Category Archives: Toys and Toy Art

Wild Weasel color study circa 1983

84 Wild Weasel color study close up

We all likely respond to Wild Weasel’s signature red flight suit. Depending on the light, it’s a little maroon, a little magenta. But overall, it’s red. Red, the color of blood, the color of rage, the color of evil, the color of the Red Baron’s plane. Much of what made Cobra stand out so much from G.I. Joe those first few years, 1982 – 1986 or so, was color: Joes were generally greens, browns, and tans. Cobra was generally blue, black, and red.

After figure designer Ron Rudat finalized each Joe or Cobra, he would color several — sometimes several dozen — photocopies of his final drawing, and with markers or ink, brainstorm a myriad of color schemes. You lose much of the effect if you see any one by itself, as the real revelation comes in seeing ten or fifteen laid out together, all the strange and wonderful possibilities that might have been.

But here’s a might-have-been for Wild Weasel.

84 Wild Weasel color studyI think he might have gotten lost against a dark blue plane had he arrived in this grey. But it’s neat nonetheless. (Perhaps these duds against a red plane!) In what colors have you wanted to see Wild Weasel?

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Dreadnok Thrasher color comp

1986 Thrasher sketch color comp Ron Rudat

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Russ Heath Crimson Guard Immortal

Russ Heath Crimson Guard Immortal model sheet

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Mortal Kombat Sub-Zero test shot

G.I. Joe Mortal Kombat Sub-Zero test shot detail

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George Woodbridge WORMS Presentation Art

George Woodbridge WORMS

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Ron Rudat Recondo Presentation Art

Recondo resentation art Ron Rudat

Sorry for the time off.  Aaaaaand we’re back!  With something simple, yet iconic, today.  Ron Rudat’s presentation art for the 1984 Recondo figure, drawn in 1983.  Ron designed the first seven or so years of figures, the sketches that turned into the sculpt input drawings, and for the first few years, he did the internal presentation work as well.  This is a color photocopy, not the original.

Recondo resentation art Ron Rudat 1983

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Mortal Kombat Kano test shot

Mortal Kombat Kano test shot That Sonya Blade post got a lot of nice feedback, so let’s dip our bloody, broken toes back in the Midway pool and take a look at another test shot.

Mortal Kombat Kano test shotAgain, I don’t know anything about MK (although I did see the first film when it was released), so feel free to educate me in the comments about fatalities and the live-action TV show and oh-there-was-probably-a-sanitized-kids-cartoon-on-USA-Network and such.

Mortal Kombat Kano test shotKano here has the same body as 1993 Dice, part of Ninja Force.  Everything is the same neck down.  But Kano gets a new head.  Here’s a link to him fully painted.

Mortal Kombat Kano test shotNote in this test shot that Kano’s arm still has the Cobra logo.  But since Dice’s arms have purple paint, this led me to that one G.I. Joe figure that was recolored from 1993 Dice — 1993 Red Ninja(s).  The Red Ninja arms have the same dark blue as my Kano test shot, so I think that someone at the factory in China pulled the arms off a production Red Ninja and attached it to the otherwise white body and maroon head of test shot Kano.

Mortal Kombat Kano test shotMy test shot Kano has the same “Real Ninja Action/Spring Action FLYING DRAGON” arm thingee movement as Dice and Red Ninja.

Mortal Kombat Kano test shotI think Dice/Red Ninja/Kano had the biggest knee pads of any G.I. Joe toy ever.  That would be quite a Fatality, suffocating an opponent pinned under Kano’s knee.

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Russ Heath – Vindicator model sheet

FutureForce2_TEASE

Jim Sorenson and Bill Forster did a great job putting together two books of G.I. Joe animation model sheets – must-own for Joe art fans.  (A parent was browsing in the “Action” section of my comic book store, pulled from the shelf volume 1 of G.I. Joe Field Manual, and sort of thought it was a coloring book.  I would have spoken up, but it was clear from their casual browsing that they weren’t that interested, and I didn’t want to come across as an aggressive sales person.)  Animation model sheets started out in black and white, and that’s mostly how they were seen by many of the artists who worked on the shows.

FutureForce2_1Or in this case, commercials, since animated Battle Force 2000 only appeared in G.I. Joe advertising.  And I should say that artists tended to see photocopies of them in very-actual black and white.  Rarer is seeing the original art, here, pencil on paper, dark grey on off-white.  Russ Heath, who’s gotten some attention here at A Real American Book, drew today’s post:  Three views of the “Vindicator” hovercraft.    FutureForce2_2This is before Hasbro settled on the name “Battle Force 2000,” when the line was still “Future Force.”  (I’ve seen some Hasbro paperwork with “Future Force” on it.)  What makes these interesting is that they are early versions with different and fewer details than their Battle Force 2000 counterparts.  I’m not sure why, and it’s hard to tell from the ad since that only has four seconds of animation.  To my eyes, these models are clearly drawn from photos of toys (or toy mock-ups) or drawn from objects Heath had in front of him.  So maybe that’s it, maybe they’re referenced from mock-ups.  Not sure how that would have helped the animators, as they’d still need the final model sheets.

FutureForce2_3

Perhaps of note, or not, is that these three drawings weren’t done on the same day.  The top one is dated 9-9-86, the middle one is four days earlier, and the lower one ten days after.  That may not mean anything, as Heath had stacks of drawings to do for any Joe commercial or episode, and was working for multiple productions at any one time.  The other “Future Force” vehicle drawings I have are dated between August 5 and September 19.  That’s a big range for what was all going to appear together in one ad, but maybe it was a package deal — several ads and all their materials (script, boards, designs, sound) going overseas at the same time.  This is all conjecture.

But going back to “early versions with different and fewer details than their Battle Force 2000 counterparts,” you might be hoping for a side-by-side.  So here’s an excerpt from Sorenson and Forster’s book on the left (pg 125), with the comparable pencil drawing on the right.

FutureForce2_2compareSo today we have our usual kind of mystery — discrepancies in design — with some dates and guesses.  Makes you wonder.

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Mortal Kombat Sonya Blade test shot

Mortal Kombat Sonya Blade test shot

Some characters I have simply no attachment to.  That goes for the entirety of the 1994 Mortal Kombat line, and for several reasons:  1) I wasn’t a fan of fighting games.  2) Even if I was, I gravitated towards the drawn style of a Street Fighter II over the photo-realism a Mortal Kombat or Pit Fighter.  3) These aren’t great representations of the characters since they involve so many re-used G.I. Joe parts.  4) Oh, they’re not even in the G.I. Joe line. Continue reading

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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!
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