(Editor’s Note: Today’s review comes from my good friend Cody, who you may recognize from our Whipsaw review. Cody is a fantastic photographer, action figure customizer, writer, and storyteller. You can find Cody’s work on Instagram.)
Article by Corps Commander Cody
The Corps! is one of my favorite toy lines of all time. While most others write them off as cheap imitations or, at worst, complete and inferior knockoffs, I think The Corps! is a worthy brand. They have continued to provide products with all the fun of GI Joe at reduced cost. In fact, they are still producing figures today- some of the non articulated ones are not to my taste, but they’re constantly on store shelves, unlike some brands I could mention.
Even the biggest Joe Bro who says that every military figure that’s not a Joe is a Corps! figure may agree that the greatest “Lanyard” “Corpse” was Whispering Willie. They may not know his name, but they love his face. And brother, I do too.
The Corps! Whispering Willie (Version 1) Review
Whispering Willie was one of the original 18 figures released in 1986. The Corps! was originally known as Gung-Ho!, which definitely caused some legal beef with Hasbro, who had just co-opted the term for THEIR military figure.
After a legal battle in which Lanard tried to allege they had no idea about that (I seriously doubt it), it was renamed the Corps! International Security Force.
This version that I’ll be reviewing was released from 1986-1992, which means he just squeaks into the neon 90s. He has other versions, but this one is my favorite, and I was born in 1992, so sue me.
Image Courtesy of Lanardolicious
Whispering Willie, despite appearances, was actually on the good guy team, though you would only know that from reading the file cards. If you had him as a kid, your first instinct was that he was a bad guy, most likely. If you see the file cards, you’ll know he’s just a wild element of the team, kinda like The Dirty Dozen- bad and you know it, but also bad enough that the enemy will piss their pants when they see him coming, and boy will they ever!
Willie seems to subscribe to the Berserker school- no clothes, balls out, fight to the death. It’s radical! He’s dressed exactly like a bad guy from Mad Max or Fist of the North Star, and that’s TOTALLY COOL.
Plus, look at how many details and paint applications there are! We got knives, webbing, two different boots, chains, spikes, bands, gauntlets, and no less than 5 different colors- blue, yellow, gray, black and pink! This guy is made with a lot of love, and you can really tell in the level of sculpting and paint applications.
Willie’s face is set in a mean sneer, with slim eyes (maybe he’s looking into the post apocalyptic sun?) and wicked eyebrows. He also has a fun hooked nose, which you don’t see often on figures. I’d say Willie’s face is perfect for an unhinged dude you don’t wanna mess with.
On his chest, he has what I’d call battle plate-pauldrons, chains, and metal accents in yellow. His stomach is exposed (do NOT poke it), just like the Dreadnoks were doing at this time. His armor even has some damage on the rear side, which is cool to see on mostly uniform figures. It makes me think he’s been in many a scrap before and that’s awesome. Written deeds on a file card are fine, but you know Willie has experience.
He is wearing two gauntlets that are spiked (of course), some shorts with a black belt, and the aforementioned webbing and knives on his legs. This guy is strapped. He also had those two different boots, one with gladiator-like straps. These boots are more than just for walking- stomping, kicking, and trampling are probably in their repertoire.
He comes with two of the most badass accessories ever- a shotgun and a triple headed chainsaw. That’s right- if you thought you could evade one chainsaw blade, try three. It almost seems to rest on a magazine, which is laughable, but you won’t be laughing long if this gets turned on you. It’s simply one of the most incredible and iconic figure accessories. Buzzer’s one little saw wishes it was this.
The shotgun shouldn’t be ignored- while not distinctive, it still bears mentioning because it’s a very cool weapon. It’s similar to Flint’s shotgun from G.I. Joe, but the barrel is shorter. This doesn’t mean however that it’s not a very cool weapon because it is. There’s a lot of little grooves, and even the handle has a texture pattern on it. I imagine Willie likes to keep this for when people are just out of reach of his chainsaw, just like your average Doom player.
While I had quite a few Corps! figures as a child, Willie was not one that I had. The version that was available when I was receiving mine was not quite the same, trading his bad guy clothes for a uniform with spikes. He also received a purple hair dye, which is cool but it’s not as good as the pink to me. Speaking of his hair, he was released with pink, red and gold and purple. This guy really loves hitting up his local stylist.
Anyways, I never really had Willie as a kid and I forget when I got my first one. I am lucky to own all of the versions except 3 in one state or another. I do have a version 3 coming my way, but it’ll be a while. He’s a seriously great figure that I need to take more pictures of. I do have some photos of my Tiger Corps! version, which I’m pretty proud of. He’s part of the renegade unit- namely himself, Crowbar, and The Gasman.
Final review on Whispering Willie– this guy is a great figure. He’s decorated with details galore, he has a lot of different paint colors on him, and he looks like one of the mooks Kenshiro would beat up in any given episode of Fist of the North Star. That means he’s perfect and a great fit for this site. As Dustin likes to say, this figure is Highly Recommended.
It only makes sense that I would review the guy with a belly shirt and pink hair for Pride Month. Happy Pride everyone.
Dustin, a final thanks for letting me write again for the site. At this rate, I’ll have profiled all the original Corps lineup in 10 years!
Thanks again to Cody for this fantastic review! And Happy Pride, everyone!
Do you have any burning thoughts on Whispering Willie? Do you use him as a Dreadnok or as an International Security Agent? Were you surprised to learn he’s a good guy in Corps! lore? Do any other Corps! figures have cooler accessories than Willie (the answer is no, of course)? Let us know in the comments!
8 thoughts on “The Corps! Whispering Willie (Version 1) Review”
Wow! Another sexy toy review by this “corpscommandercody” fellow on my favorite figure review site… I ought to give his Instagram a follow for more stupid toy shenanigans!
Heh… alright, now I just need to put my name as “anonymous” and no one will ever know- wait NO-
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lol! Thanks again for an awesome review, Cody!
The File dossier was supplied by Lanardolicious Not by OG13
Oh jeez, sorry about that. And thanks. Can you supply me a correct link to give proper credit?
He doesn’t understand tactics and was too looney for service. The 80’s were a weird time.
I’ve always been a Joe snob. I didn’t like any of the knock off brands. But, as I’ve exhausted the Joe line in the nearly 25 years of collecting, I’m starting to look at the knock offs with a more open mind. While there’s still a lot of junk, each line did have a few figures that really hold up. There’s some good sculpting and great colors. And, there are times when they did things that Hasbro had yet to try. And, Lanard’s vehicles are really great. I still lament not being able to get a bunch of the firetrucks and hazmat vehicles that SmallJoes found a the Lanard sale in like 2001.
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Thanks for stopping by, Mike.
I actually love the old Lanard character bios. They are incredibly short, but they pack a lot of color and flavor into a few sentences. I think any kid’s mind would go wild if they read that file card after purchasing a Whispering Willie figure.
I always appreciate your take on GI Joe, which is why it was such a pleasure to have you contribute to that old Corps! article on the website. I personally think the Corps! is a toy line full of gems that compliment GI Joe really nicely, even if the figures aren’t as high quality.
I am always so jealous and full of FOMO when I re-read Rob’s old Lanard warehouse sales posts on Joe A Day. I would absolutely love to get the Lanard space shuttle, APC, and a ton of other vehicles. I really like all of the Corps! vehicles I have, so I can only imagine how good the fire trucks and hazmat vehicles were. The Eco Warriors could always use an upgraded ride.
I definitely had a version of this mold as a kid, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t any of the iterations shown here, and I 100% used him as a villain and I’m constantly surprised when I re-learn that he was part of the good guy team.
The triple-bladed chainsaw was a piece I’m also pretty sure I had in my toy box and at some point started to think it was a legitimate Dreadnok accessory. While I was wrong, I was correct in that it is 100% legitimate in every other way. Probably the single best Corps accessory in the whole range.
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So many of The Corps! accessories are incredible. That chainsaw is among the best. But the silenced uzi, silver laser rifle (or RPG rifle if you hate fun), regular assault rifle, and all of the pistols are great, too. I often find them better, more charming, and more useful than Hasbro accessories. Which is why you see them in a lot of my photos.
What’s the percentage of kids that used Whispering Willie as a villain, do you think? I’m willing to bet it was at least 90%.