Category Archives: Unusual

Brit Footballer w/ German Ancestry Discovers Likeness Used by D.i.D. For 1:6 New Action Figure

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Hey, that’s ME, Mein Herr! As this side-by-side closeup reveals, the likeness of handsome UK soccer player, Bastian Schweinsteiger, was CLEARLY used by Dragon in Dream (DiD) for the headsculpt of their new “World War II Army Supply Duty – Bastian” action figure. Not too smart to put his name in the title, DiD. You might as well prepare for the inevitable lawsuit that is sure to follow. (Photo: Getty images)

Bottom Line: Sometimes being famous and having a handsome German “Nordic” face can result in unexpected consequences—such as having your likeness usurped for a 1:6 scale nazi action figure! Read all about this clear case of facial piracy on the BBC News website HERE. Gott im Himmel!

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SHOCKER! Secret “Hasbro Morgue” Contained Treasure Trove of Vintage ’60s & ’70s G.I. Joes

Floor to ceiling shelves filled this warehouse in Pawtucket, RI, with the entire history of GIjOE. Sadly, anything placed on the lower levels was likely destroyed during a major flood. What happened to the remaining vintage, NMIB sets remains to be fully determined. (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

Floor to ceiling shelving once filled this secret Hasbro warehouse (located somewhere in Pawtucket, RI) with multiple examples of the entire history of GIjOE product production. Sadly, any of the items placed on lower shelves were likely destroyed during a past major flooding incident. What happened to the remaining NRFB sets on the upper shelves is unknown. (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

Fan Suspicions CONFIRMED—Legendary Toy Storage Site DID Exist!

Here’s another of those “Just when you thought you’d heard it all” stories about GIjOE’s historic and colorful past. It’s an Indiana Jones-esque tale built on previously unconfirmed secondhand accounts of a fabled storage site or “treasure trove” wherein it was rumored that untold numbers of original, vintage GIjOE figures, equipment sets and vehicles were stored. The fanciful tale has been bouncing around the internet and GIjOE fandom for decades now, only to FINALLY be confirmed this week by famed Marvel inker and artist, Wayne Faucher.

Fans and regular readers of The Joe Report will recall our in-depth profile of Mr. Faucher (see that story HERE) as well as numerous articles trumpeting his outstanding accomplishments as a master customizer of 1:6 scale (see HERE). But now, with the release of this outstanding series of “Hasbro Morgue” photos, Wayne has entered yet another realm of GIjOE fandom, that of unofficial GIjOE historian. In an account over on The Trenches fan forum, Faucher first announced his exciting news, confirming the reality of Hasbro’s legendary toy “morgue,” saying:

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Artist and action figure customizer Wayne Faucher (Photo: Wayne Faucher)

Artist and 1:6 customizer Wayne Faucher (today) in his studio. (Photo: Wayne Faucher)

“Around 1990, I was given a tour of the Hasbro Morgue by an administrative employee who was about to retire. He knew of my interest in GI Joe so invited me to take a look. At the time, I was only interested in pre-AT Joe and was disappointed at the lack of the military line’s presence in the warehouse. I was told most of the older stuff had ‘walked away’ years before. I took some pictures, but really didn’t know the AT line that well. As a result, I didn’t know what was important from what was common. On top of that the focus was lousy. Of course, those were the days when you didn’t know that until your film was developed weeks later. If it makes you feel any better, think of this: Just before I left, I was asked ‘If I could have any one piece in there, what would it be?’ I replied, ‘There’s just so much, I could never choose.’ So I didn’t. How’s that for frustrating?”

Like an archeologist peeling back the layers of time— In the mysterious

Like an archeologist peeling back the layers of time— Faucher delicately lifts a bit of torn cellophane on this NRFB medic set to give it a closer examination. (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

When asked about the location of Hasbro super-secret “morgue,” Faucher replied:

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“Well, I know it was in Pawtucket. Exactly where, I can’t recall. Of course, 25 years later, it may not be there anymore. It was a large warehouse; only a small section was dedicated to GI Joe. Mr. Potatohead and Lincoln Logs were well represented too. The last time I related this story (sans pics), someone mentioned a flood badly damaging the Hasbro Morgue. I have no idea if that was before or after I was there.”

Almost beyond imagination— So many vintage GIjOE toys, so little time. What an amazing memory! (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

Almost beyond imagination— Take a close look at the items on these pegs. So many vintage GIjOE toys! What an amazing vault of memories! (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

When asked about his once-in-a-lifetime chance to visit Hasbro’s Morgue, Wayne said:

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“Honestly, these were just some old pics I found in a box yesterday. I wasn’t even gonna bother to put ’em up! But now that I think about it, I guess not many people were ever set loose in there with a camera. Now that I’m more into the AT end of things, I’m impressed myself. I wonder how many Magnum Power sets are in those stacks!? I believe the guy who brought me through there moved to Florida and has long since passed away, unfortunately. A very nice fellow who, despite being TOTALLY baffled by a grown man’s interest in this stuff, was willing to spend half a Saturday walking the aisles with me.”

On and on it goes— Where it stops, nobody knows! The amount of product stored in Hasbro's Morgue was staggering at the time of Faucher's visit. Today it must be almost like the Smithsonian! (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

On and on it went— and where it stopped, nobody knows! At the time Faucher paid his visit (1990) the amount of vintage GIjOE products being stored in “Hasbro’s Morgue” was literally staggering. Today…who knows what remains behind those high-security doors? (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

Faucher also speculated about the supervision of the toy warehouse, saying:

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“Though it was called ‘the morgue’ by employees, it was indeed an archive, though woefully incomplete by the time I got there. I had fully expected a complete collection, but found what was a mish-mash of Joe items. It wasn’t run like an actual archive and didn’t appear to be kept track of. At the time, my wife was Malcolm Forbes’ personal archivist, so she knew what it SHOULD have looked like. We were both pretty surprised at how incomplete and disorganized it seemed to be. Which leads me to wonder if there was indeed a flood (as others have said), it may have been before my encounter with the place, which would account for what was missing. I just don’t know.”  

Anybody need this set? Faucher holds up a mint, NRFB

Anybody need one of these? Faucher holds up a mint, NRFB “Eight Ropes of Danger” window-boxed equipment set. It is (or was) absolutely mint and PERFECT. (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

Finally, one member of the Trenches forum named “BRJoe,” responded to the question of the current-day status of Hasbro’s Morgue with the following exciting (unconfirmed) update:

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“IT’S STILL THERE! My current vice president for the corporation I work for used to be a V.P. at Hasbro from about 2009-2012. When I told her I was a G.I.Joe collector, she said, ‘Well, you know near Hasbro’s headquarters in Pawtucket there are warehouses where they store three examples of every toy Hasbro has ever made!’ She had visited them a few times and said up until about 2010, a couple of the older warehouse areas weren’t even climate-controlled (no air conditioning) and that this was one thing she pushed to have corrected. Unfortunately, Hasbro has pretty tight security and these archive warehouses are not open to the public.”

Hammana-hammana-hammana! Who wouldn't LOVE to unbox and hold the contents of a NRFB GIjOE

Hammana-hammana-hammana Who wouldn’t love to examine the contents of an NRFB Sea Sled? And look! Someone actually wrote “morgue” on that Jeep box! (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: What an exciting story! Wayne Faucher has become the “Indiana Jones” of GIjOE historians by confirming the existence of such an extraordinary toy “morgue.” Our sincerest thanks go out to Wayne for sharing all of this wonderful information and historic photographs with readers of The Joe Report—and the worldwide GIjOE collecting community. You’re the BEST, Wayne! PS: To view the entire collection of Faucher’s fabled photos, we recommend you visit the equally legendary, “Vintage3DJoes” website found HERE and prepare to be BLOWN AWAY!

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UK Artist’s Love of “Product Design From a Less Cynical Time” Results in Creation of Unique Art

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The “EYES” Have It— These stunning (life-sized) sculptures of a pair of VERY famous faces appear to have begun a “stare-off” at the home of UK artist, John Barton. Their amazing likenesses were hand-crafted and are now being sold to collectors around the world. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

Are you talking LOOKING at me?

Robert De Niro may have been talking to himself in the film, Taxi Driver, but you might be saying something similar to a familiar face—with repositionable eyes—mounted up on the wall of your “Man Cave” or “Joe Room” someday soon. Thanks to UK artist, John Barton, a pair of new 1:1 scale head sculptures (or “busts”) based on the heroic visage of Palitoy’s most famous fighting man are now available for purchase. We contacted Barton and he kindly provided the following intel:

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TJR: Absolutely amazing work, John. We LOVE your new toy-inspired busts!

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“I’ve invested a fair amount of time and effort on these so I’m really grateful to receive such positive feedback.” 

In addition to setting on a shelf or table, Barton's busts are designed to hang or mount up on the wall as shown above. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

Just hanging around— In addition to setting on a shelf or table, Barton’s art busts are designed to hang or mount up on the wall as shown above. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

TJR: Please tell us about your new “Man of Action” (MoA) sculptures. What initially prompted their creation? What were your inspirations?

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“I’ve always had a keen appreciation for good design and illustration, which is perhaps why I was so drawn to Action Man in the late ’70s and early ’80s. The packaging illustrations by David Barnacle are classics (is there a book available featuring his work?).

My inspirations come from multiple sources: a love of pop art, ephemera, product design from a less cynical time (’70s action figures weren’t ‘ripped’ on protein drinks), classic cinema posters (of which I am also a fan) and my own childhood.

This ultra close-up reveals the quality and craftsmanship of Barton's MoA busts. Just look at those eyes! (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

I SEE YOU— This ultra close-up reveals the quality and craftsmanship of one of Barton’s MoA busts. Just look at the paint-job and those amazing eyes. Outstanding! (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

TJR: Where else do you draw inspiration for your work?

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“Toy and model shops used to be full of outstanding packaging design. Tamiya produced beautiful product illustrations and graphic design, Airfix box paintings were action-packed (now sadly retouched and sanitized) and of course, Action Man’s boxes. They’ve always set the tone for ADVENTURE!”

YES! The eyes are poseable! You can make your MoA look in any direction. AMAZING. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

YES! The eyes are poseable! MoA can look in any direction. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

TJR: How did your work and interest in 1:6 scale action figures come together?

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“I’m a graphic designer. I’ve always loved creating things in three dimensions (as well), so the creation of my ‘Man of Action’ sculptures was bound to happen one day. I’m now what I’d call a ‘professional creative.’ I still turn my hand to graphic design and photography, but my real passion is for art.”

Left, Right or Straight Ahead— The choice is YOURS. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.l

Look Left, Right or Straight Ahead— The choice is YOURS. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

TJR: What else should potential buyers know about your MoA sculptures?

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“Each is handmade to order and is intended for display, NOT play. Many hours go into the creation of each piece and no two are the same. It was really important to me that the eyes were positionable. It would have been so much easier to create the mould and castings without eye sockets, and have static eyes, but I’m stubborn and I refused to compromise on this.

The eyes are independently positionable from inside the head allowing each MoA to stare intently in any direction you wish. My initial thought was to engineer an inner ‘eagle eye’ mechanism, and for a one-off this would be fine, but it’s just not replicable in numbers at a sensible cost.

As each piece is made-to-order, every customer is kept fully informed of progress with emails and photos. I may even create other versions and special editions in time. I hold out the vain hope that as a handmade, numbered piece, my MoAs will one day become collectibles in their own rights.”

Your Barton Bust will instantly become the focal point of any room. (Photo: John Barton)

Your “Barton Bust” will instantly become the focal point of any room. (Photo: John Barton)

TJR: What kind of response have you been getting from AM collectors so far?

“I only posted the MoA to a couple of forums for the first time yesterday and I’m really humbled with the positive reception received so far from aficionados. Thank you ALL for your enthusiasm and support!”

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks go out to John Barton for his assistance with this article and our best wishes to him in all of his future endeavours. We know quality work when we see it, and these new busts of his are top-notch—all the way.

Who knows how long he’ll be creating them? For that reason alone, we highly recommend you contact Barton SOON if you’re interested in adding one (or more) to your collection. For complete information on cost, shipping and options, visit his website HERE. These handsome lads would make stunning gifts for any fan who believes that he (or she) already owns “one of everything.” Talk about your “limited-editions.” This is it!

Artist John Barton poses with two of latest creations. Absolutely superb work! (Photo: John Barton)

Artist John Barton poses with two of his creations. Absolutely superb work! (Photo: John Barton)

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Marvel Comics Inker and Master 1:6 Customizer, Wayne Faucher, Sells 1-of-a-Kind Custom G.I. Joe Adventure Team “Commando” on Ebay for $325!

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Wayne Faucher, renowned inker for Marvel Comics, created this superb 1:6 scale “Adventure Team Commando” custom GIjOE, and quickly found an eager buyer for it on ebay, where it sold for $325. (Graphics: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

This closeup of Faucher's custom AT

This closeup of Faucher’s custom AT “Commando” reveals top-notch quality and attention to detail. (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

We saw this listing on ebay recently and had to report on the outstanding opportunity it had afforded to fans of famed Marvel Comics inker, Wayne Faucher. It wasn’t for one of the artist’s inked masterpieces, but rather, for one of his most renowned 1:6 custom creations—the “Adventure Team Commando.” According to ebay:

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“Not long ago, DC/Marvel artist and avid 1/6 collector, Wayne Faucher, created the Adventure Team Commando line for his own personal collection. He wondered what GIjOE might have looked like if Hasbro had decided to maintain and extend Joe’s military theme through the Adventure Team era. This was the second member of that fantasy Team: The “Tough Guy” Black Ops Adventure Team Commando. He’s the guy the rest of the Adventurers seldom mention. Mysterious and lethal, his missions are shrouded in a world of top-secret darkness.”

The custom box created by Wayne Faucher also represents the top-level of customizing quality. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

The custom box created by Wayne Faucher also demonstrates his mastery of top-level customizing quality. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

WOWEE-WOW-WOW! What a cool back-story and description. It’s truly a shame Hasbro won’t put even HALF the effort (as demonstrated in Faucher’s customs) into creating new 12-inch GIjOEs. If they even came CLOSE to such excellent concepts, they’d have had no trouble selling them out to rabid collectors in a matter of days. The auction’s description goes on to say:

“In addition to the fully equipped figure, this set also comes with a custom coffin box (designed and built by Wayne Faucher), an original pencil sketch on a certificate of authenticity (drawn and signed by Mr. Faucher) and an 11×17 Adventure Team Commando print. This is the second in a series of AT Commando characters and a one-of-a-kind art piece. Depending on how well received this piece is, he may do more. Or not. This could be your only opportunity to obtain a duplicate of a custom directly from his collection.”

The COA, the 11

All For One Money: The winner of the auction received a hand-drawn and autographed COA, an 11″ x 17″ print, and the figure with a custom coffin box as shown above. WOW! (Photo: Wayne Faucher)

Faucher's amazing AT

Faucher’s amazing AT “Commando” prepares to send some serious lead downrange in this closeup taken by the creator. BRRRRRAPPPP!!!! (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

SO EXCITING! We can only keep our fingers crossed that Wayne believes the selling price of this set ($325) to be “well received” and that he might consider creating MANY more just like it. The description concluded thusly:

“This figure is a perfect amalgam of vintage GIjOE militaria and Adventure Team fantasy. He comes fully loaded with a vintage style Hasbro grease gun, 2 grenade launchers (vintage style and modern), Lebel pistol (with shoulder holster) a knuckle-knife and a custom dyed vintage style Backpack. He’s dressed in a vintage style Hasbro AT jumpsuit (custom dyed), black beret (with custom AT flash), black ammo belt with canteen and cover, and a custom death’s-head armband.  He also features knee/elbow pads, gloved hands, custom boots, micro AT dog tag, and aviator sunglasses. All Hasbro pieces (including the figure )are from the 40th Anniversary GIjOE or Action Man lines.”

Wayne Faucher poses in his home studio recently with a couple of his custom figures.

Wayne Faucher takes a moment in his studio to pose with a couple of his superb 1:6 scale custom figures. (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: We originally showed Faucher’s superb AT Commando figure in an article published back in 2013 (see HERE). His life in comics has clearly given him keen creative insights that dovetail neatly and professionally into the realm of action figure customization. Now, some two years later, the dream of owning one of his 1:6 masterpieces has become a dream come true for one anonymous and VERY fortunate collector. It’s exciting too, to know that customizers like Faucher continue to push the GIjOE evolution envelope in this manner. Fantastic work, Wayne!

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The World’s First G.I. Joe———Unique Arts’ All-Metal Wind-Ups Predated Hasbro Toy Line———By 20 Years!

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Not Quite “Eagle-Eyes”— But pretty cool-looking, nonetheless. This super-closeup of the first toy to EVER bear the name “G.I. Joe” reveals he wasn’t a plastic action figure made in Japan, but actually a pressed metal tin-toy manufactured in the U.S. toward the end of WWII; surprisingly—by a toy company legally designated as the “G.I. Joe Corporation.” (Photo: Ralph L. Tomlinson)

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Repro Boxes (such as the one shown above) for “G.I. Joe and His Jouncing Jeep” are expensive—almost as much as the toy itself! (Photo: ToyTent)

Does YOUR GIjOE Collection Start at the Very Beginning—Way Back in 1944?

The first-ever GIjOE toys didn’t fight Nazis or spandex-clad terrorist bad guys named “Cobra.” Rather, they drove odd, tractor-shaped Jeeps around in random, drunken circles, bumping into anything and everything in their paths. OR… they carried around (for whatever reason) suitcases full of puppies(!) as they briskly walked across the floor. It’s hardly the sort of “Capture Hill 79” action we’re used to, but that’s the way it was—back in 1944. Feeling confused? Don’t worry. If you’ve never heard of the “G.I. Joe and His Jouncing Jeep” toy before, renowned toy collector, Ralph L. Tomlinson (now deceased), one of the nation’s premier experts, described it as:

Ralph L. Tomlinson, Renowned toy collector. (Photo: Tomlinson family)

Ralph L. Tomlinson, Renowned toy collector. (Photo: Tomlinson family)

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“This lithographed tin wind-up toy was manufactured by Unique Art Manufacturing Company under license from the G.I. Joe Corporation. It features a spring-action mechanism that can be activated with a key.

The toy then comically jerks back and forth while the soldier is propelled forward, making his helmet fall over his eyes. This is one example of how many toy companies tried to capitalize on the United States patriotic mood after WWII.”

Driving a

Hold on Tight, Joe! Driving a “Jeep” that looks suspiciously like a tractor, the first-EVER G.I. Joe-branded toy was a cute little soldier doing his darndest to keep a “jet propelled” Jeep traveling at “supersonic speed” safely on the road. The toy’s pressed-tin construction, with bright litho painted graphics, assures that even 70 years after its construction—it still looks GREAT! (Photo: GunShyCC)

The G.I. Joe you never knew existed— G.I. Joe and

“Search for the Little Puppies” In this closeup of a GIjOE you probably never knew existed, Joe carries two baskets(?) full of forlorn looking puppies, complete with sad, hangdog expressions and bandaged noggins. Were they casualties of war? Poor Little Puppies! (Photo: ebay)

But Wait—There’s More. MUCH More…

The more we dig into the obscure origins of GIjOE, the more intriguing his history becomes. For example, while we’d known for many years that there was some old tin-toy called “G.I. Joe and His Jouncing Jeep” (see above), we’d never really given it much thought until now. D’oh! What a mistake. Yes, he’s pretty silly looking. The toy was targeted at very young children (3-5) as a pressed metal wind-up, and it didn’t seem to have much of a place in our modern GIjOE collections. In fact, other than winding him up and watching him go, there isn’t much else you can do with these earliest GIjOEs. But hold on there just a minute…

Thankfully, our intrepid TJR Field Reporter, Keith Davis, came across one of these gems of GIjOEs past in an Ohio antique store recently and wrote in to remind us of the importance of these very unique toys (by “Unique Arts”)—especially to collectors of all things GIjOE. An adamant Davis reminded us that there was indeed MUCH more to this old toy than we had imagined. And after providing some superb photos of his discovery, he urged us to delve even deeper into its past. We did. And here’s what we learned:

FIRST, we had no idea that these GIjOEs predated Hasbro’s “movable fighting man” by over 20 years. To be honest, their brightly colored litho graphics reminded us of post-war toys made in Japan, so we had mentally pegged them at around 1960 or so. How wrong we were! G.I. Joe and His Jouncing Jeep were first created and sold back in 1944.

SECOND (and even more surprising) was when we learned that these early GIjOEs were manufactured not just by Unique Art Mfg., but by a toy company called—wait for it—the “G.I. Joe Corporation.” Whoa!

THIRD and most important: It turns out that there was more than one variation of these 1944 G.I. Joe metal toys, thereby turning them into a legitimate toy LINE (albeit a very short one, consisting of only 2 products). The second figure was a wind-up walker (no vehicle) who’s taken it upon himself to rescue stray K-9 puppies. Yes, you read that right. Remember, these toys were targeted to very young children. So shooting and killing “bad guys” simply wasn’t on their radar yet (even in 1944).

On the flip side— G.I. Joe's Jeep is boldly described as having

On the Flip-Side— G.I. Joe’s Jouncing Jeep is boldly lettered with “Watch Joe Go” and as having “Atomic Brakes;” fully a YEAR before the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb. (Photo: GunShyCC)

We asked Davis if he could describe the condition of the Jouncing Jeep (the exact one shown in the photo above) that he’d found at that antique mall in Ohio and he kindly replied:

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“One of the big rear wheels keeps partly slipping off the drive axle, because the factory (at the time of manufacture) failed to crimp the axle’s outside end to keep the wheel from going over the end, and that makes the wheel very floppy.”
As seen from the front, the toy is clearly labeled

Instead of Being a “5-Star” Jeep, the first-ever GIjOE only rated a 3-Star version. Nevertheless, as seen from the front, this toy was clearly and boldly labeled “G.I. JOE,” making it a “must-have” for collectors. (Photo: GunShyCC)

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“The rest is in rather good, but NOT Perfect condition, probably because it wasn’t run very much due to that factory failure. Someone may have the skills to carefully crimp that axle and flare it back out as it should have been, but in the purist sense, this is the way THIS unit was from day one.”
THERE'S the payoff— On the back-end of the Jeep, the manufacturer and manufacturing date are clearly written. How COOL! (Photo: GunShyCC)

THERE’S the Payoff— On the back-end of the Jeep, the manufacturer and manufacturing date are clearly shown. How COOL! (Photo: GunShyCC)

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“Look closely at my photos, and you’ll see that there’s some wear and tear on this toy. There is a small amount of rust in some places as well, so keep that in mind when comparing these on the open market.” —Keith “GunShyCC” Davis
Bottom View of the

Bottom View of “G.I. Joe and his Jouncing Jeep” (Photo: Grand Old Toys)

An original Jouncing Jeep box, over 70 years old, has sharp, clear graphics and still makes an AWESOME display. (Photo: Grand Old Toys)

An Original Jouncing Jeep Box— Although it’s over 70 years old, this box still has sharp, clear graphics and would make an AWESOME display piece in any GIjOE collection. (Photo: Grand Old Toys)

The top panel view of the superb repro box by Toy Tent. (Photo: Toy Tent)

The top panel view of the superb repro box by Toy Tent. (Photo: Toy Tent)

The box for

This repro box for “G.I. Joe and K-9 Pups” is rather plain by comparison to the Jouncing Jeep version. (Photo: Toy Tent)

Bottom Line: These are cool GIjOE-related toys, especially if you can find ’em with their original boxes (or afford some reproductions). Our sincerest thanks to Keith Davis and Ralph L. Tomlinson for educating us on this largely unknown and earliest aspect of GIjOE history. Remember… shop around for the best prices and compare conditions carefully before you buy. It’ll save you a headache later. If you’d like to see these early GIjOE toys in action, we suggest take a look at these two cool videos (shown below). Enjoy!

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G.I. Joe Fan Sets New (Unofficial) World’s Record By Building World’s Tallest 1:6 Scale Fire Tower

Chris Rowland's unbelievable 1:6 scale fire tower (well, half of it anyway) dominates the entryway to Joelanta 2013. If you look carefully, you can see a few 12-inch GIjOEs placed on the tower for a sense of size and scale. OutSTANDING! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This is only the top HALF of Chris Rowland’s incredible 1:6 scale fire tower (yes, you read that correctly). There are 2 larger bottom sections that normally go below these levels. Even at only half its full height, Rowland’s structure clearly dominated the entryway at Joelanta 2014. Look closely and you can see a few 12-inch GIjOEs placed on the tower to provide a better sense of its immense size and scale. Absolutely Phenomenal! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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Chris Rowland, master carpenter and customizer. (Photo: Chris Rowland)

Chris Rowland, master carpenter and customizer. (Photo: Chris Rowland)

Blurring the Line Between “Real” and “Miniature”

GIjOE fan and collector, Chris Rowland of Macon, Georgia, strode purposely down the wide hallways of the Marriott Century Center in Atlanta. It was almost time for the world-renowned, 3-day Joelanta 2014 show to begin and Rowland was clearly a man on a mission. His mission? To set up one of the world’s largest and most detailed hand-built structures ever created—for use with 12″ GIjOE action figures.

A carpenter by trade, Rowland looks every bit like a man who works outdoors all day with his hands. He’s tall, fit, rugged and muscular, embodying the same sort of physical attributes one might also apply to his most recent custom creation: an astonishingly accurate 1:6 scale “Fire Tower.” Utilized in forests throughout the world, fire towers enable park rangers (as well as military and civilian “fire spotters”) to climb high above canopy level and sight smoke or forest fires in every direction (Smokey the Bear would be VERY proud).

A closeup of this section of the tower while still under construction reveals how the knowledge and skills gained being a real-life master carpenter can come in VERY handy when building such an intricate structure as a fire tower at 1:6 scale. AMAZING work, Chris! (Photo: Chris Rowland)

Like a GIANT Puzzle—This closeup reveals how the knowledge and skills Rowland acquired as a master carpenter came in VERY handy. The extremely complex 1:6 structure required the precision-cutting and custom-fitting of hundreds of different pieces and sizes of wood, painstaking assembled with wood-glue and tiny (scale-correct) nails and screws. After that, it would all be painted and then finished out with windows, furniture and miniature equipment. Absolutely AMAZING! (Photo: Chris Rowland)

The expression on Chris' daughter's face reveals her surprise as she poses next to the tower during its construction. NOTE: The top-most level and "Spotter's Shack" is still missing and would add even more height to Rowland's construction. (Photo: Chris Rowland)

Beauty and “The BEAST”—Posing next to the tower during an early phase of its construction, Rowland’s daughter expresses obvious surprise and disbelief at its size. NOTE: The uppermost (4th level) “Spotter’s Shack” is still missing in this picture and added even MORE height later. WOW! (Photo: Chris Rowland)

Has a World Record Been Broken—or Set?

At its fully assembled height (including the spotter’s shack) of 17′, Rowland’s amazing 1:6 scale fire tower is, indeed, an awe-inspiring sight. And we’re not sure, but we also believe that he may have unknowingly set a new world record for the tallest hand-built structure ever created for use with 12″ or 1:6 scale action figures. (Anybody have a Guinness book handy?)

Unfortunately for attendees of Joelanta 2014, the lower ceilings of the Marriott restricted the display of only 2 of the fire tower’s 4 sections, shortening it to half of its normal size. To assuage his obvious disappointment, show promoters decided to award Chris their highest possible honor—allowing him to display his massive creation at the event’s primary focal point, the “visual nexus” of Joelanta itself—the Main Entry Hall. It was high praise from his peers that Chris well and truly deserved.

Besides his obvious high accumen as a carpenter, Rowland also proved himself to be extremely knowlegable about his other passion—GIjOE—by winning the always ardous GIjOE Trivia Contest at Joelanta 2014. Here is poses with fellow contest winners,

Flexing Their “Mind Muscles”—Besides the obvious strengths and acumen he possesses as a carpenter, Chris Rowland (far right, above) also proved himself to be extremely knowledgable about his other great passion—GIjOE—when he became one of the top winners of Joelanta 2014’s famous “fan face-off” known as the GIjOE Trivia Contest. Here Rowland poses with fellow 2014 winners (from l) Robert Browning, Jack Hall, Doug Gamble, and Alex Massey. (Photo: Jack Hall)

He's going to need a bigger ladder—In this pic, Rowland takes a breather to show off additional progress and the completion of the tower's zig-zagging staircase. INCREDIBLE! (Photo: Chris Rowland)

He’s Going to Need a Bigger Ladder—Rowland and his tower’s “zig-zagging” staircase. (Photo: Chris Rowland)

Indeed, after enduring months of arduous construction, the enormity of such a LARGE custom project surprised even its creator. In an exasperated update posted on Facebook, Rowland admitted:

“I finally finished all the stairs! Over 150 steps. Glad to be done with that. Today I’ll put the tower back up to check how everything fits and I have some minor adjustments to one section. Considering math wasn’t my strong suit in school, it could’ve been a lot worse. The only bad thing about the build thus far is that I’m learning better ways to do things as I get closer to the top. They say hindsight is 20/20, and I have to agree. There’s going to be a lot of tedious measuring and cutting in my future.”

Getting His Exercise—Joe begins his 170-step climb to the top of Chris Rowland's 1:6 scale fire tower, aka the world's best 1:6 scale "Stair-Master!" (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Let’s Skip the Gym Today—Joe begins his 150-step climb to the top of Chris Rowland’s altitude-challenging fire tower, aka the world’s greatest 1:6 scale “Stair-Master!” (Photo: Mark Otnes)

How DId He Do It?—We're always interested in how these "Master Miniaturists" produce their handiwork. In this extreme closeup (taken from 3 inches away), you can see that Rowland has actually assembled some of the tower using tiny screws painted to match the tower's beams for a realistic metal effect. Superb! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

How DId He Do It?—We’re always interested in how “Master Miniaturists” produce their handiwork. In this extreme closeup (taken from just 3 inches away!), you can see that Rowland assembled sections of the tower using real screws painted to match the tower’s beams, creating a realistic metallic effect. Superb! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Rewarding Hard Work With Honor and Praise

Although Rowland was only able to display 2 of the tower’s 4 sections at Joelanta 2014, his one-of-a-kind handiwork was breathtaking nonetheless. After setting up, as a final touch, he carefully posed 3 GIjOEs along its railings and staircases to illustrate its 1:6 scale perfection.

Then, stepping back to take it all in, Chris crossed his arms in satisfaction and breathed out a long sigh of relief as fans began to slowly and respectfully gather around him. At that early pre-show hour, only dealers and event coordinators were allowed in the area, but to a man (and woman), they found themselves stopping dead in their tracks, eyes agog, and grinning uncontrollably at the sight of it all.

The comment heard most often was, “Can you imagine how big the entire thing must be?” Indeed. Heads shook in disbelief. Whistles of admiration echoed down the hallway. Envious murmurs, followed by repeated offers of congratulations, respect and outright astonishment were proffered to Rowland, as the reality of what we were witnessing sank in. We knew we were seeing something truly unique. This was a record-breaking MASTERPIECE of miniaturization!

Joe Scans the Horizon Looking for Smoke—The "gem" of Rowland's fire tower has to be its intricately detailed "Spotter's Shack" at the very top. Yes, it also features a fully decorated and realistic interior. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Joe Scans the Horizon Looking for Smoke—The “gem” of Chris Rowland’s fire tower has to be its intricately detailed “Spotter’s Shack” set atop the mammoth structure. And yes, the shack features a fully decorated and realistic interior. GIjOE is always prepared! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This is AMAZING, isn't it?—Joe ponders the immensity and realism of his new fire tower while he looks down on attendees of Joelanta 2014. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

A View From Above—Joe ponders the immensity and realism of his new 1:6 scale fire tower while looking down towards attendees of Joelanta 2014. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

The Story Behind the Tower

We asked Rowland to recount the inspiration for his masterpiece and any additional insight he had about its construction and possible future. He kindly replied:

“As far as WHY I built it, let’s just say that I remember one near my house as a kid and thought it was UNBELIEVABLE. I’m a carpenter by trade, so finding the materials was no problem, and I’d been wanting to build one for a few years now. I’m always making things and I decided to combine my love for GIjOEs with my creative side. That’s all it took to get started!

Before beginning, I thoroughly researched fire towers online (to find a design that I liked) and then started in on all the math. The tower is about 90 ft. at 1:1 scale and is a little over 17 ft. at 1:6 scale. I’m not a modeller, so I’m sure I might offend some purists out there, but I built this thing to have FUN, not to win any awards.”

You Won't See THIS Anywhere Else on the Web—It's a very rare sight indeed, to look down upon the roof section of Chris' tower. Fans normally see this part of the structure only from below. Notice how even here, a place no one even sees, Chris has taken the time and effort to create a realistic metal roof with all the correct details. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

You Won’t See This Anywhere Else on the Web—It’s a very rare sight indeed, to look down upon the roof section of Chris’ fire tower. Fans would normally never see this part of the structure, but we caught this exclusive shot of it while Chris was disassembling and returning the sections to his U-Haul trailer. Notice how even here—a place no one even sees—Chris took the time to create an accurate, realistically peaked “metal” roof with all the correct details. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

“The lookout building sits in the middle of the top platform and has a railing going all the way around. That was the trickiest section to build because the last section of stairs had to go through the tower and to the outside. I must say again that I wish I would have paid more attention in math class!

The handrails were a major pain to do too, but definitely needed. It’s all made entirely out of 90% recycled wood materials from a local sawmill, and held together with wood glue and 23-gauge brad nails. Before I built the little building on the top, I put all the sections together so there wouldn’t be any ‘bad surprises.’

Now that it’s completed, I’ll probably set up scenes and take more pictures. I also plan on having a zipline coming off of it somewhere and make a short video of Joe taking the plunge. Beyond that, I haven’t really given much thought to what else I’ll do with it.

I would probably give it away if it went to the right place. For now, it’ll just go back in my basement. It’s built in 4 removable sections that mortise together, so it stores away fairly easily. 

Finally, I remember that I couldn’t stop laughing as I stepped back and looked at it all for the first time. Yes, 17′ sounds tall, but standing right next to it is a whole different story. It…is…TALL. Now the fun really begins!” —Chris Rowland, Macon, GA

Bottom Line: Since “official” records are not actually kept regarding such things, we don’t really know if Chris Rowland has broken or set a new World’s Record with his fire tower, but it’s more likely than not that he has. Over the past few decades, we’ve witnessed hundreds of customizers around the world creating 1:6 scale trains, rail guns, aircraft, bunkers, vehicles and other GIjOE-related items of all sizes and types, but NOTHING quite as tall, elegant and intricate as Rowland’s tower. Our sincerest congratulations to Chris on his amazing achievement and our thanks too, for his generous contributions to this article. Absolutely SUPERB work, Chris!

 

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“Lucky Shot Scale Leather” Creating 1:6 Holster Rigs and Related Accessories for 12″ G.I. Joes

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Lt. Colonel Aaron Luck, US Army (above), attended Joelanta 2014 and provided passersby with the rare opportunity to observe him while working, as he created actual examples of his superb 1:6 scale holster rigs and related miniature leather goods. Luck even brought his sewing machine along to stitch his tiny creations together as fans looked on in amazement. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This elaborate 4-gun rig really caught our eye. Look at all the perfect stitch work and complex assembly. Absolutely perfect! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This elaborate 4-gun rig really caught our eye. Look at all the perfect stitchwork and complex assembly. Absolutely perfect, Aaron! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Active-Duty Army Officer Stuns Joelanta Attendees With Live Sewing and Assembly Demonstrations

“Even I can do better than THAT!” —Aaron Luck

The more customizers we meet in this hobby, the more diversity we discover among their talents and creative use of materials and techniques. Indeed, if you search the “customizers” category here on The Joe Report, you’ll be rewarded with numerous articles on talented individuals, including a few dubbed as “masters of metal,” a “3D printing pioneer,” various traditional modelers working in styrene plastics, molds and resins, and even one amazing man working exclusively with wood and other “found” materials.

You may think we’ve covered them all. But as Yoda would say… “No. There is… ANOTHER.” Meet Lt. Col. Aaron Luck (active-duty, US Army). Aaron’s impressive military resume is about a mile long, but in brief (according to the LinkedIn website) Luck is currently serving as the “Deputy Chief of Combat Operations Division at Joint Space Operations Center,” and was educated at the “Naval Postgraduate School (and) United States Military Academy at West Point.” It’s not mentioned in his resume, but Luck also happens to be an avid GIjOE fan and collector, and in his spare time, enjoys creating 1:6 scale miniature leather goods—out of real leather—for use with 12-inch GIjOEs and related action figures. HOOah!

When he's not creating accessories for use with GIjOE and other 1:6 scale action figures, Luck is busy defending the United States of America. Here, Luck wears his "class A" US Army uniform during a ceremony held recently at the Joint Space Operations Command at Vandenberg AFB near Lompoc, CA. (Photo: Chad Miller)

As a real-life “GIjOE,” Luck proudly serves his country as an officer in the United States Army. Here, he’s shown wearing the Army’s impressive “class A” dress uniform at a ceremony held at the Joint Space Operations Command at Vandenberg AFB near Lompoc, CA. (Photo: Chad Miller)

A giant "Men of Honor" action figure customized into an oversized Air Commander (humorously) holds up a poster showing various gun rigs and other 1:6 creations offered from Aaron's "Lucky Shot Scale Leather." (Photo: Mark Otnes)

A giant “Men of Honor” action figure customized into an over-sized Air Adventurer (humorously) holds up a poster showing various gun rigs and other 1:6 creations offered by “Lucky Shot Scale Leather.” (Photo: Mark Otnes)

As I walked up to Luck’s dealer table at Joelanta 2014, he struck me as focused and methodical. At first, I thought he was repairing something, but then I learned he was busy CREATING something instead—a miniature 2-gun holster rig! Transfixed, I was soon joined by other fans, and we all continued to watch in rapt admiration as Aaron worked. I eventually saw that each tiny piece of (real) leather is cut out (by HAND), then carefully and skillfully stitched together using Aaron’s trusty, old-fashioned sewing machine. Finally, to finish each rig off properly, Luck carefully attaches tiny metal buckles and rings until the final 1:6 scale product looks completely realistic.

This unusual black double-rig is for a 1:6 scale "Jango Fett" Star Wars action figure. Luck created this outstanding accessory (from scratch)—during the first day of the show—in just under 4 hours. WOW!!!! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Luck created this unusual “Jango Fett” black double-rig (from scratch) during the first morning of Joelanta 2014. That’s EVERYTHING, cut, sewn, and buckled—in under FOUR hours! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

I asked Luck to comment on how he became interested in creating 1:6 holster rigs and he told me:

“About a year and a half ago, I was looking at that shoulder rig that came with the Mademoiselle Marie figure. While “serviceable,” it was bad enough that I immediately thought, ‘Even I can do better than THAT.’ So, I started making some of my own, posting pictures of the results on various GIjOE forums and Facebook. Other collectors liked what they saw and told me, ‘Hey those are great. Make me one!’ It spread from there. I just want to help other fans finish their figures!”

All of Luck's creations all completely handmade. Look at that unusual 4-gun righ on the leather-clad female spy in the foreground. And check out Bruce Willis' extended side-holster. AMAZING work! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Luck’s creations are all meticulously handmade and VERY correct. From left to right, a “cross-over’ 2-gun rig, another intricate 4-gun rig and Bruce Willis’ “Mare’s Laig” side-holster. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Bottom Line: How cool is this? In what other hobby can you get something hand-created for you by the Deputy Chief of Combat Operations Division at the Joint Space Operations Center? Just think about THAT, my fellow Joeheads! If you need to “finish a figure” and would like more information on Lucky Shot Scale Leather, you can contact Aaron directly via email HERE, visit his website HERE, or “like” him on Facebook HERE. We’d “like” to offer our own sincerest thanks and gratitude to Luck for his lengthy and illustrious military service and to his recent (and outstanding) contributions to the 1:6 scale collecting hobby. OOHrah! Go, Army! Go, Aaron!

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“Chef Gina’s” Specializes in Preparing 1:6 Scale Food & Drink for G.I. Joe, Action Man & Barbie

It takes a master chef to prepare these dishes in real-life. It takes a master craftsman and ARTIST to recreate them convincingly at tiny 1:6 scale! This close-up of a 1:6 FEAST is but a small sampling of the extraordinary miniature food and drink products offered by Chef Gina LLC. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Gina King, creator of highly-detailed 1:6 scale food and drink miniatures. (Photo: Gina King)

Gina King, creator of highly-detailed 1:6 scale food and drink miniatures. (Photo: Gina King)

“The majority of our customers are adults who make dioramas for military displays.” —Gina King (aka “Chef Gina”)

Come and Get It—In 1:6 Scale!

Spunky entrepreneur and 1:6 scaler, Gina King, of North Ridgeville, Ohio, wrote into The Joe Report recently to advise us that she’s been creating and selling her own line of miniature food and drink props since 1999, and that her products are ideal for use in any sort of GIjOE-related diorama requiring such items. Our imaginations immediately raced with thoughts of the Joes sitting around our offices and their “pals-n-gals” all set up in historic WWII sidewalk cafe dios, pulling all-night K-P in the Mess Hall kitchen, throwing darts down at the local pub with “me mates,” or just hangin’ and chillin’ in a cool 1:6 scale game room, playing pool and drinking beer. Oohrah!

Adventurer Joe reaches for one of the superb miniature lemon wedges on his fried fish fillet, saying,

Joe reaches for one of the superb miniature lemon wedges on his fried fish fillet while muttering, “I specifically said, NO lemons!” Very accurate 1:6 scale. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

After conversing back-n-forth, Gina kindly offered to provide The Joe Report with some free samples for our (and our reader’s) close-up perusal, and we couldn’t resist setting up a quick, impromptu “photo-shoot” with some hungry and thirsty GIjOEs, so as to demonstrate the exact scale and details of her superb products.

After inspecting the samples, we knew we wanted to learn more about Gina’s amazing “minis” and were just about to ask her if she would consent to an interview when our crack research staff discovered she had just completed a similar interview in the January 2013 issue of Dolls Magazine (DM). It seemed pointless to make Gina “chew on” and “spit out” the same faux food information twice (HA), so we’ve adapted and edited down the most pertinent passages of her DM interview and “re-run” them for you below. Our sincerest thanks to Dolls Magazine and Gina for allowing us to re-share this information with you here again today. Enjoy!

This ultra close-up reveals almost mind-numbing detail. Imagine how real Gina's

This ultra close-up reveals almost mind-numbing detail. How does she do it? Frankly, we don’t really want to know, because it might “spoil the magic” of her miniature masterpieces. Imagine how real Gina’s “faux food” will look in YOUR next 1:6 scale diorama. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

You can almost TASTE this superb Carrot Cake made by Chef Gina. The colors, the textures, the icing, it's ALL perfect at 1:6 scale! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

You can almost TASTE this superb Carrot Cake made by Chef Gina. The colors, the textures, the icing, it’s ALL perfect at 1:6 scale! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

DM: In addition to sculpting miniature food, are, or were you also a chef or “foodie” in real life?

“Yes. I have an Associate’s Degree in Applied Business with a major in Culinary Arts. My specialty was high volume cooking for up to 30,000!”

DM: Your website says you’ve been “Chef Gina” since 1999. How did the business get started?

“Chef Gina’s started on Ebay in 1999. The idea behind making doll food was originally my mom’s idea. In 1999, I was laid off from a job and my mom said, ‘Gina, I always wanted play food for my Barbie’s. Why don’t you make food for Barbie and try selling it on eBay?’ I said, ‘Mom, that’s stupid. Barbie doesn’t even eat. Who’s going to buy that?’ That Easter, my mom gave me a basket full of clay. We worked hours through the night ‘cooking up’ scrumptious food! When the business started to grow, we eventually created our own website (HERE).”

Chef Gina's beverages are the most realistic we've EVER seen at 1:6 scale. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Chef Gina’s beverages are the most realistic we’ve EVER seen at 1:6 scale. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Yes, your eyes ARE deceiving you! Although you would swear these are real, 1:1 glasses, they are actually in 1:6 scale. Are you officially

Yes, your eyes ARE deceiving you! Although you would swear these are real, 1:1 beverages, they are actually in 1:6 scale. Are you officially “blown away” by Chef Gina’s work yet? If not, take a good lonnng look at this side-view close-up of the two glasses. You can see all sorts of realistic tiny carbonated bubbles and ice cubes. To us, the goblets even look like they’re “frosty cold.” WOW! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

On a diet? Is Gina's carrot cake too

On a diet? Is Gina’s carrot cake too “heavy” for you? This Joe selected a less-caloric Jello 1-2-3 dessert with a perfect swirl of whipped topping. Gina’s real-life experience in the food industry is an obvious contributor to her superb miniature recreations. You have to KNOW food to make it look this good—at ANY scale! Mmm (Photo: Mark Otnes)

DM: Are you a doll collector yourself? If so, for how long? And what kind of dolls do you collect? (How many do you think you own?)

“I am a doll (and action figure) collector. I’ve been collecting since I was a child and now have 140 dolls. My collection ranges from vintage Kellys, Barbies, and GIjOEs, to My Scenes, Bratzs, Genes, Tonners and American Girls. Most of my dolls are out of the box; because I use them for displays.”

This extreme close-up of the Jello 1-2-3 (with Cool Whip) reveals about as much as you'll ever need to know. It...is...GREAT. Look at the attention to detail on that spiffy little swirl! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This extreme close-up of the Jello 1-2-3 (with Cool Whip) reveals about as much as you’ll ever need to know. Look at that spiffy swirl! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

DM: Is Chef Gina’s a sole-proprietor operation, or is there someone else involved in the business?

“Chef Gina’s is a LLC. Including myself, there are four people involved: James, my brother, is the set and design manager. He can design and build anything! A lot of his work has appeared in magazines. Peggy, my mom, you’ll see at conventions and doll shows. And my husband Kelly does all the behind-the-scenes work.”

DM: How would you describe the Chef Gina’s business? Is it just food for dolls or is it something much more? How would you explain it to someone who is not familiar?

“Chef Gina’s is a global brand. We make and sell realistic play-food for fashion (1:6 scale) and larger sized dolls as well as life-sized. At this time, our brand can be found online and in three stores. In addition to providing adult collectors with accessories for their dioramas, our products also influence the creative, young minds of children.”

DM: Is being “Chef Gina” your full-time job? If not, what else do you do?

Chef Gina’s is not my full-time job, even though I do put in full-time hours. My main profession is top secret….I basically sit in a “bat cave” waiting for the call!”

To celebrate our discovery of Chef Gina's outstanding 1:6 products, we

To celebrate our discovery of Chef Gina’s outstanding 1:6 products, we “opened the tap” and told the Adventure Team they could take the rest of the day off. The Land Adventurer and Man of Action take notice of the Sea Adventurer’s “two-fisted” drinking style. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

(Chef Gina's LLC logo)

(Chef Gina’s LLC logo)

Bottom Line: The final results of our inspection are in: the products from “Chef Gina’s LLC” are of absolute top-notch quality and are sure to please even the most demanding detailers and creators of 1:6 scale dioramas. We absolutely LOVE their 1:6 scale mugs of beer, jello desserts, and dinner plates full of food. They’re superbly detailed, durable, and just a lot of fun to play with. The prices too, seem VERY fair for all the detail and professional-quality workmanship you receive. Our sincerest thanks to Gina King for providing all the free samples and for the “heads up” on her fascinating (second) full-time job. What a great business. Go, GINA!

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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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!

Remembering DHI’s “G.I. Joe Survival Beverages”

The 4 flavors of the GIjOE Survival Beverages and their DHI shipping carton. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Back in 2000, Hasbro made a very unusual product-extension decision, allowing Desert Holdings, Inc. (DHI) to use its GIjOE brand name and related 1960s logo for a line of sugar drinks dubbed “GIjOE Survival Beverages.” The four flavors featured upbeat military names such as Commando Cherry, Platoon Punch, Gung-Ho Grape and Infantry Orange. The drinks were to be sold in stores nationwide and targeted primarily to young fans of America’s favorite action figure—GIjOE. It seemed like a “win-win” business plan all around.

Indeed, the product’s initial concept was actually very sound. DHI had chosen a very popular brand name, selected popular flavors and added lots of sugar. Kids should’a loved ’em, right? What could possibly go wrong? Well, plenty, as it would turn out. Despite the fact they were meant for kids, for some reason, the new drinks were not carbonated. To most, they tasted like a flat combination of ultra-sugary Kool-Aid and…plastic…or something (yuck).

The drinks were poorly received by the public and sales quickly flatlined. I remember trying out all four flavors myself, HOPING that one of them would redeem their purchase price. But they were all bad. They tasted more like the plastic jug than the flavors on the label, and I poured them all out. And I wasn’t alone. All across the country, jugs of GIjOE Survival Beverage were being poured down the drain. The rest was returned to DHI to be destroyed or sat on store shelves for months and sometimes YEARS before finally being sold. According to GIjOE fan Samus Aran on TNI:

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The graphics on the “canteens” were great. But the drink inside was NOT. Too bad. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

“I remember seeing these at Ocean State Job Lot (a New-England centered bargain store). They were little plastic canteens, filled with juices in 4 flavors. Knowing the store I got them from, they were probably a couple of YEARS old. Yes, I drank them anyway. They were ‘vitamin-fortified!’ But geez, they tasted like crap. Just like nasty cough syrup or something. But hey, they were automatically cool because they had the official GIjOE stamp-of-approval. Yeah!”

SIX YEARS LATER—the forgotten beverage suddenly made national news headlines. It was reported that an odd-tasting concoction had caused quite a scare at a middle school in Kansas. In the ARTICLE as reported by the Associated Press, an eighth-grader found himself in trouble after bringing one of the canteens to school:
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“A student was sentenced to six months of probation for contaminating a teacher’s coffee with a cherry sports drink. The boy brought the drink to school and a classmate put a capful into the teacher’s coffee as part of a prank. The prosecutor said the boy brought a ‘GIjOE Survival Beverage’ to school intending to place it in the teacher’s coffee. The teacher went to a hospital on Jan. 5, prosecutor Kristiane Gray said.”

Bottom Line: Ouch. “To a hospital.” Oh well…Despite the best of intentions, DHI’s GIjOE Survival Beverage ultimately went down in beverage history as a complete and utter flop. Today, over 12 years later, some shipping boxes and plastic canteens still remain in the hands of private collectors and can also be found for sale on ebay. The rest were (mercifully) dumped out long ago.