Wave 3 of Pursuit of Cobra has hit Targets, and they're coming in force! In just one run I had my pick of the litter of a bunch of Snake Eyes and Duke figures (they were strewn about because someone ran through them quickly and took all the Shock Troopers). I know this is a wave of "vomit" characters (as in regurgitating something you've already chewed, not smelly and disgusting) but they've really pulled out the stops...in some ways.
Here we'll be taking a look at our second Duke of Pursuit of Cobra: apparently he's the Desert Battle version, but once you look at 'em you can see he's a great all-around Duke.
One neat thing about this Duke is that his head sculpt matches his jungle version. When using different versions of the same character, you'll usually get a different interpretation of that character's face. With this, you can move from one local to another (say, if you're doing a dio story) and Duke will be the same Duke either way.
And he is most certainly DUKE, from the classic tan shirt (with classy upturned collar) to the green pants (using PoC Zartan's legs). He's basically just thrown some "impact-absorbent battle armor" (as it says on the card above) over the classic shirt and metal kneepads on the pants. The armor is awesome looking, though I can't help but see a sort-of skull on the front. This will make some fantastic armor for a new badguy in the future, like Major Bludd (or can I possibly hope for a new version of Metal-Head?) Also, his torso joint is one of the best they've made so far, giving him the ability to bend forward and side to side much farther than most.
Now, of course, I should get the part that probably confuses most. Yes, he's got some great accessories, and...well, a "dual plasma cannon."
No, I don't know what he's doing with a friggin' plasma cannon. Ya know what, though? I don't care. At first I thought it was some sorta missile launcher, and that's kinda boring. A PLASMA CANNON, though? Awesome. I don't care if it makes no sense for Duke to come with it.
Lets move along, though. I'll get back to the cannon. His rifle and bazooka are just awesome:
The bazooka is a nice little chunk that doesn't shoot anything, so it's one of the few bazookas nowadays that is more realistically sized. Oh, and the rifle probably looks familiar:
Yeah, that's the rifle from Aliens.
It may not be exact, but it's pretty dang close. Heck, I'm hard pressed to even see any differences from pictures of the prop! If that doesn't excite you at least a little bit, then you're not a proper nerd. Now, if the gun wasn't enough, they also seemed to want to input a peg system so that you can set things up in various ways. The plasma cannons attach with pegs to the backpack, and the wires that attach to the pack and cannons all have the same sized peg and hole as the backpack holes on the back of almost every figure. The gun and bazooka even have these pegs, though the bazooka sports a hole as well (which could take a wire that would normally go in the cannons). There's all kinds of things they can do: some obvious uses are using the backpack as a holding device for the weapons (when you remove the cannons). Or...
Well okay, no one is gona do that. At any rate, the guns can be set up mostly in ways that allow for storage.
So finally, we better get to the plasma cannons, of which Duke is so obviously ready to weild.
As you can see, they look HEAVY. Not "Doc, this is heavy" but just plain 'ol backbreaking! (Sorry, Back to the Future marathon playing as I write). But hey, when have we ever cared about whether or not someone can carry some giant piece of weaponry? That's G.I. Joe, for pete's sake. This isn't anything new, beyond the fact that this is totally a Sci-Fi, Grand Slam, or Flash weapon. The point is that it works, and it looks great...well, on someone else. I mean, they really do try to make this work, but I gotta emphasize "try." I mean, read the filecard. These suckers just get weaker and weaker. He's Duke. Awesome. He's a commander. Cool. Oh wow, he's part of the G.I. Joe team? NEAT-O! Not only that, but his body armor protects him. Fantastic! Wait...wait, there's more. Conrad "Duke" Hauser is so mega-freakin-bada** that he sneaks in close to HISS tanks (until he's right on top of them) and SHOOTS THOSE SUCKERS.
No one is sneaking around with those things. Maybe with an accelerator suit. Maybe. Not Duke, though. And hey, if you could move easily with that giant chunk, you're sure as heck not hunting tanks. Take out that infantry, man!
Okay, don't get me wrong here. This is an awesome accessory. However, I won't ignore the fact that it's hilarious that Duke comes with this, and that his filecards marks him as the man to blast tanks apart with his awesome dual-quad-barreled plasma cannon backpack of death and manliness. No, I won't ignore it, but neither will I accept it as a reason to not get this figure. If you're sick of Duke; fine by me. I don't know why you'd skip a particularly interesting Duke among Dukes, but to each his own, I guess. If you're skipping him because of accessories, though: come on. I know you have a ton of Joes. I know you have a ton of accessories. Tell me this doesn't look cool:
Use your imagination and arm the man and you'll see you've got a friggin' awesome figure. Sometimes you get a figure that is just awesome, but comes with strange accessories. Heck, I don't think that counts here, 'cause the backpack is the only thing, but hey: it's a plasma cannon! That's still awesome even if it doesn't work with 'em. I guess I should dock him some points for not being a complete package, but hey...I am reviewing toys. I just have to imagine that a kid would get a kick out of this figure, so I think that's the part that counts the most. Collector's have biases (hence my bad review of Storm Shadow, who otherwise looks okay) but that's no reason to skip a good Duke when he comes along. I mean, it's so few and far between!
Anyway, it didn't take me long to want to see this figure in with other figures.
I certainly see something special in figures you can play with for hours, but sometimes I think it works better when a figure makes you want to set everyone up. Duke really plays the part (as did his Jungle figure). I've never been interested in Duke until PoC. Two figures now, and i'm a fan. They've done a fantastic job with 'em for once.
While Jungle Duke is a great all around figure for getting multiples, this is actually just a great standard Duke. It even beats out the Resolute version for me (didn't like his face much anyway). I'd say: make this your new Duke. It blows all the 25th versions out of the water, and you can arm this one with any of their weapons. And hey, if you have accelerator suits, then you've got a place for the various weapons!
Just remember that although they take certain figures and make a ton of versions of them, sometimes they crank one out that leaves them all in the dust. Though this could have come with a better accessory loadout that made more sense, I think the figure shines above that, and the mismatched weapons (if you feel that way) are just too cool to count as a bad thing. Personally, I don't see any good reasons to skip this one other than the look just not appealing to you. It's a great figure. Put this guy at the head of the pack (or right behind Hawk, however you like it).