Johnny as Blackhawk

Here's my first attempt at creating a custom Johnny West figure.

Growing up in the 60's in a military family, I was naturally drawn to the great Silver Age of Blackhawk comics. A great site on this topic is the Unofficial Blackhawk Comics Website. Here is an excerpt from that site describing the origin of Blackhawk!

"A Polish-American, the man who would come to be called Blackhawk watched in frustration as his ancestral homeland was overrun by the Nazi scourge. Since America had not yet entered World War II, the young pilot joined the Polish resistance, flying a plane he'd painted jet black and scoring countless successes in night runs against the enemy.

Completing one such run, he was pursued to his family's farm by the Nazi Colonel Von Tepp, and watched in helpless rage as Von Tepp bombed the farmhouse slaying the young pilot's brother and sister.

Vowing vengeance, the young pilot created the identity of Blackhawk, and launched a one-man terror campaign against history's greatest oppressors. Other pilots, inspired by his example, soon joined him in his mission, forming a volunteer paramilitary unit second to none in the history of combat. Anserable soley to Great Britain's Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, the Blackhawks became a force to be reckoned with."

There's my inspiration, and here's the result:

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Body Decision

First I had to decide on what body to use for my figure. After studying the Blackhawk uniform, I tried to do some customizing of an old Johnny body I had. After painstakingly customizing the front of the uniform (flap with buttons), I chose a pair of cavalry legs because of the boots.... Well, much to my shock and amazement, the legs wouldn't fit the hips of Johnny very well! ARRRGH! My first lesson in customizing - Make sure everything fits before going too far. The Johnny West universe may look interchangable, but try it first.

Not too bad of a lesson, as I learned some tips about customizing the torso anyway. For example, don't use super-sculpty on the body. You have to bake super-sculpty to make it hard and the baking temperature is much higher than the plastic of the body can stand - Oh well, another torso bites the dust!

After this, I got hold of a beat up General Custer body and with lots of wet sanding to smooth out the rough spots, exacto knife cutting and some customizing with a 2-part plastic epoxy, I was able to get the body I wanted.

Head Work
The next challenge was painting the head. No problem deciding which head to use. The lantern-jawed Johnny is a dead-ringer for Blackhawk. To paint his hair I used a dark blue mixed with a touch of black for the base coat. Then I used a wash of blue to give it some highlights and sealed it all with a coat of clear coat. For the steely-blue eyes of our intrepid hero I used a dot of nice sky blue.

Hat and Uniform Work

Obviously, most of my time was spent on these parts. The hat was a GI Joe custom WWII German visor cap I got from someone years ago. I had to remove the eagle/swastika but that was easily done. Using dark blue, black and yellow I painted the hat, with a gloss coat on the visor. The 'device' on the hat I made with the a thin, round piece of that 2-part epoxy. Then painted and glued it to the cap.

The body was modified to close up Custer's shirt flap. I also had to remove lots of the plastic where custer's flap is folded over and some buttons. Wet-sanding the torso was labor intensive, and I probably could have done a better job, but it was ponderous! After the torso was finished I started on the painting. I spray painted on a coat of primer and painted several thin coats of the base blue. I didn't want to 'fill' in all the wrinkles. Some highlighting and clear coats later I finally had the body painted. I'm still looking for a sealer that will protect the paint in the joints during posing. I had to repaint a couple of spots after I re-assembled him.

The brass buttons I made from brass brads (nails) by cutting off the nail heads and glueing them on the shrit. Looked all over for a brass piece I could use as the hat device, but no luck ;-( (any ideas??). The Blackhawk chest emblem I made in photoshop and printed on paper. I then cut it out and glued it on his chest. I tried adhesive paper (address labels) but it just didn't look as good. Still wondering if I need to spray another coat of sealer over the top of this emblem or just leave well enough alone....

Ahhh, the devil is in the details. Being done with the painting I needed to add some POP to Blackhawk! I used a piece of yellow styrene for his belt buckle and added a couple of layers of gloss sealer to his jack-boots to give them that spit shined look!

For the final touch, a spare yellow neckerchief from the re-issue custer figure made the perfect accessory!

And (drum roll please), Here you have BLACKHAWK!