Tag Archives: G.I. Joe toy development

Unproduced: Towed Artillery Missile System

Unproduced G.I. Joe vehicle concept, TAMS, 1984

Sorry for the delay in posting.  School starts and trips accrue in September.  To get back into it and take a break from “The Rotten Egg” and my exciting internship today we’ve got Rich Rossi’s color rendering of a vehicle concept, the Towed Artillery Missile System, which I’ll call the TAMS for short.  In all honesty I don’t know anything about it, so we’ll play the reasonable assumption game.

Concept art for Unproduced G.I. Joe vehicle, TAMS, 1984

Drawn in ’84, it would have been pitched for ’86 or ’87.  But often concepts would get shot down, only to resurface later, or inspire a later idea.  In 1988 a different vehicle showed up, the similarly monikered RPV, or Remote Pilot Vehicle — boy did the names not flow for these two.

G.I. Joe RPV vehicle 1988 catalog scan

I don’t wish to draw a straight line between them, that one inspired the other, but it’s safe to say they both filled a specific price point, play pattern, and concept.  But notably the TAMS seats no driver and carries no figure, even by precarious foot peg.  And to further differentiate it from the RPV, by ’88 scale, detailing, and concepts were getting exaggerated and moving away from strict military realism.  The structure of the TAMS more resembles the detailing on earlier vehicles like the FLAK and the ASP, shown here.

G.I. Joe catalog scan details FLAK and ASP

There’s a stronger sense of parts and bolts and hardware, whereas the late ’80s styling smoothed out edges and surfaces.  Since these catalog scans aren’t too enlightening, here are links to much nicer photos of each, from the fine folks at yojoe: the FLAK, the ASP, and the RPV.

One thing’s for sure — Real American Hero had no shortage of small artillery accessories.  These were great for populating a small-scale battlefield with variety, even if they weren’t as much fun as “regular” vehicles like Jeeps and tanks, or as story-driving as a headquarters playset.

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Eco-Warriors Pirate Oil Baron

Unproduced Eco-Warriors Pirate Oil Baron detail by Kurt Groen

Before Cesspool became the lead villain for Cobra’s half of the 1991 Eco-Warriors subset, Kurt Groen pitched this unnamed character, a pirate oil baron.

Unproduced Eco-Warriors Pirate Oil Baron pencil art by Kurt Groen

I’m not sure what he’s dropping, something with a Joe logo — a pouch?  Spirit’s ponytail?  Later, when Groen colored this, he added a backpack with an oil-shooting weapon, looking ahead to the water-squirting weapons that each Eco-Warrior came packaged with.

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Hit & Run’s almost-1995 transformation

G.I. Joe 1988 Hit & Run action figure photo by Tim Finn

In 1988 Hasbro released a stunning G.I. Joe figure called Hit & Run.  Here’s a not-professional photo by me for context.

G.I. Joe 1988 Hit & Run toy photo by Tim Finn

No flesh tone, just green and black camo all over — his hands, his face, and his clothing.  Fun fact:  Hit & Run is [EDIT: one of] the only Joe[s] with whites-of-his-eyes.  All other figures 1982-1994 are flesh tone plastic with a paint detail in black, brown, blonde, or red for eyebrows and retina.  [EDIT: Two others have whites-of-eyes].

Here’s his turnaround, drawn by Mark Pennington, with machine gun, duffle bag (taking the place of a backpack), and accessories.

G.I. Joe 1988 Hit & Run figure sculpt input Mark Pennington

G.I. Joe 1988 Hit & Run weapon sculpt input Mark Pennington

G.I. Joe 1988 Hit & Run bag sculpt input Mark Pennington

G.I. Joe 1988 Hit & Run accessories sculpt input Mark Pennington

Many Joe fans know that Real American Hero ended in 1994, and the planned 1995 line was scrapped, although images of package artwork and product samples have circulated.  Did you know Hit & Run was destined, in a way, for a return?

G.I. Joe 1988 Hit & Run Hasbro memo as stealth figure for 1995

Indeed!  According to this memo from Greg Berndtson, Hit & Run, whose figure was never recolored or re-released, was going to be re-used for the ’95 line as the Stealth Tank Driver!  REVELATION.  Here’s his turnaround.

G.I. Joe 1995 Stealth Tank driver, sculpt input reused from 1988 Hit & Run, Mark Pennington

You’ll note it’s just a photocopy of Hit & Run’s, although a few specs have changed, which I have highlighted for clarity.  This looks to be early enough in the process that our new tank driver doesn’t yet have a codename, or if he does, as of June ’94 that’s happening in Marketing and Legal and the R&D guys don’t have the final name.

So what would he have looked like?  Kurt Groen’s breakdown tells us, even if it doesn’t show us:

G.I. Joe 1995 Stealth Tank driver color breakdown

Using these codes as a guide, I’ve taken the liberty of coloring that sculpt input myself.  So here for the first time ever is what the unnamed Phantom X5-3 Stealth Tank driver would have looked like:

G.I. Joe 1988 Hit & Run as unproduced 1995 vehicle driver

I’ve taken a small liberty here.  For clarity I used a dark grey rather than black, and I’m approximating “LT YELLOW GRN.”  “IVY,” as well, but that’s less up to guessing.  After the sidetracks and excesses of ’91 – ’93, the ’94 line was getting back to basics and ’95 would have only continued the trend.  That it never happened has always been a little sad, although the Real American Hero line certainly surpassed all expectations by lasting twelve years.  I hope you’ve enjoy this look behind the curtain at what may have been.

Fun fact:  Hit & Run is the only Joe [EDIT: one of only two] with an ampersand in his name that doesn’t denote an animal companion.  Law & Order was Law, the MP, and his K-9, Order.  Spearhead and Max is the point man named Spearhead and his bobcat, Max.  Well, that’s the word “and” rather than an ampersand, but you get my drift.  Hit & Run is this guy’s whole name, ampersand-ed idiom and all.

[EDIT: Thanks to Tolan, who caught my two errors, as noted in the comments below.  -Tim]

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Zartan’s Chameleon

…And we’re back.  Sorry for the radio silence.  Thanks to visitors who keep clicking over here.

Today’s post features Zartan’s swamp skier, the Chameleon.  No one ever called it by name in the TV show, and offhand I don’t recall it appearing in the comic, though if it did, it would have been around issue #25, and I don’t think anyone called it by name.  Here’s Wayne Luther’s design art for it, dated September 13, 1983.

Zartan's Chameleon 3 drawing by Wayne Luther

Here also is a photocopy of a photocopy of an early sample of the Chameleon.  That figure looks like the HISS Driver, but I’m unsure.

Zartan Chameleon 4 photocopyWhy the HISS Driver, you ask?  This photo must predate any production samples of Zartan back from China, and likely any handmade samples, so for reference, any figure was placed on the vehicle.  HISS Driver debuted a year before Zartan, so one was on hand.  (Or whoever it is.)  These photos were sent to the TV producers, writers, and artists, and probably also the Marvel offices for comic book reference.

The water cannon was used in episode #6 of G.I. Joe, but I don’t recall ever “using” it when I played with my G.I. Joe action figures.  As the Chameleon was not a robust construction, and was always falling apart, I stopped including it in my G.I. Joe games soon after getting it.

There were two TV ads for Zartan and the Chameleon.  One for issue #25, all animation.  Here’s the toy one, which uses some of that animation:

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Budo 1988 turnaround

G.I. Joe Budo 1988 action figure turnaround

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.

G.I. Joe Budo 1988 action figure turnaround art by George Woodbridge

Figure art, above, by George Woodbridge.  Accessory art, below, by Mark Pennington.

G.I. Joe Budo 1988 accessory input art by Mark Pennington

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Cobra Commander’s lost gun!

G.I. Joe photography by Wes Rollend

1982 Cobra Commander photo by Wes Rollend

I’m pretty sure this hasn’t surfaced previously.  Commonplace is Cobra Commander’s weird blow dryer/flashlight/laser pistol-thing.

G.I. Joe photography by Wes Rollend

1982 Cobra Commander photo by Wes Rollend

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.)

G.I. Joe photography by Wes Rollend

1982 Cobra Commander photo by Wes Rollend

From 1981, here’s Greg Berndtson’s control art for the weapon in question.  This was drawn concurrently with Ron Rudat’s figure turnaround.

Cobra Commander 1982 laser pistol by Greg Berndtson 1

Cobra Commander 1982 laser pistol by Greg Berndtson view 2

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!

Cobra Commander 1982 unproduced grenade gun by Greg Berndtson

Know of any other designed-but-scrapped weapons?

 

 

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Behind the Scenes of G.I. Joe – Cobra concept art, 1990

Kurt Groen unproduced G.I. Joe Cobra marker sketch dated 1990

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:

Unproduced G.I. Joe Cobra marker sketch by Kurt Groen dated 1990

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.

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