Duke (1994 Star Brigade)
When I cover figures from the spring-loaded missile launcher era of GI Joe, I normally don’t include the launcher in my pictures. They often seem like a tacked-on accessory, not to mention nigh impossible for most figures to hold unsupported. However in Duke’s case, the missile launcher works, and dare I say it–I like it.
Several of the ’94 Star Brigade figures offered up some nice new designs and accessory ideas, which was great to see after the ’93 series of Armor Tech and repainted molds. The final year of the RAH line gave us four Joes and two Cobras who were made up (at least partially) of new molds.
The mold looks appropriately like a battle-ready space suit, with the newly sculpted armored chest. Using Sky Creeper’s legs was an excellent choice, as they blend well into the space suit look and are obscure enough that they almost look like newly created parts as well.
The backpack and its integration of the helmet and missile launcher is what makes the figure one of my favorites of the Star Brigade sub-line. Not only does the backpack serve as the mounting point for the retractable helmet, but the missile launcher also pivots around for the figure to wield. The launcher (also thankfully not greatly oversized) can pivot back and clip onto the backpack when not in use. Small touches like this always boost a figure’s coolness factor for me. The only complaints for the figure with me are the lack of paint detail (again, common at the end of the line) and the overly bright color or the backpack/launcher.
This version also sports what I think is the best un-helmeted Duke head of the era. It’s an older looking take on the character and much better than earlier versions since the sculpt doesn’t feature either ’83’s grin or ’92’s Pinocchio nose.