G.I. Joe: 30th Anniversary - Duke (G.I. Joe: Renegades)

I’m a bad fanboy.

In fact, I bet there are a bunch of you reading this who say the same thing about me quite often…but hey, it’s all I know.
Why am I a bad fanboy?  Because I love this figure.  This figure, which is yet another version of Duke stacked up on top of an already vastly too numerous versions of the same cardboard cut-out character.  The blonde-hair, blue-eyed picture perfect leader with a cleft chin and played by Channing freaking TATUM for crying out loud.

And I love it.

I don’t want to love it.  As an avid comic reader I’ve always preferred Hawk, Stalker, and even Leatherneck over Duke.  But he got a whole lot of attention in the Sunbow days, and over the past decade has pretty much become the face of the franchise alongside Snake Eyes.  As such, we have some 50-odd versions of this character, and dangit we don’t need any more.

But I love this one.

First of all, his head sculpt.  For every complaint about Cobra Commander’s animated noggin, this guy deserves heaps of praise for the intricate sculpting in the face, the hair, the blue-eyes.  Man, he looks rugged.  A greatly sculpted figure, even just from the neck up.

Duke’s got somewhat long, slender arms that provide some fantastic range of motion in the elbows, allowing him to bend them past 90 degrees.  He can hold pretty much any weapon perfectly, and look right down the sight-lines.  Of course he comes with Agent Helix’s ridiculous laser rifle (a rant I will get into later), but if you swap it out with some other machine guns, he immediately gains 20 points in the bad ass column.  How about those legs?  Far be it from me to write a whole paragraph about another guy’s legs, but wow…I’ve looked at this figure for a long time to try and figure out if he’s borrowing legs from another figure, and it doesn’t seem like he is.  The somewhat baggy, wrinkled sculpting looks remarkably similar to the PoC Jungle Duke, but it isn’t.  Different pant cuffs and different trim give that away.  Not only that, but he’s got a small slot on his right thigh which fits one of his pistols perfectly.

Now, without a vest, I will admit that in a way, Duke looks somewhat bland.  But in another way he makes the perfect generic trooper “template” of just a guy in a t-shirt with camouflage pants that can be built on to be whatever you want him to be.  He looks a bit scrawny, but certainly workable.

Now, speaking of scrawny…yes, his arms are slim, and I like the slimness because it allows him pretty impressive range of motion.  But combine those slim arms with the new injected-molding poseable wrist joints and it just looks off.  That big round bulb at the cuff of the hand is a bit distracting and does subtract somewhat from the aesthetic of the figure.  Thankfully once he’s all decked out with gear, you get over it pretty quickly.

I talked a bit about Duke’s gear already…and I’m prepared to rant a little bit.  Early images of this figure showed us an impressive gear layout, including a backpack grappling hook and an absolutely awesome rendition of a Renegades authentic laser rifle.

While I’m not real broken hearted about the backpack, I was very disappointed to see that the Renegades rifle is MIA.   Sure, he used the pistol mostly throughout the animated series, but darn it, that rifle was awesome, and I was really dying to get it.  Maybe we’ll see it somewhere else.

Instead of just talking about gear we didn’t get, perhaps I should touch on the weapons he came with.  First and foremost he’s got that terrific vest, which must have been a real challenge to transfer from 2D to realistic three dimensions, but the design team managed to do it to perfection.  The sculpting and paint from collar to tail reveals an immense amount of detail throughout what is essentially a very basic vest, and it adds a ton of character to the figure.  It was obviously done within the confines of the cartoon in order to mimic Duke’s tan shirt and green pants look, and I am flat out shocked at how nicely it translates to the realistic toy world. It just looks fantastic.

Along with the vest, we get a re-issue of the gas mask we’ve seen before, another rendition of Agent Helix’s laser rifle and four…count ‘em four pistols.  Four?  How many hands does Duke have? One of these four pistols has a little tab that slides into the slot on his right thigh so he can wear it on his thigh as he did in the cartoon, but I’m not entirely sure why he needs three others.  I guess so the rest of the Joes can carry them, too.

But the ultimate travesty here is the laser rifle.  I guess I don’t have a huge problem with the state-of-the-art weapon that initially came with Helix (in actuality, I do realize it’s not a laser rifle, it’s a high impact Heckler & Koch G11 which is somewhat futuristic, but still based in reality).  But the main problem in my opinion is the fact that it apparently replaced the Renegades accurate laser rifle, which was freaking awesome.  I absolutely love that gun, and am upset that it’s missing.  Again, hopefully we’ll see it somewhere else down the line.

And that’s that.  Yes, we have a zillion Dukes already, and no we really don’t need any more, but for crying out loud I love this figure.  Not only do I love this figure, but seeing this figure makes me hope that someday Hasbro goes back and remakes the old school Duke with some new sculpting.  Yes, I actually just voiced a request to Hasbro to make us another Duke.

I’m a bad fanboy.


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