Review by Chris Chung & Fred Meyer
Pics by Fred Meyer
G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Mission Accepted Two Pack
First Sergeant - Code name: Duke
It’s hard to believe but Duke is a bit of a polarizing figure in the modern G.I. Joe ARAH-based fandom. Fans of the Sunbow cartoon remember him as the daring man-of-action who embodied the 1980’s action hero—daring and always ready with a quip. Comic book aficionados might recall him a bit differently—as a hard-edged drill sergeant who came on the scene in order to whip the growing Joe team into shape but who eventually fell to the background in favor of other longstanding characters.
I think the polarization comes from him being only prominent in the Sunbow cartoon, yet shoved down our throats to a ridiculous level. Fred, if you remember, for many years Hama really only used Duke as a background character for most of his stories. Plus, while he did have a few more releases in the vintage line over others, it wasn’t gross like it is now. But how many Dukes have come out since 2007? Yeah, I rest my case.
Regardless, in the 2000 era relaunch Duke became one of the faces of the brand—appearing on the packaging locked into mortal combat with Cobra Commander. However, it wasn’t until 2016 that he made his first appearance in the increasingly inaccurately named G.I. Joe 50 th Anniversary line. Was this figure worth the wait? Read on and find out two Joe fans have to say about this latest version of Duke!
Disclaimer: Due to a situation in the family, I let Chris take point on writing these reviews. As such, he got a clean slate to rant, as Chris is wont to do. Be forewarned, there’s a doozy coming ahead.
Fred, I have a quiz for you: What rhymes with Duke? If you said “puke”, you get a gold star of the day! And what’s another name for puke? That’s right, “vomit”! And what do we call the same characters being made over and over again? That’s right: Vomit Characters---so named because they are usually core characters vomited out ad nauseam taking away slots for other characters that haven’t been made yet. Interestingly enough, at the JoeCon 2015 we were told directly by Hasbro that they were moving away from core characters, and they were instead trying to get us a better assortment of different characters. While that was not completely lived up to, we did see guys like Steeler and Grunt appear in SDCC sets over more Vomit Characters, so that seemed like a plus.
Alas that was short lived. In a particularly irksome way, Hasbro once again reverted back to the same core characters for the bulk of their meager 2016 offerings. Duke. Snake Eyes. Storm Shadow. Zzzzz, snooze fest. Been there, done that. Will there never be an end to this? If we totaled up all the Dukes, Snake Eyes, and Storm Shadows, it would be over 150 figures! That’s basically the entire 80’s run of figures right there---but just these three! It’s ridiculous. Sure, sure, this time Hasbro was quick to say it was TRU who requested the characters, not them...
Whatever. Moving on.
Whew! Now back to the business at hand!
What’s the recipe for this latest release of Conrad Hauser? According to the eyes of these reviewers it would appear to be as follows:
The parts choice work fairly well to make a very generic soldierish body. The legs are a tad too long, and the head is a tad too small, but it’s not really an issue---especially for those who aren’t fans of Duke. For those of you who are, he looks decent. While not a glamourous figure, there’s nothing to hate about it. Except perhaps who it is. (Yeah, I couldn’t resist.)
As for coloration, this Duke decked out in his classic colors, but a bit brighter this time around. It would seem his hues were based off his cartoon incarnation rather than his more tactically colored toy. The paint however is minimal, and in a cost saving decision his belt wasn’t painted on. (Yet his pant cuffs were needless painted black to match his boots. Okay…)
Fred, I noticed Duke actually has C-grip hands (that are normal sized!), so that means he can actually HOLD a weapon without it falling out of his grip! But how is his other articulation?
I’ve had no problems with the articulation on this figure in terms of interaction with his weapons. In fact, my only issue is found in the ankles of the figure. The rocker ankles are great for keeping the figure balanced in poses that require a wide stance but the forward/back motion is a bit limited. As was the case with the Retaliation G.I. Joe Troopers, Duke tends to fall backwards a bit too easily for my liking. I’m also not crazy about molding the figure’s feet in all black but Chris has already covered that.
I’m also not a fan of rocker ankles unless for martial artists.
I don’t mind this uniform design otherwise. Yes, we still don’t have that DEFINITIVE 1983 update that many of us have been waiting for since, well, FOREVER, but this design is really pretty solid. I don’t even mind the color choices used as much as some folks do. Plus, Hasbro reverted to using the Pursuit of Cobra head sculpt for Duke which is, in my opinion, the best version released in the entire generation 3 era. I like this figure and I’m not ashamed to say that he was one of my most anticipated releases in the 2016 series.
I would be ashamed to admit that!
Duke is equipped with:
Duke’s haul is pretty standard faire---M4 rifle and a S.A.W.. The S.A.W. is interesting because we’ve seen this before, but instead of a normal ammo box, it comes with a magazine. The real world S.A.W. is 5.56mm firearm---like the M4; and it is able to accept an M4’s STANAG mag in emergencies, though why bother to take severe ammo hit unless it was to save weight? But if that was the case, why bother with a S.A.W. at all then when there are better alternatives? I’m probably over thinking this. (You are, but that’s okay.) A pistol makes up his backup weapon.
The rest of Duke’s gear is a Shock Trooper tac-vest with some nice new paint deco, and a backpack lifted from RoC Elite Viper.
I’m not a veteran. I’ve never served in the military. My eye for this only comes from my impression of what makes sense for the character. With that disclaimer out of the way, I’m pretty okay with the figure’s kit. Yes, as I always say, I wish that ALL of the gear had a place to be equipped on the figure. As such, I tend to leave the M249 sitting in the parts bin. Instead, Duke is packing the M4 and the pistol which seems to be a practical kit for a practical soldier.
Let me be straight up with you all. The ‘Joe community needs another Duke figure like it needs a hole in its collective head. This was a lazy character choice that has had enough versions done of him. I mean really, for you Duke fans out there (and this can be asked to fans of Snake Eyes or Storm Shadow as well), isn’t 50+ figures enough?! And Hasbro, wanna know what will be peg warming along with last year’s Shipwreck vs. Cobra Commander? Yup, the Duke vs. Tombstone, and Snake Eyes vs. Storm Shadow packs. My TRU is usually good at restocking bi-weekly, so the Vomit Character 2-packs are the only ones that can be found. Coincidence?
Now, with that said, the overall finished product isn’t as bad as I initially thought it was going to be. I dare say it’s even grown on me a bit. While I don’t like Duke and I would have never bought this figure if it wasn’t for Tombstone, it’s not a bad figure. A bit simplistic, but that’s part of its limited charm.
Is this figure worth purchasing and adding to a collection that might be suffering from too many Duke releases already? I’m going to just go ahead and say “yes.” Aside from my issues with the figure’s ankles, I like the parts build used and the color scheme that Hasbro employed. Yes, the color of the torso might be a bit bright but the overall appearance is very evocative of Duke’s debut look and I’m 100% okay with that.
But isn’t that exactly the problem with the community as I mentioned above; slavish reliance on reinventing the same wheel over and over again until the line is nothing but a small core of retread wheels (no pun intended) with nothing new emerging?
The articulation is practical, the head sculpt chosen is the best that Hasbro’s released for the character in the no-ring area, and, it’s DUKE! I can’t help—I like the character. I always have. To me, he’s not a “pretty boy” or “Mister Perfect”—he’s a no-nonsense squad leader who puts his mission and his men first and foremost. When I look at this figure, I see those qualities personified in tiny plastic form. So yes, snag this Duke when you can and add him to your collection. He’s a great traditional update on one of my favorite Joes!
The Bottom Line: A great update on Duke’s debut design. Solid articulation and a good kit make this a welcome addition to any modern collection.
|Copyright 2003 JoeBattlelines.com|