Thursday, July 9, 2020

Action Figure Review: Duke from G.I. Joe Classified Series by Hasbro

   It's been awhile since I've purchased a new G.I.Joe item. I have written a G.I. Joe review or two since then, because the Sigma 6 line is one of my favorite toylines ever, but I haven't really been very interested in any of Hasbro's releases over the past 7 or 8 years. Honestly, Hasbro hasn't done much with G.I. Joe since the film Retaliation other than things like the failed Kre-O brand or the subscription figures put out by the G.I. Joe Collector's Club. With the move towards 6-7 inch action figures sort of becoming an industry standard collectors have long speculated when we would see Hasbro tackle G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero in the 6 inch scale. The G.I. Joe Classified Series is the answer to that speculation and it launched with an exclusive Snake Eyes figure and a case of five of the most well known names in G.I. Joe fandom: Snake Eyes, Destro, Scarlett, Roadblock, and Duke. Today I'm checking out Duke as he was the first figure I was able to get my hands on. I would wager that G.I. Joe fans have kind of a love/ hate relationship with Duke as he's a solid character and has been one of the faces of the brand for decades now, even though he wasn't part of the Original 13 members of the G.I. Joe team. Hasbro sure loves him, though, and during the 2000s and early 2010s they put out dozens of Duke figures. He was the face of Sigma 6 as well as G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra, so it only makes sense that Hasbro would include him in the first series of figures. Duke provides a nice dose of the military realism that has always been part of G.I. Joe's DNA since the 12 inch era while still sporting some of the futuristic elements that are part of the design aesthetic of this line. Ready for a closer look at Duke? Then hop to attention and join me after the break...

The Facts:

Height: 6 1/4ths inches

Articulation: Swivel/ hinge ankles, boot swivels, double hinged knees, swivel thighs, balljointed drop down hips, balljointed waist, mid-torso hinge, butterfly pecs, swivel/hinge shoulders, bicep swivels, double hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, balljointed neck base, hinged neck, and a balljointed head.

Accessories: Rifle, pistol, holster, bandolier, backpack, and binoculars.

Non-Scalper Price: $20 dollars

 The Packaging:

* Hasbro has been using really nice looking and fairly collector friendly boxes on their 6- inch action figures for the past 7 years or so and now the G.I. Joe Classified Series uses a similar style.The figure and all of the accessories are clearly visible alongside of a comic-styled rendition of Duke. The figures all seem to have images from different eras of G.I. Joe: ARAH, so it's kind of a cool way to show the history of the brand while putting forward something new.
The Positives:

* With G.I. Joe Sigma 6 Hasbro tried to steer G.I. Joe in a more futuristic, less modern military focused direction. The 25th Anniversary Collection shifted back to a stricter focus on the vintage designs and a more modern military sensibility. With The Rise of Cobra, the design was modern military with some futuristic sensibilities although the all black costumes harmed the unique feel of each character. With the Classified Series it seems like Hasbro is keeping the unique, colorful designs of the ARAH era while adding in more futuristic weaponry. Some have criticized it as looking too similar to "Fortnite" but I really like it. This is clearly based on the 1983/1984 ARAH Duke v1 figure but with some "modern" upgrades. The paint and design is excellent and lots of extra pieces give Duke a more complex, layered look.

* The headsculpt is excellent and looks very classic with some modern flourishes. Duke has typically always been blonde haired and blue eyed, and we get that here. The modern haircut is pretty cool, too, with a lot of detail. I'm also loving the scar on his right brow. It's subtle enough to really add that heroic, action hero good guy vibe that Duke really needs. Duke certainly isn't old and grizzled but he definitely looks more mature than some of the previous incarnations of the character.

* Duke's bandolier is removable  and quite nicely detailed, especially this device at the top. What is is supposed to be? I think it's some sort of communications device and holographic projector, maybe to give the team three dimensional maps and such while in the field. Scarlett, Roadblock, and Gung Ho, have similar devices (the circle with the blue center) on their right shoulders, too, so it's a cool element that gives the team some unity while still letting them wear whatever the heck they want.

 * I think Duke's shin guards and knee pads have been the source of the most controversy in the line (well, maybe second to the futuristic firearms) but in hand they really don't bother me at all. They actually look pretty cool with some great paint applications and they seem totally practical. Seriously, have you ever hit your shin on something hard? That hurts like the dickens! I'd totally protect my shins if given the option!

* Duke has some incredible articulation. He's as articulated as the best Star Wars: The Black Series figures. Heck, maybe even a bit more! Besides the stuff like a balljointed neck base and the butterfly hinged pectorals, Duke also has vertical that go up and down on the pegs connecting to his hi balljoints. That's some seriously articulation that allows for a great range of hip motion while reducing the gap between the hips and the crotch piece. This guy truly makes the classic Joes, the ARAH Joes, and the modern 1/18th scale Joes proud with his articulation.

 * Duke's backpack is pretty classic. It's a green pack with some pouches and seams, an entrenching tool (not removable), and some canteens. It simply plugs into his back and does the job.

* Since the original Duke figure came with binoculars it has kind of become a staple of the character. These bincoulars are definitely quite sleek, probably closer to the Star Wars macrobinoculars than the binoculars the original Duke toted around during the Reagan era.

 * Hasbro really seems to be intentionally moving away from realistic weaponry with this line, so Duke's weapons are a bit more high tech. personally, I think they still look quite realistic but with a futuristic edge (remember, the cartoon Joe team shot lasers, too). We're not talking weapons unrecognizable as firearms but definitely something a bit unique. Frankly, I like the idea. If you want standard weapons there are plenty of other toys you can gank them from or you can visit Marauders Inc. These weapons give the Joes their own unique weapons and make things a bit more interesting.

* Here is Duke's rifle. Again, yeah, it has a glowing blue barrel, but it also has plenty of elements of a real life AR styled firearm. I'm imaging it shoots some sort of blue energy bullets, maybe a rail gun styled weapon or something? I think it looks pretty cool and offers up a nice blend between military realism and the slightly futuristic world of G.I. Joe.

* Not only does Duke have a functional holster for his sidearm but it is also removable. Yup! It stays on great but with a little effort you can take it off over Duke's right foot.

* It's not removable but Duke's ammo belt is a separate piece that sits on his hips. It also has a spot to plug his binoculars too for easy storage.

The Negatives:

* Overall the paint work is excellent but this pin on his shirt is a bit messy. For something that seems like such a special detail this sure looks a little messy.

* I like Duke's backpack but considering this is a 1/12th scaled figure I really would have liked a bit more detail. Maybe a few more paint applications or a removable entrenching tool?

  I really did not anticipate reviewing any G.I. Joe figures this year and I certainly never could have imagined that a Duke figure would be one of the best figures of 2020, but there you go. Duke is Epic. This is such an excellent action figure and I'm quite convinced that Hasbro has really created something pretty impressive with the G.I. Joe Classified Series. While I'm not sure that this line is going to branch out and really appeal to kids, I do hope it is another long running collectors line with a wider appeal. I also hope Hasbro delivers a wide range of characters while keeping variants to a minimum. If Hasbro plays up the strengths of the A real American Hero line with modern sensibilities and construction I will be a happy camper who is back to collecting G.I. Joes.

This is actually the first figure of Duke that I've reviewed on the site!


  1. Awesome figure, man! I'm still waiting for the store release.

    1. I've seen the figures at Walmart one time, which is where I found my Snake Eyes, so they're definitely out there.

  2. My case of wave one just shipped from Entertainment Earth, and I literally just placed my order for the variant Destro and a case of wave 2, which will feature Cobra Commander, Gung-Ho and a character being called, "Red Ninja". I see that two figures have also been teased for wave 3, Storm Shadow and Baroness. The latter looks super sweet!

    1. I'm definitely liking this line so far. I didn't get any of the Target preorders but typically Target is pretty good with stocking their exclusives, so I'm hopeful I'll be able to find them. I'm not planning to pick up paint variants right now as I didn't grab the exclusive Snake Eyes and don't plan on getting the Pulse Cobra Commander.

  3. I was apprehensive about getting into this line because of the weapons they came with, but after getting them I found those thoughts to be unfounded With few exceptions.

    1. I really like the more futuristic weapons but I think overall I like a mix of modern realistic weapons and futuristic stuff. Even the vintage line was filled with some experimental stuff in the early years: Flash's laser rifle, Destro and Cobra Commander's pistols, Snow Job's rifle. The only thing I'm not a fan of are antiquated weapons used unless they're kind of a character trait thing. If Wild Bill uses an old Colt SAA, that makes sense. But most figures need more modern/ experimental weapons rather than the often outdated stuff their vintage counterparts included.


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