In May and June of 1981, Ron Rudat was sketching up a storm. We think of the original 13 Joes with their creative reuse of 3 distinct visages, plus unique heads for Stalker, Snake-Eyes, and Scarlett, but what were those faces going to look like in the first place? Today’s blog post is (a photocopy of) a page of Rudat brainstorming faces. Click to enlarge.
What’s even more fun? Rudat drew at least another 7 pages of these! And 4 pages of visors! And 13 pages of helmets! (I should take those in to my students when we get to our Character Design unit in February — “Look! 13 pages of helmets!”)
A lot of work goes into creating an entirely new action figure line from scratch.
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:
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.
I 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?