Kurt Groen’s Cobra Zombie

Kurt Groen 1990 G.I. Joe Cobra Zombie pencil detail

Hey, all.  Sorry for the delay.  End of school and store events.  But, hey, G.I. Joe!

Today’s blog art comes from the pencil of Kurt Groen, one of the major G.I. Joe figure designers at Hasbro.  Two variations, the first which we might call “Cobra Zombie” or “Random Zombie Dude in Non-Descript Attire.”

Kurt Groen 1990 G.I. Joe Cobra Zombie pencil art

And a second drawing of an ’86 Viper as a zombie.  (Customizers go crazy…  Now!)

Kurt Groen 1990 G.I. Joe Cobra Zombie pencil artBut the back of the first pencil drawing gives us some story material, making it appear as if “Random Dude” is in fact random, and not a member of Cobra.  Which sounds a little like “Captives of Cobra” crossed with “The Phantom Brigade,” so I love it:

Kurt Groen 1990 G.I. Joe Cobra Zombie pencil art

First off I have to state the obvious, that “Gummy brain, top of head comes off, kid eats brain” is astoundingly bizarre.  As a pre-teen that liked G.I. Joe to stay “realistic,” this would have been distressing.  As an aficionado on this side of hindsight, I love it.  I don’t know how the gummy brain feature would have been toy-ized, or if it was even possible given the vagaries of engineering and safety standards, but I am already enjoying writing the commercial for this figure in my head.

Some of you are thinking “1991 Toxo-Zombie!”  Indeed, that’s a good point of comparison.  Groen’s art above dates to July and August 1990.  I don’t have concept sketches for Toxo-Zombie, but I do have a copy of the turnaround, which is dated April 1991, and was also drawn by Groen.  And figures were developed over months, so zombies were in the air, and it’s reasonable to assume that the drawings above are part of the development process which netted us the ’91 Toxo Zombie.

You may now be inspired to hollow out your favorite Cobra’s head and place in it a drop or two of corn syrup, Pixy Stix powder, or a third of a gummy bear head.  Please send photos.




Filed under G.I. Joe Behind the Scenes, Toys and Toy Art

4 responses to “Kurt Groen’s Cobra Zombie

  1. Clutch

    The ultimate “interactive” customization! Truly it can be said: Hazblo designers are the craaazzziest peeples!

    Kurt and the gang were Pawtucket’s answer to Disney’s Imagineers. “Gummy brain, top of head comes off, kid eats brain” would have netted Hasbro some primo publicity back in the day.

  2. Nova

    Man…how rare would that “Candy Brain” Accessory be…

  3. Two words just made my day: not Cobra Zombie, but Gummy Brain. Beats a light-up spring launcher any day.

  4. Bravo

    Somebody needs to ask Groen if the edible brain thing was a joke.

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