Heavy Duty (1993)

By Past Nastification

Why, Hasbro, why?

Heavy Duty started off right in 1991, a mixed bag year for GI Joe. The character’s initial figure featured a good design with realistic coloring.

When Heavy Duty returned in 1993, things weren’t so good. This wasn’t just a Star Brigade figure, it was further specified as an Armor Tech figure. As someone who doesn’t like too much science fiction in his GI Joe, Star Brigade doesn’t have much appeal. Dial that concept up to 12 by way of the Armor Tech and I’m completely disinterested.

If the Armor Tech figures had been approached in terms of how Hasbro would’ve sculpted Iron Man-like armor into the standard GI Joe line, it at least would have had some visual interest. In another toy line, this action figure could have been repainted in red and gold and been presented as an Iron Man figure. It even has an arc reactor-ish circular shape in the chest. (Was the Iron Man chest circle called an arc reactor in the comic books, or did that come about with the first movie?)

With the helmet on, this figure almost looks like a discount-store version of the Iron Man villain Whirlwind.

Instead of the standard GI Joe buck, Hasbro went with a very clunky and less-articulated format. No o-ring, no lateral shoulder movement, no swivel arm battle grip. Front/back only leg movement at the hips. It did feature a swiveling right hand, though. Unlike the two POA 1984 Deep Six, which I enjoyed, this figure (and most of the Armor Tech figures) served no purpose. It doesn’t even have the look/feel of a GI Joe figure. The Armor Tech BAAT (a space BAT), by the way, is awesome because it didn’t have to be constrained by the design standards that should have been applied to the human figures.

There is some hypocrisy in my views on POA’s. I love Adventure People and their five POA articulation. There are even a few Joes who would have benefitted with less articulation for a better flow (think Headman’s suit or Gung Ho’s dress uniform). But my rule of thumb is that figures in a line should generally be close to each other in terms of articulation and style. The Armor Tech figures are off on their own compared to the other ARAH figures.

The headsculpt is good, keeping very close to the 1991 Heavy Duty, but with the hat replaced with a wrap. It’s also a side-to-side turning head, but I don’t know if it’s compatible with earlier figures or not in terms of customizing. The figure doesn’t have an “unscrew and take apart” construction, so the only way to find out would be to crack one open.

The frame of the chest/back is large enough that Heavy Duty’s “real” arms might be curled up inside of it, with the arms we see simply being remote controlled ones. But I don’t think that’s what the designers intended. You might also notice that he’s missing his left hand entirely. And probably the arm, too- unless the space Gatling gun is built around it.

Did Heavy Duty get an arm chopped off and do the Robocop thing?

The armor, just like real-life spacesuits, has a lot of spikes on it. Even on the Viking-inspired helmet. The helmet doesn’t interlock with the rest of the spacesuit, creating a gap that leaves the neck exposed to the vacuum of space. What’s wrong with you, Hasbro? The rest of the accessories are molded in black, so they look realistic. But they don’t fit with the figures (except for the arm-launched missiles) making it easy to ignore them.

The colors look appropriate for a jungle or forest environment, complete with camouflage stripes. Had this figure and its design elements been reformatted to be a standard Joe figure, or even something more like the SNAKE armor, for use below the heavens, I might have even liked it.

In this “winding things down” phase of the ARAH line, it’s obvious that Hasbro had moved away from the original spark that was 1:18 GI Joe. The departure led to clunky figures like this. Ones that felt like they came from another toy line.


  • It’s funny the two figures that could’ve had launchers for arms, BAAT and ROBO-JOE, didn’t.

    Spikes on armor would be more a hindrance than an asset. Most of the time you aren’t fighting. So you’d be ruining upholstery and things and your buddies wouldn’t want to get too close to you.

  • Yes, BAAT not having a launcher arm always seemed strange to me.

    The catalogs that year had “coming soon” silhouettes of armor tech. The Armor Tech “power fighter” things changed a lot from what was pictured in the catalog. So I always wondered if there was something else intended for Armor Tech but the feature got cut from the budget. The bulky bodies made me think maybe they at one pointed planned lights and/or sounds built in or possibly some geared/action pack feature since the catalog power fighter things seemed to have something like that.

    • Hasbro couldn’t get the original power fighter concepts to work right. So they were dumped.
      The catalog silhouettes appeared to be those of the Transformers Action Masters, I think.

      IIRC, Hasbro’s Kirk Bozigian didn’t care for the Armor Tech figures and said something like “I can’t believe we released those.” And that’s the guy who was unapologetic about all the sub-lines at the time, since they aimed at kids.

  • I bet that helmet would look sweet on Sonic Fighters Road Pig.

  • I dont say it often…….but this figure just sucks. This was teh end of the line! Literally. Hell I love the neon years but this…..this just sucked. What is up with that helmet? I mean……why heavy duty? in a viking helmet? and why the clunky non gi joe articulation? So many questions, so many fails.

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