Hawk (1983)

What separated the 80s GI Joe from the myriad of other less successful toys to inhabit that most awesome of decades? For me, it was the way that Hasbro went above and beyond to create a mythology to go along with the toys. First, with the comic and later the Sunbow animated series, the Joe team was fleshed out beyond the contents of the packaging. Although those first figures and vehicles on their own were highly articulated and impressively mobile plastic army men, and the file cards were brief yet brilliant bits of marketing, the toy line gained a huge advantage in the toy aisle with media tie-ins.

If you weren’t reading the Marvel comic in the first couple of years of the Real American Hero era, you may not have known that Hawk was the leader of the team. Sure, his file card denoted his rank, and made mention of his leadership abilities, but the fact that the team leader was included only with a vehicle has always seemed odd to me. Shouldn’t the guy in command be highlighted in some way on all the packaging? Even less successful lines like Eagle Force got this right. Maybe it’s all down to the fact that the beginnings of the small Joe line were focused more on the vehicles than the figures. Regardless, by the time the cartoon rolled around, Duke was in the spotlight, and Hawk had to languish in animated form until the second season. I don’t want to get into the whole Hawk vs. Duke thing, but I will say that I’m a fan of both the comic and the cartoon, so they both hold a place of interest for me.

What can you say about the figure itself that sets it apart from the other initial offerings? Well, he’s outfitted with some pretty flashy silver straps and pouches. Maybe that was supposed to be the command indicator. After all, none of the other original thirteen Joes got the same treatment. Okay, Short-Fuze had silver pouches and Steeler wore a gold undershirt, but i think Hawk beats them both in the bling department.

Finally, a Father’s Day note. People ask me how I’m able to continue on with this blog, day after day. Some of it is a love for toys in general, and a love for the GI Joe brand specifically. But a large part of it comes from being raised by parents who not only accepted but encouraged my interests as a child, without judgment, whatever direction they took. As a result, I feel that I’m an adult who values his own efforts regardless of the task at hand, and is capable of seeing most any endeavor through to completion. My father had (and still has) a large part in shaping who I am. It is my goal to pass that same level of caring and support on to my own children. Maybe some day my son or daughter will be driven to pour themselves into a project that means a lot to them. As a father, I’ll be there to support and encourage, no matter where their future takes them.

To all the other fathers out there, I hope you had a wonderful day!


  • Ah, the original. I wonder why they made him blonde when he had black hair in the cartoon later on? Seems like the only black-haired O13ners were Zap, Stalker, and Clutch.

  • I assume they gave him darker hair later to separate himself from Duke. But then again, later on (Tiger Force Duke, LowLight v3, things like that) they didn’t even seem to bother for accuracy or consistency.

  • Though my default Hawk is version 2, i really like this one and hope to get him some day.

    Cartoons based on toy lines are usually dictated to by what toys are on the shelf. Hawk wasnt the leader in the first three parters as Duke was the “new” leader. Things changed when a new Hawk was released in ’86. Same thing happened in Transformers. Thats why Hound never appeared in season 3

  • Great Father’s Day message!

  • My first issue of the comic was #12 and it clearly showed Hawk being in charge of the Joes. Once I realized this, I had to get the Mobile Missile System since his figure came with it. I loved the figure mostly due to that fact.

    I also loved the comic’s first couple of years and viewed Hawk as the only true Joe leader, especially after General Flagg was killed off. Then, Duke showed up in the first Sunbow mini-series and I thought he was Hawk with a different name. But sure enough, Duke also appeared in the comic a couple of months later looking very much like Hawk’s twin. Even after I’d sent out for Duke’s mail-in figure, I still used Hawk as the Joe commander, with Duke acting as First Sergeant not unlike his comic book portrayal.

    To this day, I have yet to understand why Duke and Hawk couldn’t just have been the same guy in the Sunbow series. The mail-in Duke could have been offered as an updated Hawk instead since they looked so much alike. I suppose Hasbro wanted a new character but even Larry Hama didn’t know what to make of Duke when he already had Hawk so firmly established in the comic book’s continuity.

    Fun fact: My first exposure to customs was in the comic’s letters page where one fan mentioned making his own Hawk using Duke’s head, Recondo’s upper half, and Doc’s lower body. This kid wasn’t satisfied with the original Hawk figure featured here, so he made his own. I thought that was an awesomely radical move at the time.

  • Gosh, I’d never actually noticed that the original Hawk had the silver highlights…I kinda wish the 25th Comic Pack Hawk would’ve gone the same route to make him stand out a little more from the rest of the Original 13.

    And agreed, great Father’s Day message, man.

  • Dreadnok: Spirit

    It’s an okay looking figure, but it’s very plain and there’s not really anything visually to distinguish this figure from a lot of the first series figures. Being a general and the Joe’s leader, he should stand out from the others more.

  • A real “Disneys’s The black hole” action figure!

  • I made my own Hawk with a Short-Fuze head, Grunt body and some silver and black paint.-looked great but I eventually broke down amd paid the thirty bucks this figure is worth on line.Classic figure.

  • Actually the 25th version did have silver highlights. They were on the arms and legs. Granted it would have been nice to have some on the webgear too, but I guess it seemed a little impractical to Hasbro to paint a supposed fabric in silver. Plus the lack of silver on the webgear makes the original 13 more uniform, I guess.

    Still though, silver for the buckles at least would have been nice.

  • It would’ve been neat to have 1982 / 83 Hawk carded individually, too.

    Or as a two-figure pack with Steeler and the MOBAT tank.

    Maybe another 1983 Hawk thrown in with the 1983 G.I. Joe Headquarters.

    Also would’ve liked to see good ol’ Colonel Abernathy clearly designated as “G.I. Joe Leader” or “Field Commander” on the filecard.

    I like Duke, but I like Hawk as the leading star more.

    Would’ve been cool if in the 1992 “Terror in the Tundra” mail-away, we’d have gotten another chance to get this 83 Hawk instead of the 86 Hawk without helmet / without original black handgun…
    That mail-away figure did come with a nifty 1991 Cobra Commander gold submachine gun, though!

    (maybe to reflect the usually helmet-less Hawk of the early 90’s Marvel Comics?)

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