We go through questions like: have there been too many made of this character, not enough; will people like it/not like it; will they want only one or multiples; etc.
There are many issues when you are producing figures and tons to consider. The number one thing we try to do is to make it the best version of that figure that can be produced.
After the conventions are over and all the packages mailed out, how do you reward yourself for a job well done?
I spend time with my family and I do a lot of long bike rides (like 100+ miles).
What is your vision for MCAX.com and what other new innovations do you have in store for the Club and its members?
We are still trying to launch MCAX.com and we anticipate this to happen soon. We hope that this gives members a way to safely buy, sell, and trade their collectibles. We are constantly working to improve the club, so we take all suggestions seriously. I think you will like one new program we are working on for later this year (can't talk about it now). I'll only say it will be a big surprise to everyone.
What has been the most rewarding experience thus far as head of the GI Joe Collectors Club?
I have met people from all over the world that without G.I. Joe, I would have never met. Some of my closest friends have come from the G.I. Joe community.
Whenever you retire, what advice would you give to whoever tries to fill your shoes?
Don't fill someone else's shoes, get your own. Whatever field you work in, enjoy your work, provide for your family and above all, have fun!
If you could only show one GI Joe item to kids to show them what GI Joe is all about, what would it be and why?
I think I would rather just tell them about G.I. Joe as Joe is different for everyone.
I would tell them about this great toy that you can customize, have battles with, take on adventures, be your friend, share your secrets, protect your family and that can save the world a million times over, one backyard at a time. You are only limited by your own imagination!