There are many He-Man and She-Ra fans out there with loads of talent!
Joe Amaro, AKA: amaro on the forums, is one of them.
Many fans know fellow MOTU fan and customizer Joe Amaro from his massive Castle Grayskull, Ram Man or even his Robot Knights. But Joe is more than just a customizer.
"I have been a graphic designer for over 17 years now and I have worked with most Fortune 500 companies," said Joe. "I've also been involved in the toy industry in some way or another throughout my career."
Joe is one of the few customizers that has made the successful transition from fandom to a career in the toy industry. It all started when he entered a custom figure contest held by ToyFare in 1998. He entered his custom ThunderCats figures and won. After that, ToyFare's Zach Oat and Matt Senreich hired Joe to make custom figures for all of their publications at the time: Wizard, ToyFare and InQuest Gamer.
That led to making puppets for Sweet Jay Presents, which later became the popular Robot Chicken series. Who knew years later he would actually work on the action figures for Robot Chicken. But it didn't stop there.
"After that I started making sculpts for various feature films and commercials like the spoof action figure commercial Comedy Central did for Reno 911," recalls Joe. "Around that time I was hired by Jazwares on a freelance basis to help with their Mortal Kombat line. They liked what I did and hired me on full time."
Joe worked for Jazwares for about seven years as an Art Director, Brand Manager and Director of Product Development. He worked on all of their boys brands including Astro Boy, The A-Team and Sonic the Hedgehog. This whole time, Joe continued to customize and create. In 2005, he won the Honorary Award for Custom of the Year which is an award given out to recognize extraordinary distinction and contributions to the customizing and toy industry or for outstanding service to the toy industry.
"I never stopped customizing. It's my escape," Joe said excitedly. "A lot of people in industry customize! Seth Green is a big customizer, when we were working on the Robot Chicken action figures we would exchange customizing techniques. My buddy Pierre at Mezco is also an awesome customizer!"
Being in the toy industry has given Joe some good insight and understanding of the manufacturing process and the toy industry in general. Thinking back on his experiences and what it's like to be both a fan and a professional, Joe explained, "It really opens your eyes and explains a lot of things. As fans we get mad when our figures aren't exactly what we would want. Working in the industry you get to see and understand the other side...the ugly side. You get to see that most of the time the people working on these lines really want the same things the fans want. But we have to remember that it is a business and like any other business the bottom line is making money. And it's not always the manufacturer's fault, the retailers make a lot of the decisions especially when it comes to distribution."
"One of the biggest misconceptions is that manufactures choose where to sell their product, but this is not the case. It's up to the retailers to choose to carry the product. So no matter what making a profit by everyone has to come first in order for the lines to continue and survive, it's a huge machine! It certainly helps me understand all the issues MattyCollector goes through. Not so much Digital River...Ha Ha...but I can definitely understand Scott Neitlich's position. I can relate when he says he has to fight for things, you really have to!"
Working in the industry has given Joe the opportunity to realize many of his dreams to work with artists he admires. But importantly he has been able to work on the properties he loved as a child.
I have said this before, but I have been very blessed to work with some very talented people throughout my career, many of them my heroes," remarked Joe. Lately I have been extremely lucky! I got to work on some Star Wars toys and even met George Lucas at Skywalker Ranch! As a fan it does not get much better than that."
"But more significantly, as an MOTU fan, I finally realized a fan dream when I got the chance to work with the Four Horsemen! To be helping the guys that created so many of my favorite toys and to have the opportunity to call them my friends is an amazing feeling. Even more crazy, again as a MOTU fan, is that I got a chance to work with the great Rudy Obrero on his Manta Raider! His paintings of the original packaging art in The Masters of The Universe toys were what captured my imagination as a kids and pulled me into into the universe of He-Man."
We here at He-Man.org look forward to seeing more of Joe's contributions toy both toys and MOTU as the years progress. Check out some images of his work below. And be sure to discover more about Joe and his on his website and read more about the Manta Raider on his blog!
Do you have some amazing accomplishments and you're proud to be a He-Man and She-Ra fan? Then contact us and let us know! We'd love to share your story with the rest of the world.
And if you're an artist, writer, musician, sculptor or another talented creator, please be sure to share examples of your MOTU and POP work in our MOTU and POP Fan Creations section. Have creations that aren't He-Man and She-Ra related? Then head over to our Other Creations forum and share them with the world!