Vietnam Vet approaching 70 Makes Killer Custom Joysticks For Gamers.
“Only thing I left out was I’m a Vietnam vet. United States Marine Corps. I was an engineer. I blew shit up and loved it”
— Doug “FoeHammer” Johnson
So I got a chance to catch up with the man behind FoeHammer Custom Joysticks. Doug Johnson is an incredible builder, and with the help of his son, Sheppard, He’s an even better designer. I had to interview Doug because of his incredible attention to detail, and fascinating luxe design aesthetic. Doug is a vet in the game and probably makes some of the best looking fightsticks to date— he’s even offering to teach young people how to make their own.
Him: Can you introduce yourself to the readers who may not be too familiar with your work ? Tell us a little about yourself.
Doug: I been around the FGC since 2010, use to be owner of Dough Johnson Enterprises a custom furniture and cabinet shop in Colorado. Been cabinet maker fo 35 years and enjoy working with wood & the designing end of it.
Him: So I gotta ask, your’e obviously an expert craftsman , how did get into doing fightsticks?
Doug: Long story short a local gamer mom brought the kid into my shop which we recently had move to. He shows us what he bought online: a 6 button fight stick. [This particular custom] looked like a first attempt, and [the kid] told me he paid to have it made and then a light came on. From there the young man educated me on the FGC saw some tourneys and that was it, Called Sheppard my son and we formed up FoeHammer Custom Joysticks. Sheppard to this day is a key element in the design and artwork development of it.
Him: Do you have a favorite game ?
Doug: Honestly i’m not a real gamer but when I would go to EVO I was always watching Street Fighter. I did like Killer Instinct a lot. I still suck at gaming needless to say.
Him: How has the public response to your been ? Mostly positive?
Doug: For the most part the gaming community has been great but i can’t say there hasn’t been any negative talk. Some gamers have outright told me to go away but here I am going onto 70 years old and still supporting the FGC the best way we can with some low costs sticks and some killer art.
Him: Wait — Why are people in the FGC telling you to go away?
Doug: Because they think I’m not relevant to the gamer, But I am they just don’t get it. Sheppard and I have gone as far as to not raising our prices in the last six years just to keep it easy for the young folks to get into it. We’ve had so many price increases on materials we use but not once have we raised prices. We absorbed the increased cost which inevitably cost us. We’re still here cause we like what we do.
Doug: Sorry don’t wanna sound whinny. They also I guess just don’t like old guys in the game. Who knows
Him: You think they are intimated by the price?
Doug: Everyone else’s prices have noticeably increased so I just don’t know. We do have a lot of customers that say they're more than happy with our cost and they appreciate our price points. We just sent one more cash to a client that has bought 7 fully loaded custom cases from us all Venom themed and he never once complained about cost so go figure. We even got new stick builders of the year once from Shoryuken.
Him: Your stuff is absolutely incredible. How do you find inspiration for the work you do?
Doug: I learned from my son Sheppard that everything is art. Its just how you look at it. I think thats why some of his stick ideas were so out there to me. nowadays its just looking at everything with an objective eye. Sometimes i’ll even wake up in the middle of the night with a new shape or degree of cut.
Him: Are there any materials or styles you haven’t been able to work with yet but plan on it ?
Doug: Wood has been our main source of material but we have been experimenting with plexiglass. We have looked at everyones plexi designs and shapes and unfortunately to me they are basically the same. We on the other hand have tried to simplify and streamline by eliminating parts by actually bending plexiglass. we have even gone as far as to bend up to 5/8 inch thick plexi with mixed results.
Him: What sort of advice can you give to people who want to do get into this type of work?
Doug: Advice from the old, is to try everything. Don’t limit yourself to any one thing. Practice, practice, practice. When you think you got it all figured out… well… if you do then you’re gonna find out otherwise. We even just recently started showing our trash can with dead cases cause we thought we knew it all — wrong!
Him: Do you have a favorite piece you’ve done so far ?
Doug: I think to this day my favorite was one of Sheppard’s designs the Star Wars case with the ball-top being the death star. (And Steve, one of the cleanest wire guys out there did the LED that one was by far my favorite.)
Him: Absolutely amazing. What other things are you into or like to do?
Doug: I found myself getting burnt out from time to time, so I go down to the range. I love shooting my guns and just relaxing.
Him: Any plans or goals for FoeHammer in 2019?
Doug: For 2019 our goal is to teach anyone how to build their own case before I finally give up. Tricks of the trade, simple ones and some tough ones…all before I go.
Him: Thank you so much Doug, I’ll have to take you up on that…. Any final thoughts?
Doug: My final pronounces for the FGC — I remember my first EVO and how great the atmosphere was but after another EVO I could see the change coming. Folks would do a little trash talk here and there, normal I know, but now I watch and read instead of going cause unfortunately this has gotten to another level. It’s not just me seeing it I have watched James Fink read the riot act to our gamers and a lot still don’t get it. what the FGC doest realize is that you have gamers from around the world for the most part and its amazing how we all get along, unlike much of the rest of the world.
SHOP FOEHAMMER : https://www.facebook.com/FoeHammerCustomJoysticks/