Friday, May 1, 2009

80's Disco Party and The Bearriors "controversy"

There must be something in the water because I've been getting a ton of requests from different people lately to use this image in various ways:

This was one of the first "one of everything" pieces I did for Wizard Magazine. In fact I think it's THE very first one I did for them. It was for an article on the massive revival wave of 80's era pop culture properties that were happening at the time (2004 or so). I've had it on my website for a long while, and now it seems everybody and their sister wants to use it for their party, or their softball team or dvd project or whatever - seriously, I'm getting a new request every 2 days or so. It's getting really annoying quite frankly, and I'm thinking of just telling everyone NO from here on out or even going so far as to obliterate the damn thing from my various websites just to spare myself the hassle.

I've also been getting questions about THIS character in particular, since a lot of people can't identify him:

He's Kodiak from The Bearriors - a group of eco-themed animal warriors, it was an obscure Coleco toy line and short-lived cartoon that ran in syndication in early 1988, and was kind of a cross between Captain Planet and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

In 2004 they were even all set for a comeback (in the wake of similar revivals for GI Joe, Transformers, He-Man, etc) courtesy of start-up company Topp Hatt Toyz.

Wait - you've never heard of the Bearriors?!

That's because they don't actually exist!

The Bearriors were an elaborate hoax that the ToyFare editors came up with, and I was in on it from the beginning, creating pretty much all of the artwork for the fake line. The idea was to make up this fake 80's kids property that was "coming back" and drive the collectors bananas trying to remember or find info on a toy line and cartoon that never existed, similar to what Marvel Comics did with The Sentry some years back.

It all kicked off with a two page article featuring some custom made action figures that they commissioned (I'll try to dig up some picture of those - I didn't make them) and I drew some concept art of the "All-New" Bearriors:

Kodiak, the leader, had a sword:

Polaar, the muscle - wielded an axe:

Koalus, he was supposed to be some kind of a commando/mechanic with boomerang shaped sixguns:

Pandor, the silent ninja type - he had a katana sword:

Cinnamon, the token girl bear who was an archer:

Old "splinter" like grizzly bear mentor, I forget what his name was:

Ruckus, the raccoon sidekick/comic relief:

The ToyFare design staff made a nifty retro-chrome logo:

I did a few more:

I also did a bunch of designs and graphics that the magazine "leaked" every few months or so.

And of course I slipped one fo the characters into the 80's article illustration seen at the top of this post. Bottom line, the hoax worked - if the nerd message boards are to be believed. ToyFare eventually came clean about it in issue #122, four years after it started. Silly bears.


thawk said...

I don't read Toyfare very much so I missed out on this. I would like to think that I would'nt of fallen for the hoax but I'm not totally sure.

Still, the artwork is very well done and I'm pretty sure that's what drove collectors crazy trying to remember something that doesn't exist.

Zach Oat said...

Your art was amazing, Ryan, and made us want to actually get this shit made as a cartoon. That big disco illustration was actually for ToyFare, too, not Wizard; the name of the feature escapes me, however.

I totally forgot that the girl's name was Cinnamon! The old bear was Grizzle. Their enemy was an interplanetary cyborg lumberjack named DeForest Cutter, who cleared planets of all their trees. We never did a design of him. The custom figures were by Joe Amaro, and we even had Eric Dlugokinski make a custom MiniMate of Pandor.

Fun Fact: Polaar was the name of my childhood stuffed panda.

Apothecary Dragoon Officer said...

Cinnamon is HAWT!

Ryan Dunlavey said...

DEFOREST CUTTER!!! Oh man, that's just too much - I never knew about that. I loves me some evil cyborgs, I'll have to draw him sometime!

Sorry about the ToyFare/Wizard mixup - hard to keep track of which piece of art ended up where - I know overall I've done much more art for ToyFare than I have for Wizard (and InQuest, Anime Insider, etc).

A girl bear is HAWT?! Seriously? Well crud. I knew it was only a matter of time before the furries found this…

mattcrap said...

see thats what you get for fooling hard researching nerds

Justin said...

You've just uncovered one of my favorite moments in ToyFare history, Ryan, and as Zach said your artwork played a big part. (I'll go to my grave proud of the name DeForrest Cutter).

I happen to be sitting in a room with a full run of ToyFares, so I can fill in the blanks a bit -

1) The disco party spread was for the feature "The '80s Strike Back" in ToyFare #80. We actually ran a character guide on (according to a caption on the piece), which is regrettably probably lost to the ages.

2) My recollection is that the inclusion of Kodiak in the piece was part of a careful seeding of the Bearriors that had begun a few issues earlier, when we included the line in an '80s toy price guide. We were very clever. The Bearriors story ("Breaking Down the Bearriors") appeared in issue #82.

3) I'm pretty sure I came up with the basic idea for the t-shirt design with Koalus falling amid the bullet casings, and I still think that would make a kick-ass shirt.

4) Everything about the Bearriors makes me happy, so thanks for posting this! And thanks for that Kodiak sketch you did for me at MoCCA a couple years back.

Dave said...

Thank you so much for posting this!
I can across this pic on a Facebook page and I knew everyone but that dag blasted bear!

And thank you for Google Image Search!

Whew.. I can move on with my life now hahaha.