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Jan 03

Wild Bill (1983)

Wild Bill is one of those figures that not only looks different in his cartoon incarnation, but in his original comic appearance as well.  Maybe that’s because he’s usually pictured sitting in the pilot seat of a helicopter rather than running about with his teammates. As a kid, my Wild Bill figure pretty much stayed in the Dragonfly. Being an avid watcher of the cartoon, I always wanted a “better” Wild Bill figure, meaning one wearing a blue flight suit and orange vest. Oh, and also with a much less prodigiously sized noggin. If Wild Bill could describe it himself, he might say, “Woo-ee! My head sculpt is biggern’ all Texas. It’s like a whole other country!”

In retrospect, this figure has all the charm of the early 80’s GI Joes. It’s actually another very impressive driver figure, considering the entire figure is newly created. The quality of the driver figures is part of what drew me in as a kid, and looking at it as an adult, it was a brilliant marketing move. To make a kid pine for a cool vehicle, then add in a figure not available anywhere else, that’s genius. It’s downright diabolical marketing.

Though it was never repainted in the Sunbow style, most of the mold made a reappearance in India, in a sort of reversed Sunbow color scheme. It was just as crazy looking as you’d expect. Sunbow fans finally got their Wild Bill fix, to an extent, with a 25th anniversary comic pack homage, but the original remained unchanged after all the years.

Wild Bill works in quite a few cowboy and cavalry elements, from the six shooters, cowboy boots, steer belt buckle to the cavalry style hat and gloves. Then again, he’s not overly cowboyed-up and looking like a ranch hand like some of his later versions. Wild Bill’s Air Cav hat and glasses also bring to mind, at least to me, Robert Duvall’s Col. Kilgore from Apocalypse Now. “Cobra don’t surf!”

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  1. Jeremy

    How ironic that the 25th version’s head was too small. Looks like you’re missing the white paint from the belt buckle. I have to pick up a Dragonfly someday….

  2. Michael

    Wild Bill and the Dragonfly were a staple of my play ! I cut down a couple of M-16s from the accessory packs to make pistols for him !

  3. Acer

    Only one part of Wild Bill is reused from another figure–the arms are from Steeler. Also, I disagree, his head doesn’t look that big.

  4. Skymate

    “I like the smell of burning Cobra’s in the morning”. My first WILD BILL was the Battle corps one. I always thought that version suited him better. Than again the 82-83 guys were impressive for the time.

  5. dave

    how does the rest of his head fit in that hat?

    1. Rob Buzan

      It bends time and space, like the Tardis

      1. dave

        ah, ok… cool. thanks.

  6. Clutch

    Next to Clutch, Wild Bill got the most mileage among my driver figures after my folks bought me the Dragonfly. Of course, Bill was always teamed up with Airborne as his co-pilot/gunner although I never exactly figured out who went where. Was the pilot seat in front as per the box art or in the back since the gun was positioned under the nose? Inquiring minds had to know, but Bill usually went in front since that’s where his name was.

    The 1992 version is a huge improvement, although the original remains a sentimental favorite. Plus, he fit in nicely with the previous year’s Original Thirteen. Bill’s head did look big next to Airborne’s since the latter had a removable helmet, but that never bothered me much. The ’83 Wild Bill remains a classic in my book.

  7. Dekkard

    An iconic figure of a great character. Even if he was usually only supporting cast in most stories, he was such a necessary figure. And yes, mine sits in the back seat…

  8. Nega

    I remember being confused by his “reverse” holstered pistols, not familiar with cross draw, having been conditioned by western movies and the like as to what a holstered 6-shooter “should” look like.

    The 1992 one has better proportions, but I find his outfit is too much of a period costume. It would be like remaking Budo in 19th century samurai armor. I like Joes to have elements that give them character but not be walking anachronisms.

    I like the Funskool version because it’s totally crazy looking and because it was a rare thing to have a recolored vehicle driver figure be carded. Only happened a few times in the US releases…Keel Haul, Copperhead and Lamprey.

  9. Neapolitan Joe

    Awesome figure and character!

  1. » Belt Buckle Week – Day 4: Armadillo (1988)

    […] One of the most undercooked GI Joe uniform designs gave rise to an impressive belt buckle. It’s the sort of thing you’d expect to see on a cowboy type, with a longhorn skull emblazoned across it. The fancy buckle actually works within the confines of the design of the figure’s lower extremities. Up top, he’s fairly plain, including his decidedly unattractive noggin. From the belt down however, he’s quite a bit more dressed up. Maybe we just caught him on wash day, and all he had clean was a simple shirt and some arm wraps. Maybe that also explains the belt. He probably borrowed it from fellow driver Wild Bill. […]

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