In the development process at Hasbro, every G.I. Joe figure that made it to retail (and some that didn’t!) got a fancy drawing or painting whereby the higher-ups could see the character as a bold, dramatic illustration. This wasn’t the package art that we all saw on toy store shelves, but rather, internal only to Hasbro. A pencil turnaround of the figure from front, side, and rear views didn’t offer enough punch, nor did a sculpt or a casting. George Woodbridge, better known for military history books and Mad Magazine, was one of the eight or so artists who created these. (He also delineated most of the 1988 turnarounds.)
Tag Archives: George Woodbridge
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 art peak brings you several photocopies of Russ Heath’s model sheets for the 1985 season of the animated G.I. Joe. While the Snake-Eyes action figure was iconically all black, the TV series had previously shown him in dark blue. (All black doesn’t “read” well in animation.) For 1985, SE went dark grey, which to my eye reads better than the dark blue and works better as a stand-in for black since dark blue is already associated with Cobra. Russ Heath’s front view:
Clearly based, as many of his drawings were, on Hasbro’s internal presentation artwork:
This one, a black and white photocopy, doesn’t have a signature, and I’ll admit I don’t know who painted it. To my eye it’s not Ron Rudat — the proportions and clothing folds don’t match with work that I know is Rudat. The anatomy is tight, which says George Woodbridge, but his Joe work was colored and black ink, not rendered paintings. Maybe one of you eagle eyed Joe collectors can correct me in the comments. There is a slightly better reproduction of this image, still a black and white photocopy of a color photocopy, though, in Vincent Santelmo’s Official 30th Anniversary Salute to G.I. Joe.
Two more views by Heath:
And SE’s undercover disguise, drawn by Bruce Timm, from the beginning of “Battle for the Train of Gold.” To give you a sense of the timeline, this was drawn in August 1984, and the episode aired 14 months later.
And what appears to be an unused alternate from same.
I’m not sure where in the storyline of “Train” there would have been an opportunity for SE to wear this, but there is a horse farm in act 3, so who knows?