By Daniel Edward
Over the past two years, I re-discovered a joy for collecting action figures. I would pick up a few He-Man figures at a yard sale. Sometimes I would find a Thundercat at a flea market. I didn’t fall in love with a line of toys until I got my first Street Shark. Pool shark tipster was larger than my other figures. Also, he was painted with fun and verve. Further, I enjoyed the shark motif that strayed from the typical Muscle Man to something unique. I began collecting every Street Shark I could find. After collecting close to fifty I yearned for more information on my favorite line of toys.
I joined different social media groups furthering my collection. I acquired strange Street Shark items like candy dispensers and fake beepers. To my chagrin, there wasn’t any information on the company or the creators. The logo "Streetwise Designs" was on each shark and item, but Google searches yielded no satisfaction. With no information I continued to search, I just had to be vigilant to find out how my favorite toys were brought into the world.
Somehow I came upon an article on Mental Floss that named the creator Joe Galliani. The article was written well, authored by Jake Rossen. Not only did it name the creator, but had some information on the beginnings of the Street Sharks. I read the article overjoyed to have a beginning, but still had so many questions about my favorite toys that were unanswered.
I decided to play Internet Detective. Could I find the creator of Street Sharks? Now that I had a name I spent some time searching and found a bio of a Joe Galliani that was working in the environmental field. Could this be him I wondered? The pictures looked similar to the 90s pictures yielded in my previous searches. I found his profile and messaged him... hoping for a response from the creator, the god, the alpha of the Street Sharks. Almost immediately he responded: “Yes, that’s me, Daniel”. So I began conversing with a toy creator from Mattel.
I showed him pictures of my collection. I sent him screenshots from the Street Sharks Facebook group other collectors had started. I asked him if he had time for an interview at some point in the future. Right away he said yes and we set up a time for a chat on Monday. Monday arrived and I had every intention of doing a live video interview. Unfortunately, my mother had an operation at Fox Chase Cancer Center on Monday. So as not to pass up my moment with the Street Shark creator, I sat down on a bench in the hospital hallway outside the surgery waiting room, dialed the number Joe Galliani had given me and started the interview. It was not the video interview I wanted, but I was not going to pass up a moment with a Mattel creator who was being hospitable with his time to a stranger.
Joe Galliani: It was hard at first. Get me that He-Man or that Skeletor. I didn’t know which figure was which at first. After a few months, I caught on and knew which figures to display in front of dioramas and rotating lighted displays.
DE: (I was wowed for a moment. I was talking to someone who had been a part of toy history. He had his pencil and hands in my favorite pop culture phenomenon. I knew some Masters of the Universe collectors who would forever wonder why I didn’t ask any He-man questions. I knew I’d be lucky to get 30 minutes and I had so many questions about my Street Sharks.)
DE: What was Streetwise Designs?JG: That was David Siegel’s company he was the other designer. He had designed a line called Dino-Riders this toyline where he kinda slapped a saddle on the back of some dinosaurs. He was very proud he’d designed a toy line where he could just repaint the dinosaurs and put out different waves of figures. He saved a ton of money using the same molds, he was very proud of that. Now we had a new idea about sharks and he wanted to paint the same sharks over and over like he did with Dino-Riders. I told him we needed a more diverse line of different sharks. We needed a hammerhead, we needed a tiger shark... etc.”
DE: How involved were you in the cartoon?
JG: Yes I have prototypes, drawings, and unopened products in storage from Street Sharks and Mattel in general. My wife has been wanting me to sell them. I knew keeping them would be worthwhile as boys become men and then become boys again re-collecting their toys. I recently sold a He-Man playset “Eternia” to a gentleman in a collector's group as he was dying for it. I have an amazing Hot Wheels collection with special cars in special boxes for the employees.
DE: I have the beepers and candy dispensers... (I said proudly).
DE: He squirted water out of the head too.
I thanked him for his time. I never met someone so generous with his time while being so happy to speak to a stranger. I wrote down my last few notes and went back to the waiting room for my mother's surgery to finish. My only regret is that I didn't do a video recording, but I doubt the hospital staff would have obliged me. Beyond an amazing story regarding royalties he asked me to keep to myself, I had everything written down. I was happy that I acquired knowledge for the toy community and that I am now able to release it into the ethos. I the collector, the spectator, reached out into the world and found a creator and solved some mysteries of my favorite toy line. Joe Galliani is now a member of our Facebook group Street Sharks Jawsome.
Daniel Edward is a avid action figure collector, father of two, and Captain of his own Street Shark Team. For more Street Sharks talk, trading, and overall enjoyment join the Street Sharks: Jawsome group.