Remember a few years ago, in the aftermath of G.I. Joe: Retaliation when the Joe fandom wondered if the time had really come for Hasbro to move away from Duke as a focal character of the G.I. Joe mythology?
Never really happened. One look at G.I. Joe: Classified certainly indicates that Duke is still the man in charge, and he’s also the cream of the crop for figures in the inaugural wave of this new scale.
I think it’s safe to say that Hasbro was trying to accomplish several different things with G.I. Joe: Classified.
- They’re taking inspiration and influence from the Real American Hero mythology
- They’re adding a few modern touches to try and bring G.I. Joe forward into the future
- They’re steering clear from the hyper-real military weaponry in an attempt to appeal to mass retail
With each of the first few figures in this line, they’ve had mixed results combining all of these goals. With Duke they’ve managed them all to near perfection.
Duke really does encompass the best of what this line can be at a six inch scale, and manages to take a character that we’ve all gotten inundated with over the years and make him a very cool, highly desirable six inch figure that brings some great things to the table.
Design-wise, Duke is just about perfect. He clearly takes inspiration from his first appearance in 1983 with the tan button-up shirt and green pants, but this figure adds some great darker colors on the shirt in the way of stitched padding throughout the sleeves and shoulders as well as silver elbow pads.
The green is darker than the original inspiration and looks a bit richer in tone and I really love the “cloth” texture of his pants. His head sculpt is terrific, with a ton of character, and the scar above his right eye looks really great.
There’s a surprising amount of variation in the colors as well. His pants are a different color than his bandolier and his bandolier matches the pouches on his belt and holster, all of which ties several of these different hues together into one really nicely cohesive package.
Duke’s got kneepads and a holster for his pistol, with a hole on the rear of his belt to hold his binoculars. He is crammed full of character, is immediately recognizable, yet brings a lot of modernization to the design.
I know a lot of people have had issues with some of the brighter gold colors, not to mention the heavier armor sprinkled throughout these figures, especially in the case of Roadblock (and in some cases Scarlett). I think the armor is done really well for Duke, the gold on his lower legs toned down, while his elbow and kneepads are sculpted very close to the body and don’t detract from the overall design.
Personally, I’m fine with adding some of these pseudo-sci-fi elements, G.I. Joe has always had them, and Duke is as close to perfect as it gets with these combined aesthetics.
Like Snake Eyes, Duke is absolutely loaded with functional articulation which enables a plethora of great poses. The multi-jointed neck, the butterfly shoulders, ab crunch, ball joint waist, drop down hips, double joints at the knees and elbows, not to mention the rocker ankles– Duke can get in pretty much any pose you come up with and I couldn’t be happier.
Especially for G.I. Joe, articulation is key. It’s always been a hallmark of the Joes, ever since the 12″ figure’s debut in the 1960’s. With few exceptions, Hasbro has made sure to maintain state of the art articulation all the way through, and the G.I. Joe: Classified line has that in spades.
A sore spot throughout many of the G.I. Joe: Classified figures, the accessory compliment is another thing that Duke does right. While it’s very clear that his weapons are not traditional military, they still have that sort of aesthetic, which is a big bonus over other figures in this first wave.
One look at the neon blue elements of the rifle tells you that it doesn’t fire bullets, but it’s still a very cool looking weapon, which should be all that matters.
He’s got his trusty backpack with embedded shovel, pistol with holster, and binoculars, a really awesome call back to the vintage figure, who came with all of these same accessories. He looks fntastic all geared up and has a place to store everything (as long as he holds his rifle in his hands), which is very cool indeed.
Great job covering all bases with this one.
More unique art that separates Duke from the rest, but looks really good on its own. You have to wonder if at some point they’ll shoot for more unification across the different figures, but for now, I’m really enjoying the more artistic look by leveraging different style artists for the different figures. Gives them a bit of a more “high end” collector feel.
It’s been a long time since I was really fired up about a Duke figure, but this version of the character is a highlight in the first wave of G.I. Joe: Classified figures. Just getting my hands on this guy has made me long to see some other stalwart characters like Major Bludd, Zartan, or Flint. After all, if this is even close to what Hasbro is capable of, we could be in for a lot of fun over the next couple of years (and hopefully longer!)
The Capture of Destro
G.I. Joe Classified Duke
Duke really hits this scale right out of the park. Hasbro manages to take a pretty dated look and crank it to modernization thanks to some added textures, pads, and yes shin armor (that looks much better than it does on Roadblock!) The end result is a Duke that looks like a modern day sci-fi soldier while still looking immediately familiar to us old school fans. He’s got all the right colors, fantastic articulation and his accessories are a nearly perfect bridge between fantasy and military realism.