Heavy Duty (Rise of Cobra)
When I look back on the Rise of Cobra line, I find it amazing at how many different store exclusives there were during that line. Wal-Mart got some exclusives, Toys ‘R’ Us got a few, Target got a pretty wide variety of them, and even K-Mart got in on the exclusive game. I don’t know about you, but I’m hard pressed to remember any other time when K-Mart got in on the store exclusive game. To my knowledge, they only had one Rise of Cobra exclusive, but it was a really good set—a desert operations four pack with two Joes and two Cobras. One Joe and one Cobra both had mass market releases but the other half of the set was at least slightly new. Looking back on it, that desert four pack was probably my favorite Rise of Cobra exclusive set. I loved the two Cobras and while one Joe was pretty lackluster, Heavy Duty, despite being a straight-up repaint of his Wave 1 version that I passed on countless times, was a great addition and something I’m actually glad I have in my collection. Plus, as I recall, the set retailed for around $20…any time you can get Joes for $5 apiece, I call that a big old win.
Heavy Duty was a relatively controversial character choice for Rise of Cobra. Everybody wondered where Roadblock was and considering how during the Joe Vs. Cobra years Hasbro had been pushing Heavy Duty pretty hard and gradually turned his character into Roadblock- light, I understand it. However, I’m really glad they saved Roadblock back for the second movie. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is a great actor, but unfortunately, Heavy Duty wound up being relegated to a pretty small role and Mr. Akinnuoye-Agbaje never really got much of a chance to shine. Yes, he commanded the fleet of SHARCs during the final underwater battle, but come on, if you have a battle scene and Heavy Duty’s not in it, laying down heavy fire with a massive machine gun, you’re doing something wrong. Given the choice, I’d rather have someone like Heavy Duty, who is a comparatively new character, get that kind of treatment instead of someone like Roadblock, who’s been with the Joes since 1984. Movie issues aside, I’d not realized until I bought this K-Mart desert set just how good the first movie Heavy Duty was. I passed on that figure a lot because I didn’t like his gear and I thought the reactive armor looked cooler. The only reason I bought a Wave 1 Heavy Duty was so Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje could sign it at Joe Con since he head more screen time in the look that figure had than he did in the reactive armor. The first thing you’ll notice about this figure is that he’s big. Heavy Duty is definitely built big enough to be worthy of his code name. The 1991 Heavy Duty was no slouch and was pretty buff for the time, but I like that with these modern figures you can get more size difference in figures. Not only does Heavy Duty have some strong-looking arms, he’s clearly a huge guy. The design itself is pretty standard military. He’s got some BDU pants and a T-shirt with a sleeveless BDU shirt worn over the top of it. I really do find myself liking this look for Heavy Duty. The arms are big and they look to be constructed a little differently due to their largeness. I’m not sure about that, but the elbow joints seem different compared to other Joes. I’m cool with that because I think these larger arms allow the joint to be obscured a little better. Heavy Duty’s got a pretty full range of articulation, including the wrists, which helps him hold his accessories. When it comes to the head sculpt, I think Heavy Duty probably has to be declared the winner for Rise of Cobra because all his figures actually looked like him. Having met the man in person, the likeness is spot on and it’s kind of cool having such a spot-on Heavy Duty looking back at me when I look at the figure. Heavy Duty is one of those characters that I’m actually okay with there being an actor-likeness version as my sole representation of him in my modern collection. Heavy Duty was great and I had the original 1991 version, but he’s not someone so iconic that I think he looks wrong if they’ve got a head that’s clearly based on a real person’s sitting on top of his body. The biggest difference between this Heavy Duty and his mass-market counterpart is in his paint scheme.
Rather than go with a green, more jungle-based camouflage color scheme, this Heavy Duty is rocking a rather dark desert operations camouflage look. The base of the figure is a rather dark tan (though the vest and pants don’t match up perfectly) with brown and white camouflage spots over top. His left knee also has a black kneepad. I’m still not sure why they did that. There’s not really any additional sculpting there but it’s still painted a different color. This also happened on the original use of the mold and it kind of bugged me there too. His T-shirt is an even darker brown but it is still distinct from his skin tone, which is good. He has a strange blue tattoo on his left arm. I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be but it looks all right. It’s there, that’s about all that can be said for it. My only real complaint is his hair color. It’s dark, but I think it would have worked a little better as black than the dark brown. To me, Heavy Duty’s hair looked black in the movie. I think it would have helped break up all the brown on this figure if his hair was black rather than a very dark brown. The desert look works for me on a few levels. First of all, I usually complain about desert figures looking monochromatic and there is definitely a lot of dark tan and brown on this figure, yet somehow it all works really well and creates an interesting figure. Secondly, the movie also established that the PIT was underneath the deserts of Egypt. It makes sense for Joes that might be serving on guard duty to wear desert uniforms as opposed to the jungle fatigues that the initial movie Heavy Duty came with. Finally, though the original Heavy Duty had green pants, a later release of that same figure was done up in an all-brown color scheme. I’m sure the reference was unintentional, but it’s nice to see a movie figure have some parallels with a version of the vintage character he’s supposed to represent.
The other major difference between this and the carded version is in his accessories. For the carded Heavy Duty, Hasbro made his big machine gun into the functional missile launcher and I think that was a bad call. In its stead, we get the awesome chain gun that the reactive armor version came with along with all the other accessories the carded version had. That’s a great call and it really helps make Heavy Duty work. Starting off with his backpack, Heavy Duty is wearing the backpack they designed for the first version of this figure. The primary difference between the first and second backpacks is that this version doesn’t actually attach via the peg hole in the back. The backpack is part of his webgear and I think that’s a really cool look. It makes it look more natural and it beefs up the already huge Heavy Duty even more. The straps are designed to look massive and it definitely looks like he can carry the weight of this system on his back with no problem. The chaingun itself huge piece and it attaches to the backpack via a metal belt like modern heavy weapons do. It’s a nice stylistic change from the bullet belts that were so common during the 25th Anniversary line. Unlike some of the previous Joe chain guns (SpyTroops Roadblock, I’m looking at you), this thing is huge and it looks like it can lay down some heavy firepower. It reminds me of the gear that Vulcan Raven carried in Metal Gear Solid and really, with as huge as he is, Heavy Duty looks like he can carry about as easy as Vulcan Raven could. However, Heavy Duty isn’t just carrying his chain gun. For a little lighter fare, Heavy Duty is also carrying around the large modified assault rifle and the grenade launcher that the carded version came with. I don’t have pictures of them in his hands since they generally live in the hands of Rise of Cobra Repeater (who I’ve repurposed as Hardball using this gear) but I figure they should get mentioned here. I love the rotary-barreled grenade launcher. It’s a great piece and it reminds me of my misspent youth playing GoldenEye on the Nintendo 64 where they had one of those as a weapon. His large assault rifle (apparently lovingly dubbed “Patrice” by Heavy Duty if the photos I snagged of the few movie props they had on display at Joe Con in 2009 are any indication) looks decent in his hands, and while it’s bigger than a standard assault rifle thanks to the large ammo box and the underslung shotgun barrel with extended shotgun magazine on the bottom, it still looks a little small in Heavy Duty’s hands. Understandably, the chain gun is his primary weapon when I have him on display, but I do appreciate that a store exclusive managed to give us all his standard weapons (assault rifle, grenade launcher and chain gun) but gave us the best versions available of each of those accessories.
Figure sets have a way of surprising me. Much like the Retaliation Ninja Showdown set, I had passed on one member of this set quite a few times. However, once I got the set in hand, I realized how good the figure I passed on actually was and discovered that the reason I passed on it was due to a combination of poor paint choices and even worse calls on their accessories. The first version of Heavy Duty is a solid figure. Really, there are quite a few elements in his design (the sleeveless vest and almost sleeveless shirt, the extremely buff body, the really heavy weaponry that would almost make him more effective as an emplacement rather than an infantryman) that scream Heavy Duty after looking at them. I think the browns used for the desert set actually magnify those similarities a bit a later Heavy Duty repaint had him wearing dark tan and brown. I’m very glad I wanted the set he came in because I do think I would have missed out on a great figure had I not gotten a figure based on the first version of Heavy Duty. The four pack version has the added benefit of having better accessories than his carded brother, so that makes him even more successful. Heavy Duty may not have been everyone’s first choice for inclusion as the Joe team’s heavy machine gunner, but it was a great call and the actor playing him brought a lot of character to him through his performance, even though the writers didn’t give him a lot to do outside of the final assault on Cobra’s underwater base.