Valor Vs. Venom Wave 4- Duke

Toy name: Duke
Assortment: Valor vs. Venom Wave 4
Price: MSRP $7.99
Availability: September/October 2004 either love him or you hate him. Generally, the unfortunate divide that separates comic fans and cartoon fans also usually separates those folks who like Duke and those who'd rather have seen him bite it at the business end of Serpentor's snake spear.

Me, I'm an anomoly, I guess...or as I've been accused of being, just a shameless fanboy who likes it all. I'm a pretty diehard comic fan, yet I still like Duke as well. I can't really explain it, since most comic fans I know see Duke as a half-whit Hawk ripoff, when the Colonel should have been getting the credit he deserved in the cartoon from the get go. I see a place for both in either Joeverse, and really my very first introduction to the world of Joe was through the original mini-series. Even though I'd had a lot of the figures already, the vision of Duke leaping through gunfire to rescue Scarlett on the airfield was the first thing that drew me into the universe of G.I. Joe, and because of that, part of me likes him and sees his firm place in the Joe mythos. Am I glad he gets more credit than the popular General in most aspect of G.I. Joe? No, not really, but the first shirt should get more field battle time than the General, any way. Like I said, I have a place for both in my world.

But what about this version of G.I. Joe's First Sergeant? Is it any good? Well, a heck of a lot better than the original Valor Vs. Venom version, but still not near perfect.

Figure Mold

Duke uses the same basic figure mold as he did originally, back in Wave 1 of Valor Vs. Venom. With the action attack, this figure quickly became the laughing stock of the wave and of the line, with his affectionately named "butt plug" and t-crotch construction. Seeing the figure now re-released in o-ring format just proves that even without action attack, this mold still has it's problems.

First of all, because of the previous method of construction being retrofitted, Duke's torso has a broad shoulder/narrow waist thing going on. Similar to the issues that plagued Wave 7 of Spy Troops, at least this figure doesn't have the long legs and still manages to look relatively normal. However, even with relatively normal proportions, the mold is kind of boring and just not real exciting to look at. I would have much preferred we had gotten a 3 3/4" version more accurately sculpted like the one featured in the Valor Vs. Venom DVD, and more like the 12" Talking Duke released. The look of that character just seems more interesting than the one we got.

His torso, with it's odd shape and bland quilted vest just doesn't do much. He's got some sparse accessories on it like grenades and a few straps, buckles, etc that don't really seem to serve much purpose. Part of me likes the different pouches and such on his thick padded vest, and I dig the strap with three grenades over his right shoulder, but it just doesn't quite do enough for me. There is one extremely cool aspect of his torso mold, in a pair of twin pistols that are holstered to each side. These are both VERY cool little touches, but don't really do enough to make the figure a whole lot cooler. His head sculpt is very nice and very reminiscent of one of G.I. Joe's most well known characters, but the rest of the figure just falls kind of flat. Short arms, odd proportions and bland detailing just don't add up to an exciting figure.

Paint Applications/Color Choices

I'm really not sure where Hasbro is going with this either. They choose a solid light gray for the torso, green for the undershirt and tan for the pants, all with a trim of black here and there and throughout. As such you can't really tell what purpose the figure serves or which environment he belongs in. He seems to be part urban, part desert, part jungle and just an amalgamation. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but pretty much every color Hasbro picked is a pretty cool and boring color, which only serves to increase the figures blandness.


Here I can offer some serious comments on the plus side, though. Duke's rifle is GREAT. Even if it didn't disassemble, this would be one of the coolest machine guns included in the line, and absolutely is one of the best new sculpt weapons I've seen. An M-16 with silencer, grenade launcher and removable stock just seems too cool for words, and is executed to near perfection here. The parts all fit together and stay together even when cramming the weapon into Duke's hands and this is just a fantastic new weapon. It almost just makes the fact that Hasbro releases so few new sculpt guns all the more painful, though. With this weapon we know they're capable of great things, but they just don't have the opportunity to run with it.

Final Comments

Fans either love Duke or hate him, and I can see opinions of this figure falling among the same lines. I really don't see myself ever using this Duke figure, since he had two stellar versions released last year. It's somewhat strange midsection proportions, smooth, non-detailed sculpting, and pretty boring paint scheme all add up to a somewhat lackluster figure. Especially when compared to the number of great figures released in Wave 4, he kind of stands out as one with few remarkable traits, except his machine gun.

Ratings (out of 10)

Character: 6
Mold : 5.5
Paint Apps: 5
Value: 6
Overall score (not an average): 5.5


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