Duke (2009 Greatest Battles)
Ever happen to pass a wreck on the highway and notice that most everyone going by it has to slow down and gawk out of morbid curiosity? That’s what happened to me when I came across this figure a while back. Absolutely nothing about it works, yet I couldn’t seem to bring myself to pass it up as a subject for an entry.
Now that I’ve spent some time with this figure (more than any sane human should, by the way) I’ve come to the realization that it’s either the worst 25th anniversary style figure, or an ironic reference to the era upon which its based.
Collectors remember the GI Joe vs. Cobra/Spy Troops/Valor vs. Venom era for its wildly uneven sculpting styles and prevalent issues with proportion. Many figures had inordinately long legs, tiny hands or huge shoulder joints. The Greatest Battles DVD pack was an attempted homage to character designs of that “new sculpt” era. Duke stands out head and shoulders as the worst of the four figures in the set, mainly due to horrid, horrid parts choices. Which leads me to my question about this figure: is it possibly a knowing wink to collectors about the common problems of the era? Consider that of all the 25th anniversary style parts available, they chose the “thunder thighs” of Mutt, and coupled it with a pin-headed Duke. On top of those, we get the abominable Flint version 2 arms, with barely bendable elbows and useless hands. Mismatched proportions and useless hands: it smells like “new sculpt” to me.
If this Duke was indeed a reference to the problems of the “new sculpt” figures, they did miss one point: the often pointless accessory pack-outs. While the Stalker rifle and Duke binoculars don’t quite fit the 2000’s era, at least they make some sense for the character. If Hasbro had really wanted to put the cherry on top of this backhanded tribute, they should have included a Tele-Viper rifle and flare gun as the primary weapons.