Heavy Duty (50th Anniversary)
If you told me that Hasbro was going to give Heavy Duty some attention again, I probably would have laughed at you. Don’t get me wrong, I have very strong memories of Heavy Duty. He’s one of the few Joes I have strong memories of getting as a kid and his crazy weapon system was one of my favorite pieces as a kid. However, ever since the relaunch era, Hasbro has kind of shied away from him. I think part of it was fatigue because there were a lot of Heavy Duty figures released at the beginning of the relaunch because Hasbro temporarily lost the rights to the codename “Roadblock.” Additionally, though, I think he fell a little out of popularity with Joe fans when those relaunch era filecards also gave him a lot of Roadblock’s characteristics. Plus, most fans didn’t love that Heavy Duty showed up in the Joe movies before Roadblock did, so that was another strike against him as a modern figure. As such, I figured he wasn’t high on the list for Hasbro to do again. Thankfully, though, I was very wrong and I’m happy to add Heavy Duty to my modern collection.
Unsurprisingly, Heavy Duty uses the Retaliation Ultimate Roadblock mold as a base for the figure. The Ultimate Roadblock body is very large and that fits for Heavy Duty. Even though he was the same height as all the other Joes, his vintage figure was built pretty stoutly, so I like seeing the Ultimate Roadblock body being used here. To make him a little more interesting, Heavy Duty is wearing the Resolute Roadblock vest over his chest. I really like this vest and it’s a piece that fits very well on Heavy Duty. Topping off the figure, Heavy Duty gets a brand new head sculpt. The head sculpt is inspired a bit more by the relaunch era Heavy Duty figures than it is the vintage version though, and that’s a little bit of a bummer. The vintage Heavy Duty figure wore a backwards baseball cap and he had a bushy mustache. The relaunch era Heavy Duty figures traded the baseball cap for a do-rag and alternated between him being cleanly shaven and having a thin beard and mustache. I get the people change facial hair styles (I know I have several times over the years) and change up their hats, but I kind of miss the backwards cap and mustache. It’s still a great head sculpt, though. There’s a lot of character in Heavy Duty’s face and he looks like a pretty serious military operator. The do-rag is sculpted very well and I’m impressed that Hasbro made sure to have the ties sticking out off the back. However, I think the head might be just a tad too big for the body. I’m not sure about that, but something looks just a little off looking at Heavy Duty’s head compared to his neck. This modern version of Heavy Duty is a big beast of a man and that’s great. Much like some of the larger modern figures, I think this figure’s size is more in line with what my kid brain saw whenever I used Heavy Duty and that’s one of the things I do legitimately love about the modern construction style—it’s much easier for Hasbro to make bigger Joes actually bigger than other Joes. That’s a nice touch and while I miss the standard size of the vintage Joes, I like seeing a wide range of body types in the modern Joe line.
The overall design of the figure is a modernized take on Heavy Duty’s vintage look, but the colors are straight out of 1991, and as someone who had that figure growing up and loved it, I couldn’t be happier. Heavy Duty’s pants are dark green with a subtle light green triangular camouflage pattern on them. Truthfully, until I was reviewing the photos I took to make sure they looked good, I didn’t even notice the lighter green triangles. While that makes sense for camouflage, I do kind of wish the light green was just a little brighter so it popped against the dark green like it did back in the day. Up top, his shirt is a very light tan, much like his vest was back in the day. I think that was a great choice to make, especially when you pair it with the black vest. While it’s not a straight up recreation of his vintage look, it still references the original look while updating it a bit for a modern aesthetic. Heavy Duty’s skin is fairly dark, just like the vintage figure’s was. He’s got a pair of anti-Cobra tattoos on his left arm, though since he’s actually got sleeves this time, part of the top one is cut off a little. Truthfully, I’d forgotten the double tattoo detail and I thought it was a goof by the paint team. However, looking at my original Heavy Duty, it was there and I’m a little surprised by the attention to detail there. Up top, the paint work on his face is excellent, though I do wish his hair was a bit darker. The hair color for his thin beard and the hair you can see under the back of the do-rag blends in with his skintone very effectively to the point I didn’t even realize Heavy Duty had a beard until I was reading someone else’s review of this figure. Considering how visible his facial hair traditionally has been, it’s a little bit of a letdown that it doesn’t look like Heavy Duty has that much in the way of facial hair this time around.
For gear, Hasbro didn’t do anything too groundbreaking. They’re serviceable pieces, but I do think Hasbro missed a big opportunity by not giving him a very specific piece of gear. Heavy Duty comes with three different machine guns. His smallest machine gun is the SAW that we first saw with Pursuit of Cobra Jungle Assault Duke. It’s a decent piece, though it does look a tad small in Heavy Duty’s hands. His second machine gun is the good old fashioned Ma Deuce that came with the first 25th Anniversary Roadblock figure. It’s a nice piece, but it is a bit dated. His final machine gun, which is the one I have him equipped with, is the one that came with Resolute Roadblock. I love this modern machine gun and it looks great in Heavy Duty’s hands. Plus, it reminds me a bit of the gun that showed up in the relaunch era Heavy Duty figures’ card art, even though he wasn’t carrying anything similar to it. To fill his holster, he’s got a pistol and there’s a knife to fill the sheath on his left leg. I only wish that Hasbro would have thought outside the box a little. Yes, Heavy Duty has now become another machine gunner like Roadblock, Repeater, and Rock and Roll (man, it’s kind of eerie that all three of the other Joe machine gunners I can think of have codenames that start with the letter “R”). However, back in the day, he was a mobile weapons system. I realize that Hasbro doesn’t have any weapons that are an exact recreation of his original personal weapons emplacement, but the Pursuit of Cobra Desert Battle Duke plasma cannon system, with a different paint job, could have stood in for his gear fairly easily and helped Heavy Duty become his own man again. I realize there was absolutely nothing realistic about his gear load back in the day, but at least it was something different. I don’t mind Heavy Duty being a machine gunner, but he was so much more than that back in the day and as someone who loved that figure and his crazy weapon system back in the day, I kind of miss that.
All in all, this modern version of Heavy Duty is a very pleasant surprise. I didn’t figure he was that high on anyone’s list of figures that needed a modern version, especially since you could sort of say he got an update thanks to the Rise of Cobra line. However, I’m very glad to have a vintage-inspired Heavy Duty figure back in my collection. Heavy Duty was one of those great figures from the 90s that doesn’t get nearly as much attention as he probably deserves. Yes, Hasbro eventually overused the character, but his original figure was great and deserved a modern interpretation. I wish Hasbro would have equipped him differently just to help him be his own man again and get rid of the low rent Roadblock comparisons. As it stands, though, they expertly referenced a lot of the original figure’s look updating it to fit with a more modern military aesthetic.