25th Anniversary Wild Bill

By KansasBrawler

When it came to choosing figures to get the 25th Anniversary treatment, Wild Bill was really a no-brainer. He was always pretty popular because he came with the Dragonfly and Wild Bill got a lot of screen time in the cartoon and quite a bit of page time in the comic book. Unfortunately, Hasbro made poor Wild Bill before they ironed out all the kinks of the modern styling of figures. I really want to like Wild Bill, but he’s just got too many problems for me to recommend him to any Joe fan.

Wild Bill (25th Anniversary)Surprisingly, Wild Bill doesn’t really get a lot of new parts. From the neck down, his base
body is shared with 25th Anniversary Ace. While I’m not wild about that body for Ace because it doesn’t look high tech enough to be his original flight suit, I think it’s a great choice for Wild Bill. The original figure wore a pretty basic flight suit and that’s what this is. However, to make it look a little more like Wild Bill, he’s got quite a few add on pieces. First of all, Wild Bill has new feet. It just wouldn’t do for the Texas cowboy-turned-helicopter-pilot to be wearing regular boots. Instead, he’s wearing a great pair of cowboy boots and I really like that they did that on this figure. It just helps sell the Wild Bill character a bit more. Moving up the body, he’s also got two added on holsters. Unfortunately, Wild Bill was made at a time when working holsters were pretty chunky. His holsters are almost as bad as the one’s on Retaliation Battle Kata Roadblock. Strangely, though, I don’t remember nearly the outcry on Wild Bill’s holsters that poor BK Roadblock received. Wild Bill’s legs also don’t seat into his hip sockets terribly well. It’s been a while since I’ve looked at my 25th Anniversary Ace so I’m not sure if it’s a flaw in the base mold or the way Wild Bill is assembled, but he’s got a pretty impressive hip gap. Just looking at the other Joes I have on my desk right now, yes, I can see a bit of a gap around the hip joint to help accomplish the articulation, but Wild Bill’s are really excessive. His belt gets a brand new buckle and since he’s a cowboy, of course it’s a bull’s skull. It’s a nice touch, but I wish they had made the skull a bit more detailed. As it stands, unless you’re looking at it very closely, it looks more like a funky letter “y.” Plus, it appears the horns themselves were designed somewhat asymmetrically. The left horn is far thinner than the right and it’s kind of distracting because it makes the bull’s skull look cockeyed. On his back, Wild Bill also gets a relatively large new pouch. I imagine it would be handy should he have to bail out of the Dragonfly, but between the chunky holsters and the butt pouch, I’m not sure you could get Wild Bill to sit in any vehicles. Of course, the piece that really helps distance Wild Bill from Ace is his brand new vest. It reminds me a lot of the vintage Wild Bill’s vest, just with the details cranked all the way up to eleven. The shoulder strap that runs across his front is actually a piece that can be unplugged, so it makes popping of his vest even easier. I love his knife, though I don’t really like his static pistol holster up there. It’s clear that it’s supposed to be another revolver, but it’s a lot smaller than his other two so it just looks a little off. From the neck down Wild Bill is a passable, if not amazing figure. However, when you look at his head, the whole package just falls apart. Wild Bill’s head is freaking dinky! My vintage Monkeywrench is currently hanging out on my desk and even vintage Monkeywrench’s head is bigger than Wild Bill’s. That’s absolutely ridiculous. Plus, the face sculpt really isn’t that great either. Much like 25th Anniversary Major Bludd, he’s got a bit of a drooling mouth look. The sunglasses look okay but even that doesn’t really help him much. I do like the attention they gave to his hair, though. It looks appropriately matted down so 25th Anniversary Wild Bill has a bit of a case of hat hair. Considering you’ll be having him wear his cavalry hat at all times to help distract you from his shrunken head, that’s fine. The hat does help obscure Wild Bill’s case of microcephalism, but much like the one white pouch on BK Roadblock’s vest, once you see how tiny Wild Bill’s head is, you really can’t unsee it.

Wild Bill (25th Anniversary)The other thing that helps separate Wild Bill from Ace is the color scheme. Much like the
figure’s overall design, from the neck down, he’s great, but from the neck up, things get a little hinky. Wild Bill’s flight suit is a relatively basic olive drab green. That makes sense since, while Wild Bill may be in the Air Force, he works very closely with the Army in his air support role so it would make sense for him to be wearing a flight suit that would fit in with some jungle operations. However, there’s surprisingly a lot more color on Wild Bill than you’d think. His chaps are a brownish-green that looks very close to the olive drab of his flight suit at a quick glance but a more careful inspection shows it’s a different color. I think that’s a good call since it keeps Wild Bill from being one olive drab mass. His holsters and vest are a reddish brown while his boots and his chest strap are a more standard brown. These are all colors that work really well on Wild Bill. Unfortunately, up on his tiny head, things aren’t so good. The paintwork both on his sunglasses and his mustache are pretty shoddy. There’s a lot of fleshtone slop on those parts and it really looks subpar. Plus, the fleshtone itself is applied overly thickly, so the paint winds up muting a lot of the details on the sculpt as well. However, this isn’t terribly noticeable when his hat is on, so at least the hat helps hide a multitude of sins. The hat itself is painted very simply. It’s a standard cavalry hat done up in Union blue with a gold cord around the base of the hat. However, I’m a little surprised that the cavalry emblem on the front of the hat didn’t get painted. They went to the trouble of molding it, why not hit it with some gold as well?

In terms of accessories, Wild bill doesn’t have a lot, but it’s still a step up from what he
had when he originally came packaged with the Dragonfly. To continue the cowboy motif, Wild Bill has a pair of six shooters. They really do look great in his hands and he looks like an Old West gunslinger, especially if you put him in a little bit of a crouch. The handles of the pistols also get some paint work, so apparently Wild Bill is a fancy man and has pearl-handled six shooters like General Patton was rumored to carry. It’s a nice little nod to military history, but the white does look a little odd. That said, though, the pistols are great and look good either in his hands or in his holsters.

Poor Wild Bill and his tiny head kind of became the butt of some jokes during the 25th Anniversary line. However, cranial issues aside, he’s got a solid design. That’s why when he got rereleased during the tail end of the Rise of Cobra line with a new, more  proportional head people thought he was a much better figure. The overall design is solid, but the execution of Wild Bill’s head was lacking and that really hurts the figure. As such, he’s a hard figure to recommend. However, the classic Wild Bill look is great and I’m glad to finally have a version of him in my collection, even if it does look like Wild Bill pissed off a witch doctor at the spiritual being equivalent of the DMV. I think Wild Bill is another figure that Hasbro should take another crack at again in the near future because the head issues he has are pretty terrible. He’s not the worst 25th Anniversary figure I own, but Wild Bill still deserves better than this.


  • I wonder if they sculpted the hat first and shrunk the head to fit it? The hat is near-proportional, and they might not have been able to get it to fit a standard sized head (similar to Wild Bill’s ’92 figure, whose head is okay but the hat is too large). 25th Gung Ho is getting an update; maybe Wild Bill has a chance in the future? And the original Wild Bill was in the Army, probably 1st Air Cavalry, so the OD Vietnam era flight suit is a fit.

    • Honestly, the RoC version of Wild Bill isn’t that bad because they upsized the head, it just came with a somewhat uninspiring vehicle. It’s the same mold from the neck down, just done in blacks and grays.

  • Patton’s pistols actually had ivory handles.
    I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Wild Bill as v2 was the first Joe figure I ever bought with my own money. After hearing so much negativity in regards to the 25th line figures, I get the impression they were meant just for collectors and to stay on their cards

    • Derp, thanks Skymate. Total brain fart when I was writing that. Overall, the 25th Anniversary was a bit of a highwire act in my opinion. There were some legitimately really well-done figures by the end, but those first couple of years, things were kind of hit or miss. I honestly think part of the reason is that Hasbro hadn’t expected the 25th Anniversary line to take off the way it did. From what I understood from talking with Hasbro folks, it was just going to be a few box sets to commemorate the anniversary but they got bought up so fast and people kept asking about new figures that Hasbro decided to go for it, and I think they didn’t quite know what to do with it initially. Those last couple of waves in 2008 were good across the board, but there were some definite clunkers in the earlier 2008 figures.

  • I took the ROC head, stuck it on this one, and then sealed the card back up lol

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