Monthly Archives: November 2013

Unusual “G.I. Joe” Beverages For Your Collection

While older fans may remember that the name "G.I. Joe" was first applied to soldiers in WWII and then subsequently to Stars-n-Stripes' comic strip characters, "Willie and Joe," it's probably not a good idea to use this name for alcoholic beverage purposes. "But Dad, It says GIjOE! Why can't I drink it?" HA! (Photo: )

1980s “GIjOE Beer” can (Photo: canmuseum )

“Knock One Back—With G.I. Joe!”

(Now THERE’S a slogan we never expected to see.) But ever since we first reported on a line of bad-tasting (and now slightly infamous) “GIjOE Survival” sugar-water beverages (see complete story HERE), additional discoveries of equally bad ideas for liquid GIjOE refreshments have continued to “trickle in” to the newsroom here at The Joe Report. And the first one to cross our desks was, actually, quite a surprise. It sports boldly lettered, brightly colored “GIjOE” graphics on every can. Every can, that is—of BEER.

That may not shock older fans who remember that the name “G.I. Joe” was first applied to soldiers during WWII and then subsequently to Bill Mauldin’s  Stars-n-Stripes’ comic strip characters, “Willie and Joe” (see HERE). But despite the name’s WWII history, it’s gone on to more prominently represent a children’s action figure toy line, and that means it’s probably not a good idea to use the GIjOE name anymore to sell alcoholic beverages. (What’s next? “Barbie’s Bourbon?” How about “Transformer’s Tequila?”)

Pop your top, and the beer bottle cap falls neatly into the vintage "GIjOE Beer" can receptacle below. Yes! (Photo: Handy Sam)

Pop your top, and the beer bottle cap falls neatly into the vintage “GIjOE Beer” can receptacle below. Yes! (Photo: Handy Sam)

Created and sold in the 1980s by Schell’s Brewery in New Ulm, Minnesota,”GIjOE Beer” was available only in all-steel pull-top cans, and is no longer in production. However, aided by the power of the internet, die-hard Joeheads can still find (empty) cans of the unusual product on various websites and ebay. One enterprising dealer who goes by the name, “Handy Sam,” has gone so far as to make and sell GIjOE Beer can bottle openers (see photo at left).

So-called "Energy" drinks like this can of "Go Joe" are essentially high-sugar, caffeinated beverages that give you a predictable sugar rush followed by—a trip to the bathroom. (Photo: )

“Go Joe” Energy Drink (Photo: Keith Mayo)

16 Oz. “Go Joe” Energy Drinks

Our next GIjOE-inspired beverage will appeal mainly to younger consumers, but it will also be of interest to Joeheads, simply because of its name. It’s called “GO JOE” (see closeup at right) and can currently be found predominantly at Tennessee Mapco Mart gas stations. GO JOEs are sold in tall 16-ounce aluminum cans which are adorned with modern MARPAT camo, a pair of dogtags on a chain, and a GO JOE logo that’s reminiscent of the ’80s RAH GIjOE logo. We haven’t tried GO JOE ourselves, but as a product category, “energy drinks” are essentially revved-up sodas, typically much higher in carbs, sugar, sodium and caffeine. Consuming 16 ounces should provide you with a predictable, but short, “sugar rush” (some call it a “jolt”), often followed by a slight headache, a subsequent “sugar crash,” and finally, pangs of guilt and regret whenever you step up onto a doctor’s scale (yes, they are also fattening). Despite such foreknowledge, energy drinks like GO JOE continue to sell well among teens and college-aged young adults. (Bueller?)

GO Joe Energy drinks are available in 5 different flavors. (Photo: Go Joe)

GO Joe Energy drinks are available in 5 different flavors—and colors! (Photo: Go Joe)

We were curious about GO JOE’s specific ingredients, so we checked with the nutrition experts at MyFitnessPal, and they informed us that each 16 Oz. can contains the following: Calories 250, Sodium 400 mg, Total Carbs 63 g, and Sugars 57 g. Whoa! We didn’t get a figure for caffeine, but it’s surely “up there” as well. Caveat Emptor!

According to the company, “We’ll have cold-brewed caffeinated and decaf ‘Cold Cans’ of G.I. Joe Coffee as well.” Above, a 16 Oz. can of GIjOE Coffee, it’s top popped and ready for your next road trip! (Photo: GIjOE Coffee)

Want a REAL Cup of Joe?
Try “GIjOE Coffee”—In a Can!

We’d never heard of this next GIjOE beverage until stumbling across it recently, completely by accident. Since it’s a brand new product, it’s a safe bet that you’ve never heard of it either. We’re talking about the all-new—”GIjOE Coffee!” And we’re also thrilled to learn that the creators of this exciting product hope to accomplish MUCH more than just sell coffee. According to the company’s official data over on Linkedin:

“G.I. Joe Coffee is a a Veteran-focused coffee brand that enables Veterans and those who support Veterans to actively participate in the direct funding of Veteran causes; specifically disadvantaged, disabled and differently-abled Veterans. Our primary mission is to establish partnerships with organizations whose goals are to aid in the funding, assistance, housing, or any other service that directly involves disabled Veterans. (and) …to attract a wide market of G.I. Joe Coffee drinkers who feel the need to not only indulge in great coffee blends but feel a sense of ownership of the brand. As a startup company, located in Scottsdale, Arizona; G.I. Joe Coffee expects to attract Veterans, associated family members, friends, celebrities and corporate supporters of Veteran causes.”

The GIjOE Coffee product lineup. (Photo: GIjOE Coffee)

The GIjOE Coffee product lineup. No, I don’t drink coffee. Yes, I want one of each! (Photo: GIjOE Coffee)

What a great concept! Just think of all the good things the GIjOE Coffee Company can do for disabled veterans. And their packaging is absolutely outSTANDING! What a great product to buy, consume and support. Go, GIjOE Coffee! OoRAH! We wish you all the best! For more information on this brand new company, their goals and their product line, take a look at this 3-minute video:

Sometimes the straws can be more desirable as a collectible than the cup. These Slurpee straws included "slide up, slide down" mini-GIjOE figures that are absolutely ROCKIN'. I guess we'll have to—Collect them all! (Photo: 7-Eleven)

Sometimes the straws can be more desirable as collectibles than their cups. These Slurpee straws included “slide up, slide down” mini-GIjOE figures that are absolutely ROCKIN’. I guess we’ll have to—Collect them all! (Photo: 7-Eleven)

But What About the Kids?

Of all the GIjOE beverages described above; GIjOE Beer, GO JOE Energy Drinks, and GIjOE Coffee, none are appropriate for the youngest Joe fans among us—our children. And as obvious as it seems, neither Hasbro nor any other company has ever released a simple GIjOE soda targeted to children (no, those horrendous “Survival Beverages” don’t count, especially since they sent people to the hospital). So, we’ll conclude this discussion about GIjOE-inspired beverages with one that’s actually SAFE for children (and adults) to consume—Slurpees! While they’re not exactly “unusual,” (Slurpees have been around since 1958), you don’t have to be 21 or possess a photo ID to purchase or drink one. And with the release of each new GIjOE movie, fans can always look forward to a deluge of GIjOE-inspired beverage cups, many of which have turned out to be VERY collectible.

Collectible GIjOE Slurpee cups from the movie: GIJOE, The Rise of Cobra. (Photo: 7-Eleven)

Finally! Something for the kids (okay, Dad too). These four outstanding GIjOE Collectible Slurpee cups are from the movie: GIJOE, The Rise of Cobra. What fantastic graphics! (Photo: 7-Eleven)

Bottom Line: For collectors of GIjOEs and GIjOE-related “ephemera,” practically ANYTHING labeled “GIjOE” becomes fair game. And it’s always fun to discover new things that you never knew existed. Personally, I have dozens of unofficial, non-Hasbro “GIjOE” items in my collection (that GIjOE beer can is on its way to my house as we speak) and everything else in this article holds an interest for me as well. (Now I know where I’m stopping in Tennessee on my drive to Joelanta!) Regardless of your own Joe-beverage preferences…Bottom’s Up! Cheers! ¡Salud!

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G.I. Joe + Masters of the Universe= Marriage? YES!

We Now Pronounce You—Skeletor and Wife.

What do you get when you combine one woman’s love of RAH GIjOEs with one man’s love for an even schlockier 1980s toy line (The Masters of the Universe)? In the case of one happy couple, their mutual love of toys, cartoons and cosplay has now led them all the way—to the altar. According to a short story recently posted over on the “Geeks Are Sexy” website:

“Laura and Kevin fell in love over a year ago over their love of cosplay, comics, and ’80s cartoons. They are both frequent con-goers, but Kevin wanted to make this past New York Comic-Con extra-special for Laura, so he planned an elaborate ‘scene’ that even involved Laura’s dad. After members of Cobra surround Scarlett, Kevin comes to her aid — and makes her an offer she can’t refuse!”

Bottom Line: Thanks to eagle-eyed TJR Field Reporter, Louis F. Lapointe, for his heads-up on this heart-warming demonstration of “The Power of Joe” and “The Scheming of Skeletor.” We wish the future couple all the best and a lifetime of geeky happiness. Go, Joe! And…Go, True LOVE!

Catching Up With John Stork, aka “Hyper-Strike” from SyFy TV’s “Who Wants to Be a Superhero?”

Martial-artist and circus performer, John Stork as the superhero "Hyper-Strike," in a publicity still for the SyFy competition reality show, Who Wants to Be a Superhero?" (Photo: SyFy)

John Stork, aka “Hyper-Strike,” in a publicity still taken for the Syfy Channel’s 2007 competition-reality show, Who Wants to Be a Superhero?” Stork is now a street performer and aspiring writer. (Photo: SyFy)

A life as a circus performer had toned Stork's body to perfection, making a natural for the WWTBAS show. (Photo: John Stork)

By the age of 21, his life as a circus performer had toned Stork’s body to perfection, making him a natural choice for Who Wants to be a Superhero? (Photo: Syfy)

First in a Series of Exclusive Interviews with the Contestants of “Who Wants to be a Superhero?”

By Mark Otnes, 11-25-2013
Editor, The Joe Report

“I love being in the spotlight. That’s why I’m a performer!”
—John Stork, aka SyFy TV’s superhero, “Hyper-Strike”

The first contestant of Who Wants to be a Superhero? we caught up with was, quite frankly, the one who had impressed us the most—2nd season standout, John Stork. Stork’s manic, over-the-top athleticism and circus-honed showmanship made him a clear front-runner among his fellow Season 2 contestants, and from the very beginning, he seemed an odds-on favorite to become Stan Lee’s “next—great—Superhero!” Of course, we’re not giving away any secrets to remind you that John didn’t win, but came in second place instead, tied with Melody Mooney’s “Hygena,” a plucky, homemaker-turned-superheroine, and then ultimately losing to Jarrett Crippen’s superhero cop character, “The Defuser” (see below).

In this screenshot from Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, the three finalists of Season 2 react upon seeing the 1:6 scale custom action figures that have been made in their likeness and given to them as a gift by Stan Lee.

In this screenshot from Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, the three finalists of Season 2 react upon seeing the 1:6 scale custom action figures made in their likenesses and given to them as a gift by Stan Lee.

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As daring as ever, Stork works fearlessly with knives, dizzing heights, and even fire. Here, he lights three juggling clubs in preparation for his next feat, during a recent street performance in Bridgehampaton, VT. (Photo: John Stork, exclusively for The Joe Report)

As fearless as ever, Stork now works confidently with swords, knives, dizzying heights, and even fire. Here, he lights three juggling clubs in preparation for his next feat, during a recent street performance in Burlington, VT. (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

John Stork, photographed recently in his home office. (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

John Stork, photographed recently in his home office. (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

Real-Life “Action Figure” John Stork, Reflects on His SUPER Life So Far —and What Happens Next!

TJR: First of all, thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us today. Let’s quickly catch up with John Stork, the man. You’re 27 now, correct? And you live in Vermont? Are you married? Do you have any children?

“The pleasure is all mine. That’s right, I’m 27, about to turn 28, and I live in Burlington, Vermont. 28 is my favorite number, so I won’t let it bother me that I’m getting close to 30! I’m not married and I don’t have any children, but I do have a girlfriend.”

Stork writing a new "Ultimate Manga" script in his office. (Photo: John Stork)

Writing his future— Stork working on a new screenplay. (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

TJR: What’s a typical day in the life of John Stork like now, in November of 2013?

“Well, there are two major things going on in my life right now: Street Performing (what I currently do for a living), and Screenwriting (what I wish I was doing for a living). I have a pretty weird sleep schedule, but it lends itself to both writing and performing. I go to bed around 3 or 4 AM every—night? morning?—and wake up around noon. I like to stay up and write. I’ve always been kind of a ‘night owl,’ probably from being in live entertainment for so many years. Shows are usually in the evenings and it takes a while for my adrenaline to calm down. Once I’m awake, I’m either writing, performing, or doing boring, everyday life stuff. I don’t exercise or practice as much as I used to, which is kind of sad. I only go to the gym or dojo once a week (if I’m lucky!), but I guess my street show keeps me in passable shape.”

John demonstrates his power to "jump on small cars in a single bound." (Photo: John Stork)

Still Super— Even while dressed in his “secret identity” civilian clothes, Stork demonstrates he still possesses the power to “jump onto small cars in a single bound.” (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

TJR: Is it true that you lived in Chicago for a while? What took you there? And what brought you back to Vermont?

“I moved to Chicago when I was 17 to work for ‘The Midnight Circus,’ a small, theatrical circus in the windy city. I lived there on and off for about 3 years. I’ve also lived in San Antonio, Los Angeles, Boston, Brooklyn, Key West, and, the most glamorous of all, Branson, Missouri! I always come back to Vermont though, because, well—IT’S THE BEST!”

TJR: You’ve just created your first Facebook page last month (October, 2013). For most celebrities, that’s almost unthinkable. Why did you wait so long? What sort of “social media” outlets do you prefer to use? And if none, why?

“It’s very generous of you to call me a celebrity. There are a few reasons why it took me so long to join Facebook. I had a Myspace page for Hyper-Strike back when season 2 of Who Wants To Be Superhero? was originally airing and it was a little overwhelming. I felt guilty if I didn’t respond to every single fan message! Also, I wasn’t really interested in doing anything more as Hyper-Strike at the time. I was completely focused on learning how to street perform and developing/producing my own circus acts.”

"Manga" art and animation has a distinctively Japanese style and flair, as this sample image clearly shows. (Art: mangareader.net)

“Manga” comic art and animation has a distinctively Japanese style and flair to it, as this sample image clearly shows. Hmm… that hairstyle looks strangely familiar… (Art: mangareader.net)

Fast forward to 2013: I’m now looking for like-minded Manga artists who want to team up and create—THE GREATEST MANGA EVER! You can get all the info about my current search plus samples of my writing HERE.

I thought Facebook would be a good way of getting in touch with artists. But right now, my page is so new that I hardly have any ‘likes,’ so please, check it out HERE and click on that ‘like’ button!

Another site I’m on that I think is really cool, is deviantART (found  HERE). I have samples of my screenwriting posted there as well.”

A young John Stork with

Kee-YAH! A young John Stork strikes a perfect knife-hand block pose in this old family photo. (Photo: Phyllis Stork)

TJR: You began studying Karate when you were 7 and received your black belt at the age of 11. That’s VERY young for such a difficult martial-arts achievement. Don’t you have to be able to beat up your adult sensei (instructor) or at least have hit puberty first? HA

“Interestingly enough, by age 11, I had already achieved both. But seriously, my Mom started taking Karate shortly after I did and quickly pulled ahead of me. At my dojo, if you were diligent and went to class three or four times a week, it was conceivable to get your black belt in three years. My mom did just that and I was one year behind her.”

Phyllis Stork embraces her son after surprising him during taping of the final episode of WWTBASH, Season 2. (Photo: Syfy)

Phyllis Stork embraces her son after surprising him during the final episode of WWTBASH, Season 2. (Photo: Syfy)

“I always went to the dojo with her and she helped me to review all the techniques at home. I couldn’t have done it without her. I stopped going for rank after I got my black belt so I could focus on competing, but my Mom kept with it and is now a 6th degree black belt. (The grandmaster of the whole system is a 10th degree black belt!) So yeah, my mom could kick my butt!”

Karate instructor, Freddie LaPan, teaching a children's class at his dojo in VT. (Photo: )

In this screenshot, Stork’s first instructor, Freddie LaPan, is shown teaching a children’s karate class at his school in Vermont. (Photo: Hathaway’s Taekwondo)

TJR: As a teenager, you trained with world champions, actors, and even Hollywood stunt-doubles. How did that come about, and in what ways did being around such diverse talent influence your life and career?

“My first Karate instructor here in Vermont, Freddie LaPan (see VIDEO), competed nationally for many years. His specialty was point-fighting, but I wanted to specialize in forms, which are like choreographed dance routines with martial arts moves and acrobatics instead of dance.”

5-Time North American Forms & Weapons Champion, Mike Chat (shown above), martial arts instructor to John Stork. (Photo: Mike Chat)

5-Time North American Forms & Weapons Champion, Mike Chat (shown above), martial arts instructor to John Stork. (Photo: Mike Chat)

“Freddie put my parents in touch with Mike Chat (right), the world forms champion at the time. He later went on to play the Blue Power Ranger on ‘Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue.’ He’s also the founder of XMA. I started training with him privately at national sport karate tournaments on a monthly basis. Later, my parents would also fly me to LA (from Vermont!) once a month to train with him there. He had great connections, so his students, including Taylor Lautner (actor, ‘The Twilight Saga’) and I, were able to train with tons of awesome people. I guess that’s where all my college money went.”

Stork holds up his autographed copy of the autobiography of his idol, Jackie Chan. According to John, "He was my biggest hero growing up. Jackie Chan's at the root of it all for me." (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

Stork holds up his autographed copy of the autobiography of his idol, Jackie Chan. According to John, “He was my biggest hero growing up. Jackie Chan’s at the root of it all for me.” (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

“As far as being influenced goes, I think the main thing these experiences impressed upon me was the level of proficiency and consistency that separates amateurs from professionals. Mike immersed me and his other students in a professional world. Also, working with Ming Qui (former China national wushu champion and stunt-double for Lucy Liu in ‘Kill Bill’) was extra awesome.

I’ve always been in love with classical Chinese martial arts thanks to Jackie Chan. After all, my martial arts/circus endeavors as a teenager were really just me trying my best to simulate the training Jackie Chan received in the Peking Opera. Training with Mike, his industry connections, and Circus Smirkus was the closest I could have come here in America!”

TJR: You won a Gold Medal at the WKA World Championships in Germany and a Silver Cup at the First International “Artistic Martial Arts” Tournament in Paris, France (watch video HERE). Could you tell us about those two contests and how you felt winning them?

Stork during his Silver-medal award-winning performance in Paris, France, on March 24, 200. (Photo: Locketricks)

Early Excellence— Stork during his Silver-medal award-winning performance in Paris, France, on March 24, 2001. (Photo: Locketricks)

“In all honesty, not all the best competitors made it over to Hannover for the WKA World Championships. Nonetheless, getting a gold medal was nice, I won’t lie. I trained really hard for that tournament. The first International Tournament for Artistic Martial Arts in Paris, on the other hand, attracted a lot of the best competitors, so my silver cup win there actually carries a lot more significance for me.”

In this screenshot from a "Circus Smirkus" video, Stork prepares to run and dive through a ring of swords and fire. (Photo: David Duffin)

Amazing! In this screenshot from a “Circus Smirkus” video, Stork prepares to run and dive through an octagon of swords and fire. (Photo: David Duffin)

TJR: You began training in “circus and variety arts” at age 13. Could you tell us about your years performing with Circus Smirkus? What memories or moments stand out the most?

“Performing with Circus Smirkus was the best time of my life. The truth is, I try not to think about it too much anymore because I need to get over it. Look at it this way: You’re a kid, you get to train with incredible coaches from exotic, foreign lands, then travel around New England all summer doing awesome, well produced shows in a real circus tent with a bunch of other kids you get along with really well. It sounds like a fantasy book for children except it’s real. We were actually living something as cool as ‘Harry Potter.’ There were too many incredible, awesome, funny experiences to try and pick out just a few. Sorry!”

Stork in a screenshot from his commercial for Burger King and Dragonball Z.

TV Time— Stork in a screenshot from his commercial for Burger King and Dragonball Z.

TJR: No problem. Let’s change the topic. Tell us about your TV commercial for Burger King (see HERE). How old were you in that, how did you land the part, what was it like, etc.?

“I found out about the audition through Mike Chat. They were looking for kids around my age (14) with my type of martial arts/acrobatic experience. Mike had me and a couple of his other students try out, but I was the only one completely and totally obsessed with ‘Dragonball-Z.’

I remember realizing that the casting directors didn’t know any of the technical, nit-picky things that judges at karate tournaments know. They were just looking for performance, energy, and ‘look.’ So I knocked that audition out of the park! I smiled a lot, threw positive, heroic energy at them, and did plenty of cool mugging/posing for the camera. They ate it up, and I got the part!”

John Stork as "Kismet," prepares to blast away in this scene from the independent film, "Shadow Fury." (Photo: Pathfinder Pictures)

John Stork as “Kismet,” prepares to blast away in this scene from the independent film, Shadow Fury. (Photo: Pathfinder Pictures)

TJR: In 2001, you appeared in the independent film, Shadow Fury. We found a short clip of a fight scene with you in it over on YouTube (view HERE). Tell us about working on that project.

“That was another part I got through Mike Chat. Makoto Yokoyama, the director of ‘Shadow Fury,’ was also directing ‘Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue’ at the time, on which Mike was working as the Blue Power Ranger. Mr. Yokoyama asked Mike if he had any students who might be good for two different parts in the film that required kids who could do martial arts. Mike set me and Taylor Lautner up with the parts. We actually play the same character; Taylor is the kid version and I’m the teen version.”

Stork dispatches a hapless opponent with with his martial-art skills (and a hand grenade) in this scene from Shadow Fury. (Photo:

Stork dispatches his hapless opponent with a dazzling display of martial-arts skills in this scene from the film, Shadow Fury. (Photo: Pathfinder Films)

“I actually had to leave Circus Smirkus for three days to fly out to LA and film my scene. It was great working with the Alpha Stunt Team, some of whom I’d already trained with through Mike, and I enjoyed getting to perform a lot of my own fight choreography under their expert tutelage. However, coming right from Smirkus, it was really jarring for me how choppy and disconnected filming felt in comparison to performing for a live audience. It’s very stop and go.”

Stork's fight scene in Shadow Fury ends when he flips his opponent into a ditch with a hand grenade (only ONE walks away). (Photo: Pathfinder Pictures)

Stork’s fight scene in Shadow Fury ends when he flips his opponent into a ditch (with a hand grenade) and only ONE walks away. (Photo: Pathfinder Pictures)

“Up until that summer, I’d always thought I was going to try and be a martial arts movie star. Filming ‘Shadow Fury’ in the midst of my first summer at Smirkus brought about a major change of heart in my teen-aged self. I decided to shift my focus to LIVE entertainment. Even if I eventually wound up trying to be in movies, I figured I should learn how to entertain real people first, otherwise I’d have no idea what to do in front of a camera. I needed to develop a sense for what people liked. Filming ‘Shadow Fury’ felt like ‘flying blind’ compared to what I was doing back at Circus Smirkus.”

johnstorkP

Ironically, animated “freeze frames” from WWTBASH (transitions used when going to commercial breaks) seemed to turn Stork into the very type of Manga comic character he now yearns to create. (Art: Syfy)

TJR: You chose to pursue a career in show-business rather than attending college. Was that a hard decision for you to make? And do you now have any regrets?

“I think whatever money my parents may have had for putting me through college was used on the exceptional training I received as a teen. Therefore, in a way, I feel I kind of already went to college; a special, early college that was very specific to exactly what I wanted to be doing at the time. However, at this point, I would not mind attending a real college, to learn about animation. My ultimate dream is to write and direct for animation someday. As I mentioned before, my latest plan is to team up with an artist and try to turn some of my screenwriting into Japanese style comics (manga), with the hope that those comics can either help me sell the screenplays they’re based on, or help me get into an animation school. Maybe both! We’ll see.”

ufcfighter

UFC champion, George St. Pierre. (Photo: The Sun)

TJR: What are your thoughts about “Ultimate Fighting?” Is that considered to be a “martial-art?”

“I think it’s great and that it most certainly is a martial art. I don’t follow it very closely like some of my friends, or my Mom, but I do enjoy it when I see it. My favorite competitor is George St. Pierre. As a kid, I enjoyed ground fighting/grappling. Though we only touched on it lightly at my dojo, it felt more natural to me than standing up and duking it out.”

Working as a street performer, or "busker," John Stork was photographed recently performing his amazing stair-stacking routine in Burlington, VT. (Photo: John Stork, exclusively for The Joe Report)

Working as a street performer, or “busker,” John Stork was photographed recently performing his amazing stair-stacking routine in Burlington, VT. (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

TJR: Since you’re famous now, have you thought about moving out to LA and pursuing a career in the entertainment industry there? Perhaps as a TV action star or movie stuntman?

“As far as moving to LA goes, the honest-to-God truth is, I can’t stand cities. I’m a country boy. Also, my passion is not to be in front of the camera anymore. I think the best thing for me is to focus on the craft of screenwriting and write some solid scripts. Vermont is a nice place to do that. Also, I make my living as a street performer, and there just aren’t that many places in America where you can make a successful living as a ‘busker.’ Burlington, VT is one of the few, and it’s easy to get to the country from here. Nature is only 10 minutes away. Plus, street performing in LA was terrible! I’ve also worked at Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market in Boston, which is arguably the best place to busk in the world, but I couldn’t hack the traffic! Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado is a pitch I’d be interested in trying.”

storkkick

Stork executes a perfect flying karate kick in this promotional photo for Who Wants to be a Superhero? At the time, he was at the height of his athletic strength and prowess. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: You seem to be extremely physically fit. Would you describe yourself as a “health nut” or simply a naturally gifted athlete? And what do you do to keep your superhero physique? Do you have a special diet and/or exercise regimen?

“Correction: I USED to be extremely physically fit. Now I just get by. And I’m definitely not a ‘health nut,’ nor am I a naturally-gifted athlete. I was one of the LEAST athletic kids going up through the ranks at my karate dojo. My physical prowess came from years of hard work, determination, and expensive private lessons.

I do have a fascination with nutrition though, nurtured by Mike Chat. He took a very ‘sports science’ approach to training his students, which included a lot of nutritional data and advice. When I first started training with him I was still a little chubby, so I really soaked up what he had to say and I still have a fascination with nutrition to this day. I’m more interested in living and eating healthy now, than I am in being some sort of super athlete. At this point, ‘Walden’ is probably my favorite book on diet and exercise. Yup. I’m definitely a Vermonter.”

johnstorkO

Stork’s muscular “superhero” physique as seen on WWTBASH. (Photo: Syfy)

“When I was in the best shape of my life, what got me there was passion. I was obsessed with martial arts, acrobatics, and performing, NOT with being in shape. Physical fitness was just a result of pursuing those things. Because of that, exercising just for the sake of exercising has always felt weird to me.”

In this animated "freeze-frame" from WWTBASH, Stork flashes his famous "V" sign, looking every bit like the martial-art Manga characters he so idolizes. (Photo: Syfy)

In this animated “freeze-frame” from WWTBASH, Stork flashes his famous “V” sign, looking every bit like the martial-art Manga characters he so enjoys. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: You often flash a “V” or a “Peace” sign at the end of a gymnastics run or karate routine. It’s almost become sort of a John Stork trademark. When did you start using that hand gesture and does it hold any special meaning for you?

“Characters in anime, manga, and I guess just Japanese culture in general, flash that sign a lot. When they do it, it’s a happy, victorious thing. I liked it and it felt very positive to me, so I adopted it for Super Impact Man and subsequently Hyper-Strike. I also wanted those two characters to be readily associated with anime, manga, and video games, and the peace/victory sign seemed as close to a universal symbol for those things at the time as I could find.”

Screenshot of sign used during contestant auditions for WWTBAS.

Screenshot of a sign used during contestant auditions for WWTBASH. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Let’s talk about your experiences on Stan Lee’s, Who Wants to be a Superhero? TV program on the Syfy Channel. First, let me just congratulate you for coming in second-place. Fantastic job, sir! What was it like trying out for the show? What did you have to do, where did you have to go, and what kind of reactions did you get from the producers, Stan Lee, etc..? Walk us through those experiences, please.

“Thank you. It was a blast. I actually sent in an audition tape for Season 1 and they called me, but didn’t end up choosing me. A circus friend of mine had heard about the show and told me I should try out since I pretty much already had all of the work done already (I was performing as Super Impact Man at the time).”

An obviously thrilled John Stork reacted VERY enthusiastically when told he had been selected for the show. (Photo: Syfy)

An obviously thrilled John Stork reacted VERY enthusiastically when told he had been selected for the show. (Photo: Syfy)

“I didn’t even apply for Season 2! They’d kept my video on file and just called me out of the blue. Of course I was still interested and they flew me out to LA for the live auditions. The audition went well and I was personally interviewed by the casting director and the executive producer afterward (not by Stan Lee directly). I remember the casting director really liked me but the executive producer wasn’t so sure. Guess he decided to give me a chance in the end.”

Stork executing a superb flying split-kick while performing as his first alter-ego, "Super Impact Man." (Photo: John Stork)

Stork executes a superb flying split-kick while performing as his first alter-ego, “Super Impact Man.” The name and costume would all change before his appearance on the show.(Photo: John Stork)

A Japanese Manga influence was clearly evident in the design of Stork's "Super Impact Man" costume, right down to its distinctive "rising sun" headband. (Photo: John Stork)

A Japanese Manga influence was clearly evident in the design of Stork’s “Super Impact Man” costume, right down to its distinctive “rising sun” headband. (Photo: John Stork)

TJR: Tell us about changing your superhero name from “Super Impact Man” to “Hyper-Strike.” When and how did that happen, and who came up with the name?

“There was quite a bit of paperwork to process once they wanted me on the show, and it turned out that they’d end up owning the rights to whatever character I ended up playing on the show. I had big plans for Super Impact Man in the circus, so I wanted to hold onto that name and character. I talked with the executive producer and he was fine with me changing my name and keeping the rights to Super Impact Man. We discussed what we both wanted from the new name, then I went off on my own and came up with Hyper-Strike, which we both really liked. As far as what my thoughts were in coming up with the name Hyper-Strike, I’m sad to say I haven’t the foggiest recollection. However, that’s probably because as soon as I came up with Hyper-Strike, all the others disappeared in my mind. I instantly knew it was the one. THAT I remember.”

Stork's disappointment upon seeing his new "Hyper-Strike" costume for the first time is clearly visible on his face. However, over time, his attitude toward the new look would change. (Photo: Syfy)

Stork’s disappointment upon seeing his new “Hyper-Strike” costume for the first time was clearly visible on his face. He was honest with Stan about “missing his old costume,” but over time, his attitude and approval changed. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Let’s talk about the Hyper-Strike costume. On the show, when you first look in the mirror at your new tights, what thoughts were going through your mind? Why did you prefer your original costume over Stan’s design? Clearly, the new Hyper-Strike costume left very little to the imagination. Was that a problem for you, “modesty-wise?” Were there ever any embarrassing moments around the ladies, if you know what we mean? <ahem>

“My first thought was ‘Oh, crap… I’m gonna be wearing this for weeks on national television… DON’T DO THIS TO ME!!!!!’ I just didn’t want every contour of my body becoming common household knowledge across the nation, and I guess that was the line the new design crossed that the old one didn’t. I wasn’t really embarrassed about my body, but I didn’t want the costume to be distracting or silly at all. I wanted people to focus on other things, like my personality and performance. I felt very…exposed.”

Clearly uncomfortable in his new "tights," the normally outgoing Stork became reticent and withdrawn for a time, until his fellow contestants convinced him his new look was SUPER indeed! We wonder what Stan thought of THIS behavior? (Photo: Syfy)

Clearly uncomfortable in his new costume’s tights, the normally outgoing Stork became uncharacteristically withdrawn for a time, until his fellow contestants convinced him that his new “look” was indeed, SUPER. (We wonder what Stan thought of THIS behavior?) (Photo: Syfy)

“Everyone around me, male and female, was very encouraging and told me it looked good. I didn’t know if they were just trying to make me feel better, but either way they were all very polite. So no, there were no ’embarrassing moments’ with the ladies. We spent so much time in our costumes while filming the show, I’d say at least 12 hours a day, that they became like a second skin. I didn’t even notice after a few days, so I’m sure no one else did either. My ‘dance belt’ (athletic supporter undergarment) on the other hand…”

Stork pointlessly searches through a stranger's shopping bag during a public challenge that was intended to embarrass and confuse the contestants. (Photo: Syfy)

Stork pointlessly searches through a stranger’s shopping bag during a public challenge that was intended to embarrass and confuse the contestants. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: During the “Evil Stan” episode in the park, it didn’t seem as if you were fooled too badly. You looked through a lady’s bag once, shouted your superhero name, and did a few flips. Not much harm done. Did you catch on that something was amiss and begin to refuse Evil Stan’s unheroic requests?

“As you say, he didn’t have me do anything too nefarious, so no, I didn’t catch on. I thought the requests were kind of weird, but I figured ‘Real Stan’ would have some brilliant explanation at the end of it all that would make everything clear. Instead, it was ‘Evil Stan’ who made everything clear. Good thing I didn’t do really bad stuff.”

In a rare mistep, Stork chose to reveal his secret identity to children in the classroom. (Photo: Syfy)

In a rare misstep, Stork chose to reveal his secret identity to some children in the classroom. D’oh! (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Even though you say you studied the DVDs of Season 1 to avoid making the same mistakes they did, you STILL gave away your secret identity in the classroom, with a camera only a few feet away from your face! What happened there?

“I knew exactly what I was doing. I made an executive decision there. I told that kid my real name because they were embarrassed about theirs. I used to get picked on about my last name all the time when I was in school. I figured if the kid saw that I also had a weird name that I used to be embarrassed about, and that I’d somehow overcome that adversity and grown up to be a superhero, it might inspire him. The chance to give the kid some real-life confidence seemed more important to me than winning first place on a TV show. It seemed like the real-life superhero thing to do, even though I knew I’d catch flack for it. I had a hunch they’d keep me in the end.”

Despite his secret identity gaffe, Stork's experience and comfort working with children (easily) made him the class favorite, and enabled him to overcome the mistake in Stan's eyes. (Photo: Syfy)

Despite his secret identity gaffe, Stork’s experience and comfort working with children easily made him the class favorite, and enabled him to overcome the mistake in Stan’s eyes. (Photo: Syfy)

Stork sits on his bed and listens as "Mindset" and "Ms. Limelight" slowly begin to argue. Staying out of other contestant's personality conflicts proved to be a wise decision on his part. (Photo: Syfy)

Stork sits on his bed and listens as Mindset and Ms. Limelight slowly begin to argue. Staying out of other contestant’s conflicts proved to be a wise decision. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: What was it like living in such a “Big Brother” type setting? Were the TV cameras on 24-7? Were they hidden? How did “living in a fishbowl” affect you and your fellow contestants psychologically? Did you ever decide to just “clam up,” like Mr. Mitzvah?

“The cameras were off when we slept, but that’s about it. There was a combination of hidden cameras and shoulder mounted television cameras. As a performer, I loved all the attention, so no, I never clammed up. That being said, even my bulging showboat muscle was worn out by the end of the three weeks it took to film all eight episodes. I think it’s a common reality TV tactic to try and get your contestants to go a little crazy. ‘Who Wants to Be a Superhero?’ was no exception. It was fun though. It never got too miserable. I treated it like a game that I called, “DON’T CRACK,” and tried to apply my own loopiness (not a real word) to my performance.”

Toward the end of the competition, Stork began to tire somewhat and stares down blankly through a glass table, not really seeing (or caring anymore) about the show's ubiquitous TV cameras. (Photo: Syfy)

Nearing the end, Stork stares down blankly through a glass table, not really seeing (or caring anymore) about the show’s ubiquitous TV cameras. (Photo: Syfy)

“As time wore on, and I got more and more exhausted, the experience became more and more surreal and trippy. Which was kind of fun. I don’t remember getting especially weirded out by the constant presence of cameras. The thing that got to me was they took away all our books and music. THAT made me a little crazy. We played a lot of ping-pong!”

Stork holds up the sign that was mounted on his bed in the "lair" during the show. He was allowed to keep it and his Stan Lee-designed costume as souveniers of the show. (Photo: John Stork)

Stork holds up the sign that was mounted on his bed in the “lair” during the show. He was allowed to keep it and his Stan Lee-designed costume as souvenirs of the show. (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

TJR: Fans have been wondering what “life in the lair” was like for many years. Simple questions like: Did all 10 of you really sleep in the same room? If so, was that ever uncomfortable or no big deal? Was there a specific time for “lights out?” Did you get enough sleep?

“We did all sleep in the lair, yeah. The beds you see on the show were our real beds. I still have the sign that was hanging above mine. I didn’t really feel weird about the sleeping situation. It was like being a kid at a superhero themed sleep over, or a summer camp. It WAS a little eerie, as there were less and less people though. And yes, there was a set ‘lights out’ time each night where they would literally just turn out the lights. They wanted to make sure we got our sleep because we were on such a rigorous schedule. I’d say we got 6 or 7 hours each night. Life on the show was pretty exciting though, so I don’t think it bothered any of us too much. We all knew we’d be returning to normal life all too soon!”

Welcome to a reality of "Reality-TV." Ten contestants, all sleeping in the same room. According to Stork, the only time cameras in the lair were off, was when they were sleeping. (Photo: Syfy)

Welcome to a reality of “Reality-TV.” Ten contestants, all sleeping in the same room. According to Stork, the only time cameras in the lair were off, was when they were sleeping. (Photo: Syfy)

Whenever Stan gave out his orders, Stork was often the first superhero to strike a pose and yell out, "Let's GO!!!" (Photo: Syfy)

Whenever Stan gave his orders, Stork was often the first contestant to strike a superhero pose and then enthusiastically yell out, “Let’s GO!!!” (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: What was a typical day’s shooting schedule like? Was there time for you to keep up your own personal fitness routine? Or were everyone’s activities strictly regimented and controlled?

“When exactly we started and finished each day varied, but we worked a full day, every day, and then some. And yes, our time was strictly regimented. Even when we had ‘free time’ there were still cameras on us. The schedule was so hectic and many of the challenges were so physical, I don’t think anyone was looking for any extra exercise. The whole show was definitely an endurance run. I think we all understood that and, furthermore, we were all in it to win it. We had all seen the first season and were consequently prepared for anything. That one guy (‘Levity,’ from Season 1) didn’t even make it into the lair!”

"Fueled" with pasta from the Olive Garden, Stork and his fellow heroes listen as Stan describes their next mission at Six Flags California—aboard aa rollercoaster! (Photo: Syfy)

“Fueled” with pasta from the Olive Garden, Stork and his fellow heroes listen as Dr. Dark reveals their next mission at Six Flags California—is on a rollercoaster! (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: And what about food? Did everyone make their own meals, or was food prepared for you?

“They would bring in food for us from different places. Plus there were snacks like fruit put out for us that we could grab any time. That’s when I learned to like oranges. I remember we had catering from Olive Garden one time. That was while we were at Six Flags. Nothing fuels a superhero like fettucini alfredo and unlimited breadsticks!”

The superheroes could see, listen, and TALK to Stan via TV monitors hung throughout the lair. Very cool. (Photo: Syfy)

The superheroes could see, listen, and TALK to Stan via TV monitors hung throughout the lair. But where was he really during this time? (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Where was the show filmed? There’s also a little mystery and debate among fans as to where Stan Lee really was during shooting. Was he nearby, or was he in another studio clear across town? It’d be a little bit of a buzzkill to think he was just sitting downstairs the whole time.

“We filmed the show all over LA. To this day, I have no idea where Stan’s scenes were filmed. We got to meet him a few times in person outside of the show, at photo shoots and whatnot. He’s a real charming guy.”

Stork and other heroes stop to LOOK dramatically at their "wrist communicators." (Photo: Syfy)

Stork and other heroes stop to LOOK dramatically at their “wrist communicators.” (Photo: Syfy)

A super-closeup of Parthenon's "wrist communicator" with video of Stan Lee. (Photo: Syfy)

And…a close-up! (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Here’s a chance to “burst some bubbles” for the less tech-savvy among us. When you looked at your wrist communicators, did anything actually appear there, or were you just told to act like it was?

“This is the kind of stuff we’re not technically meant to tell anyone, but, it’s been so long, I can probably get away with it. <DRUMROLL> No! It was just a green screen on our wrist communicators! (I feel so dirty…)”

TJR: Ha! Tell us about all the night shooting. Was it cold up there on the rooftop during eliminations? Many of the contestants (but not you) often seemed to be shivering.

“It wasn’t always cold, but sometimes it was FREEZING. As far as me not shaking goes, what can I say? I’m a professional entertainer and I’ve done a lot of performing outdoors with no roof over my head.”

Now THIS is good television! Three handsome heroes in brightly colored spandex, standing on the rooftop of the secret "lair," waiting for their fates to be decided by none other than Stan "The Man" Lee. Cool! (Photo: Syfy)

Now THIS is good television! 3 handsome heroes in brightly colored spandex, standing on the rooftop of a secret “lair,” waiting for their fates to be decided by none other than Stan “The Man” Lee. (Photo: Syfy)

Even after 6 years, Stork has no "dirt" to dish on his fellow contestants. Despite being in competition, they all got along and helped one another. (Photo: Syfy)

Even after 6 years, Stork has no “dirt” to dish on his fellow contestants. Despite being in competition with one another, they all got along quite well. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Here’s your chance to make some headlines and stir the fires a bit… It’s been over 6 years since the show. Were there any juicy tidbits, or embarrassing and/or memorable moments that ended up on the “cutting room floor” that you can now share with fans?

“You’re bad. Well, the lair was infested with—rats! Sorry. I don’t really have any dirt. The rats were the dirtiest thing. Honestly though, when you’re calling a place ‘the lair,’ I don’t think you can be too surprised when rats show up. It’s part and parcel with the name. I’ll also say that the ‘honey’ that was dropped on us was actually cheap syrup, like the kind you get on your short stack at the local greasy-spoon diner. I know that’s not very ‘sensational,’ but I remember thinking it was semi-weird or even ‘fraudulent’ at the time.”

Stork donned goggles, a helmet, and elbow pads before holding his breath as he attempts to reach the shut-off valve during the first major challenge. (Photo: Syfy)

Stork donned goggles, a helmet, and elbow pads before holding his breath as he attempts to reach the water shut-off valve during the first major challenge. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: During the “Waterworks” challenge you were nearly drowned by torrents of wind and water. During the “Bee Sting” challenge, you were trapped in a box with thousands of stinging honey bees. Normally, that would be enough to make most people want to quit immediately. But surprisingly, no one did. Did that surprise you? And what are your memories (good and bad) about those experiences?

“Yeah, you know, I was kind of shocked by how ‘gung-ho’ everyone was at the beginning. Even with the first challenge, in the wind tunnel with the water. It was INCREDIBLY loud and uncomfortable. I felt like I barely made it through and I was a spry young man. And after the spelling bee challenge, I knew everyone was FULLY committed. No one was going to give up of their own accord. As I said before, I think that having seen the first season helped get us all mentally prepared and fired up to take on virtually ANY challenge, or to at least to keep an open mind.”

Easily the most popular villain to appear on the show, the delightfully evil, "Bee Sting" (played masterfully by actress Anna Easteden), wreaked havoc on the contestants by unleashing thousands of real bees and then dumping barrels full of syrup on them, ruining their superhero costumes. (Photo: Syfy)

Easily the most popular villain to appear on the show, the delightfully evil, “Bee Sting” (played masterfully by actress Anna Easteden), wreaked havoc on the contestants by unleashing thousands of real bees and then dumping barrels full of syrup on them, ruining their superhero costumes. (Photo: Syfy)

Stork enduring 100,000 bees (and a few stings) during the show's Season 2 "Spelling Bee" competition. (Photo: Syfy)

Stork enduring thousands of bees (and a few stings) during the show’s Season 2 “Spelling Bee” competition. (Photo: Syfy)

“I, for whatever reason, was not very freaked out by the bee challenge. It made me uncomfortable, but I knew I could control my nerves. I was more worried about someone else in the box freaking out and making the bees go into a frenzy, so I did my best to try and keep everyone calm. I also remember thinking what a clever idea for a challenge it was, having us do a spelling bee covered in bees, but that comes with being an entertainer.”

Stork performing flips and stunts while hanging from suspension wires in front of a special effects "green screen." With all of his previous circus experience, it was (as he earlier predicted), "a piece of cake." (Photo: Syfy)

Stork performing flips and stunts while hanging from suspension wires in front of a special effects “green screen.” With all of his previous circus experience, it was (as he had predicted), “a piece of cake.” (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: What was it like filming those fights, stunts and special effects sequences with Balls Mahoney and stuntman Jon Valera? It seems they would’ve seen your vast potential and recommended that you stay on in Hollywood and work in films. Did you discuss any such ideas?

“I actually already knew Jon Valera before the show. He and my teacher Mike Chat were fierce but friendly rivals on the same elite sport karate team. As I mentioned earlier, I’m not naturally athletic. It takes me forever to teach my body new things and it usually only goes along kicking and screaming. On the other hand, I’m pretty darn good at making things look easy for me once I’ve learned them, but that’s my talent as a performer, not an athlete. I would be a terrible stuntman! Shooting a film, you don’t have time to practice. You have to be able to adapt and improvise how you risk your life on the spot. I only risk my life after LOTS of practice to seriously hedge my bets. I love life too much!”

Stork sharing a final hug with fellow contestants Jarret "The Defuser" Crippen and Melody "Hygena" Mooney. (Photo: Syfy)

Stork shares a final hug with fellow finalists, Jarret Crippen and Melody Mooney. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Did you forge any lasting friendships with your fellow WWTBASH contestants? And have you seen any of them recently?

“Unfortunately, no. But it’s not because I wouldn’t have liked to, or because I didn’t like anyone on the show. I’m just terrible at staying in touch. Hygena (Melody Mooney) and her husband are incredibly friendly. Parthenon (Dan Williams) is funny. I got along well with Mindset (Phillip Allen) and Mr. Mitzvah (Ivan Wilzig). Believe it or not, I had a special connection with Whip Snap (Paula Thomas), despite what happened between us on the show. And I really admire The Diffuser (Jarrett Crippen). He deserved to win. He’d make a WAY better real-life superhero than I would. I can maybe LOOK like one, but he can actually BE one.”

Stork receives congratulations and also bids farewell to fellow contestants Aja De Coudreaux (l), Trisha Paytas (c) and Phillip Allen (r) at the end of their final episode on Who Wants to be a Superhero? (Photo: Syfy)

Stork receiving congratulations and hugs from fellow contestants Aja De Coudreaux (l), Trisha Paytas (c) and Phillip Allen (r) at the end of the final episode of Who Wants to be a Superhero? (Photo: Syfy)

“I guess I’m hesitant to stay in touch with people as a general rule because I’ve met so many over the years traveling and performing. It would be a full-time job to try and keep in contact with them all. Also, it pains me when you try to keep a friendship going long distance and it just sort of withers on the vine. For me, that’s even more sad than just going your separate ways. I’d rather leave things where they were than play with shadows, if that makes any sense.”

Stork plots his next move while standing on the show's intimidating "cubes of elimination." (Photo: Syfy)

Stork plotting his next move while standing on the show’s intimidating “cubes of elimination.” (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Your final self-defense speech, when you declared, “You SHOULDN’T put me through…” was a masterstroke of counter-psychology that probably helped keep you on the show. Had you thought about what you were going to say ahead of time or did you just blurt it out?

“Ha! I totally planned that. Entertainment is my business. I stood on that little cube the whole time knowing I had a zinger up my sleeve.”

Stork and fellow performer, Sam Johnson (of "America's Got Talent") perpare to execute Stork's famous chair-stacking feat during one of their many outdoor performances. (Photo:)

After WWTBASH, Stork returned to street performing. Here,with the assistance of his good friend and fellow busker, Sam Johnson (recently of “America’s Got Talent”), he prepares to perform his famous chair-stacking feat during one of many outdoor performances. (Photo: Randy)

TJR: Do you ever make appearances at comic cons as Hyper-Strike? It seems like you would be a natural with all of your experience entertaining crowds, especially crowds of superhero fans. Any memorable interactions with fans at such events?

“I never really got into the convention scene. Back when conventions and agents were approaching me to make appearances, I was in way over my head trying to street perform in LA. I was really stubborn. It was going terribly out there, but my answer to that was to just drop everything else and channel all my energy into forcing it to work. I bashed my head against a wall for months and barely scraped by. I got so low on cash, before I left LA, I ended up selling ‘star maps’ on Hollywood Boulevard for about a week. I could make more money doing that than I could street performing at the time!”

By the end of the feat, Stork executes a hand-stand on top of 5 stacked chairs. AMAZING! (Photo: Randy)

By the end of his stair-stacking feat, Stork tops it off by executing an uneven hand-stand. AMAZING! (Photo: Randy)

“I have a one-track mind and I become fanatical about things I want to do. My obsession at the time was learning how to street perform in LA, so I guess nothing else could happen. DUMB. I wouldn’t be against going to conventions now, especially to help promote my search for manga artists. However, I don’t think too many people remember Hyper-Strike.”

TJR: Well, obviously we disagree about that! Tell us about your “Karate Comedy Act.” I saw a short clip you had posted of it over on YouTube (HERE) and enjoyed it very much.

“Oh, thank you so much. If I were to continue on with theatrical circus performing, this is the act I’d do it with. I spent years trying to develop an act I’d be happy with, but all of my ideas were overly ambitious. I liked to come up with titanic productions in my mind that I was never able to pull off, at least not to my satisfaction.

The ‘Karate Comedy Act’ is the result of a lot of those ideas boiled down over many years to something DOABLE. Ironically, the act may now be TOO simple, since I’m not that interested in doing it anymore. That’s what I like about writing though now. I don’t feel limited. Whatever I imagine, I can just write. That being said, I really am proud of that little Karate Comedy Act, so thank you. Thank you for noticing! (This interview has become very emotional all of a sudden.)”

Another "freeze-frame" animation used in the show. (Photo: Syfy)

Another Hyper-Strike “freeze-frame” animation used in the show, Who Wants to be a Superhero? (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: On the final episode of the show, Stan Lee said this of you:

“Hyper-Strike, you’re here because you fired our imaginations. You think and move, like a true superhero. You’re fearless, honest, and forthcoming.”

And after you had lost, you demonstrated true sportsmanship and real humility when you said:

John Stork today.  (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

John Stork today. (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

“I had my chance. I made the best I could with it, and hey, 2nd place ain’t bad.”

Obviously, there’s a lot more to John Stork than just a flashy costume and some back flips. Tell us about your core moral values, ethics and beliefs, and where they came from. Besides being naturally gifted, what made you the man you are today?

“This is a big question and I don’t want to delve into my personal politics or religious ideas here, but I do have core convictions and concrete philosophical ideas that I try my best to live by and continually improve.

RESPECT is probably number one, not just for others, but for yourself as well. Self-respect could be the single most valuable commodity in existence, but I think it only works if you have a diligent conscience.

I think you get your conscience from your parents, and inadequate parenting is probably the most serious problem in society today. I had great parents, so I’m very lucky.

I also had a great dojo where values like discipline, respect, hard work, doing the right thing, and brains over brawn were constantly espoused. On top of the school creeds (which were emblazoned on the walls), we had a message of the week, every week. That, for me anyway, was a good environment to grow up in.”

Stork is in full "busking" mode as he performs a dangerous leap through a burning ring of fire. Note that his "Money Bucket" is always nearby, ready for donations! (Photo: leventmagic)

Stork is in full “busking” mode as he performs a dangerous leap through a burning ring of fire. Note that his “Money Bucket” is always nearby, ready for donations! (Photo: leventmagic)

TJR: What are your hopes, plans and career goals for the NEXT 6 years? Where do you hope to be and what would you like to be doing?

“In six years, I’d like to be supporting myself with my writing and well on my way to writing AND directing. My ultimate goal is to one day have a studio that produces anime, manga, and video games. If it was also in Vermont, that would be dreamy. I don’t think I made this clear earlier, but my screenwriting and the manga I’m looking to develop are meant to help me move closer to writing and directing for animation. A lot of the concepts I’m planning to develop as manga can later be adapted into anime.”

Despite stating he's no longer drawn to be in front of the cameras, Stork found himself doing just that in a recent regional TV appearance on "The Lake Show with Jack Carpenter." Yes, that's right. We said, the LAKE show. Here, Stork jokes about life as a busker with host, Jack Carpenter. (Photo: Jack Carpenter)

Despite stating he’s no longer drawn to be in front of the cameras, Stork found himself doing just that in a recent regional TV appearance on “The Lake Show with Jack Carpenter.” Yes, that’s right. We said, the LAKE show. Here, Stork jokes about life as a busker with host, Jack Carpenter. (Photo: Jack Carpenter)

Hyper-Strike animation from the opening credits sequence of WWTBASH. (Photo: Syfy)

Hyper-Strike’s eye-popping animation sequence from the opening credits of WWTBASH. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: On Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, you offered your fans the following advice, “Pursue your passions. Whatever you love to do—DO IT. And then completely devote yourself to it.” Now, over six years later, would you amend or add to that advice in any way?

“I would throw in that it helps when things love you back. I think it’s good to know what you love, but also to be aware of what your natural strengths are. Sometimes, you’re better off going with something you really like that likes you back and leaving unrequited love for the birds. I don’t know if I actually follow that advice though. In some ways, ever since I discovered it, anime has been my greatest love. (Don’t tell my girlfriend I said that.) It remains to be seen whether I have any natural talent in that arena, but I’m still putting everything I have into it.”

It’s nice to think things are super black and white when you’re young, and if they’re not, to think you can make them black and white. Now, I think it’s better to at least be aware of the spectrum. Use your knowledge of the spectrum to navigate to your favorite color. If you try to shut out the other colors, or pretend they’re not there, it doesn’t work so well. Ignoring reality is a slippery slope. No one lives in a test tube, yet it’s easy to philosophize in one. In short, I think it’s important to have a favorite color. My favorite color is GREEN.”

A prototype cover for a 'Hyper-Strike" comic book promising fans "Martial Arts Mayhem!" Trivia Note: The costume is the one Stan Lee designed, but the headband uses Stork's own Japanese "rising sun" design that he had created for use with his "Super Impact Man" costume. (Photo: Dark Horse Comics)

This prototype cover for a ‘Hyper-Strike” comic book promised fans “Martial Arts Mayhem!” Trivia Note: The costume is the one Stan Lee designed, but the headband uses Stork’s own Japanese “rising sun” design that he had created for use with his “Super Impact Man” costume. (Photo: Dark Horse Comics)

TJR: At your public performances, do you sign autographs and sell souvenirs afterward? How about online? Is there a website where fans can go to purchase John Stork, Hyper-Strike or Super-Impact Man videos, T-shirts, coffee mugs, etc.?

“Ha! There has never been a John Stork, Impact Man, or Hyper-Strike product line, but that probably has to do with there never having been a serious demand for those types of goods. I’m just responding to the market. I finally have a business card though. This is a major step for me.”

TJR: Do you have an agent, or are you self-represented? If someone wanted to hire you for a performance or personal appearance, how should they contact you?

“At the moment, I’m self-represented. I do have a website that focuses on my live performances HERE. That website would be the best way to get in touch with me if you wanted to hire me for a gig. My Hyper-Strike Facebook page (HERE) is another fine way to bend my ear.”

When not busking, Stork appears with the juggling and circus comedy act know as "The Piccoali Trio," along with bob smilh (l) and joy som (c). (Photo: The Pic trio)

When not busking, Stork (r) appears with the juggling/comedy act known as “The Piccolini Trio,” with fellow performers, Joshua Shack (l) and Joy Powers (c). (Photo: The Piccolini Trio)

TJR: Where is the next place fans can go to see John Stork performing, LIVE and in-person?

“More than likely I’ll be street performing on Church Street here in Burlington, VT next Spring, Summer, and Fall. Friday nights, Saturday afternoons, and Saturday evenings are the best times to catch me. I’m also in an intimate circus/theatrical clown show known as the Piccolini Trio (quite a bit different from Hyper-Strike). You can get details HERE and HERE. I should also mention that one of my best friends, Sam Johnson, who recently appeared on ‘America’s Got Talent’ HERE, is looking to create his own reality-TV series about street performers. He’s been filming the pilot episode here in Burlington, and it’s going to be centered around me, my street show, and Greg, a very kind homeless man who helps me out. He will most likely release the episode online soon. For more information, go HERE, or look for ‘Street Performers with Sam Johnson’ on Facebook.

This close-up of Stork's one-of-a-kind, 1:6 scale Hyper-Strike action figure reveals his handcrafted costume and custom headsculpt. WOWZA! (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

This close-up of Stork’s one-of-a-kind, 1:6 scale Hyper-Strike figure from customizer herobuilders.com, reveals a handcrafted costume and custom headsculpt.(Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

TJR: Finally, while we’re obviously very interested in superheroes, The Joe Report’s primary focus is on GIjOEs and 1:6 scale action figures. Therefore, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the personal gift you received from Stan Lee: a custom-made, 1:6 scale, Hyper-Strike action figure from Herobuilders.com! Did you play with or collect action figures when you were young? If so, which were your favorites and why?

“I loved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures when I was little (surprise!). I’ve never been into very straightforward, or ‘realistic’ things. The Turtles were cool to me because they were anthropomorphic, GREEN, and into martial arts. Another toy I thought was cool, although not an action figure, was ‘Monster In My Pocket.’ Kind of a precursor to Pokemon, I guess. And one more… Although these were only around when I was REALLY young: ‘Dino Riders!’ I had the T-Rex and the Triceratops, but I would always lose the armor and gun parts and just be left with the dinosaurs and the little dudes, and then it was basically just Jurassic Park. Wow. ‘Monster In My Pocket’ and ‘Dino Riders.’ You just sent me on one heck of a trip down Memory Lane!”

Stork's life today is an exciting mixture of thrilling street performances and theatrical circus comedy shows. In the rare moments he has at home, he's busy working on manga scripts and screenplays. (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

Stork’s life today is an exciting mixture of thrilling street performances and theatrical circus comedy shows. In the rare moments he has at home, he’s busy working on his all-new, all-original manga scripts and screenplays. (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

John Stork, 27, aka "Hyper-Strike" from the 2007 SyFy series, Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, in a photo taken exclusively for The Joe Report on October 8, 2013, reveals Stork has hardly aged a day since the show ended. At our request, he donned the original costume tights created for him by the show's wardrobe department, and holds up the custom-made action figure of himself built by Herobuilders.com. Outstanding! (Photo: John Stork)

John Stork, 27, aka “Hyper-Strike” from the 2007 SyFy series, Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, in a photo taken exclusively for The Joe Report on October 8, 2013, reveals Stork has hardly aged a day since the show ended. At our request, he donned the original costume tights created for him by the show’s wardrobe department, and holds up the custom-made action figure of himself built by Herobuilders.com. Outstanding! (Photo: John Stork, exclusive to The Joe Report)

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks to Mr. Stork for making this in-depth interview possible. If you’d like to leave a comment about anything in this article, please do so below. We wish Mr. Stork all the best in his future endeavors and will follow-up this report with another Who Wants to be a Superhero? contestant interview soon. Where are they all now and what are they doing? Stay tuned superhero, comic book and action figure fans, Coming up next—one of the women! Ex-CELSIOR!

At 9,000 Words & 60 Color Photos (6 Exclusive!), Upcoming Interview With John Stork, aka “Hyper-Strike” Will Be Biggest Joe Report Article EVER!

hyperbannertjrsiteA short word from the Editor:

Greetings from the Bullpen! Usually, we like to keep things here at The Joe Report short and sweet. But our upcoming interview with celebrity John Stork, aka “Hyper-Strike” from Syfy TV’s “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” took on a life of its own and became the largest, most in-depth article we’ve ever produced. In fact, this project eventually became SO extensive, we had to call in our entire staff, and superheroic efforts on all of their parts were required to finish it by press time.

Similarly, we weren’t sure if Mr. Stork could handle everything we were throwing at him. But as on the show, he stoically stood his ground, clenched his fists, and with great grit and determination quickly fired his answers back to our proofreader’s inbox, where soon we were looking at REAMS of exciting “Q&A.” By now, you’re probably asking, “What’s the Bottom Line?” Well, if you’re at all interested in action figures, superheroes, comic books, martial arts, manga, or reality television, then you’re going to LOVE reading this interview! Be sure to check back on Monday, November 25, 2013; because here at The Joe Report“It’s Always FUN. And It’s Always FREE!”

£500,000 Grant Awarded to Study UK Children As They Play With G.I. Joe, Action Man & HMAF “Dolls”

3britfigures


Three of the UK’s HMAF action figures. (Photo: Mail Online)

Members of the UK “Economic and Social Research Council” (ESRC) have elected to spend almost a million dollars to study children playing with—as they called them—“dolls.” According to an article published in the UK’s Daily Mail Online, British scientists said that they hope to discover:

“…whether children’s opinions on war and the armed forces are affected by playing with dolls wearing military clothing.”

£500,000 of British taxpayer money will be spent to determine whether dressing Action Man in his camos or other outfits somehow affects a child’s attitude and opinion about war and “Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.” The Mail Online article continues:

“Researchers from the Universities of Portsmouth, Exeter, and Royal Holloway University of London will spend THREE YEARS looking into whether dolls like Action Man help children ‘understand the military.’ They also aim to determine how action figures ‘shape young people’s views on conflict and the armed forces.’

The study will focus on top-selling ‘Her Majesty’s Armed Forces’ (HMAF) dolls. Licensed by the Ministry of Defence. HMAF dolls are based on current British armed forces and come with an assault rifle, radio, flak-jacket, body armour, helmet and goggles.”

Klaus Dodds , professor of geopolitics at Royal Holloway, University of London. (Photo:

Klaus Dodds , professor of geopolitics at Royal Holloway, University of London. (Photo: U of L)

Three YEARS watching kids play with Action Man and HMAF “dolls.” And getting PAID to do it. Not a bad gig! We’re not too familiar with those HMAF figures they mention, and since this article isn’t a “product review,” we’ll just stick with the matters at hand: 1) What the UK scientists hope to accomplish with their study, and 2) How they’ll be spending all those wonderful taxpayer “pounds.” According to Prof. Klaus Dodds:

We will be examining how such toys help shape British attitudes to our armed forces and what ideas children are incorporating from outside sources, such as TV news footage.

Dr. Tara Woodyer

Dr. Tara Woodyer (Photo: U of P)

So…they’re also going to be watching kids…watching the news. Sure, why not? The study’s principal (and very fortunate) investigator, Dr Tara Woodyer, argued for the need of this vital research by explaining:

“Play has frequently been overlooked as irrelevant to how people come to understand the world. Yet it is precisely this apparent banality, the taken for granted nature of play, that allows its role to go unchallenged. Toys, and how children play with them, are not just a response to the world, they help shape our culture. The role of action figure dolls has been unduly neglected, especially given the enormous academic attention focused on their female equivalent—Barbie.

Bottom Line: Here at The Joe Report, we wholeheartedly support the advancement of academic research in a wide variety of topics and fields and wish professors around the world all the best of luck in their pursuit of all possible funding and every available grant opportunity. And you couldn’t find a more supportive group of people or advocates for GIjOE and Action Man-related activities than the worldwide community of collectors that make up 1:6 scale fandom and the readership of The Joe Report. AND… we understand that funding for academic research grants can come from a variety of sources (universities, corporations, private donations, AND public groups). Not living in the UK, we do have to wonder: How do Britains feel about all this? Fortunately, we do have “boots on the ground” in the UK, and according to an initial report from TJR Field Reporter, Alan Dawson:

UK resident and Action Man expert, Alan Dawson (Photo: Mark Otnes)

“They make a good case for why they’re studying it. And it does at least seem that they’ve framed the research sensibly, not trying to prove ‘Action Man makes kids psychotic killers.’ I bet Barbie has had much more spent on research into her ‘effects’ on girls. I can think of worse things to waste it (the ESRC grant money) on.”

If you have an opinion you’d like to share, please leave your comment HERE. Meanwhile, our sincerest congratulations to Dr. Woodyer and all her colleagues on being awarded this VERY large grant. We hope the study “pays off,” and that you learn a lot about our children AND our 12-inch heroes! (Editor’s Note): According to the article, for those who will be eagerly awaiting the study’s results:

Researchers are expected to report their findings in 2016, shortly after the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan.”

G.I. Joe Collectors Club Announces First Official “50th Anniversary” Commemorative Products

"Move along, folks. There's nothing new to see here." Other than the transfer on his shirt, there's nothing new being offered in this latest figure from the club. Any fan could cobble this Joe together in a few minutes, and be just as happy with the results. Sadly, Hasbro is offering no alternatives, and for now, this is all collectors can look forward to for GIjOE's 50th Anniversary. (Photo: GIJCC)

“Move along, folks. There’s nothing new to see here.” Other than the transfer on his shirt, there’s nothing new being offered in this latest figure from the club. Any fan could cobble this Joe together in a few minutes, and be just as happy with the results. Sadly, Hasbro is offering no alternatives, and for now, this is all collectors can look forward to for GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary. (Photo: GIJCC)

“My main complaint is that I waited 50 years and all I got was this lousy t-shirt. (And I DO mean lousy).” —Sean (SpaceCrawler)

Countless Profit-Making Opportunities Continue to be Ignored by Hasbro

After 50 years, you’d think Hasbro would’ve had enough time to create a killer line-up of “50th Anniversary” collectible action figures for GIjOE fans—and in BOTH scales. Something like all-new, super-articulated figures with golden dogtags, all-gold versions of classic vehicles (a gold space capsule, anyone?), all packaged in special-edition “gold top” boxes. You know Mattel could (and WOULD) do it with Barbie.

No retooling is required. It’s a simple change of plastic colors, add some gold fleck to the vat, use the same molds, and press out the same products to collectors again as “limited-edition 50th anniversary collectibles.” Keep the numbers low. Sell them out. Make millions of dollars. It’s not brain surgery. Such profit-making possibilities go on and on, and without a doubt, Joe-starved collectors around the world would scramble to “Collect ’em All!”

But no. With 2014 only a month and a half away, there has been ZERO news out of the “Big H” about any sort of plans for 50th Anniversary GIjOE products. In fact, based on recent showings at Toy Fairs, little of consequence is expected to be produced for Joe fans next year, and 1:6 GIjOE fans in particular continue to grind their teeth in bitter disappointment. So, what to do? Let’s ask the club!

The Man of Action accessory set, while uninspired, will offer fans the chance to dress their new membership figure, as well as house him in a nice repro box. Actually, the box is the most appealing part of this entire set. (Photo: GIJCC)

The Man of Action accessory set, while uninspired, offers fans the opportunity to dress their new membership figure and hang a “gold” dogtag around its neck, as well as house it in a new repro box. (Photo: GIJCC)

Throwing Collectors a Bone

The first “official” 50th Anniversary GIjOE products won’t be coming from Hasbro, Sideshow or Hot Toys. In fact, they won’t be coming from a toy company at all. The only 50th products currently in production will be offered by an organization that has official licensing rights from the Big H, and therefore, is legally able to create GIjOEs during the product’s continued absence from toy store shelves. The group we’re talking about, of course, is the GIjOE Collector’s Club, a sort of “last resort” for fans in what appears to be an ever dwindling Joe-world. According to the club’s recent official news release:

The MAN OF ACTION is one of the GIjOE Collector’s Club free Membership Incentive Figures for 2014.This free figure will be sent to any GIjOE Club member that chooses the 12-inch figure option and whose membership is active by March 16th, 2014.There will also be an add-on accessory set with a box and uniform available for purchase so you can complete this great 50th anniversary figure.”

Collectors of  the 3.75" RAH line

Collectors of the 3.75″ RAH line have “Cross Country” to look forward to next year. Fans of 1:6 scale are already eying his wrench jealously. (Photo: GIJCC)

While we’re discussing the club’s upcoming membership incentive figures, we’d be remiss not to mention its incentive for collectors of the 3.75″ Joes. According to the club:

CROSS-COUNTRY is the GIjOE Collector’s Club free Membership Incentive Figure for 2014. This free figure will be sent to any GIjOE Club member that chooses the 3 3/4-inch figure option and whose membership is active by March 16th, 2014.This club exclusive CROSS-COUNTRY action figure features a new head sculpt, new vest with holster, figure stand, classic file card and accessories, including: assault rifle, pistol, and new vehicle wrench. Members can expect to receive this bagged figure with all his accessories in late spring/early summer of 2014.”

Bottom Line: Despite everything the club does right, it still tends to get some fairly obvious things wrong. As any fan of 1:6 scale Joes can tell you, 2014 will NOT be the 50th anniversary of the “Man of Action” (MOA), or of “The Adventure Team.” They weren’t even introduced until 1970! A real 50th figure should be based upon one of the first four military figures sold in 1964, possibly upgraded with a super-articulated body and interchangeable hands, and packaged in some kind of gold-trimmed box. Make sure the graphics reflect the 1960s, not the 2000s, and include a fancy certificate of authenticity. You’d sell out of them GUARANTEED. <sigh> Oh well, at least the club has “thrown us a bone” with this half-hearted MOA. Hasbro, by contrast—still offers nothing.

Syfy’s Reality TV Series That Was Too FUN to Die: Stan Lee’s “Who Wants to Be a Superhero?” Lives on in the Hearts & Minds of Fans & Competitors

In this promo photo, Stan Lee (center) poses with the contestants from the second season of his "Who Wants to be a Superhero?" competition reality show. (Photo: Syfy)

In this promo photo, Stan Lee (center) poses with the contestants from the second season of his “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” competition-reality show. (Photo: Syfy)

Comics legend, Stan Lee, appears omnipotent and able to “rule the world” in this screenshot from the opening sequence of Syfy’s, Who Wants to be a Superhero? In the show, Lee did indeed make the final contestant elimination decisions, essentially controlling the “destinies” of all on the show.

A Great Idea For a Show
—That Ended Much Too Soon

For superhero aficionados, comic book geeks, and action figure fans, the Syfy Channel’s inspired and family-friendly, competition-reality show, “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” (WWTBASH) was like a little slice of Heaven. Each episode was “entertainment-light,” to be sure, but it could also be an intriguing, emotional, and suspenseful, mini morality play, played out each and every week. Challenging the wannabe “heroes” with a series of contests, the show ultimately attempted to uncover what was (or was NOT) inside of each contestant’s heart and soul (i.e. empathy, selflessness, determination, heroism, etc.). And while fans may not have always agreed with the show’s “elimination” decisions, the audience was all too happy to be along for the ride—on what was proclaimed as—”The Adventure of a Lifetime!”

While even mentioning "merchandising" could get you booted from the show (just ask "Levity," who was axed before even entering the lair). the potential for POST-show products is HUGE. Clearly, each of these ladies from Season 1 would've made GREAT action figures for fans and collectors of superheroes. Unfortunately, Stan Lee and Syfy chose not to pursue such lucrative ideas. (Photo: Syfy)

While even the mention of “merchandising” could get you booted off the show (just ask “Levity,” who was cut BEFORE he entered the lair). the potential for POST-show profits from products based on popular characters was HUGE. Clearly, each of these lady heroines from Season 1 would’ve made GREAT action figures for fans and collectors. (How about a face-off between Monkey Woman and Creature? Mmm) Unfortunately, Stan Lee and Syfy chose not to pursue such lucrative (and lovely) tie-ins. (Photo: Syfy)

Phillip Allen, aka "Mindset," describes his characters acute mental powers of telekinises, and that his armor is "from the future" in an episode of Who Wants to be a Superhero? (Photo: Variety)

Phillip Allen, aka “Mindset,” describes his character’s acute mental powers of telekinesis, and that his armor is “from the future” in an episode of Who Wants to be a Superhero? His unique appearance (bald head, arched eyebrows) and elaborate handmade costume (complete with a working chest-light) made him an early fan-favorite. Sadly, during filming of the show, his original costume was ruined when barrels of corn syrup were poured on it during a showdown with the evil, “Bee-Sting.” It was quickly replaced by the show’s costumers, but (unfortunately) he was eliminated immediately afterwards. His character would’ve made a FAN-tastic 1:6 scale action figure! (Photo: Variety)

An “American Idol” for Fans and Creators of Superheroes

Despite high ratings for the Syfy Channel and repeated pleas from its legions of fans, the show’s creator and Oz-like host, comics legend Stan Lee (now 90), replied that his schedule no longer permitted him to do the show, and that a third season would not be produced (even with a substitute host). In hindsight, his decision appears to have been very short-sighted and ill-advised.

It’s been 6 years since Lee’s brainchild last aired on television. At the time of its cancellation, the show was extremely popular and nowhere near running out of steam. Its format was simple: hold nationwide tryouts for comic book and superhero fans (and cosplayers) who believed they had created the “next great superhero,” bring the Top-10 finalists to Stan’s super-secret superhero “lair” (a warehouse in Los Angeles), put them through a series of creative competitions to test their mental acuity, athletic mettle, and strength of personality (or “grit”) before “eliminating” them one by one, until a final winner was found. Today, it’s still a tried and true formula for programming success (see American Idol, America’s Got Talent, Big Brother, Survivor, etc.). Nevertheless, Lee was adamant about calling it quits, and any plans for future episodes (or merchandising) have clearly been shelved as well.

These prototype comic book covers showed GREAT merchandising potential for both Season 1's "Lemuria" and Season 2's "Basura" characters. Imagine the action figures! (Photo: Dark Horse Comics)

These prototype comic book covers showed GREAT merchandising potential for both Season 1’s “Lemuria” and Season 2’s “Basura” characters. Imagine the action figures! (Photo: Dark Horse Comics)

Clearly the show had the potential to be a "cash cow" for all concerned, and the power to turn "ordinary citizens" into overnight celebrities. Here, 2nd Season finalist, John Stork, aka "Hyper-Strike" (l) and 1st Season winner, Matthew Atherton, aka "Feedback," sign autographs for fans at a comic con held soon after the show went off the air. As the winner, Atherton appeared in a comic book of his own, but unfortunately, other cast members had little to no merchandise they could offer fans. (Photo: Dark Horse Comics)

Clearly the show had the potential to be a real “cash cow” for all concerned, and the power to turn “ordinary citizens” into overnight celebrities. Here, 2nd Season finalist, John Stork, aka “Hyper-Strike” (l) and 1st Season winner, Matthew Atherton, aka “Feedback” (r), sign autographs for rabid fans at a comic con held soon after the show went off the air. As a winner, Atherton appeared in a comic book of his own, but due to short-sightedness by Stan Lee and Syfy, the other cast members had little to no merchandise they could offer to fans. (Photo: Dark Horse Comics)

WWTBASH’s Vast Untapped Merchandising Potential

Such simple and embraceable shows are the stuff TV producer’s dreams are made of, and they are rarely executed as well as Who Wants to Be a Superhero? Over time, the show’s inexpensive, (i.e. profitable) format, could easily have been updated, refined and reworked, keeping it fresh and interesting for years to come (How about an all-girl version? An International version? A teenaged sidekick version? An all-Japanese version?). The possibilities are endless. Sadly, after only two seasons, it was all over. And now, all that remains of the show are a few comic books for sale on ebay and two seasons worth of DVDs available on a “made-to-order” basis over on Amazon. There are no other toys, action figures, or video games based on the show. NOTHING at all for fans, past, present or future to enjoy—or spend their money on. The amount of lost revenue to Stan Lee and Syfy is literally staggering. 6 YEARS worth!

Famed custom action figure company, Herobuilder.com, produced these custom figures based on characters from Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, and offers to create similar "one-of-a-kinds" for collectors, but currently there are no plans to mass-produce such a line. (Photo: Herobuilders.com)

Famed custom action figure company, Herobuilders.com, produced these figures based on characters from the second season of Who Wants to Be a Superhero? and offers similar “one-of-a-kinds” to collectors (even the relative heights are correct!). But currently, there are no plans to mass-produce a WWTBASH line of toys. (Photo: Herobuilders.com)

Will The Show Ever Return?

After Lee pulled the plug on Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, a collective groan of disappointment could be heard from fans all around the world. Perhaps if and when the Syfy Channel and Stan Lee realize what a mistake they’ve made, fans will finally see a Season 3. Regardless, the staff here at The Joe Report are all big fans of the show, and we felt this would be a good time to check back in with the 20 wannabe heroes—one at a time—to find out what they’re all up to now.

To begin, we purchased the DVD sets of the show HERE, and watched all of the episodes over again, jotting down questions for each of the contestants as we went. Next, we set our intrepid staff to the difficult task of tracking down all the contestants, and interviewing them one by one. Despite the daunting mission before us, we took inspiration from Season 1’s winner, “Feedback,” whose catch-phrase was: “GAME ON!”

E. Quincy Sloan, aka "Ty'Veculus," was a clear standout in Season 1. His costume, muscular physique and superb backstory (he's a real-life firefighter), made him a HUGE fan favorite and a shoe-in for merchandising. That helmet and leather armor ROCKS! (Photo: Syfy)

E. Quincy Sloan, aka “Ty’Veculus,” was a clear standout in Season 1. His costume, muscular physique and superb backstory (he’s a real-life firefighter), made him a HUGE fan favorite and a shoe-in for merchandising. That helmet and leather armor ROCKED. What a concept! (Photo: Syfy)

Bottom Line: The premature cancellation of Who Wants to be a Superhero? marked a huge missed opportunity for many people, all the way from Stan Lee himself, to everyone at Syfy, to comic book and toy collectors, and countless wannabe superheroes all around the globe. Here at The Joe Report, we’ve adopted a “wait and see” attitude, and our hopes for a return of the show (in any form) remain undiminished. Meanwhile, Interview #1 is now in the can, and as we wait for the boys in the composing room to set the type and prepare the press plates, we thought you’d like to know that our faithful sponsor, Patches of Pride, is currently hosting a Who Wants to Be a Superhero? contest on their Facebook page found HERE. The prize is everybody’s favorite wannabe superhero, Captain Action (seems like an appropriate choice) and the contest is open to the general public. So…Enjoy! (PS: Who will be our first WWTBASH Interviewee? Stay tuned, HE’s coming SOON!)

“America’s First Frogman,” U.S. Navy Master Chief Gunner’s Mate John Spence, Dead at 95

Ryan Brennecke / The BulletinJohn Spence, right, talks with Jonathan West in 2012 shortly after West - a Marine - received the Congressional Gold Medal for his service during World War II. Spence, who died Tuesday in Bend, served in WWII and was the first to try out a new diving apparatus that allowed for much greater freedom underwater.

John Spence, “America’s First Frogman.” (Photo: LA Times)

“John Spence fought for our country with nothing more than a Ka-Bar knife, a pack of explosives and a diving rig.” —Rick Kaiser, Executive Director, U.S. Navy SEALs Museum

WWII Veteran’s Life Intertwined With Numerous Historic Figures During His Largely Top-Secret Career With the US Navy and OSS

It’s not everyday that we get to the use the well-worn GIjOE appellations, “Action Sailor” and “Real American Hero” when describing someone who had existed in real life. But we believe both terms can confidently be applied to Master Chief Gunner’s Mate John Spence, a pioneering U.S. Navy Frogman, WWII Battleship Gunner and UDT (underwater demolitions team) Scuba Diver and Instructor. Spence died Tuesday (November 5th, 2013) in a care facility in Bend, Oregon, at the age of 95, and was a man of many military “firsts.” According to Tony Perry at The Los Angeles Times:

The artwork on GIjOE's "Action Sailor" box featured artwork of a WWII Navy UDT diver, very similar in appearance to John Spence and other US Navy "Frogmen," armed only with a Ka-Bar knife and a pack of explosives. (Photo: Heritage Auctions)

The artwork on GIjOE’s “Action Sailor” box depicted a Navy UDT scuba diver, very similar in appearance to John Spence and other WWII US Navy “Frogmen” who were armed only with a Ka-Bar knife and pack of explosives.
(Painting: Sam Petrucci)

“John Spence was a diver often credited as the first U.S. combat ‘frogman’ in World War II and was an important figure in the rigorous training that led to the establishment of the U.S. Navy SEALs.

 Because much of what Spence and others did during the war was under the Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner to the Central Intelligence Agency), stories of their bravery and resourcefulness were long classified as top-secret. Only in the late 1980s was the secrecy classification lifted, allowing Spence to finally tell friends and family members of his wartime experiences.

John Pitts Spence was born June 14, 1918, in Centerville Tennessee, where his father was the sheriff. He joined the Navy in 1936 and was trained as a gunner and ‘hard-hat’ diver. He served on the battleship USS Idaho, whose home port was San Pedro, CA, left the Navy in 1940 and worked for Lockheed in Los Angeles County. He moved to rejoin the military after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Although he wanted to deploy as a gunner protecting merchant ships, Spence had the kind of diving experience that made him a natural for a clandestine group being organized by the OSS under the legendary Major Gen. William “Wild Bill” Donovan. Spence became the first enlisted man selected for the group, which was trained in stealth, demolition and close-in combat tactics, with the goal of sinking enemy ships and also blowing up underwater emplacements meant to thwart beach landings by U.S. assault troops.”

Spence's second hitch in the Navy found him serving as gunner on the Battleship USS Idaho. In this authentic WWII photo, Spence and other gunners provided bombardment covering fire for Marines landing on Okinawa. (Photo: US Navy)

Spence served as a gunner and deep sea diver aboard the Battleship USS Idaho and Destroyer USS Wadsworth. In this WWII photo, the Idaho provides bombardment for Marines on Okinawa. (Photo: USN)

This historic WWII photo of Spence (5th from left, back row in dark uniform) and his fellow members of the very first OSS clandestine underwater team, was taken at their top-secret training grounds, “Area D,” outside of Quantico, VA, in 1943. (Photo: guardianspies.com) Click to enlarge.

This historic WWII photo of Spence (5th from left, back row in dark uniform) and his fellow members of the very first OSS clandestine underwater team, was taken at their top-secret training grounds, “Area D,” outside of Quantico, VA, in 1943. (Photo: guardianspies.com) Click to enlarge.

Top-Secret Lives—Finally Revealed

Mr. Spence’s obituary, while adequate and factual, provides only secondhand bits of already known public information. As usual, your friends here at The Joe Report wanted to know much more, so we ordered our crack research team to “dig deeper” and not come back until they had discovered additional autobiographical or first-hand accounts of Spence’s life. Fortunately, our dogged researchers learned that before his death, Master Chief Spence had indeed written a short autobiography of his life, providing previously top-secret insights into his storied military career (read excerpts below):

GIjOE's "Deep Sea Diver" equipment set was patterned after the same "hard hat" diving suits worn by Spence and other US Navy UDT members. Spence would have used this sort of breathing helmet, a watertight suit, weighted belt and shoes, and carried whatever tools were required for the job. (Photo: collecttoys)

GIjOE’s “Deep Sea Diver” equipment set was patterned after the same “hard hat” diving suits worn by Spence and other original US Navy UDT members. Spence would have used this sort of breathing helmet, watertight suit, weighted belt and shoes, and carried whatever tools were required to complete his mission. (Photo: collecttoys)

“I first joined the Navy in 1936. After boot camp, I was sent to Diver School where I was taught as a ‘Hard Hat’ Deep Sea Diver (DSD). I was then assigned to the Battleship USS Idaho. All of the large ships in those days had a DSD group. Along with my duties as a gunner, whenever the need arose, I would be called upon to make a deep-sea dive (it made my monthly paycheck $10 fatter). After 4 years, I mustered out of the Navy and went to work for Lockheed Aircraft until the Japs attacked Pearl Harbor. Then I went to the Navy Dept. in Washington and volunteered…and was sent to a secret base known as ‘Area D’ somewhere on the Potomac River south of Quantico. It was there that I found out that I had been recruited into the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), an espionage organization that was a direct forerunner to the modern-day CIA.”

Major General William “Wild Bill” Donovan, the ONLY American to have received our nation’s four highest awards, The Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal and the National Security Medal. During World War II, he founded, and then led, the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), the predecessor of today’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
(Photo: Wikipedia)

“Few realize that the OSS was its own branch of the armed forces, having a commander serving on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Ours was Major General William ‘Wild Bill’ Donovan, a WWI Medal of Honor recipient and national hero. The thing that separated us from the other branches was also the thing that seemed to cause the most conflict. We (those in the OSS) were the guys that were… ‘Out of the Box.’

I trained in ‘Area D’ for special skills and in the fine art of sabotage. I was placed under the command of a British Commander Woolley and a Navy Lieutenant Jack Taylor. Lt Taylor was recruited to teach me small boat handling and navigation. It was learned that Italian swimmers were sinking British ships so we decided to start a group of underwater warfare swimmers. They named us ‘Frogmen.’ I was the first.

There is an interesting tale of how that name came forward. Since I am a part of that tale, I will share it. The Dunlop Company of England created a thin rubber waterproof suit. They were green and had a full hood attached. Mine sort of fit me. As Senior Navy Diver, I was chosen to try it out. It worked much better than the wool long johns we had used to cheat the cold. Someone saw me surfacing one day and yelled out, ‘Hey, Frogman!’ The name stuck for all of us. But once again—I was the first.”

chrislambertsen

Chris Lambertsen (right), inventor of the Lambertson Amphibious Respiratory Unit (LARU), attaches his creation to a mannequin, illustrating how it would have been worn by John Spence during its initial test. (Photo: USN)

“Next, I was sent to the Shoreham Hotel in Washington DC escorted by two armed Marines. Arriving, I found the hotel secured by more Marines and was escorted to a secured swimming pool there. Standing near the pool was a tall young man with blonde hair, flanked by even MORE Marines. He had a contraption of some sort laid out on a table next to him. The man was a medical student by the name of Chris Lambertsen, who had invented a contained diving unit that recirculated air, sending NO bubbles up to the surface. It was called the ‘Lambertsen Amphibious Respiratory Unit’ or LARU, and was like nothing before or since. The LARU was cobbled together in Lambertsen’s garage. The face mask was a converted WWI gas mask. It’s performance and the ingenious design of its upgrades changed and brought about a whole new dynamic to secret warfare.”

The LARU rebreathers worn by today's SEAL team members may be lighter, smaller and more efficient, but they are essentially the same device as inventor Chris Lambertsen's original WWII version. (Photo: USN)

The LARU rebreathers worn by today’s SEAL team members may be lighter, smaller and more efficient, but they are essentially the same device as inventor Chris Lambertsen’s WWII original.
(Photo: US Navy)

“To the untrained eye, the Doctor and I might seem to be quite a mismatch but to anyone witnessing, you could see the excitement in both of us as my mind raced over the simple marvel of his invention. He created it and I was his test student. I was soon swimming underwater in that pool without the normal underwater gear and breathing with no bubbles. It was silent. The only sound was my own breathing. It made me feel kind of like Buck Rogers. It’s classification was at the highest level and on par with the Atomic program.”

Draper Kaufman

Draper Kaufman, “Father of the US Navy SEALs” (Photo: US Navy)

“I was joined by 2 others and we began training at Annapolis in explosives, spy school, close-in combat, and much more. Then we were sent to Ft. Pierce, Florida, where we were asked to teach Army and Navy amphibious commandos. I was tasked with demonstrating the LRU to the man who was to lead the new Navy Underwater Demolition Team or the UDT. His name was Draper Kaufman. I remember showing him the fins and face plate. This ‘Father of the Navy SEALs’ looked me square in the eye and said, ‘Swimming is not one of my favorite things!’ So, you can imagine what I thought when President Bush wrote a book naming him ‘America’s First Frogman.’ Maybe it should have read, the ‘First Frogman to dislike swimming.’ I have always gotten a kick out of that!”

One of the first movies made about the UDT was 1951's "The Frogmen," starring Richard Widmark. According to IMDb: This film's premiere showing was held at the U.S. Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek, Virginia. The Underwater Demolition Team the frogmen in the film belong to is UDT-4 (some members of the team wear utility jackets with artwork of a large number "4" and a shark on the back). The real UDT-4 in World War II saw combat in the invasions of Okinawa, Saipan, Guam, and the Philippines. Like the fictional Team in the film, the real UDT-4 had one of their boats hit and sunk by Japanese fire at Leyte, and left a sign on the beach at Guam to welcome the invading Marines. 1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? YesNo | Share this Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink Hide options Opening credits: This is a true story based on incidents which occurred in the latter part of World War II. It deals with one of the most hazardous and unique branches of the Armed Forces---- the Underwater Demolition Teams. Is this interesting? Interesting? YesNo | Share this Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink Hide options

One of the first movies made about UDTs was 1951’s The Frogmen, starring Richard Widmark. According to IMDb: “This film’s premiere showing was held at the U.S. Naval Amphibious Base in Little Creek, VA. The Underwater Demolition Team the frogmen in the film belong to is UDT-4. The real UDT-4 in World War II saw combat in the invasions of Okinawa, Saipan, Guam, and the Philippines. Like the fictional Team in the film, the real UDT-4 had one of their boats hit and sunk by Japanese fire at Leyte, and left a sign on the beach at Guam to welcome the invading Marines.” (Photo: 20th Century Fox)

“We were sent to England for further training, where I was set as the leader of L-group 1. We practiced in the Thames River which was extremely cold. Our wet suits would crack and let moisture in. We tried a variety of things to help…but it just ended up moving the cold spots to other places.

I went behind enemy lines in France with the famous British Major Hasler. Hasler was the later the leader of the famous ‘Operation Frankton.’ Major Hasler could speak quite a few languages and was very crafty. Armed with commando cloaks, OSS daggers, suppressed weapons, cameras, and L-Pills in case of capture, we linked up with the French Underground and were able to get a couple of downed pilots out. On June 22, 1944, the L-Unit was disbanded and I was sent to the Bahamas to be the chief LARU instructor. But, I was still itching to get back into the fight with the Germans or the Japs, so I opted back into the fleet. I was sent to the USS Wadsworth DD 516 where I became the Chief Gunners Mate. The Wadsworth fought in the battle for Palau, Iwo Jima, and then on to Okinawa.”

Spence's wish to get back into combat was granted and his Destroyer, the USS Wadworth was the scene of repeated kamakazi attacks during the Battle of Okinawa. Above, crewman of the aircraft carrier, USS Intrepid, scramble for cover as a kamakazi plane strikes the ship. (Photo: US Navy)

Spence’s wish to “get back into the fight” was granted and his Destroyer, the USS Wadworth was the scene of repeated kamikaze attacks during the Battle of Okinawa. Above, crewman of the stricken aircraft carrier, USS Intrepid, scramble for safety after a kamikaze strikes the landing deck. (Photo: US Navy)

“In Okinawa, we were charged with shooting down 21 kamikazes and were given the Presidential citation. I was also given a commendation for that battle. During one day of that duty, on 28 April 1945, Wadsworth repelled six determined attacks by 12 enemy aircraft. The raids—which came from all points of the compass—commenced at sunset and continued for over three hours. We successfully evaded a torpedo plane who after missing us with it’s torpedo decided to attempt to crash into our ship. It took out our front 40 millimeter gun and clipped our whale boat before crashing into the sea. It was the second of two close calls.

The first was six days prior, when a kamikaze narrowly missed us on the port side. The crash of the plane sent a huge wave across our ship’s deck. The wave was so huge that one sailor thought he had been swept overboard and began attempting frantically to swim back to the ship. When the wave subsided, we laughed as he swam the crawl—on the deck of the ship.”

In this closeup, you can see the Trident badge awarded to John Spence by the US Navy SEALs. (Photo: KTVZ)

In this closeup, you can see the Trident badge presented to John Spence by the US Navy SEALs. It was one of many medals and commendations he received for his service during WWII and the Korean War. (Photo: KTVZ)

“I remained in the Navy until 1961 when I retired as a Master Chief Gunners Mate. After the war, I kept in contact with Taylor and Lambertsen as life-long friends, until they passed on. My training and service during WW2 remained Top Secret until 1987 and it was not until 1988 that a Sergeant in the Army Special Forces began looking into what we had done and contacted me. If it had not been for the curiosity of that young Army Sergeant, none of this would ever have come to light. He also said that he wanted the world to know. So, in March of 1998, I and the others from the OSS Maritime Operational Swimmers were inducted as lifetime members of the Army Special Forces giving us all Green Berets. Soon after, the Navy SEALs realized us to be the forerunners of their organization and awarded us the SEAL Trident. Of the original five, I am the only one left. I am Master Chief John Spence, Office of Strategic Services, United States Navy, and proud to be America’s First Frogman.”

Members of a Underwater Demoltions Team practice disarming an anti-ship mine using skills and equipment first developed by John Spence and others in the US Navy and OSS (Photo: USN)

Members of a US Navy Underwater Demolitions Team (UDT) practice disarming anti-ship mines using skills and equipment first developed by John Spence and other divers of the US Navy and the OSS during WWII. Note that their LARU rebreathers emit no bubbles—WOW! (Photo: USN)

Bottom Line:  If you’ve stuck with us this long, you’re undoubtedly feeling somewhat humbled by this amazing man’s story. We are as well, and would like to offer our sincerest thanks and gratitude to John Spence and everyone else who’s ever served in the U.S. military for their service to our country. Also, we’d like to thank Lyle Hicks, J.W. Terry and California filmmaker-historian Erick Simmel for working with Spence before his death to record a biography of his service. As the last of “The Greatest Generation” continue to leave us, it’s more important than ever to reach out to those who still remain and preserve their memories for posterity—before it’s too late. Finally, thanks to Tony Perry of The Los Angeles Times for his Spence obituary article. It proved an inspirational stepping stone, indeed. The next time you look at one of your GIjOE Action Sailors, Frogmen, or Deep Sea Divers, we hope you’ll take a moment to remember John Spence, and ALL of the other real American heroes who have given so much for our country and the freedoms we enjoy today. Go, NAVY!

“Celebrating 50 Years”: G.I. Joe Collector’s Club Announces Plans For Golden Anniversary JoeCon

Hyatt Regency Hotel, Dallas, TX, the site of JoeCon 2014. (Photo: Hyatt)

Hyatt Regency Hotel, Dallas, TX, the site of JoeCon 2014. (Photo: Hyatt)

50thjoeconlogoWill It Be a “Big Deal in Big D?”
Or Another Indy-Style DUD?

50 years is a long time. Or…it’s merely a “blink of an eye,” depending on your perspective. For fans of the original 12-inch GIjOE, the time seems to have absolutely flown by. Children of the 1960s and ’70s are all grown up now, their hair is a little grayer and their waistbands a little larger, but most can still remember playing with “America’s Movable Fighting Man” in their living rooms, bathtubs and backyards as if it were only yesterday. That’s because for many—it was!

A second crop of GIjOE fans came along in the 1980s and ’90s, reared on a smaller, but no less enjoyable, 3.75-inch version of the “Real American Hero.” Together, these two disparate groups of collectors form a worldwide fan base for what jointly, has been dubbed the “World’s Most Popular Toy.” Joe’s immense popularity has also prompted the subsequent creation of hundreds of GIjOE clubs, conventions and shows, both local and national in size and scope.

A view of the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dallas, TX. (Photo: Hyatt)

A view of the Hyatt Regency’s lobby. (Photo: Hyatt)

In 2014, FIFTY YEARS after GIjOE’s introduction at the 1964 Toy Fair and BILLIONS of dollars in sales, the beloved Hasbro action figure will be honored once again. This time, the GIjOE Collector’s Club has announced plans for a 4-day “Golden Anniversary” celebration, to be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dallas, TX. According to the club:

“G.I. Joe’s 50th Birthday will be celebrated April 10-13th, 2014, at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas, Texas. You can make your hotel reservations now by going to the official convention website HERE. The convention room rate is $142 and they will require a one night’s deposit with your reservation.

This will be a grand celebration of the world’s first action figure. More details will be available in the coming weeks. We will start posting the convention set details and hope to have registration up by Thanksgiving (we are currently in the middle of a total re-write of the registration system to serve you better).”

This unique 180-degree "panorama" image of the dealer showroom of JoeCon 2013, shows the convention at its peak attendance. However, the picture does not clearly show how few dealers there were. While quality of goods was high, quantity was LOW. (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

This unique 180-degree “panorama” image of the dealer showroom of JoeCon 2013, shows the convention at its peak attendance. However, the picture does not clearly show how few dealers there were. While quality was high, quantity was LOW. (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

Shrinking JoeCon Attendance to Continue in 2014?

Early fan reaction to the club’s announcement has been decidedly and predictably mixed. It’s no secret that the club has chosen to steer and cater its conventions to collectors of the 3.75″ figures. Attendees at the 2013 JoeCon in Indianapolis were startled by the sight of a convention floor practically barren of 12″ figures, 1:6 dealers AND 1:6 fans (see complete recap HERE). In fact, the Indy show’s ratio of small to large-scale material was about 90% to 10% respectively. Fans of the original 12″ version of GIjOE were left largely to their own devices, clustering together like a lost mountaineering expedition. One fan expressed his own version of the current quandary this way:

“I’m split. I do so want to go to Joelanta this year. I’m even working on a custom. At the same time, I’d like to get to JoeCon 2014 for the 50th anniversary, even if it’s a flop, with limited or no Hasbro presence and limited 12-inch fare. Just so I could say that I was there for the 50th Anniversary!” —ARGarrison

Greg Brown, representative of Cotswold Collectibles
(Photo: DFW GIjOE Club)

Cotswold Collectibles rep, Greg Brown, provided insight on how 1:6 scale dealers are looking at the club’s JoeCon events when he spelled out his company’s views of the past two JoeCons and the upcoming 2014 JoeCon this way:

“Cotswold Collectibles has passed on the last TWO JoeCons due to the higher costs of attending and operating at the shows, as well as their dwindling 1:6 scale presence. However, because I office out of North Texas, we can do the 2014 show on a greatly reduced budget (ie – no airfare, hotel stay, etc). Despite the ‘scale shift’ at the show, I still have the hope that 2014 will be the 50th anniversary comeback.”—Greg Brown

As to the 2014 show’s venue, I lived in downtown Dallas for 2 years, a mere stone’s throw from the Hyatt Regency Hotel (HRH), so I can confirm that it is indeed a superb choice for any convention (I attended a Star Trek Con there once). Fans of TV’s Dallas, will recognize the HRH as the iconic, mirrored building first flown by in the show’s opening credits—just PERFECT for parachute drops!

Bottom Line: How—and if—the GIjOE Collector’s Club will reconcile the growing disparity (some say outright ostracization) of the 1:6 scale fan base remains to be seen. And with no further event intel to go on at this time, it’s difficult to predict what sort of “Golden Anniversary” the 2014 JoeCon will turn out to be. But if last year’s event in Indianapolis is any indication, 1:6 scale Joeheads should NOT be getting their hopes up. (Additionally, the club may still be stinging from last year’s low-rated show. If that’s true, it helps explain why it’s chosen to keep the 2014 event in its own backyard—the club is headquartered in nearby Ft. Worth.)