G.I. Joe: Retaliation - Duke
It almost feels like the 90's again! I know most fans say that with a healthy amount of tongue in cheek and venom in mouth, but to me, the 90's were a fun time. Sure, the colors were outlandish, the oversized rocket launchers were ridiculous, but the design aesthetics were really awesome, and if nothing else, the G.I. Joe Collectors Club proved that 90's tooling with better paint schemes can stand right up there with the rest of the vintage line.
I'm not sure the same sentiment can save this figure.
Standing back and looking at Duke, he's not a bad figure necessarily. He's got a pretty generic green bodysuit with some layered armor on it, very similar to the armor he wore in his excellent Pursuit of Cobra version, but for some reason the almost too bright green uniform color blows the figure about out of the gritty military aesthetic Paramount seems to be going with in the film sequel. I know there were a healthy amount of complaints about the overly drab blacks, blues, and grays of the Rise of Cobra, and that was one of my chief complaints, but this Duke almost seems to go too much in the other direction.
He's sporting the Channing Tatum head sculpt, for better or worse, but honestly I would have embraced this figure a lot more if Hasbro had gotten movie material soon enough to actually make a movie accurate version of the character. Most of that was outside of Hasbro's control, as the movie's release schedule jumped around, but it just seems strange that a character who was once the focal point of the entire franchise is only receiving a single cast off figure that doesn't come close to matching what we see on screen. Granted, with his lack of presence throughout much of the footage we've seen, perhaps that shouldn't come as such a surprise.
The body design itself isn't terrible. As I said, the body suit is pretty basic, but nicely detailed, with the right creases and textures, and I actually enjoy the armored plating on his shoulders, knees, and chest. That being said, I cannot argue the fact that Duke here seems to make a massive jump from military commando to armored super hero, looking much more "comic book" and much less "army". Sometimes Hasbro seems to find just the right bridge between the two, but I'm not sure this is one of those times. It doesn't help that the articulation is lacking as well, with only single joint knees and no ankle joints at all. He does at least have wrist articulation, however. In some cases I'm able to rationalize missing articulation if the sculpt and design are still great, but in Duke's case, I'm not sure the results are worth the missing joints.
As with the figure, these accessories seem to be thrust forward in time from the 90's era as well, emerging a brightly colored, oversized mass of oddball. I actually do like the large machine gun with the drum magazine that Duke comes with, even with it's unrealistic appearance. I love the grip and the overall design, but that's about where it ends. Even with the cool look, the orange colors render it nearly useless, and I hesitate to even mention the huge, oversized rocket launcher that completely towers over the figure itself. It plugs into his drum-magazine rifle so he can hold it, and while the ripcord missile launcher is humerous in its furious rapid-fire craziness, but beyond that, not much to call home about.
With the ziplines and such, Hasbro has proven they can make playable accessories and action features that aren't oversized and clugey. The rocket launcher goes against that entire philosophy.
I'm somewhat in a paradox when it comes to Duke. I don't think he's as bad as everyone who hates the figure thinks he is, but he is simply not in the same league as figures we've seen over the past two years, and even other figures within this assortment. Not a bad figure, but surrounded by other offerings, looks far worse in comparison.
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