Of course, though, that changed rather quickly. The reason for this was the acquisition of Battle Gear #1 in early 1983. Now that I had plenty of weapons for the four figures in my collection, I needed to outfit them all. I figured Grunt's M-16 would be the best fit for Hawk. And, in my first attempt to slide it into his hand, I snapped the first thumb of my life. Hawk's right hand was now useless. And, with that, the figure was somewhat useless, too. What good was a team leader who couldn't even hold a weapon? So, Hawk fell away and I focused on Clutch, Snake Eyes and Breaker. But, then, Return of the Jedi figures came out and G.I. Joe fell to the wayside. When I found Airborne and swivel arm battle grip in the late summer of 1983, it was the swivel arm that drove me to Joe as my toy of choice. So, all the old straight arm figures fell to the bottom of a box as new, swivel arm figures dominated my play.
In 1984, though, I started reading the Joe comic. I subscribed to it the day I brought home my first issue from the local drug store. By the fall, I was going to a local comic shop and finding back issues when they had them in stock. From these stories, I grew to like the Hawk character even more. He was the heroic leader that the team of my figures lacked. But, the broken thumb, straight arm figure I owned simply would not do. So, I went without a Hawk. At some point in 1985, I found a pair of swivel arms from an original 13 figure. It might have been Short Fuze, but I can't recall. But, I put them onto my old Hawk body so I would have the figure. This didn't do it for me, though. The bland paint job of the 1982 figures simply could not match the better paint and more visually stimulating figures from the subsequent years. So, this figure fell away, too. I painted up a figure that I meant to be Hawk that used a Duke chest. But, the easily chipped Testor's paint was frustrating and that figure didn't last, either.
Finally, in 1986, Hasbro released a Hawk that was true to the character. It also celebrated Hawk's promotion to general. For most collectors, the 1986 Hawk is the true representation of the character. Sure, Hawk now had brown hair. But, it was a small price to pay to get a figure that looked like the commander of an elite unit. With this figure in tow, I had no need for the original Hawk figure and he was taken apart and his parts sacrificed to other figures. It was only in the late 1990's that I went through my pieces and reassembled my early figure. Hawk was back. But, he was irrelevant. The 1986 figure was forever Hawk and the original figure was reduced to nothing more than historical footnote in my collection.
The calling card of this Hawk is the silver trim. In retrospect, the color could be meant to denote rank or importance. But, it was more likely just a way to differentiate the figure using minimal paint masks. Despite the silver details, Hawk's chest knife if not painted. If it were, it would too closely match is straps. So, this was the right aesthetic choice. The silver paint, of course, wears with notorious ease. Coupled with Hawk's painted hands and you have a figure that's really pretty brittle. And, even as a kid, figures with heavily chipped paint were overlooked. I'd make accommodations for paint wear on top figures like Flint. But, an old figure like Hawk simply could not overcome any wear to remain relevant.
Where Hawk did come back into play was in 1987. By then, I was mostly done with G.I. Joe. Sports and other pursuits were starting to overtake toys. That summer, though, I had an idea to do a last hurrah. I put together a "Bunker Cracking Team" that was all original 13 members and figures along with tons and tons of gear. I loaded it all into an APC and this team was going to be my go to team for anything. The APC had sandbags, grappling hooks, gas can, machine guns, radios, ammo boxes, barricades, grenades...anything that was remotely related to Joe was loaded into it. I scoured the toy boxes of a few friends, salvaging their old, forgotten parts for my new team. I got the APC loaded with all the figures and gear and....never used it. The idea of the team with Hawk at the helm was lost in the haze of the summer and it was probably only taken outside once or twice. It was a grand idea. But, one that was doomed due to timing. With that team's descent into the bottom of our toy room, so went Hawk's last real usage.
Even today, this Hawk isn't really a figure I appreciate. He was my last of the original 13 figures to acquire. And, that was only after I decided that I wanted a complete run of my childhood sweet spot years. So, I bought a Hawk and actually forgot I owned him until I went to put the entire team together in a drawer for display. But, I'm glad I have the figure. The sleek silver is a neat look...even if not really essential. I need Hawk, though, because the early team is incomplete without him. Posing an '86 Hawk among other original 13 figures makes him stand out too much. You need the original, bland uniform figure standing at the forefront to really get the effect of what it was like to play with Joe in 1982 and 1983. That nostalgic value drives all my desire for Hawk.
Hawk had just two accessories: his helmet and visor. With Hawk, the visor makes sense due to the MMS and the exhaust from the missiles. His thumb breaking with the AP weapons was a sad event for me. But, that gear offered kids of the era a chance to outfit Hawk with an Uzi, M-16 or M-60. With one of these, he was a good companion to Grunt. But, it would take until 1986 for Hawk to finally have gear befitting his position. You'll note that in the photos below that Hawk and my other figures wear their visors upside down. This is a leftover from childhood. I liked the helmet being able to go up higher on the helmets when they were not in use. The reverse position on the helmet allowed them to do so. This configuration bothers a lot of people. But, it's something that I carry over from playing with the figures as a kid and the figures look correct to me when displayed this way. I don't want to lose that connection to my youth. So, the visors will always stay wrong on my figures.
Hawk actually had an international release. In India, Funskool released an MMS. Early versions of this vehicle included a Hawk done in the light blue Indian plastic. This figure is among the rarest in the world. The plastic has not held up well and the few figures you can find are usually heavily discolored. Despite the MMS appearing in various other countries, this Hawk did not travel with it outside of India. The later Hawk versions got many foreign releases. So, the character was well represented abroad. This original figure, though, didn't see the international exposure that so many of the other original 13 figures received.
Like all 1983 swivel arm versions of the original 13 Joes, Hawk is expensive. Not as expensive as you'd think in the current market, though. While dealers will get $75 and even $100 for a mint and complete version, he's about a $45 figure on the open market. And, there's usually plenty of options available...some even including the MMS. As Zap, Scarlett, Stalker and Snake Eyes have all gotten substantially more expensive in recent years, Hawk has held out. That might just be that he hasn't taken off yet. Or, it could be that the figure is kind of bland and there are far better Hawks out there to represent the character. For me, the 1983 Hawk's value is as a member of the original 13. So, I actually spent a good amount of time and money to get a good one a few years ago. I don't really regret that decision, though, as it's unlikely that I'd ever pursue this figure again if completing the original characters were not a goal.