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By Thomas Wheeler

While I am not a major collector of any 12" G.I.Joes anymore, every so often one comes along that is (a) based on a prominent 3-3/4" character and (b) is a cool enough figure in its own right that I don't mind bringing it home. Especially when (c) -- it's on sale.

I don't remember seeing this one before, although according to a couple of friends of mine, it HAS been out, or WAS, anyway, some time ago. Maybe the initial, and probably full price, shipments just bypassed this town for some reason. Anyway, I found him at K*B Toys in late March, with a $7.99 price tag on him, and decided to give him a home in my collection.

The figure is WILD BILL. First introduced in 1983, the original Wild Bill was sold with the Dragonfly Helicopter. The character made multiple appearances in the animated series, and was always portrayed as an enthusiastic and somewhat stereotypical Texas cowboy, but he had a good heart and as intense a dislike for Cobra as any of the other Joes.

A revised figure of Wild Bill was introduced in the early 1990's, and he has made several appearances in the new-sculpt line, where for whatever reason, he decided to shave his head, making him look more than a little like WWE professional wrestler -- and fellow Texan -- Stone Cold Steve Austin.

While this new 12" version of Wild Bill doesn't especially resemble ANY specific, previous 3-3/4" version of the figure, (and he's distinctly not bald), there's also certainly no denying that the character is Wild Bill. You could hand this figure out of its package to any knowledgable collector of the Real American Hero and he'd know who it is.

I have to say, I'm impressed. The full cloth outfit pieces and the number of accessories -- most of which are designed to be worn by the figure -- that Wild Bill comes with, I would expect this figure to fit in the $14.99 bracket at original retail, so I sort of feel like I got him for half price.

Wild Bill is outfitted in a leather-like jacket (granted there is no shirt under it), a rather high-tech looking plastic harness with a gun holster, trousers, and very nicely detailed cowboy boots, the details of which are unfortunately mostly obscured by the trousers. Add to this Wild Bill's mandatory cowboy hat, and the image is nearly complete. It's topped off by a pair of sunglasses, which unfortunately don't wrap around the ears of the figure, but they do stay put fairly well. Wild Bill always wears sunglasses. However, there's a steely determined gaze on the face beneath those shades that looks just as -- "Wild-Bill-ish" as anything.

The gun that slips very neatly into the holster is quite an impressive little accessory, too. The ammo clip pops out, and the top of the gun slides back and forth. Amazing number of moving parts for such a small accessory. He also comes with a rather fanciful double-barreled, spring- loaded, missile-firing shotgun. A little less plausible-looking than the rest of his equipment, but still not something I'd want to be on the wrong end of.

The photograph on the back of the package shows Wild Bill sitting in the cockpit of a small, one-man helicopter that looks a bit like a 12" scaleversion of the small Locust helicopter from the original 3-3/4" line. I have no idea what this item is or where they got it. I suppose it could even be from the original 12" line, but Hasbro's Legal department wants us all to know, thanks to text on the card, "Helicopter Not Included". Um, I think we could figure that one out, okay? Thanks much.

This figure is part of the "Valor vs. Venom" series, and the situational report for Wild Bill on the back of the card reads as follows: "Wild Bill has flown hundreds of missions, from routine transports to explosive ambushes. But the strangest scene he encountered so far was a drop zone crawling with Sand Scorpion troopers. After a fly-over to assess the situation, he blasted the area with sleeing gas grenades. The team completed their reconassiance on Cobra Commander and was out of there before the hideous hybrids awoke from their naps."

To see how Cobra Commander reacted to that, be sure to read my review of the 12" Cobra Commander figure I purchased when I also got Wild Bill.

Wild Bill's file card reads as follows:


File Name: Hardy, William S. Primary Military Specialty: Rotary Wing Aircraft Pilot Birthplace: Brady, Texas

Soft talking, slow walking, easy-going and hard-riding, WILD BILL might have been a Cavalry trooper, a real horse-soldier in another age. These days, the mount of a cavalry trooper eats jet fuel instead of oats, and comes with rotoe blades instead of a saddle blanket. With Wild Bill at the controls, that helicopter can gallop like the wind, take a turn like a thoroughbred at the track, and stop on a dime. A lot of chopper pilots won't think twice about taking you into a hot landing zone. They come in low over the treetops, flare, drop down low enough so you can jump without breaking a leg, and then they are out of there. When you need to get out of that LZ, when the enemy is working overtime and the tracers are thick in the air like angry bees, no pilot in his right mind is coming in for you - except Wild Bill. He'll be there for you, every time.

"I'm the bus driver. It's my job to get the boys in to do their job, and if that means hanging tough in a hairy situation, that's okay. That's what I get paid for. Heck, if it was easy, they could get anybody to do it."

This really is an excellent 12" representation of, if not one of the "first-tier" Joes such as Duke, Snake-Eyes, or Scarlett, then certainly one of the most memorable members of the G.I.Joe Team. I found him in late March, and I recommend checking your local K*B to see if they received any of this superb figure. WILD BILL will make a fine addition to your 12" G.I.JOE collection!