General Hawk Interview

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Most people might not know that you use to customize way back in the day,withBlackbag and Kamakze being just two examples. Since you don't customize anymore, how did those come about?

Wow! Talk about the way back machine... when I first discovered the online community, there wasn't much conversation about current topics. There were the Toys "R" Us Exclusive figures in '97 and '98, but they didn't seem to be impressing many fans online and a lot of the creative energy went into customizing. When I first found The Bivouac (precursor to JoeCustoms), I was drawn into the whole customizing community mostly because of the great people involved. In fact, when I first launched GeneralsJoes as an awful Angelfire site back in '98, it was to showcase my customs.

With your dio-stories, what has been the biggest challenge you have had to face?

The biggest challenge for me has always been the set building. I have a very clear picture in my head of how I want the set to look and how the action and story revolves around the location. The problem is my end result never winds up looking like I envisioned, which can be frustrating. I enjoy the process, but I'm never happy with the end result. The few times I've commissioned folks to build sets (like the fantastic Capolan) I'm happy with what I get, but I just wish I could create some of the sets myself.

Currently my biggest obstacle is time. I've actually had a jungle set built and ready in my garage for months, but just haven't been able to cobble together enough time to do the actual shooting. If I could write the story, get someone to build all my sets, and then do the pictures and such, that would be PERFECT. Any takers? Wanna work for free??

Why does Sigma 6 not suck?

Because I said so! In all honesty, I actually agree with the majority of Joe fans that the shift from 4" to 8" was too drastic and probably ended up hurting the line considerably. But I maintain that the spirit and concept of Sigma 6 is exactly what most fans look for in a G.I. Joe line. Highly articulated figures, very cool futuristic accessories, but with a strong military base. Awesome new characters like Lt. Stone and great reinventions of existing characters like Firefly, Destro, and Flint. The figure designs were new and improved, but with a striking classic flair.

From a personal perspective, I really enjoyed the animated aesthetic as well, and I remain one of the few people who was disappointed that the Renegades line didn't try to do more of that. I think a lot of the stuff that fans love about the Pursuit of Cobra were originally derived from the futuristic/military aesthetic of Sigma 6, and it deserves a lot more credit than it gets.

The cartoon still sucks monkey ass, though.

Tom Brady, Drew Bledsoe, or Doug Flutie in their prime, who do you take as your New England Patriots QB?

Tom Brady without question. I would have his children if I was genetically capable of doing so.

Do you have a grail Joe item, maybe a high end item, or even an item that hasn't been made yet that you'd like to own one day?

Hmmm... tough call. I've always been a huge fan of Hit & Run, and would have loved some sort of Hit & Run concept art. Some of the unproduced Sigma 6 stuff is high on my list as well.

I think if I had my choice and could have anything as my "holy grail" it would probably be a complete Action Force collection. I love the SAS decoed Panther and Wolverine, and all of the Z-Force stuff is incredible. I would kill to have a run of those items from the 80's.

What is your favorite non-Joe action figure?

At the risk of earning the wrath of What's on Joe Mind cohost Gary, I'd probably have to delve into my Transformers collection to dig that up. I love COPS n Crooks, Visionaries was one of my favorites back in the day, but I have three large tubs of Transformers, and I absolutely love most of them. If I had to come right out and choose one, I'd probably keep it simple and say the Beast Wars Transmetals 2 Megatron. A very simple design, looked JUST like the animated model, and just a very fun figure overall. But really I could choose any number of Beast Wars or Transformers: Animated figures, I love all of them.

You've been to the Conventions and several of the Hasbro events, as well as, one of the co-hosts for the What's on Joe Mind podcast, where you have met and talked with several people who have been a part of GI Joe. Has there been a moment you look back on and still go all fanboy over?

Oh yeah, there are a bunch. Honestly probably my biggest "geek out" moment was at the Convention in... 2008 I think. It was the first time we saw the 4 minute trailer for G.I. Joe: Resolute. I had heard rumblings of a "dark and gritty" G.I. Joe animated feature, but nobody in the audience had a clue, and the absolutely pure and utter excitement, joy, and unbridled enthusiasm that was in that room after that 4 minute trailer was one of the best fandom experiences of my life. It was incredible. Really reminded me of what it means to be a G.I. Joe fan. The brand is so polarizing these days it's not often you get one common burst of excitement over something. That was pretty intense.

Of course I've also been lucky enough to meet and talk with Larry Hama quite a bit, which is always a thrill...and just this week we recorded a podcast episode with Jason Marsden, who played Duke on G.I. Joe: Renegades. Hell, the experience I had with Jon Chu, Channing Tatum, and the Paramount folks promoting the G.I. Joe: Retaliation trailer was a series of amazing 24 hour geek-out moments, too. The best part of being a fan.

Speaking of being a "fanboy", you've been accused of being a Hasbro apologist, but is there any Joe item you really don't like at all? What about any decisions you really don't like that were made for the line?

Sure. Hasbro is far from perfect and certainly makes their share of mistakes. At some point in the 90's Hasbro stopped being a trend setter and started being a trend "follower" and while I still love many of the Real American Hero products we got in the 90's, I absolutely cannot stand Sgt. Savage or G.I. Joe: Extreme. Savage's reduced articulation, generic old school military look and altered figure design just really rubbed me the wrong way. I hated that they drove those old was pretty much everything I didn't like about G.I. Joe. Then Extreme went the other way and threw the brand way into the future. I didn’t mind the Extreme story, and the animated series was actually pretty darn good, but the figures were a mash of pre-posed, oversculpted, 90's era superhero shlock and were one of the few toylines that I thought did a severe disservice to the G.I. Joe brand name.

When you look back at when you first started out in the GI Joe community, what would you say has been the biggest change and your role in the community?

Information is power I guess would be the biggest change I can see. When I first joined the online community, most of us really didn't know what went on behind closed doors, how decisions were made, and really what the whole process was behind the manufacturing of these toys. They just showed up in stores and we bought them. Now, along with the rest of the internet-enabled world, there is such transparency with process these days and such an abundance of communication tools, you can really see how these toys are conceived, what the designers were thinking, and all of the different hurdles they have to go through just to make it to production. It's an amazing series of obstacles, and being able to be witness to that is probably what has made me such an "apologist". Getting an idea of exactly why Hasbro has to make all of the decisions they do, and what goes into every single step of toy concept, design, and production, allows me some open-mindedness and some consideration with things that a toy company deals with that we have no idea about. Hasbro has really opened the door over the past several years with the Q & A's, their involvement in JoeCon and San Diego ComicCon, and with the Toy Fair Fan Media Event. It's become a much more involved prospect in my mind.

As far as my role... I don't know. To me, I'm still just a fanboy. I'm a fanboy who is lucky enough to have a job that allows for lots of computer time...I'm a fanboy who is lucky enough to have contacts in the industry cultivated over the past decade...I'm a fanboy who has a very understanding wife who lets me section off a huge chunk of our garage for my toys, recording studio and review area. At my heart I'm just a huge G.I. Joe fan, and if I could dedicate all day every day to broadening the appeal of the brand, promoting the brand, or just flat out enjoying the brand, I would. G.I. Joe has given me 30 years of joy, and if I can invest a few hours a day to give some of that back, I'm only too happy to do it.

It's 2012 and the Mayans were right, what figure and vehicle do you pack with you for the move to Earth 2?

One figure and one vehicle? That's just not right. That's like asking me to choose my favorite child. If I could only choose one of each, it would probably be the vintage Hit & Run and the Rolling Thunder. Give me about 5 minutes, though, and that will probably change.

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