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Duke Nukem

Duke Nukem Forever
by Poe Ghostal

Howdy. Poe had a whole introduction written up for this review, but it kind of rambled on and on without actually having any bearing on the bearing on the figure, so we've decided to publish it as a blog post. For more information about Poe's childhood than you'd ever care to know, head over there. For an actual review of the toy, keep reading.

Duke Nukem is every testosterone-overdosed action hero rolled into one - and yet he's a man with a soft side, since the only thing that got him off the couch in the first place was that when the world was attacked, it interrupted his favorite soap operas. He watches Oprah and, in his first game, wore a pink vest. The only way they could possibly have made him more feminine is if they gave him a girl's name.

Duke is packaged the standard NECA clamshell, with the videogame's box art on the front. It's not great art, but that's not NECA's fault, is it? Blame for that can be laid squarely at the feet of 2K Games. The back and side of the package has some amusing flavor text explaining how awesome you'll be for owning this 7" totem of Duke.

For the most part, the sculpt (by Alex Heinke) is superb. The level of detail is up to NECA's usual standards, from the tiny folds of his shirt to the texture of the leather on his boots. One thing to note is his shoulder straps: in order to preserve the abdominal articulation, NECA sculpted the grenades/pouches as separate pieces, with the bottom of the straps being part of the ab sculpt. That means if you see the pouches not quite lining up with the figure in the package, don't panic - it's supposed to be like that.

When compared to less detailed lines like DC Universe Classics and Masters of the Universe Classics, any complaints about the sculpt feel like nitpicks; however, if you're going to produce a figure this detailed, you're going to be held to a bit of a higher standard. The first issue is the lack of texture on the jeans; it would have been nice to see something like NECA's Bionic Commando figure. As it is, they seem more like leather, but since they're blue I'm assuming they're supposed to be jeans.

The second issue is the head sculpt. While it does capture Duke's douche-ish charm - and features some amazing detail work on the flat top - it's a bit too square. Duke's face looks taller and thinner in most depictions. It's almost as though it were sculpted based on the "tilted back" shot from the package, rather than a head-on perspective.

NECA has had a history of being hit-and-miss with their paint applications, but lately there have been more hits than misses. Duke's a hit. The work on the T-shirt and hair is particularly good, and they actually get a decent-looking stubble effect on the chin. NECA used to have a lot of trouble with fleshtones, with many characters looking like corpses, but they've rectified that recently, and Duke looks suitably healthy - except perhaps for his hands. The wash on the skin is slightly overdone but it's not too bad. Aside from some stray marks here and there, the rest of the figure looks fantastic.

Duke is very well-articulated, with a ball and socket neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, hinged biceps, hinged elbows, balljointed wrists, a hinged abdomen, swivel waist, H-hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees and ball and socket feet. While most of the joints are great, instead of the swivel biceps seen on every other figure of this size, we get these hinged shoulder joints, which function as oddly as they look. They don't limit posing as much as you'd think, but they don't serve any positive purpose. You don't win anything sculpt-wise, because the way the deltoid overlays the swivel joint looks much weirder than the biceps/triceps swivel on normal shoulders. It's like he has this big, round, flesh-colored shoulder armor. We'd love to know why NECA went this route - and why they never seem to try the more standard biceps/triceps swivel on any of their (human) figures. It's hard to believe this was cheaper to produce than a biceps swivel.

All that said, the biceps aren't nearly as bothersome as the fact that you can't get Duke to hold his arms straight down - this is as low as they go. While you can still get him in plenty of great poses, this is disappointing.

Duke comes with two accessories, a cigar and his newly iconic golden gun with laser sight. So no, there's not much here. The likely reason for it is all the articulation, which greatly raises cost. That said, surely Duke gets his hands on a jetpack at some point during the game, and given how central that accessory is to the character, here's hoping we get a jetpack version down the line.

As for the gun and the cigar, he can hold each in his right and left hands, respectively. Kinda wish NECA had made the left hand a trigger-hand as well, so that he could duel-wield the various weapons everybody is going to pile onto him. Here's the thing: while he doesn't come with many accessories, Duke is one of those figures - like Deathstroke - who you can give just about any 1/12th-scale weapon to and he'll look awesome. Guns, knives, chainsaws, sledgehammers, anything you have.

While I'm a Duke fan, a lot of collectors who aren't will still pick up this figure due to its quality. This is one of NECA's best efforts yet, and if anything, it makes us wish they would give at least one of their Terminators this same level of leg articulation. And you can't beat the price on today's market. For $15 you get a 7" figure with great articulation, great sculpting, and no major QC issues. Here's hoping this is just the start of a whole line of DNF toys... we want our NECA PigCop!

-- 06/05/11

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