DUKE v.30 (2009)
I’ve already reviewed Duke a couple of times but I’m gonna do it again. The Joe team’s first sergeant was introduced in 1983. He and Snake Eyes have been neck and neck as the face of the brand ever since. Where Duke has the advantage is as the voice of the brand. If there was one character who could be said to have starred in the 1980s Joe cartoon it was Duke. I don’t mind Duke but he’s far from my favorite character.
The ‘83 Duke figure was superior to the 1982 Joe figures in terms of unique design and articulation but it didn’t take long for it to seem dated when compared to other figures. Duke’s skin, hair, and shirt were all so close to being the same color that he always seemed really bland to me. I never owned a Duke figure as a kid. My brother Doug had both the original and the 1988 Tiger Force repaint.
I didn’t get my first Duke until the launch of the new-sculpt figures in 2002. I quickly went from having no Dukes to having more than I knew what to do with. Hasbro released 14 Dukes over the 3 new-sculpt years. I liked some better than others but I wasn’t a big fan of any of them.
The modern era of Joe figures was ushered in with two 5-packs of figures in 2007. The Joe set included Snake Eyes, Scarlett, Roadblock, Gung-Ho, and Duke. Most of those figures don’t hold up so good, what with all the improvements Hasbro’s made over the years, but I was pretty happy with most of them at the time. But I never liked the ’07 Duke. His arms were gimpy, his head was too small, and he still suffered from extreme blandness. I hoped Hasbro would release a better one down the road. Well Hasbro has released nearly 30 Dukes since. And yet, I still find most of them boring and I avoid buying them when I can.
But one of those Dukes, 2009’s version 30, was the first Duke figure I was actually excited to buy. This version is based on his appearance the animated movie G.I. Joe: Resolute. I can’t even explain it but for some reason I absolutely love this figure. For the first time ever I thought Duke was cool.
Many of the 30 modern-era Duke figures share the same parts, gimpy arms and pea-sized heads included, which means they share many of the same weaknesses. Fortunately, this Duke was a completely new figure. The head features a young but stern face and a perfectly sculpted flat-top haircut that avoids looking too Ivan Drago-ish. The hair is a dirty-blonde and his shirt is a light tan. He runs the risk of being bland like his predecessors but the dark-green removable webgear breaks up the light colors and keeps him from being just another beige Duke from the waist up. I really love the elbow pads and gloves on this figure. They also had some darker colors to the upper half and they look really cool.
Duke came packaged with a display base, a knife, a pistol, and a rifle. This is an awesome Duke figure. Even though its 5 years old now, and 20 Duke figures have been released since, I don’t think Hasbro has topped it. I will go on record as saying this is the best Duke figure of all time. If you don’t have it you should get it. 10 out of 10.