A lot of Joe fans are simply sick and tired of Duke, and for good reason. Since the G.I. Joe 25th Anniversary Collection debuted back in 2007, we've been inundated with more than 20 versions of Duke in G3 construction. With the majority of those figures being just repaints and rehashes, it's not hard to lose interest in the character. But every once in a while, Hasbro brings its A-game and dishes out a great reinvention of the character, and I'm glad that's the case with this figure.
Although this figure is not as good as the Jungle Assault version, it's still a terrific rendition of the Joe team's field leader. I believe that this figure's appeal comes from the fact that it looks like a modern take on the character's classic look. This figure sports a tan shirt and a pair of green pants similar to the duke of old, but this figure has an impact-absorbent battle armor over the shirt and matching protective pads over the knees. And unlike the classic version, this figure has gloves, and is now rocking a pair of black boots instead of brown.
Desert Battle Duke shares his lower extremeties with Desert Battle Zartan, but everything else is new. The sculpt is really great, and the paint applications complement the sculpt. Sometimes, less is really more, and this figure's simplicity has really worked to its advantage.
When it comes to accessories, Desert Battle Duke is loaded with weapons more appropriate for a heavy ordnance expert than a field leader.
He's got an amazing machine gun and an equally impressive rocket launcher, but these items are overshadowed by his main weapon - a shoulder-mounted dual plasma cannon designed to take down Cobra H.I.S.S. Tanks (as per the character's file card)! Whoa! Duke has just gone from a conservative leader to a tank-busting bad-ass! How's that for change, huh?
The plasma cannon is composed of a lot of little parts which can easily be lost, so be careful when you play with it especially outdoors.
Both the machine gun and the rocket launcher come with a peg, so Duke can carry one weapon on his back when he's not running around with his ginormous plasma cannon.
In addition to the peg, the rocket launcher also has a hole wherein you can plug the machine gun's peg, forming an interesting combination that features the two weapons' barrels facing opposite directions. This combo provides a neat way to carry both weapons on one hand, perfect for those long desert walks.
This figure is really quite good. It's a great plastic representation of the character with a modern twist. What makes it even more special is that its design doesn't limit the figure to one environment only. Yes, he's labeled as Desert Battle Duke, but he looks great in the jungle and in the city too!
Some parting shots: