Ivan Wilinski is the main protagonist in Ride of the Three Bulldozers, as well as the official mascot character of Dozerfleet Productions in general. He was first envisioned in May of 2006, receiving his proper name some time later.
Ivan began as a scrawny keeper of the Wilinski Pet Store in the village of Veskinsaya, around 1941, at the age of 19. The shop specialized in exotic birds to be kept as pets. The store in the Romanian village was doing very well, until Soviet sympathizers invaded the town and staged a hostile takeover on foot. Unwilling to bend ideologically, Ivan was soon declared an enemy of the new order of the city-state of Veskinsaya.
The new regime went to great lengths to tear apart the old city and establish its tyrannical new social order, driving many of the town's finest into exile. Others either converted, complied with demands, or were executed for non-conformity. Ivan's bird shop was burned to the ground on order of the regime. It was assumed he'd died in the fire along with the birds. However, a manhunt soon ensued when rumor had it that he'd escaped.
Ivan fled to the forests outside of town, and discovered after a brief battle with a boar what appeared to be a hidden hatch. Inside, he found an entire bunker with what appeared to be a highly-advanced (for the time) computer station - unlike anything else that existed in that time. He found a tricorn hat, several supplies, discovered the bunker was geothermally-powered, and began reading the literature inside - while doing his best to retain his cover. He learned how to ambush and kill regime personnel that were sent to murder him - and to utilize supplies taken from them to economize himself. He also learned how to hunt, gained some muscle, and began establishing connections with other exiles. All the while, he took pains to keep the secret of the bunker he was squatting in from being made known to anyone else. He believed the previous owner had died - and wanted someone like Ivan to find the entrance; someone worthy.
The regime grew frustrated with the repeated failures of anyone to find Ivan, so a search party was sent into the woods from which the most disappearances had taken place. Ivan strategically utilized his arsenal - and surrounding forest attributes - to take out the entire search party and their dogs.
The desperate regime began executing more and more whom they believed to be resistance sympathizers. They also began calling in favors from the Russians. Ivan and his followers finally decided the time had come to reclaim their village.
Raiding a construction vehicle depot, the resistance modified the vehicles into tanks. They armed themselves as infantry as well, and planned a staged attack to reclaim their homes from the usurpers in Veskinsaya. A bloody night of flaming homes and shots fired everywhere ensued. Yet, the regime leaders knew their reign was over when they saw three modified bulldozers in a succession - a Dozer Fleet - slowly driving from one end of the village to the other.
The regime was defeated after that night; but Ivan decided not to return to rebuild his bird shop. The bunker - and what it came to symbolize to him about readying the virtuous to fight for the future - became his new mission in life. He abandoned public life in the town of Veskinsaya; and the residents were unsure if he was alive or dead. He became a ghost, a legend. The forest nearby was named "Wilinski Forest" in Ivan's honor, and it was generally deemed off-limits to most of the public. The three bulldozers that made up the core of Ivan's fleet were used to make a statue monument of the fleet that restored Veskinsaya. As such, the Dozer Fleet became the Wilinski Memorial for decades to come.
This memorial, in turn, became the first symbol of Dozerfleet Productions - later modified into a set of three stylized "D" letters.
Much of Ivan's angst is derived from Batman Begins, with a similar tale of a man having to leave his hometown - only to invent a means of punishing the evil mobs responsible for ruining said town. His guerilla tactics bear some similarity to those in The Patriot. His visual appearance is most inspired by the depiction of Robert Mullins from Fox's Peter Pan and the Pirates.
However, Ivan is more muscular than Mullins. He also has more of his teeth, and tends to have better hygiene. Citric Sid wound up being a similar character to Ivan as well, but from a different time period and with different skills.
His reliance on the bulldozer tanks and other stolen vehicles with his followers to take back Veskinsaya was inspired by the Dozerfleet founder being called a "bulldozer" at a skating rink in December of 1998, and is not a reference to the coincidentally-similar rampage of Captain Killdozer in 2004.
The story of Ivan's adventure, Ride of the Three Bulldozers, is based on the Dozerfleet founder's real-life decision to rebrand Cormorant Entertainment, given that the bird "no longer meant anything" to him. That old name for the brand came from an article entry in Microsoft Encarta '95 on CD-ROM, and was chosen for a school project initially. It was known as "Flamingo" before that, also based on a class project. Before that, the brand (a mere collection of hand-drawn strips at the time) didn't have an official name. The name change to "Dozerfleet" happened in May of 2006, and was inspired by a brainstorming session that took inspiration from Ken McCollar's "bulldozer" remark in 1998.
The bird shop being burned to the ground was to signify a "death and rebirth" theme, as the old bird motif perished and a new bulldozer and industrial motif rose in its place. This was done to the music score of Batman Begins, which had similar themes of gloomy backdrop and self-reinvention. Ivan was initially "the Birdmaster," who later became known as "the Great Bulldozer," in initial drafts. In 2012, he was given his official last name of Wilinski for the Tumblr-based political blog "Wilinski Forest."
"Ivan" was chosen to be his first name as of some time in 2010, when "BulldozerIvan" became the founder's username on DeviantArt. This as reinforced in April of 2011, when the Dozerfleet founder was moving the Dozerfleet Database from Wiki-Site to Wikia. The old Wiki-Site version was to be kept as a fork. Wikia at the time didn't allow the username of "BulldozerBegins" to have many privileges, since a vandal with many sockpuppets going by various "bulldozer" aliases had been wreaking havoc site-wide. Therefore, a universal ban on the word "bulldozer" was in effect at the time. The Dozerfleet founder's username of "IvanRider" refers to "Ivan, the Rider of the Central Bulldozer in the Fleet."
During its 3-year run, the Tumblr blog Wilinski Forest featured a version of Ivan that was generated in The Sims 3. A Sims 4 variant was created of him in October of 2016. Fuguestock's pirate photo was also modified to portray Ivan protecting his forest.