This feels like it should be a momentous occasion, and in truth it is. As rumors swirl around us about what the future holds for G.I. Joe, and as the years have marched on, that long list of figures that needed to be done slowly dwindles.
In the early 2000’s we finally got our Oktober Guard (then again from the Club a handful of years ago). Several years later, again courtesy of the Collectors Club, we got our Dr. Venom. Another couple of years after that, Kwinn finally appeared in the Retaliation line of all places. Now this year the Club hands us both Pythona and Billy, all while standing on the precipice of their own final surge with the Hasbro license. Something about it seems almost poetic.
Ever since his first appearance in G.I. Joe #10, curiosity has surrounded the character of Billy. Though we didn’t find out he was COBRA Commander’s son until Destro pointed it out in issue #38 (I believe…). Shortly thereafter, Billy was taken in by Storm Shadow shortly before being caught in a rocket attack and gravely wounded. He managed to escape with a lost eye and leg and rejoined Storm Shadow, becoming immersed in the Arashikage culture and greatly evolving his ninja prowess. Devil’s Due took the ball and ran with it where Billy was concerned, bringing him on to act as a foil between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, and that’s where this version of Billy comes in.
I’m really happy that the Collectors Club elected to go with this more combat ready version of COBRA Commander’s son rather than a boy scout or another iteration of the ’84 Storm Shadow. This is how he appeared in the Devil’s Due comic, and this is really where his training came to play, in my mind. His appearances in this guise in Devil’s Due were some highlights of that run, and I’ll remember that Mike Zeck penciled 21st issue very fondly.
The Club made some interesting choices with this figure. His head is a new sculpt, because it pretty much had to be, though doesn’t appear to be Boss Fight’s work. Most of the figure is based off the Rise of COBRA Snake Eyes, which is okay, I suppose, and that figure actually ends up being sculpted a bit smaller than more modern figures, so it makes sense for a younger operative. I will say the arms and torso don’t blend together especially well, and the shoulders look very “ball” like compared to some smoother flowing parts.
Speaking of his arms they’re the short sleeves that we saw with many figures throughout the Retaliation era, I believe, rounding off the t-shirt look. Colors here are very straight forward, with a simple black for the t-shirt and olive drab for the pants. They are plain colors, but match the comic look, so I can’t complain too heavily. Overall, it’s an effective design that is relatively comic accurate and blends nicely with other PoC era figures as well.
They didn’t load Billy up with too much gear, giving him a submachine gun, sword, grappling hook, and the same sheath/strap that the original Snake Eyes had, which holds his sword (though just barely). Billy doesn’t need a whole lot of gear, and the weapons he comes with here do make some kind of sense.
Fans have been waiting for Billy for a very long time, and I’m glad that the Collectors Club was able to get this figure out to folks before losing their relationship with Hasbro. As I said above, it seems almost poetic that as the Club is forced to halt this product, they’re checking off a bunch of desires that the fans have been asking for. It makes me pretty excited to see what might be planned for the real last hurrah of FSS 5.0.
Check out the video review here:
FSS 4.0 Billy
While not a perfect figure, the combination a newly sculpted head and decently chosen parts to form a more diminutive figure results in a nice version of Cobra Commander’s son that should fit well into anyone’s collection. Yes, overall the figure doesn’t really “wow” me, but it’s a very solid figure of a character in very high demand that the Club executed relatively well. It’s the version of the character I wanted, it has some really great articulation, and I find myself with few overall complaints.