Accelerator Suit Duke (Rise of Cobra)
I’ve professed my love for the sci-fi elements of the G.I. Joe brand quite a few times before on this blog. With that context in mind, it should surprise no one here that I loved the ideas behind Rise of Cobra. While the execution of the film itself wasn’t great, the idea of Cobra using nanobots to cause chaos was something straight out of the comics (remember, the first DDP arc actually has Cobra using weaponized nanobots) and the Joe’s Accelerator Suits were something that I could have seen existing in the Joe cartoon without anyone batting an eye. I considered the Accelerator Suit figures the “must have” versions of Duke and Ripcord even though they didn’t wear them that long in the movie. They were fun designs and that chase through the streets of Paris was probably, at least for me, the most iconic moment of Rise of Cobra. Plus, the Accelerator Suits make for some pretty fun action figures…and that’s really what it’s all about. While I still don’t like Channing Tatum, Duke has definitely got the edge on Ripcord in terms of accelerator suit figures, but that’s okay. I can put the cool helmet on him and never have to look at the Channing Tatum face when he’s on display.
For something that didn’t really get a lot of screen time or (in theory) have a lot of reuse potential, Hasbro really gave the Accelerator Suits a lot of attention and made some great new molds for them. The legs of the Accelerator Suit are fully robotic and they have a lot of detail crammed into them. The knees and ankles have realistic hinge points built into the figure’s joints and they look like they would do an excellent job of protecting the Joe using the suit. It makes sense that the legs would get the most mechanical detailing since really the rest of the Accelerator Suit was just a system to protect the wearer, allow them to carry some extra weight and target their weapons more effectively. The legs, however, let normal human beings run for prolonged periods of time at a speed that could catch a speeding SUV. Clearly that’s where most of the tech is going to be needed to accomplish the job. The upper legs do have a little bit of the armored undersuit exposed so it’s clear that it’s someone wearing robotic pants rather than someone with robotic legs. Much like the reactive armor, the torso of the Accelerator Suit, while armored, is still rather anatomical in its armoring. Duke’s got armor that clearly looks like someone’s abs and a set of very well-developed pecs. On the back, there’s a reinforced covering over his spine and over his shoulder muscles. While it’s clearly higher tech than the reactive armor, it’s still got enough ties to the standard Joe armor that it doesn’t look that out of place with the rest of the armored movie figures. I like the cohesiveness that the movie Joes have. Yes, the Joe brand has always had the Joes look very different from each other even though they’re a military unit, but I do like that the movie Joes all look like they belong together. You’re not going to mistake them for their classic counterparts, but as someone who appreciates when comics occasionally use the “alternate universe/timeline” trope, I can accept the movie Joes as their own separate continuity separate from the rest of the Joes I’ve known and loved since I was a kid. The arms are where Accelerator Suit Duke clearly has the edge over Ripcord. In the movie, the Accelerator Suits had some pretty impressive weapons built into them. However, for some reason, Accelerator Suit Ripcord didn’t have those. Accelerator Suit Duke gets them and they really help complete the look. The arms are very well armored and will protect the user well. On his left wrist, Duke has a gauntlet that can launch small rockets. I kind of view these like the little rockets Iron Man used in the first movie. They may be small, but they definitely have some stopping power. I don’t recall the wrist rockets ever being used in the movie, but it’s been a while since I’ve watched it so I may be mistaken here. Around his right wrist, Duke has a large gauntlet with a built in machine gun. This thing is just awesome. I don’t know why, but I’ve always loved wrist-mounted guns. I just think they’re super cool and Duke’s gun is no exception. It’s bulky enough that it actually looks like it could be a functional piece rather than someone just strapping a gun to their wrist and calling it good. Up top, Duke is still rocking the same kind of dorky Channing Tatum head, but since he’s got a great helmet, I don’t have to worry about seeing it all the time.
As much as I love the overall design of the Accelerator Suit, I think Accelerator Suit Duke suffers a bit because of his paint scheme. Yes, the movie’s design for the Accelerator Suit was dark, but the Accelerator Suit Duke figure feels a bit too dark. I think the wash over the gunmetal gray parts is applied too heavily. As such, Duke is kind of a sea of bland darkness and it’s really hard to spot all the nice details built into this mold. The silver gauntlets really stand out because they’re close to the same color as the metal parts but they don’t have the heavily- applied black wash over them. The color looks nice on them, it’s just too bad the paint team didn’t adopt a less is more approach when it came to the wash on the rest of the figure. I’m sure it was done to make the Accelerator Suit Duke figure look different from the Ripcord one, but they really dropped the ball here. The tampo of the Joe logo on his chest looks sharp and really stands out against the overall darkness of the figure. Finally, this version of Duke also got a bit of a dye job. His hair is much more in line with the classic blonde Duke we all know and…tolerate as opposed to the darker haired Channing Tatum version of the character. I appreciate that Hasbro decided to switch things up a little bit on a movie figure and tweak his hair color just a little to bring him closer into line with his classic counterpart as opposed to keeping him screen accurate.
Since the Accelerator Suits turn their wearers into living weapons, Accelerator Suit Duke really doesn’t have a lot in the way of accessories. The gauntlets can be removed by popping off Duke’s hands. If I’d felt like it, I could have bought an extra one so Accelerator Suit Ripcord could have them, but I just didn’t feel like buying two of the same figure to complete a figure Hasbro should have released with the same accessories the first time around. The gauntlets are great pieces and really do make Duke look well armed. Duke’s other weapon is the standard Rise of Cobra FN2000. It’s a nice weapon and all, but considering Duke is wearing an Accelerator Suit, I generally don’t have him carrying it that much. Heck, you’ll notice I apparently even forgot to snap a photo of him carrying it back in the day. I had to check YoJoe to make sure the he actually came with one originally and I didn’t misbag the gun when I was packing him away before my move. Duke’s other accessory is his great helmet. The helmet really looks like it was pulled right off the screen and I love how it’s hinged. I like that Duke can pop up his visor and look out from behind the helmet and then snap it back down when he’s ready to go back into combat. I’m sure as a kid I would have loved having Duke get beaten down, then he’d pop open the helmet, come up with a witty retort and then pop the visor back down and just annihilate whatever Cobra had just laid the smack down on him.
Love it or hate it, Rise of Cobra is a facet of Joe mythos now and I have to say that some of the ideas they injected into the brand were great. I think Accelerator Suits are a cool idea and they make great action figures and that’s the best of both worlds, in my opinion. The Accelerator Suits just look impressive. I don’t know why, but they just scream badass, especially
when they’ve got their weapons gauntlets deployed. There’s something that just appeals to a primal part of my brain with the design and I can see all sorts of fun play ideas with these figures. The 25th Anniversary line was a bit more focused on form over function. They got better about it, but a lot of the pieces felt more like collectables than toys to me. However, when Rise of Cobra started up, the Joes felt more like toys again. Pursuit of Cobra kind of bounced back and forth across the line between collectable and toy and they were very successful at it. However, as much as the line is maligned in collector circles, I have to say that the Rise of Cobra was the most fun I’d had with the Joe property up to that point and it was kind of nice to be buying toys that were fun.