Tag Archives: Concept Art

Cesspool by Groen

Cesspool turnaround TEASE

Cesspool started out pitched as a similarly eco-themed “Oil Baron.” I’m not sure if that was a codename (probably not) or a title, but the figure and his ilk evolved and we got Cesspool. Along the way, Cesspool dropped his earlier name, “The CEO,” and Eco-Warriors dropped its earlier monicker, “Eco-Force.” We met the Oil Baron here several years ago at A Real American Book!, in fact, another Kurt Groen drawing.

Groen was primary figure designer in 1990. Here’s a color copy of his presentation art for Cesspool. 1989 and 1990 were the transition years where Hasbro stopped hiring outside artists to paint fine art renderings of each character that made it to internal final approval — not package artwork that would be seen by the public — and it’s here that instead of seeing Dave Dorman, George Woodbridge, and Bart Sears paintings, we see Kurt Groen drawings. These are often blown-up photocopies of his final pencil studies, colored in with marker. (And this is a photocopy of the marker original.) Click to enlarge!

Cesspool XEROX color presentation art by Kurt Groen

(Note the blade in the back of Cesspool’s boot under my watermark.) Groen drew Cesspool’s turnaround, his sculpt input drawing. This was handed off to a sculptor.

Cesspool 1991 GI Joe turnaround photocopy art by Kurt Groen

The blade is now a part of the boot, and not a hinged piece or a clip-on. These kinds of small details got absorbed and costed out all the time, often with sidearm holsters and grenades getting kind of mooshed into a figure’s torso or legs so that the piece would properly pop out of the mold in the factory during production. Any anyway, we lose the sense of these vertical details as blades and metal when they were painted black, the same color as Cesspool’s boots in the final figure, so they just become a decorative architectural structure for his boots. Instead of stompy boots, Cesspool gets really stompy boots. Here’s a tiny, crummy photo that you can’t enlarge:

Groen also drew breakdowns on Cesspool’s accessories, the backpack and the chainsaw.

1991 Cesspool GI Joe accessories chainsaw Kurt Groen

I’m missing a photocopy here, as there would be one more drawing to show the inner pouch of the backpack (the squishy part where you push your thumb to make the water shoot), the hose, and the squirt gun. While I didn’t love the bright colors and oversimplification of a complex political and societal issue in the form of the Eco-Warriors (Cobra wants the pollute! Joes shoot their own anti-sludge to clean up the environment!), I liked Cesspool. His uniform feels appropriately regal and flamboyant as a leader in Cobra and business, his scar makes him a cartoon villain, and as a CEO, he offered much to the ongoing story of Cobra’s business ties with fictional companies like MARS or Extensive Enterprises, although these links weren’t explored. As a fad character, Cesspool’s days were likely numbered in the ongoing story of G.I. Joe from the start.

What do you think of Cesspool?

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B.A.T. Concepts (#3) by Ron Rudat

From 1981 to about 1987, Ron Rudat was Hasbro’s G.I. Joe figure designer. This drawing likely dates to 1984 or 1985. As with the last two we’ve examined here at A Real American Book!, it’s Rudat figuring out the look of Cobra’s Battle Android Trooper. Here’s a production B.A.T. that I purchased in 1986:

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B.A.T. Concepts (#2) by Ron Rudat

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B.A.T. Concepts (#1) by Ron Rudat

RonRudat_86BAT_concept01_TEASE

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Dreadnok Thrasher color comp

1986 Thrasher sketch color comp Ron Rudat

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Star Brigade Cobra Commander by Ron Rudat

Star Brigade Cobra Commander detail, drawn by Ron Rudat, colored just for this blog by Tim Finn

While Ron Rudat is best known for designing the G.I. Joe figure line (and a few vehicles) from 1981 to about 1987 (for the ’82 to about-the-’88 lines), what’s less well known is that he continued to contribute after that.  Case in point, Star Bridgade Cobra Commander.  Remember when Cobra Commander was an astronaut?  You don’t?  Oh, that’s because you perhaps stopped paying attention to the Real American Hero line before its end in 1994.  Well, to catch you up, those final two years had a bunch of favorites (Duke, Roadblock, Destro) in astro-gear.  And some aliens.  (A topic for another day).  Anyhoo, full disclosure, I added the color above.  Today’s art is a black and white photocopy. Continue reading

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Unproduced – Dave Dorman Dreadnok

Dorman_UnproducedDreadnok_TEASE

As previously mentioned here, in the mid-’80s freelance artist Dave Dorman painted fully rendered presentation pieces of characters already sketched out by figure designer Ron Rudat.  These were internal-only to Hasbro, and not intended as package art or for public consumption.  Even at this stage, a Joe or Cobra could still get nixed.  From 1986, here is an idea for a Dreadnok that didn’t make it further.  Note the misspelled name. Continue reading

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