David Vennemeyer, an artillery commander from Victoria, Texas, is an ex-wrestler with a fast temper. And, according to his military file, he can “single-handedly mow down a squadron and keep on going without breaking a sweat.” Of course, he only stands about four inches tall—and has trouble standing at that.
Plus, he’s not even the real David Vennemeyer. He’s really just a G.I. Joe figure created by the eponymous sculpture manager at Hasbro. The 1995 graduate lent his name and likeness to the plastic action figure, which also goes by the name Major Barrage.
Vennemeyer—the real one, that is—studied ceramic sculpture at the University and landed a co-op with Kenner Toys (now Hasbro) his senior year. That evolved into a full-time job after graduation, and he’s been there ever since. For the past 10 years, Vennemeyer’s primarily worked on the Star Wars line, but has also sculpted figures for G.I. Joe, Jurassic Park, Batman and numerous other brands and movies.
It takes about two weeks to finish sculpting an average figure, and Vennemeyer uses handmade tools and a lot of dental instruments to detail the hard, wax-based material.
“I enjoy making something that so many kids and adults get excited about—it really is quite infectious,” he says. “I also still get a charge about things that I have sculpted showing up on retailer shelves around the world, from London to Australia, or even back at home in Cincinnati.”