Having a ninja commando on the team was just the start. In 1988, G.I. Joe got a real-life samurai in the form of Budo. Here’s his action figure sculpt input sheet.
Figure art, above, by George Woodbridge. Accessory art, below, by Mark Pennington.
I’m pretty sure this hasn’t surfaced previously. Commonplace is Cobra Commander’s weird blow dryer/flashlight/laser pistol-thing.
It came with his 1982 straight-arm figure, and the 1983 swivel-arm retool, and the 1984 mail-in hooded version of the character. (Embarrassing trivia: My brother and I never knew the gun fit into CC’s back! I figured this out in 2008, meaning I should probably call off this whole book thing.)
From 1981, here’s Greg Berndtson’s control art for the weapon in question. This was drawn concurrently with Ron Rudat’s figure turnaround.
And here’s Cobra Commander’s other weapon, the one that wasn’t ever produced and did not come packed with the Cobra Commander action figures!
Know of any other designed-but-scrapped weapons?
For every figure that made it into the line, dozens were proposed as concepts and sketches. Here’s a color marker comp (ink on a photocopy of pencil art) by Kurt Groen of an unproduced Cobra soldier — likely some kind of Viper — from spring of 1990. I’m not sure if this character made it into three dimensions, but I doubt it. Click for a slightly larger image:
Subtly refining the art and adding a touch of detail, Groen redrew this as a finished color presentation “painting,” but by the time he was involved with the brand the toy development process dictated the internal presentation paintings no longer be painted. The final art, not pictured, looks just about the same as the rough, above.
Presumably this character was initially pitched for the 1992 product line.
Today’s art post is the complete sculpt input (i.e. “turnaround”) for the 1988 Hydro-Viper. Again for casual or non-fans, let’s start with a photo (by me, not my fancy book photographer) of the production figure for a baseline comparison.
Here’s George Woodbridge’s turnaround. Such a crisp and clean line, and a deft spotting of blacks.
Note that the figure is referred to as “Cobra Frogman,” so “Hydro-Viper” hadn’t yet cleared Legal.
Woodbridge’s association with G.I. Joe is limited. He drew most of the ’88 inputs, and did many of the Hasbro-internal figure presentation paintings that Dave Dorman and Bart Sears didn’t around 1988. Writer Mark Evanier wrote a short biography of Woodbridge in 2004 when the artist passed away. You can find it here, but if you want a shorter version, I’ll just throw out the terms “Mad Magazine” and “military and historical illustration.” In the near future I’ll show a few more pieces like this here, and in the not-near future I’ll have Woodbridge’s Crazylegs (a Joe paratrooper) color piece in my book.
Here are three sheets of the Hydro-Viper’s accessories, drawn by Bart Sears. In toys, Sears is known for designing Hasbro’s C.O.P.S. In comics, Sears drew Justice League Europe and has recently penciled some Conan and Indiana Jones for Dark Horse. Of note here is the ray, the most bizarre of all animals that any G.I. Joe figure came packaged with.
Today’s post reveals some development artwork for the 1990 Cobra Rock-Viper. First, a not-great photo by me of the production toy to serve as a baseline for all you casual fans.
Interesting to note this Cobra soldier, of which there were many (rather than a specific individual like Destro or Gristle) has a moustache. So I guess graduates from training school had a facial hair requirement?
First up is Dave Hasle’s sculpt input drawing for the Rock-Viper’s backpack:
A black and white photocopy (probably of a color photocopy and not a chrome) of Dave Dorman’s internal presentation painting:
Note above and below there’s no moustache. Here’s the pencil sketch of what will become the final package painting. I’m attributing this to Hector Garrido:
Here’s the almost complete layout of the cart front and back, in b+w photocopy form, with Garrido’s drawing now a finished painting:
I don’t have a color copy of the painting or a full blister card (any readers want to help?) so this cropped close-up from my dossier and the tiny back-of-package thumbnail of Garrido’s final painting will have to do for comparison.
If you didn’t read this above, check it out here. Dossier writer Larry Hama’s sense of humor on display.