Leaky Suit Brigade

A Blog About All Things GI Joe


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Email Interview with Former Hasbro Artist Andrei Koribanics!

Andrei Koribanics was an artist for Hasbro and he did quite a bit of pre-production artwork for the GI Joe line. He worked on Joe from 1983-1985 and did a number of pencil concept sketches as well as full-blown illustrations (in oil on board) for characters that had “passed the first round” of approvals. He was also behind many of the motorized backpacks. His work was for internal review.

From Andrei: “It WAS more than half my life ago, but I remember it well… it was a lot of fun and I loved the assignments… all done through Fed-Ex and phone calls. That was well before PCs and scanners, and I didn’t own a photocopier, so it was difficult to record what I had executed. Add to that the tight deadlines and there wasn’t much time to record anything. I think I may have some slides about, but I’ll probably never find them! :-) “
Sadly, Hasbro kept all of his work “in-house” so he does not have any mementos of his days with Hasbro. However, there are a few pieces floating around in the wild.

Here is the email interview we had:

-What were you doing before Hasbro? Were you interested in the toy industry prior to working for Hasbro?

I was just breaking into the art & design industry when I got the opportunity to work for Hasbro. I’ve ALWAYS loved toys (still do), and, having grown up on the original 12″ Joes (I’m 57 now), it was natural, and very exciting for me. I never made a conscious effort to enter the toy industry… it was pure happenstance that I had the opportunity.

-How did you initially start working with Hasbro as a freelancer? How long did you work with them?

I met Ron Rudat (Director of Boys’ Toys at Hasbro) and Bill Merklein (artist extraordinaire and master sculptor for the new, smaller Joes) through the MFCA (Miniature Figure Collectors of America) about 1983 or so. We were all sculpting and painting historically accurate miniatures (largely of military figures) and showing together, and we quickly became friends. Ron and his crew were getting a little burned out on the Joe line, and looking for some new blood to inject a little life. Bill was sculpting the masters for Hasbro, and, knowing I was an illustrator looking for work, he introduced me to Ron. I only worked for Hasbro for two years or so, but it was quite a busy time, with very tight deadlines… and I thrived on it 🙂

-Did you work on other lines besides G.I. Joe for Hasbro?

I did some exploratory work for a line of plushies called ‘Wuzzles’, but as they didn’t carry any weapons, I lost interest 🙂

-I’ve seen vehicle designs and internal presentation paintings, did you do other kinds of work for G.I. Joe like sculpt inputs (figure turnarounds)?

No… that was Bill Merklein’s job. I would never step on a friend’s toes unless he asked me to.

-What stage(s) of the design process were you involved in? Mainly early presentation art?

Yes, mainly internal presentation art. I would be sent a rough sketch of the character to be depicted, along with a few notes about what to concentrate on and accent (special uniform details, weapons, etc.) I would then create a full-color rendering of the character… I worked in oil paint on illustration board… a bit overkill for the other designers at Hasbro (most renderings were done in marker), but they sold the concepts and I sincerely enjoyed the process. I’m a detail nut by nature, so it was the best medium for me.

I DID do a dozen or so concept drawings for additional characters, all in pencil on tissue. I would get no more than a suggestion for a character (e.g. ‘message runner’) and take it from there. I loved the way Hasbro would create an entire ‘story’ about their characters and I did the same thing… again, getting very caught up in details.

-Any favorite vehicle or character designs that you remember?

I recall ‘Snake Eyes’ very distinctly… also a Bomb Demolition character. I never designed any vehicles, but I did design a series of wind-up motorized backpacks that I am still quite proud of. Either my designs were spot-on, or Hasbro needed to bang them out, but I was thrilled to find them in my local ‘Toys-R-Us’ when they were released, and to see that they stuck to my original designs by about 99%.

-Do you own/collect any of the final production pieces that you worked on?

Sadly, no. Hasbro was not very good at sending their designers samples of their products, despite repeated requests. As mentioned above, I had to purchase anything I designed, if I wanted an example of it, so I did purchase each of the backpacks at ‘Toys-R-Us’ …. then made the mistake of letting my nephew play with them… LOL! Well, his puppies got a hold of them and that was that. I figured, ‘heck… they’ll be around for a while… I can always buy another set”. Oh well… live and learn! 🙂

I don’t collect Joes myself, though I do see the charm, of course. I prefer model-building, so collect kits like there’s no tomorrow (mostly aircraft). I still sculpt and paint smaller-scale figures for my own pleasure, and enjoy collecting more realistic 1/6 (12″) figures these days. I am not as much into nostalgia as I am into realism.

 

 

Mr. Koribanics still works as a designer/illustrator/sculptor on a freelance basis. Anyone interested can check out his site at: www.andreik2.com


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Another JP Figure Picture

Hey guys,

on the bottom of the JP package there is a yellow sticker covering up a picture of another dino and figure. The figure is the red head/eye patch figure that has been seen before. The yellow sticker makes me think it may not be part of the line…. But who knows. I certainly did not expect these things to hit stores already.

Here is the pic:

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Found the Jurassic Park Figures at TRU!

So with the news that the JP figures were hitting retail in SoCal, I hit my local TRU on my lunch break and came away with a great haul! I picked up both JP figures, 5 Wave 2 figures, and a Skystriker! I really hope that the JP line includes the awe strikers as well as the other prototype figures that we have seen. I’m glad I waited on the prototypes.

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Interesting eBay Auctions

There have been several pretty cool auction on eBay recently (and a couple that are currently active that I will keep secret until they are over). There were several really rare international items: Manleh file card, Topson file card, Funskool Spearhead with gold boots and variant paint scheme, and two cool prototype auctions, resin ARAH Tracker and A Sludge(?) Viper resin (not pictured).

I like to post these kinds of things from time to time because unless you are looking for them, these types of things are rarely seen by the average Joe fan. The Argen 7 file cards are incredibly rare and super expensive. More expensive than the figures themselves. A little piece of cardboard can easily set you back $1,000 or more. I did not end up winning or bidding on these. It was bad timing for these to come up. I’ll have to wait till next time.

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GI Joe Jurassic Park Toys!!!!

So all those prototype/cancelled Jurassic Park figures that used GI Joe body parts are finally hitting retail. They are not out yet, but there are boxed pictures out now. And Jurassic Park toy site JPtoys.com says they should be hitting Toys R Us shelves (yes they are TRU exclusives) within the month.

It was really good timing for me because my will power was starting to fail and I almost bought both the archer and the dreadnok burnout figure. I may still pick up the tattoo joe because the price is $7.99 shipped, which is probably less than it will cost at retail.

Enjoy the pics!

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Some eBay Auctions I Won

I added to more items to the growing collection. First up in a MIB Tiger Rat. I have posted several times on here about my love and appreciation of Tiger Force. It really caught my eye as a kid and became my absolute favorite Joe sub-team. This gets added to the collection of MOC and MIB TF stuff I have collected. I now only need the Tiger Paw for a complete MIB collection of the vehicles. I have all the TF figures MOC (except for the international ones, the prices on those $600 and up are not something I want to splurge on yet.) This auction had really good timing because of the David Jensen estate auctions. He was a no-name collector who amassed a HUGE collection. His estate’s auctions got front paged on http://www.Hisstank.com and the prices rose too high and all the auctions went for a premium. So while others had to pay as much as $213, I got my for less than half of that.

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Next up is a 1983 Hiss Tank Driver prototype (Edit: this is more likely the 2000 Rip It test shot, because the plastic appears to be different than that used in the 80s.) It is a first/test shot of the figure. It will go nicely with the growing prototype collection I have. Now if only I could find any 2Up of a GI Joe, that would be awesome.

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3 Interesting eBay Auctions

Recently there were 3 very cool and rare items up on eBay that I wanted to share with everyone. Unfortunately for me I lost out on them. First there is a piece of original comic art from Marvel GI Joe # 88 with Darklon, Cobra Commander, Destro. Next up are two package art preproduction pieces done by Earl Norem. There is the Budo character package art as well as the package art for the Cobra Battle Gear Accessory Pack 6.ImageImageImage