Duke "Jungle Assault" - Pursuit of Cobra (Pre-Production)

If there is one thing I think nearly every Joe fan can agree on these days is that we've gotten enough Dukes in the past few years.  Enough already.  What could possibly be done with a Duke figure to make anybody care about Duke again?

Well...  I guess they could do this:

Because, I tell you what, even though this is yet another Duke, this figure is quickly becoming on of my all time favorite Pursuit of Cobra figures, and that's already some lofty company.

Even when this figure was revealed with the Tatum melon, it became an immediate favorite, with some really intricate webgear, a teriffic jungle theme, and some amazing accessories, as we've now come to expect from this new iteration of G.I. Joe.  But now, with the final release in a much more standard "Duke" aesthetic he is even cooler.  The head sculpt with the wrap around headband is very cool, and feels like Duke, even though he's got a slightly different look.  He has that hardened soldier feel, unlike the somewhat pretty boy Channing Tatum head we've seen over the past 12 months.

I find myself really liking that they stuck with the Reactive Armor look for his torso, even if the majority of the Pursuit of Cobra is quickly shifting gears from the Hollywood adventures of last year.  We've seen these legs used before on Spirit, but only because I got my hands on that figure before this one...the Duke figure is the one who actually utilized them first.  I'm happy to report the pouches on Duke are much more solidly held in place than they were on my pre-production Spirit figure, so indications are that Spirit's production release won't have this defect.

Duke's arms are basic bare arms in camouflage paint, but the coolest thing about the arms is that their slender sculpt enabled significantly better elbow articulation than we've seen in past figures.  He can hold his weapons remarkably well and get in all sorts of realistic firing positions, something that I think is critical to the success of a figure.

Speaking of weapons, Duke comes very nicely equipped with some cool military gear.  His primary weapon is an assault rifle with a scope and front handle that appears to be a new weapon, unless I'm missing something.  His webgear is amazing, with two thin straps in front and a large back brace in back with assorted pouches and detail throughout.  There is a very nicely sculpted sheath that fits his machete perfectly as well. His large camouflaged backpack has two elastic straps over it, simulating real straps (something that may or may not have been pulled from Power Team Elite).  You can also fit his flashlight in a compartment in the backpack.

Rounding off his assortment of weaponry is a nasty looking Squad Automatic Weapon that certainly seems to take some queues from the familiar M-249, but without a stock, and with a magazine instead of being belt-fed. I'm certainly no expert on weapons, so someone will have to fill me in on whether or not this has a real world equivilent. I did find the following image at Modern Firearms:

But it certainly isn't an exact match.

EDIT - Okay, some Google searching has revealed an awesomely accurate set of images for the same weapon above, called the M249 "Paratrooper" designed as a Squad Automatic Weapon for paratroopers. Of course, most of the images I found were of "Airsoft" guns, but those are usually based in reality, so yes, this weapon does, in fact, exist. And thus, it ratchets way up the "coolness" meter in my book:

The above images is from the "2Day Blog".

One thing I'm a bit bummed about is the lack of a working holster.  Duke comes with a very cool pistol, yet he has nowhere to put it.  With the pouches on his legs that are customizable, I'm not sure why they didn't work a holster in there somewhere, and yeah, technically you can put the pistol into the cavity in the backpack, but I just think a working holster would have been even better.

This is one amazing figure, especially considering that it's yet another version of Duke that we've already been choked on since 2007.  He has some influences from Predator, as many of these figures appear to, and everything just works to perfection.  Great tooling, great paint apps, incredible accessories.  This is one version of Duke you should pick up, regardless of how you feel about the character.

Pre-Order this figure NOW at BigBadToyStore.com!