I’m fully on board with Kevin Fraser of Joblo on this one, anyone that collected G.I. Joe figures back in the day likely remembers being drawn in by the bold and brilliant artwork that depicted each character in such a classic manner, and if you found that one character you were looking for it was even more special. Sadly the man responsible for such eye-catching artwork, Hector Garrido, has passed away at the age of 92. While Garrido, who studied art in Buenos Aires before going professional, did take on several projects during his lifetime, one of those that he’s most well-known for is the work he did for G.I. Joe as the packages that each individual figure and vehicle came in bore his distinctive style and were easy to spot since the bright, vivid colors and use of shadow were so great that one couldn’t help but take note of them on their way through the toy aisles. A lot of people that collected such figures will no doubt recall just what it felt like upon seeing those packages and realizing they’d found the one character they were really looking for. Anyone recall those days? Finding Storm Shadow or Snake Eyes was a big one for a lot of people, but other figures such as Destro with his metallic head and the Baroness and Scarlet were pretty big items as well.
It’s fair to say that some of us had enough G.I. Joe’s, including Cobra figures and their vehicles, to stage our own little wars in the living room or in our bedrooms, but it’s also likely that we didn’t always pay attention to the pictures that announced what was in the box after we’d ripped them open and taken to playing or setting up our prizes in whatever poses we wanted. Kim Gittleson of BBC had something to say about this a while back. That’s pretty common really since packaging is typically cast aside once the goods are discovered and taken out for enjoyment. It usually takes a bit of growing up and slowing down to realize the kind of work that really goes into what we see and perceive and how it affects our overall mood and desire to buy something. Even now looking at the pictures should tend to move a lot of us in some way since the nostalgic smile such pictures can put on the faces of collectors is enough to remember back in the day when this was one of the most anticipated sights in the toy store. G.I. Joe was at one point one of the most popular toy lines around and as a result there were new characters coming out all the time, sometimes great characters and sometimes nonsensical characters that might have been purchased for the novelty of it and not much else. Some of the vehicles didn’t make a lot of sense either, but thanks to Hector’s artwork they were made appealing since he put a great deal of effort into making sure that people would pay attention.
G.I. Joe has been on a mission to make a comeback for years now as they’ve never really gone away in terms of remaining in the public eye, but the cartoons and the toys have certainly taken a huge dip in sales when compared to many other big names that have been coming up in recent times. Even the G.I. Joe movie starring Channing Tatum and Marlon Wayans wasn’t quite enough to do more than alert the public to the desired resurgence, as the follow-up movie starring Dwayne Johnson fell a little flat despite the fact that it was still action-packed and star-studded. People still enjoy the idea of G.I. Joe, but it definitely needs an overhaul at this point and a reason for people to come back, as following the source material, insomuch as it’s tried, still hasn’t produced the overwhelming desire that it needs to really step forward as a true contender at this point. James Zahn of Toy Book had something to add to this topic. Some would argue of course that the idea is still fully capable of standing toe to toe with any franchise out there at the moment, but that might be a bold claim without the solid ground it needs to stand on since other franchises have been reaching ever skyward while G.I. Joe feels like it’s still trying to get off the ground and keeps sputtering. It might be able to take off with a truly good movie or even a series if someone could come up with a solid and lasting idea, but so far the two movies feel way too disconnected and a running series hasn’t presented itself in some time.
At this time the hope that G.I. Joe can really take off running isn’t dead yet, but it’s definitely in need of something that can act as a pick me up. At the very least though the artwork that Hector has left behind is still a fond memory of the days when it was possible to get excited about G.I. Joe. Rest in peace sir.