Tuesday, May 15, 2007


As a child, I never liked Hawkman. I think it was because of the hawk mask and the ultra-realistic wings. I couldn’t tell whether he was man or bird or both. The whole costume was just a little too creepy for me. That probably explains why he was never a big mover of comic books: kids were just creeped out by him. As an adult, however, I was impressed with his elaborate garb.

Physically, Golden Age Hawkman and Silver Age Hawkman looked pretty much the same. Of course, as was the case with the reintroduction of these old characters in the 50s and 60s, their origins were quite different. While the Silver Age origin is pure science fiction, Hawkman’s Golden Age origin is rooted in ancient mythology. Carter Hall believes himself to be the reincarnation of Egyptian Prince Khufu. His girlfriend Shiera Sanders also thinks she has an Egyptian soul in her, and the two become Hawkman and Hawkgirl to defeat the reincarnation of ancient priest Hath-Set. Using something called “Ninth Metal,” they make anti-gravity costumes with cool hawk wings. The ensuing stories take on an unusual air of romance and ancient mysticism.

Like his colleague the Flash, Hawkman did his regular duty in Flash Comics as well as functioning as a member of the Justice Society of America. Somewhere along the way, for reasons I’ve never been able to uncover, Hawkman’s giant hawk mask was replaced with a simple yellow cowl which made him look like a Mexican wrestler. Although he was less scary looking with the cowl, he lost a great deal of his mystique. The issue was moot, since all the old super heroes got the boot in the early 50s. When Hawkman was resurrected during the Silver Age, his big hawk mask was brought back.

My custom Hawkman took a re-eeaa-lly long time to put together. Rauty’s Toy Store offered the basic Hawkman costume, which consisted of the tights, belt, and criss-cross chest thingee. The big issue was the hawk mask and the wings. I bought the costume years earlier, but it took a long time to figure out how to make the wings. Finally, I read in the Yahoo! Captain Action forum that a fellow customizer used the wings from an X-Men Angel figure. Although the Angel figure was several inches smaller than my 12-inch figures, the wings were oversized and, therefore, worked perfectly for my Hawkman. After snagging an Angel figure on eBay, I chopped off the wings and the back attachment from the Angel figure and re-attached the whole assembly on a standard G.I. Joe figure with screws and model glue. It’s not very pretty from the back, but the effect is great from the front.

The next big issue was the mask. Dale Van Slyke once sold a rubber Hawkman mask on eBay, but I didn’t think it was quite what I was looking for. I swallowed hard and attempted to create a mask with Sculpey. To my surprise, my clay modeling skills weren’t too bad and the mask did look something like a hawk head. Unfortunately, the Sculpey was too thick and the mask looked way oversized on poor Joe’s head. The second attempt looked better, although I had to give the wings on the sides of the helmet a swept-back look so that the mask would not be so unwieldy. Now that I’ve become more proficient with Sculpey, I may take another shot at the mask with wings that stand up on top more. The boots were standard red boots sold by Classic Plastick, but I used yellow electrical tape to fashion the talon-like stripes.

Anyway, here is the final product. Probably one of my most difficult custom jobs, but highly satisfying.

No comments: