It’s Monday or Tuesday, which means another preview of rare, lost, and never-seen art from the making of G.I. Joe 1980-2000 to whet your appetites for my book. Today’s image is a 1994 Kurt Groen pencil and marker drawing of a proposed X-Soldier.
Very little is publicly known about X-Soldiers. It’s telling that they are neither mentioned nor pictured at the encyclopedic yojoe.com. I don’t say that as a swipe against the site as I love it and have referred to it weekly for the past six years of writing my book. Just that the line, unlike many other unproduced Joes, hasn’t been widely seen or discussed. Google searches yield almost nothing.
But print offers a succinct explanation: According to G. Wayne Miller’s Toy Wars, “[Kirk] Bozigian’s biggest setback had been X-Soldiers. Shown prototypes, boys in focus groups had been disinterested. The concept needed work, and the line was unlikely to reach market before the summer of 1996, if then.” (pg 185)
A line of traditional super-heroes that would battle for and with G.I. Joe, and each figure would have had an action feature. Seven X-Soldier characters are known to exist as color marker illustrations.
5 responses to “Behind the scenes of G.I. Joe – Groen X-Soldier”
Not hard to see why this concept or line never took off. I mean, aside from being a fairly blatant rip off of the Capt. America concept (at least the character pictured here), the uber-nationalistic Americana motif is a difficult pill to swallow, particularly in a toyline–I really don’t think that even kids are into that kind of sensationalistic hyper national pride. Characters like this are almost never seriously employed in a narrative (comic book, cartoon, toyline, etc.) unless being used as some sort of a foil, am I right? Sort of sad to see what G.I.Joe had begun to have to stoop to towards the end of the golden years.
Only this one guy was flag-wrapped. The rest were an assortment of super-heroes and villains, and while it feels like an odd detour circa 1995, it makes sense in context. Marvel’s X-Men was doing gangbusters in comic shops, on FOX Saturday mornings, and on toy aisle shelves. Also in the mix were Batman: The Animated Series, the animated Spider-Man, and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. The super-hero was king.
Would’ve been interesting to see these guys as a G.I. Joe subset instead of the neon ninjas.
It seems like Hasbro was interested in making G.I. Joe into anything but a military figure around this time. Too bad they were always trying to follow instead of lead.
I remember Bozigian saying something about GI JOE super heroes in a 1993 toy mag interview.