Dusty was a great character. He gets a two-parter in the animated series nearly to himself, the dramatic “The Traitor,” written by Buzz Dixon. Issue #13 of Special Missions is another great showcase. His action figure is unusual in that the face is obscured by tiger camo, and his costume is partially soft goods — actual cloth. The 1980s were good to Dusty. He even got a new color scheme when his action figure was re-released in green as part of Tiger Force. The ’90s weren’t so good to Dusty. In animation, voice actor Neil Ross was no longer at the mic, lending a thick twang to the character. Now it was Maurice LaMarche, who would go on to be a favorite of mine, but though he attempted a southern accent, the DiC version of the Joe’s desert warrior just didn’t sound adequate.
So by 1991, I lost interest in Dusty. This was especially down to the character’s new duds. Control art by Kurt Groen.
It’s a fine looking design, but I’d always wanted a similar vocabulary to carry over from version to version as Joes got remade. ’85 Dusty had that signature hat and neck guard, and baggy clothes. This new one was in form-fitting pants and showed off a lot of skin with that tank top. He’d never worn a beret, so this felt like Flint or Dial-Tone had fallen into a vat of yellow paint. In terms of fashion, I don’t love V-necks. Plus that V-neck skintone paint looks more like the clothing color. And while I loved the Joe pets, again, Dusty hadn’t shown an inclination to animal companionship, so that coyote “Sandstorm” was arbitrary. (An issue or episode wherein the pair meet for the first time would have gone a long way to alleviate this.) Overall ’91 Dusty is under-decorated and under-detailed compared to his earlier appearance.
Again, it’s a fine looking toy, and a worthy addition to Real American Hero, but I have no emotional attachment to this incarnation.
Here’s a nice pic taken by one Mr. Tim Meece, with permission from YoJoe.com.
How do you relate to ’91 Dusty?
Hey, all. Sorry for the delay. End of school and store events. But, hey, G.I. Joe!
Here’s Kurt Groen’s presentation art (marker over photocopy, not paint) for 1992 Duke in green, brown, and black, as opposed to the beige and red that made it to market.
What other colors might that trash can have been?
Yikes, has it been a month since my apology? Here’s another: Sorry! Movie review coming soon. Honest.
Dipping my toe back in the blog pool, here’s Blocker as a just-about final design, before he was “Blocker” (one of Hasbro’s least inspired codenames), when Battle Force 2000 was still “Future Force.” Continue reading
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.
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.
In 1986 Hasbro revised the generic Cobra Soldier, the anonymous man in a dark blue cloth uniform, as the Cobra Viper. The basic Viper is far from basic. He has knee-high books, a beefy backpack, body armor, a bigger machine gun, and a silvery face mask that resembles Cobra Commander’s. In every way the Viper is more aggressive and cooler than the 1982 Cobra Soldier. A brilliant idea that followed a year later was to use the name “Viper” as a base, and connect it to a variety of prefixes that denote specific types of Cobra troopers — Strato-Vipers are pilots, Frag-Vipers are grenade-lobbing specialists, Astro-Vipers are, um, astronauts. And on.
1988 saw a strange debut: Toxo-Viper. (Click that link for a photo in a new window.) The garish color scheme and alien-looking helmet were seemingly not a good fit for G.I. Joe, but the concept, a soldier suited for hostile environments (fuel spills, chemical weapons) was sound. And the Toxo-Viper had a counterpart on G.I. Joe, the 1985 figure Airtight. In 1991, with environmental awareness on the rise, Hasbro introduced an entire sub-line of toxic waste spreaders and fighters, the extra garish Eco-Warriors. Toxo-Viper got a redesign:
The above pencil art and marker art are by figure designer Kurt Groen. Here’s a detail, color added in marker to a photocopy of the pencil art:
The next step would have been a larger, slightly more polished marker drawing.
I’ve always found the Toxo-Viper version 2 to be oddly restrained compared to version 1. Waist-down it’s underdetailed and undersculpted, and the helmet is much less interesting, (although at least it doesn’t look like an alien). I suppose time and money were diverted to version 2’s water-shooting canon and color-change feature. I’ve never owned this figure, so I don’t have one to photograph, but here’s a picture at yojoe.
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.