1983 Wild Bill


Some characters are better than their figures. Wild Bill is one of those, as his 1983 figure isn’t a bad figure, per-se, as the sculpting with the details like the belt buckle and six guns that are central to the actual character, his basic colouring and overall idea are fairly solid. However, despite these facts, there’s enough minor issues that drag the figure down, and make him seem like he’s either a disappointment in regards to his potential or that he appears not quite finished.

Wild Bill’s a unique looking figure, he’s still grounded in reality, but he’s got a personality. The well done calvary hat and glasses are a total Kilgore from Apocalypse Now rip-off, which works for the character. The cowboy aesthetic isn’t taken too far, as the belt buckle and revolvers are the only things, and while those are probably against regulation, but he’s at least still wearing fatigues! The thing I feel does the most damage to the figure, in terms of making the whole thing seem unfinished is the lack of painted gloves. His hands are the same colour as his sleeves, a look that doesn’t work on most figures not named “The Enemy”. Especially when there were already some rich brown paint apps to the figure, as that colour would’ve done wonders to look like leather gloves.

I don’t really know what it is about Wild Bill, but he’s an interesting figure, with issues that aren’t typical to most G.I. Joe figures. Sculpt-Wise, from the neck down he’s great, but his head is oversized, which I’m sure is partially based on the hat, but it seems wider than other Joe figure heads. He’s got detailed paint apps, but there’s still some missing (Gloves, dog tags). Either way, he’s not a bad figure, but you can tell he’s a vehicle driver rather than a single carded figure, based on these issues.

Wild Bill copy

Though he’s a solid design, if not really plain. It’s a figure that can gain a little more use through some customization, a pair of Tollbooth arms, does wonders, as it gives the arms some depth, while matching up with the rest of the figure. In a way it’s a shame this mold never received the Tiger Force repaint, since it would’ve added a ton of depth to the mold, that neither this version or the Funskool version (Which, although it has more painted details, the figure is also cast in bright orange!) were able to showcase.

Because there’s enough minor issues with the figure, I tend to not bother with him too much. While the overall figure looks decent, and the sculpt is almost strong enough to overcome the blandness, he still has a really really big head. So while I actually kind of like the figure, I just leave him be most of the time, because it’s an overall disappointing figure. Still, on occasion if I do bust him out, I tend to arm him with Airborne’s rifle.

While I ignore the figure, I’m kind of ambivalent to the Wild Bill character, the quirky Helicopter Pilot, is in a way what something like the G.I. Joe team would’ve needed, as he’s loose and personable enough to put the infantry guys at ease on the way to their possible dooms, but also a competent enough to be a G.I. Joe. However, his figures kind of took the character from “Quirky Vietnam era dude” to “Dressed like he’s gonna go to Cuba with Teddy Roosevelt” and then later turned into a “bald dude with a goatee” and, finally he just turned into a dude who looked like he had a confederate flag on the back window of his pick-up truck. That’s probably why I don’t care much about Wild Bill one way or the other, his post ’83 incarnations are real dumb, and watered down a once decent background character.

Wild Bill

I guess in a way, leaving him be and letting him be “Figure that sits in the Tomahawk cockpit” is probably the ultimate use of the figure. It was intended to be a vehicle driver, so on that level the figure is quite a success. It’s just that it’s a figure that could be a lot cooler. The fundamentals are strong, but he just can’t get over the hill.

1983Wild Bill



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4 Responses to 1983 Wild Bill

  1. Mike T. says:

    Not getting the 1992 Wild Bill mold in this 1983 color scheme was one of the glaring misses of the repaint era. Hasbro had the mold and he would have fit into any of the 6 packs as well as most of the other figure choices.

    I’d have loved a throwback pack of 92 Wild Bill in ’83 colors, ’93 Ace in ’83 colors, ’92 Duke in ’84 colors, ’92 Gung Ho in ’83 colors, ’92 Wet Suit in ’86 colors and, heck, a ’92 Stalker in ’83 or ’89 colors would have worked. Stuff seems so simple. But, Hasbro couldn’t grasp it.

    As for this figure, I’m with you in that he’s kind of there. He’s the only ’83 figure left I haven’t looked at. And, I can’t find much to write on him. I loved him in the comic. But, this figure didn’t work all that well and, to this day, I don’t really see any weapons that go well with the mold. (I did try Airborne’s gun as a kid, though.) He looks great in the Dragonfly. So, that’s a job. But, outside of that, he just never resonated with me.

    • He’s a figure that plays his role well, but comes up short other wise, despite being a good character.

      I’d seen you mention the 92 mold repainted in this colour scheme, before, and never thought it would look good, but after re-evaluating it, you’re right it would probably be a stellar repaint (I’ve never been huge on the 92 mold for some reason). That proposed 6 pack is one of those things that’s such a no-brainer, it’s almost ridiculous it didn’t happen. Though, there was an aversion to too much nostalgia back then (Which is hilarious, as nostalgia is G.I. Joe’s #1 thing!)

  2. A-Man says:

    I have little nostalgic attachment to Wild Bill V1 because he was just a figure my brother had and I didn’t.
    Yes, absolutely the unpainted gloves/hands stick out.
    They never did this figure in Sunbow colors, either. It’s interesting he was one of the more frequently used vehicle operators on Sunbow, I suppose it’s the cowboy stereotype made him more writable than say, Tollbooth or Frostbite.
    It’s funny the original has a big head but the 25th one is a pin head. The NuSculpts made him bald with the goatee to not bald with a goatee. Nice removable hats…unless you loose them.

  3. Shit, I never even thought about the Sunbow colours, which would’ve been a solid look for the mold.

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