Toys / Toy Collecting

G.I. Joe Classified Duke


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By Hervé St-Louis
July 26, 2020 - 21:15

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Sergeant Conrad S. Hauser was introduced to the G.I. Joe as their first sergeant and in the A Real American Hero cartoon series as their field commander. Duke was created by Hasbro to serve as the very man model hero of the team as opposed to being a more organic member of the team, like the original 1982 crew. A mail-order only exclusive action figure in 1983, he was finally available to all kids in 1984. Duke has been controversial not because he is a bad character, but because his presence, many felt, shelved the actual commander of the team, Hawk who looked much like Duke in terms of archetypes. The question asked was why create Duke when there is already someone doing his job that looks like him. Was Duke necessary?

Well, in practice, Hasbro has answered this question many times and does so again with the G.I. Joe Classified action figure line. Duke is has long overtaken General Hawk as the titular field leader of the team and the poster boy for whatever video game, cartoon, or toy there is. Hawk came first but is not as well known and as popular. Hawk tends to be used as the behind the desk commander of G.I. Joe while Duke is the one who handles tactical missions and operations.

I cannot help but marvel at how much Duke is necessary for Hasbro and G.I. Joe. He had to be invented because while Hawk had the same original archetype, Duke was created to be the ultimate hero who much like Captain America, rallies the troops. Duke is like Scooby Doo’s Fred and many other plain guys. Kids and fans are meant to relate to him first before picking a particular character that they prefer.

With G.I. Joe Classified, Duke reprises his traditional job to be the face of G.I. Joe. For many collectors, the quality of the Duke action figure would set the pace for any other common G.I. Joe. If Duke is done well, chances are the rest of the line will be. I would like these stereotypes to be broken but they are not. While fully aware of Duke’s role here, although he is not my favourite G.I. Joe character, I cannot help but write that the Classified Duke is a homerun for Hasbro. Notwithstanding the gold shin guards, they could not have made a better prototype for what G.I. Joe Classified could be. Duke really is G.I. Joe’s golden boy.

Likeness
 
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What amazes me with this action figure is how much he embodies the classic Duke character but without dragging the boring and plain aspects of the character. First, this Duke is much younger than the classic one. But he wears the same uniform and colours. Instead of having a Ken doll’s hair, like the classic character, he sports a current military haircut. He does not smile, like the old Duke but he is as stern as the one I remember from the cartoons.

The scar on Duke’s is not a recent addition. The first Duke from 1983 did not have it, but latter version have had it since Sigma Six and Renegades. I like that about G.I. Joe Classified. Duke is not just the character from 1983 without much personality that was plastered and sold to kids. He is also a character that has earned a few attributes, like the scar on his face that have made him a better character. This younger Duke is a direct link to the Renegades version who was also younger. This is the ultimate Duke.

Sculpt

I think that the one aspect of this action figure that has impressed people the most is the realism of his face. Dukes looks like a real human. I can definitely imagine him walking from the local military base. One aspect of this action figure that does not work is the abdominal crunch. Either Duke is arching his back, or his is crunching and looking down. There are no middle station that look right. I am able to pose him just right, but it’s in between station and that may loosen the ab crunch articulation over time. The ab crunch area does not look good at all. It breaks the sculpt by inserting a not well-hidden articulation.

The shin guards look like his calves and shins were switched. But this is how the character is supposed to look. The shins were not inverted. This lack of symmetry will bother many collectors. His elbows are too thin. Also, his forearms should be bigger. Duke looks like he is leaning forward permanently. I don’t like that much.

I need to correct something that was mentioned erroneously in other Duke reviews. Some reviewers claim that Duke’s waist was first used for Snake Eyes. They look similar but they are not the same. Snake Eyes’s waist is smaller, and the texture is more vivid. The sculpted in texture on Duke’s trousers and waist are duller and much wider. By the way, it’s super cool that Duke has sculpted in textured pants.

Paint

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Okay, the gold on shin guards and the kneepads is atrocious. Had the colours being muted, I doubt that people would have been weary of the G.I. Joe Classified line. Duke and Roadblock almost made people question whether they would collect this line based on those features. I hope that Hasbro listens and drops the gold shin guard kneepad thing.

The base plastic colour for Duke’s forearms are not the colour of his skin. The paint there almost matches his face and neck, but their application is shoddy. It is one thick coating of paint without any textures and highlights.
The belt, bandelier, and holster with minimal highlights. There are a few of the laser turquoise effects on the buckle and shoulder part of thew bandelier. These look plain. Customizers will adore painting these ^parts over to give them more life.

Scale

Technically, Duke six feet two. He really is the middle ground for all of G.I. Joe Classified. In the first wave, he stands in the middle of Roadblock, Destro and then Snake Eyes, and Scarlett. I have not tested him with other action figure lines. I have tested him with a few old Toy Biz marvel Legends and some DC Direct action figures. He is shorter and less bulky than the DC Direct action figures but a bit larger than the old Toy Biz toys.

Stability

Duke is quite stable even though he leans forward. Putting his backpack on will help push some of the weight on his back. His ankle articulations are stiff which helps with stability.

Articulation

Duke has the now standard thirty-four points of articulations that male G.I. Joe Classified figures have. Hasbro has elevated the standard on articulations on these toys and made them better than other toys it produces such as Marvel legends. The head, the neck, the abdominal, the waist, hips, the thighs, the knees, the calves, the ankles, the shoulders, the biceps, the elbows, and the wrists are all articulated. This is incredible. Most articulations with Duke are stiff though.

Duke has a unique set of wrist articulations. While each wrist can curl, his left wrist can also bend sideways while his right wrist can bend front and back. As I am discovering the G.I. Joe Classified series, I see that each character has different articulations at the wrists that are suited to the weapons they have.

Plastic

Duke is make soft plastic that could probably break is pressured too much.

Props

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Duke, unlike the other Joes, does not own a knife. Instead, he has a single-telescoped binocular, like the 1983 original version, a riffle, a handgun, and a backpack. His bandelier, belt and holster can also be removed. The handgun fits snuggly in the holster. The riffle and the handgun have gold detailing that resemble the wretched shin guards and kneepads with blue laser highlights. I don’t like the blue laser look on the guns.

Duke’s backpack is seemingly modelled after his original one with a large shovel and two cantinas. The shovel is painted and that’s it. The rest of the backpack is plain green. It’s too bad as the backpack is quite well done and not hollow. The backpack does not stick to Duke’s back well at all.

Packaging

Duke comes with the standard blue G.I. Joe Classified box with original art on the sides. Of all of the artwork on this series, his was the weakest. It’s strange because it is a classic comic book style that depicts the classic character in the current suit. It felt odd compared with the more three-dimensional and painted box art of other action figures.

Cost

Duke costs $19.99 in the United States, and $29.99 in Canada.

Availability

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Duke should be in stores right now, whether online or in your town, if you live in Canada or the United States. A serious concern for other collectors overseas is where to find these toys. I am not sure which retailer will offer these for collectors outside of North America and that is a shame. I hope that Hasbro sorts this quickly as there is a sizeable G.I. Joe collector community in the United Kingdom thanks to Action Force.

Duke is an excellent action figure. He has convinced me to collect many of them. I never imagined myself going back to collecting G.I. Joe toys. I was heavily invested in them as a kid and still have a huge collection in my parents’ basement! Now, I can’t wait to compare what I have there with the new G.I. Joe Classified series.

I always liked Duke as a kid and am not one those who dislike him. He was not my favourite, but he is a major character in this toyline. Let’s hope that Hasbro will stop playing games with the distribution of these toys and make sure that as many casual and hardcore fans can find them. I can imagine adults who used to collect these as kids getting into them, the way that I have. I can also imagine kids into Fortnite action figures becoming interested in these. They are better built and with better values and sculpts. I understand that Hasbro did not pull the fill military look to make action figures like Duke appealing to that demographic. I’m okay with that as it means more people will get into G.I. Joe. That’s why Hasbro has to favour mass distribution of these toys instead of the collectors’ tricks that they play.

Rating: 9.5 /10


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Last Updated: July 26, 2020 - 20:19

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