Charbroil by Woodbridge and Sears

Charbroil was never a favorite of mine. His brown and yellow color scheme didn’t grab me, the shape of his chest plate looked like science fiction, and his helmet design made him look like a Cobra agent. Plus I was already attached to Blowtorch, the 1983 flamethrower recruit and the first G.I. Joe action figure I ever bought, and so the Joe team now had its second flamethrower. The fact that he was redundant didn’t make or break the purchase, but all the other strikes against him did, so I passed. (A year later I acquired the Night Force repaint of Charbroil in grey and blue, an improvement, but still not a vital part of my line-up.)

Here’s a wonderful photo of the 1988 Charbroil figure by Terry Dizard, courtesy of YoJoe.com.

George Woodbridge, that wonderful artist of military history books and contributor to Mad Magazine, drew this turnaround, as he did for much of the 1988 G.I. Joe line. Click to enlarge.

Bart Sears, about to leave G.I. Joe behind in order to focus on C.O.P.S., designed supplemental pieces, like Charbroil’s helmet and flamethrower weapon.

Of particular interest is the backpack.

Around 1986, ’87, and ’88, Hasbro was experimenting with lenticular printing on a few stickers (the B.A.T. chest plate and Lightfoot’s tiny robot), and one arrived on Charbroil’s backpack as well. Such objects feature a kind of animation, where an image shows movement across a few frames (like a flipbook with only three or four pictures) or in this case, a simulated 3-D imagery. As you wiggle the backpack back and forth, there’s depth to those yellow pipes, canisters, and circuits over that black void. They seem to slide a little to the left or right in parallax, as if they were real bits deeper inside that backpack.

It’s worth remembering that in toymaking, nothing is left unaddressed. Copywriters pour over every word on the packaging, sculptors and engineers measure every curve and angle, and designers delineate every detail. So yes, Bart Sears drew out the design for the lenticular sticker of Charbroil’s backpack.

What’s your favorite lenticular label?

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

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