FUNSKOOL G.I.JOE WINDMILL
Once again, the FUNSKOOL company of India, licensed to produce G.I.Joe figures by Hasbro, and given access to many of their molds, has come up with an interesting new color scheme for, in this instance, one of the more obscure characters from the line.
That character is WINDMILL. Initially offered in 1988 as a pilot of the peculiar (but based on actual military designs) SKYSTORM X-WING CHOPPER, Windmill was never an especially significant character, although the figure was known for having one of the more obnoxious color schemes of the time, with a uniform that was predominantly bright orange and near-neon green. Add to this an all-black molded-on helmet that had two protrusions to the side that made it look faintly -- Mickey Mouse...
Overall, not one of Hasbro's highlights. Not a bad figure, I suppose. Certainly there have been worse. And not a bad character, either. A little bland, but there were certainly more ridiculous characters in the line over the years. But overall, not one of Hasbro's high points.
So now, in 2004, we have Windmill from Funskool. How is he, overall? Frankly a substantial improvement for the most part, at least colorwise.
The green and orange uniform has been traded in for a more reasonable red and blue. There is some red trim on the black helmet that makes it look distinctly less Disneyfied. True, there are a few quality issues.
Although Funskool has upped the quality of the materials used in these figured somewhat, since becoming increasingly aware of their popularity among American collectors, their painting practices still need some improvement, especially with regard to aim. I didn't see any real problems on the uniform areas except for a little bit of excess that wasn't cleaned up all that well, but on the head, the borders of the helmet are not that well defined, and the painting for the eyes is horribly off-center. This is something that I can fix as such time as I get around to it, but collectors who are not skilled in the repair and retouching of Joes should be aware of these matters.
I am not putting the figure down on this basis. Some of Hasbro's own products have had these problems of late. Overall, it's a quality control issue that both Hasbro and Funskool should, on their own, address. And I'll admit I'm very particular. But I also know what's possible, and both of these compaies are capable of higher levels of precision.
It's worth noting that Funskool has made one alteration that Hasbro has also made to more recent releases of their traditional-style G.I.Joes -- the lower arms are molded from a more flexible plastic, rather than the rather rigid plastic of the rest of the figure, which used to comprise the entire figure in the 80's and 90's.
Then there's the accessory that Windmill comes with, and I don't mean the battle stand or the pistol. I'm taking about the windmill. Somebody took Windmill's code-name a little too literally and came up with a very distinctive accessory that I suspect was made by Funskool. I certainly don't recall this thing ever being part of any Hasbro figure. It's a small backpack (whose peg is just a little too big) with a post in the top that extends over the head of the figure and ends in a small propellor. Whether this is meant to blow down enemies or allow Windmill to fly with this contraption is unclear. It's an amusing, if slightly silly, accessory, nonetheless.
Windmill's file card is taken rather directly from the American original, even making reference to the Skystorm X-Wing Chopper, which Windmill obviously does not come with.
Overall, Funskool has done a good job of maintaining the tradtional-style G.I.Joes. They're not quite up to the quality standards of their American counterparts, but they're good figures, and oftentimes are produced in very interesting color schemes. Remember my recent review of the purple Tripwire. I certainly recommend Windmill, and you can acquire him through www.smalljoes.com. He's definitely a cool and interesting addition to any G.I.Joe Collection!