Duke (Reactive Armor)

There's an instant gut reaction to the Duke character among Joe fans, you either love him or you hate him. Generally, the cartoon fans think he's awesome, the comic fans wish death upon him, and there isn't much middle ground. Well, except for me. But if you listen to the critics, I'm the definition of "middle ground". ;)

The Reactive Impact Armor got quite the reaction from the fandom when it was first revealed, and understandably so. Joe characters have always had a sort of cool uniqueness...they're specialized and different, and don't run around all in the same uniform...however, I can appreciate and understand why Hollywood might want to change that up. Same thing happened in X-Men, I suppose.

In fact, many of the complaints I hear about G.I. Joe were the same complaints I heard prior to the X-Men film, and I sincerely hope this franchise ends up a fraction of the success that X-Men was.

As for this figure specifically, it's a cool one. Throughout the years of the Anniversary line, I praised the leaps in sculpting and articulation while simultaneously scratching my head over the bizarre decisions from a playability perspective. It was quite obvious the 25th Anniversary line wasn't designed with "playing" in mind. To many collectors, that's fine, but from a personal standpoint, I want my action figures to pose, move, and do exciting things, not just stand there on display. So far, my experience has been that the movie figures retain all of the benefits of the Anniversary line, but very few of the drawbacks. No limited hip articulation here...no over-exaggerated sculpting limiting arm movement. Just sleek designs, impressive range of motion and new ideas!

But what's so new about Duke in black armor? Nothing I suppose, but he still looks bad ass.

The sculpting of the figure is impressive to say the least, even as just a suit of rubber armor. Duke seems to share the torso and upper arms of the Shipwreck figure, yet manages to look nicely different with the black legs and the slightly different weathering texture on the armor. The arms are a bit different, too, which makes the figure look similar to other teammates, but not identical, which is very important.

The only thing about the figure I see is that in all of the posters, Duke looks pretty jacked...this figure is really skinny and scrawny, which doesn't seem to fit the bulk that he carries in the film. From a toy perspective, I like it, because he's got great range of motion in all of his joints, and really has the spirit of a Microman figure, which is very cool in my book.

The one downside, however, is that his head seems almost permanently tilted downwards. Not dramatically, but enough...thankfully, if you have an exacto, you can shave just a bit of plastic from the back of his head to increase the range of motion, but I just wish that wasn't necessary.

One of the limitations that I've seen of the movie line so far (particularly the Joes) is the lack of real different accessories, and that carries forward here. Duke's got a great submachine gun, but it's the same one that comes with Sgt. Stone and Breaker, among many others, I would imagine. His pistol is the same one that Stone and Scarlett carry, only in black, and he's got Stone's knife (in black) as well. His rocket launcher is new, of course, but honestly, those pretty much go in a box. I do love the little chaingun sculpted onto the launcher, but beyond that there isn't much to get excited about.

The only real unique weapon here is his strange mini submachine gun. It actually looks pretty badass, but I must admit I'm not really familiar with it. I'm sure one of my astute readers will correct me, but at the moment, I'm just calling it "cool ass mini submachine gun".

One thing that Duke's got going for him is that he actually has an ankle sheath for his knife. Unfortunately the only way they can make the knife fit is by shrinking the blade down to microscopic size, so it looks pretty silly. I'm glad it fits in his sheath, but outside of the sheath it doesn't have much to talk about.

Sculpting is great, the paint apps are top knotch, and the articulation absolutely rocks it. The head sculpt seems a bit less "Channing Tatum" than the Desert version did, but all in all, the figure is a very nice one. His weapons are a bit "thrown in", but hey, that's what Marauder "Gun Runners" is for, right?

I continue to find myself drawn in by the Reactive Armor, though I'll admit, this figure doesn't stand out a whole lot from others who look somewhat similar. A nice figure, with many cool features, but ultimately, I do think that this figure will sort of get lost in the shuffle, at least a bit.

Buy this figure at Big Bad Toy Store!