Once again, I find myself talking about a figure that I think is great and is controversial even though it shouldn’t be. This time around, it’s Billy Kessler (sorry, GIJCC, I refuse to use the name “Billy Arboc” for him—it’s just not a good last name). When Billy was announced for FSS 4.0, there were a lot of people who thought the GIJCC would be giving us the 10-year-old Cobra Scout version. Now, I’ll admit, that’s an iconic moment from the original Joe comic, but seriously, an action figure of a little kid? Who seriously thought that was going to happen? Doing that would have required entirely new tooling that can’t be repurposed for anything else. I get that people see that as the “iconic” version of Billy, but for my money, I’m perfectly fine with the DDP version. After all, at least in the DDP comics, Billy was old enough he could be believably fighting alongside the Joes every now and then. I know that the DDP years have been disavowed, but still, that’s where I thought the GIJCC would draw their inspiration from, and that’s perfectly fine with me. Billy is a solid representation of a character that never had an action figure and the adult version allowed the GIJCC to create him without having to develop an entirely new figure that can’t be reused for anything.
I’ll be honest, Billy uses a lot of parts I’m not familiar with. I had to rely pretty heavily on other reviews to identify the parts here, and hopefully, I don’t wind up being too influenced by them in my review of Billy. The legs and torso come from the Rise of Cobra Ninja Battles Snake Eyes. I don’t have that figure, so I’ll take JoeBattlelines’ word on it. The proportions are a touch wonky because he’s got some pretty long legs, but the long legs and short-ish torso do work well together to create a slightly smaller, and therefore, younger build. I’ll take some slightly off-kilter proportions if it means that Billy actually looks a little smaller than his older Joe counterparts. Honestly, I see this version of Billy as a tad younger than the version he’s supposed to represent, but it’s still a good look. I got the feeling that Billy was in his mid-20s during the DDP run, but this looks to be someone who’s in his late teens to early 20s—in other words, someone just old enough to join the military. The arms come from Retaliation Ultimate Flint. They’re good, basic arms for someone that’s wearing a short sleeved shirt. Up top, Billy gets a new head. Apparently, now that Boss Fight Studios has started its own line, they didn’t have time to work in the GIJCC’s onto their calendar. However, according to the GIJCC panel at Joe Con, now they’re working with the famous Four Horsemen so I’m okay with the new partners. For those not in the know, the Four Horsemen were sculptors who worked for McFarlane Toys back in the early days of that company and then split off into their own company. They put out some of their own product, but they’ve worked extensively with Mattel on their Masters of the Universe Classics line. Basically, anything good that came out of Mattel’s high-end subscription services has been touched by the Four Horsemen at somewhere during the design process. I’ll miss Boss Fight, but I’m perfectly happy with the Four Horsemen working with the GIJCC. They do good work, and honestly, Billy is a pretty great representation of their abilities. The face has some character in it, but it’s still rather youthful. He definitely doesn’t look quite as grizzled as I recall Billy looking in the DDP series. Again, I think it speaks to the fact that the GIJCC went just a little younger with him. Truthfully, it looks like they went with the age from the recent Hama Joe comics, but snagged his outfit from the DDP run, which is really where he first got a chance to shine. Yeah, he showed up in the classic Joe series, but having read all 155 issues, he really didn’t do that much when he was old enough to be working alongside the Joes. Finally, rounding out the figure, Billy is wearing a bandolier and belt combination with a static holster on his left side. I don’t recognize this piece, but that doesn’t mean it’s new. It’s definitely new to me, though, and if it is a recycled piece, the GIJCC found a great piece to use since it looks almost exactly like the bandolier I remember from issues 20 and 21 of the DDP, where they did a story with Billy and Snake Eyes trying to rescue Storm Shadow from his brainwashing and riffed the famous Silent Interlude during the second part of the story. Billy isn’t quite perfect, but honestly, what Joe figure is. He has some slight proportion issues, but I’ll accept them because it does help him look a bit smaller than the average Joe, meaning he looks a bit younger. That was one thing that always drove me mad about some of the DC Universe figures. Characters like Robin were built exactly like Batman and Superman even though he’s a teenage sidekick. That’s a problem that Billy doesn’t have, and thank goodness. The new head really helps sell the character and the design is solid.
The paint work also brings this figure in line with the DDP version of Silent Interlude. In that issue, Billy was wearing a pair of green cargo pants, some brown boots and a scoop neck black shirt. That’s exactly what the paint team did here. I’ll admit, I don’t like the scoop neck on the figure, but it’s source accurate, so I can accept it. It gives Billy a bit more of a recruit vibe than the rest of the Joes and that’s fine with me. In the comics, he’s never been an official member of the Joe team, so it makes sense that his look isn’t purely military. The brown on his boots and webgear helps break up the somewhat plain look the figure has. I know some people have criticized the minimalist look Billy has here, but I don’t know why. Billy has never been a flashy character, regardless of who wrote him. This look fits that personality quite well. The paint work on the face is well done, though I do think there should have been a little more black paint on the eyepatch. It seems pretty universal that the molded eyepatch fits over the eye well, but without paint in all of the sculpted areas, it leaves the eyepatch looking a little small and like that eye is a bit low on his head. However, upon closer inspection, the sculpting does go right up to the hair (and in reality probably a little underneath), it just didn’t get painted all the way. To reference his time with the Arashikage, Billy has the Arashikage symbol tattooed on his right arm. It’s crisply applied and stands out on his skin quite well. Crispness is important for a painted-on tattoo and the GIJCC’s paint team succeeded on that front. It’s a simple figure, but I like the simplicity. Not every Joe has to be decked out in a crazy uniform and Billy is a nice throwback to that sensibility.
Like Billy’s overall look, this figure’s gear is fairly simple, but again, I think the simplicity works well for him. To reflect his time with the Arashikage, Billy is carrying a sword. It’s a decent piece, though it would be nice if he had a scabbard. The hook on the back of his bandolier is supposed to provide a place for it to be stowed, but it really doesn’t work that well, at least in my experience. The sword itself is neat piece, though, and I like seeing it in Billy’s hand. Billy’s primary weapon is a small submachine gun. This fits quite well with Billy and I like the fact that his basic gear is similar to Snake Eyes’ original equipment. It’s a nice touch, and I like seeing Billy carrying the same gear as one of his mentors did back in the day. Rounding out his gear, Billy also gets a grappling hook with a string. I don’t know why Billy has it, but it’s there and it’s a decent piece. If nothing else, I can justify it by saying he’s using it to sneak into some Cobra facility, but it’s not a piece that really screams Billy to me.
Billy was another figure that I felt could make or break FSS 4.0, and Billy is an excellent piece. I really liked the DDP comics and I thought Billy was well-handled, even though I didn’t know the character’s backstory when I first saw him in DDP’s first issue. I was drawn in by this interesting character who had a checkered past and was haunted by it. This is the version of Billy I think of when I first think of him. Yes, I know, he was introduced all the way back in Issue 10 and then revealed to be Cobra Commander’s on in Issue 36, but kid Billy just wouldn’t have been a feasible to make and honestly, I don’t know if he would have been that interesting of an action figure. A kid in a Cobra Scouts uniform just would have looked weird on my display shelf while this version of Billy fits in with the rest of my Joes and looks like he belongs in my collection. This is a great, commando version of Billy and it he looks great next to Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow.