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Duke

GI Joe: Pursuit of Cobra
by yo go re

We've said before that sometimes it's the ability to integrate a new toy with the ones you already have that will sell it. This review is concrete proof.

Duke is the GI Joe team commander. He treks into the jungle carrying weapons and gear, including a rapid-fire AMG-2J weapon system, pistol and flashlight. He heads toward suspicious sounds that are alarming nearby wildlife. He knows Cobra forces are the cause - and that it's his job to stop them.

Ah, Duke. Ask any Joe fan who grew up in the '80s whether they prefer Duke or Hawk, and you'll know whether they grew up watching the cartoon or reading the comics: Duke was a regular presence on the cartoon, and was pretty much the main star of the first two miniseries; that diminished as the seasons went on, but he was still omnipresent; in Larry Hama's world, however, Duke had a minor role at best, and Hawk was often seen giving orders and taking fire. Me, I watched GI Joe every day before school, and really only read the comic in the past couple years, so to me, Duke is the man.

This figure shows Duke in a way we've never seen him before: decked out for the jungle. The torso is the "reactive armor" sculpt seen on a lot of figures so far, but since it's under an all-new, very complex set of webgear, you'll never notice. The pants were also seen on Spirit, but the arms are new. He's got camo paint on his arms, which is done well, and the pants have a complicated camo pattern as well. There's nothing about this body that immediately says "Duke," but he's a soldier, not a superhero: he's not required to wear the same basic outfit for all of his career. The webgear is sculpted with eight small pouches and two magazines, and looks really impressive.

Jungle Assault Duke was one of the characters shown back when this line was going to have movie heads, so there are prototypes out there with Channing Tatum's head on the shoulders. This head looks much better, though perhaps a bit older than you'd expect. Closer to Hawk's age, if we want to bring that comparison back into play. His scar is very nice, and he tops off his ensemble with a wide green headband.

In addition to the removable harness, Duke has a machete (which sheathes on the webgear, near the waist), a pistol, an M-4 assault rifle, a M249 Paratrooper SAW and a heavy duty flashlight. He has a huge backpack with an elastic strap running around it - you can use the strap to hold either of the rifles, and probably both at once if you were so inclined. There's a slot inside the backpack that fits the flashlight perfectly. No holster for the pistol, but the webgear conveniently bulges out just where the chest joint dips in; you can tuck the gun in there for a totally non-regulation carry. The SAW has a carry handle on the top and a removable clip out the side.

I saw Duke several times, and passed on him repeatedly - he's a nice figure, but really wasn't a "must-have" for my collection. But after buying Blaine, Billy and the Predator, I needed to get Dutch. Granted, the connection between Duke and Arnold is a loose one (he's not wearing sleeves), but it's clear he's meant to be the team leader on the inexplicable Predator homage that is the Jungle Assault figures. If not for those four figures, I never would have bought this one.

-- 05/13/11


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