So here’s yet another version of the Joe team’s top sergeant. Duke garners mixed feelings amongst collectors, whether they consider themselves fans of the comic, the cartoon or even just the figures. Some can’t stand him and consider him a usurper of Hawk in the comics. I’ve never really had a big problem with Duke, and I don’t necessarily see his presence as diminishing Hawk in the comic. He didn’t seem like the cartoon version’s de facto leader in Larry Hama’s comic scripts, as Hawk was still a commanding presence. I also thought that Duke’s initial reaction after the SAW-Viper killed of his teammates was quite well done, and showed more depth to the character than the cartoon could manage.
As the 90’s continued, Duke was refreshed in several assortments and sub-groups. His 1991 figure established a kind of desert look that had a big presence in the Joe media and advertising of the time. This 1993 version, part of the Battle Corps series, is a return to a more straightforward military look, with simple BDUs and a modern helmet. Like other figures from the line’s final two years, the paint apps are a bit sparse, with only two base colors and a lone silver grenade. Had this figure been done up in ’82 green, I think some folks would have gone bonkers for it. As he stands, this Duke is a bit forgotten for me, especially amongst the many colorful and fanciful figures released alongside him. He is however a solid, simple figure. A refreshing contrast for the time.
I’ve always found his lack of a removable helmet to be a letdown, but one that’s easily remedied with a head swap. And hey, at least he’s lost the goofy grin.