Tuesday, December 31, 2019

1988 Windmill

It's the last day of the year and the decade of the 2010's.  Really, the past 10 years haven't been great for collectors of vintage Joes.  It started off strongly as vintage pricing was way down, availability was way up and factory custom makers were starting to come online with their wares.  But, that was really the high point.  While we've seen great factory customs come to dominate the vintage Joe space, we've also a radical uptick in vintage pricing that's making the hobby much less fun since figures are now seen as valued commodities instead of the toys they are.  All that being said, though, I still have time to fit in a final profile of the year.  There's a well known strategy where you dump unpopular items at an unpopular time so that you don't waste the more valuable slots with content that isn't likely to generate any interest.  With that in mind, I present the 1988 Windmill.

Windmill has only been a part of my collection due to Funskool's take on the mold.  With that figure in hand, there is simply no reason to look elsewhere for the character.  But, the Indian figure exists because Hasbro sculpted this figure in the late 1980's and tossed him into a vehicle.  Windmill is a far cry from the days of Crankcase, Heavy Metal, or even Backstop.  He's not the worst figure in the line.  But, he's in the discussion.  The figure's colors, design and overall sculpting show a slippage in the quality Joe aficionados had come to expect.  In reality, Windmill was nothing more than another example of the diminished paint applications that were the hallmark of the entire 1988 series.  But, to a collector who only discovered him as an adult, Windmill has an insurmountable amount of detriments in his way to ever gaining appreciation.

I'm not real sure what happened with the 1988 vehicle drivers...at least on the Joe side.  The Cobras are passable and not really any worse than other years.  But, the Joes really took a turn for the worse.  Skidmark and Windmill introduce bright green and orange to the pantheon of vehicle driver colors.  Armadillo is another terrible figure.  Wildcard is poorly done (though he has great gear!).  Ghostrider seems acceptable just due to the horror of his contemporaries.  Though, he suffers from many of the same issues as Windmill.  Only the Sgt. Slaughter figure really stands out.  A few of the molds could be salvaged with better paint.  But, that's asking a lot from a crop of figures that really nosedived in quality.

My first issue with Windmill is that he's two tone.  His body is just pea-green and orange.  None of the mold details are painted.  He features an interesting sculpted air mask on his chest.  (The same idea was used on Ghostrider so it seems Hasbro was testing out some new ideas to save money on these figures.  Fortunately, the abandoned it and real air masks returned in subsequent years.)  But, the mask is not even painted.  With a few paint applications, Windmill would be substantially better.  But, the cost savings really hurt the figure's overall appearance.  My main issue, though, is the figure's head.  I'm not sure what's going on here.  But, the horns neither make sense nor look cool.  If the helmet was removable, the figure might be salvageable.  But, the head sculpt is just so terrible and atop the subpar body, we're left with a terrible representation of a figure.

The good news is that Windmill includes a big honking revolver.  With him, it looks a bit out of place.  However, it is a good fit with some other figures...especially the 1988 Sgt. Slaughter.  The most notable thing about the weapon is that it is incorrectly placed with about 64.3% of the "complete" Downtown figures that you see for sale these days.  The upside is that, occasionally, you'll get a Downtown pistol listed with a complete Windmill, too.  The gun, though, is relatively unique and is something worth having.  Even if it's out of place with Windmill, it works well enough in a broader collection and it's worth buying a Windmill just to get the weapon.

Windmill appeared just twice.  This original version and aforementioned Funskool version mark the only appearances of this mold.  The 1988 and 1989 vehicle drivers suffered cruel fates.  Hasbro sold a large chunk of them off to Olmec toys in the 1990's where they were used as the Bronze Bombers.  Those who survived that purge were very likely to appear in India.  Funskool produced a large number of vehicle driver molds.  And, had their line continued, there would have been more of them released in the standard series.  Hasbro didn't do much with the few molds they had left and the 1988 figures were not among the molds Hasbro recalled from Funskool.  (Not that it would have mattered since Hasbro never used most of the molds Funskool gave back...depriving collectors of additional production years of many of our favorites.)  But, really, this mold isn't worth trying to remake into something cool.  The fact that a foreign repaint exists is more than this mold deserves but gives those who enjoy Windmill something else to find.

Today, you'll see collector grade Windmills fetch $15 from time to time.  But, if you take 10 minutes to look, you can get the same, mint and complete figure for about $6 without too much trouble.  Nobody really likes this figure.  And, the pricing is just indicative of the growing power that dealers have in the Joe marketplace.  Since he's worth peanuts, there's no reason to not own one...except, you know, because the figure sucks.  But, Windmill is a relic of his time and shows how the Joe line was starting to change with the marketplace as a new generation of kids came of age in the late 1980's and early 1990's.

1988 Windmill, 1986 Low Light, Retaliator

1988 Windmill, Skidmark, Wild Card


  1. I blame the demise of the Club's subscription service and the GI Joe episode of the Netflix show "The Toys That Made US". I really don't see these prices holding up much longer though.I'm on a few Facebook "trade yer Joes" groups, and common figures just sit there.Once this brief nostalgic ride is over, prices for the common stuff will once again stabilize.I love my Joe collection, but sometimes I really think I should sell now. I'm on the older end of Joe collecting, the 82's debuted when I was 11.I'll be 65 in about 16 years! We will all be retired and mostly out of the hobby with a fixed income.The future generations will have no interest in "Dad's toys", much like nobody cares about Cowboy/Western comic books from the 50's anymore.
    As far as 1988 figures go, man they were terrible.

  2. The figure never made me want to get the Skystorm. That's something Hasbro lost focus on, sometimes the vehicle driver made or broke a potential purchase.

    Windmill's head looks like a discarded BF 2000 design. The body is actually kind of generic but lost in two bright colors. And "Windmill" isn't the most badarse code name now is it? It's very amusing that Funskool literally made a new accessory for him, a backpack windmill. It's like "How do we make a lame figure even lamer?"

    1. I agree A-Man. The original driver figures were really cool, and made you want to get the vehicle for the driver itself.....

  3. There's a few figures I hate, and there's not many I hate more than Windmill. For me, even the gun does little to redeem him as it just looks oversized.

    Also, I REALLY hope Joe prices start to come down more next year. Why would anyone pay $15 for a figure like this...

  4. I personally don't hate the figure - he is forgettable and the color choices are not great but for me he serves as a decent co-pilot in the Tomahawk with Lift-Ticket. I do like the commentary/retrospective on the state of joe's during this decade - it's pretty crazy to see how the market has jumped and hearing other collectors theories to why prices have really sky rocketed. I got back into full vintage collecting in 2017 and it has been rather enjoyable I can vouch for the overpriced figures/vehicles.

    Too piggyback on Jeremy's point about the Joe aftermarket bubble bursting soon - I also sometimes wonder if I should just get rid of a lot of my stuff - It's a fun hobby but in some ways bittersweet. I can hold a figure in my hands and recall times from my childhood - the nostalgia is amazing but also sometimes depressing as it is something I can't experience again as a kid. I love this blog though, it keeps me interested in the hobby and I look forward to the weekly reviews.