Sideshow Collectibles - 12" Duke

Dammit. Dammit, dammit, dammit.

Sideshow has been impressing me since day one. The look of their 12" figures has always really impressed me, but for budgetary reasons I simply haven't been able to keep up with the line. At prices topping $100 per figure, I simply don't have the budget to keep up to date with these Sideshow figures, even as great as they are.

But so far, it hasn't provided much of a conflict for me. I picked up the Sideshow Snake Eyes, and while he was pretty cool, he seemed somewhat loose-jointed and fragile, and ultimately I didn't feel compelled to continue buying. The second figure I purchased was the Cobra Trooper, and while he was considerably more impressive than Snake Eyes, I still wasn't fully taken by the Sideshow format.

Well, now I have Duke.

Dammit, dammit, dammit. I love him. And now I'm battling myself trying to figure out how the hell I can possibly work more Sideshow figures into my budget. In the end, I'm not sure it's even possible, but Sideshow has certainly made a quantum leap, in my opinion, compared to where they started.

First of all, as anyone expects at this point, the base figure is incredibly nice. The joints are smooth, the articulation is fantastic, and you can pretty much accomplish any pose you could dream of. Unlike Snake Eyes, the joints are pretty tight, and even though the body is fairly slim, it still looks nice and bulky with the uniform.

Speaking of the uniform, it's obviously based strongly on his vintage appearence, yet has some more modern twists. Instead of just a plain green bandolier, it ends up being a shoulder strap for a very nicely designed stitched backpack. Instead of a typical green helmet, Duke has a much nicer, more current battle helmet with removable goggles, and very nicely detailed chin strap.

Accessories, as usual, are simply astounding. Grenades of every type, removable M203 rounds for the under-carraige launcher on the submachine gun, an awesome pistol. Duke is absolutely stacked. Perhaps my favorite accessory, though, is the very familiar laser rifle that was the defacto standard during the Sunbow days. I absolutely love that they included this weapon, and so far with Flint, Beachhead, and Dusty, it appears as if they will be doing this going forward. What a fantastic idea.

That's not to say things are perfect. First of all, I understand that the Sideshow product is envisioned as a high end collectible...but as someone who still likes to "play" with his toys, some components of the figure still feel a bit fragile to me. You would think for $100+ the quality of the toy itself would be a bit tougher and durable, but I still find these quirky issues with the stitching and with small, breakable joints on the weapons themselves. The butt of the machine gun feels a bit flimsy, and I will admit I was a little afraid of messing with it too much for fear of breaking it.

I'm also not a big fan of the velcro badges and such. The gray squares to stick the items to are somewhat oversized, and the badges just kind of float on there and don't look all that realistic.

But for most of the Joe fans out there who are content to open their toys and leave them displayed on a shelf, there is a ton to love with Duke. He is an iconic, critical character and is fantastically represented here in a 12" scale. Part of me wishes there was some sort of middle ground. A nice, relatively high-end, maybe $40 level 12" figure without all the crazy bells and whistles. Sideshow goes way above and beyond, but sometimes there is too much of a good thing.

In the end, this is a fantastic figure. Is it worth the $100+? Tough call. I would be willing to sacrifice some of the assorted gear to drop the price, but this is a great toy and a very nice display piece.