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.
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.
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.