Oh, Duke… as I’ve said before I’m not a Duke fan. The Joe team belongs to Hawk, no questions asked. But, the Renegades cartoon made Duke somewhat cool, by playing him off as a different character. He seems to work better as a “main character” type, the inexperienced greenhorn who’s new to the team, not the commander. But, like him or hate him, I’m kind of obligated to have him on my team because of his role in the franchise’s history. I don’t mind this so much, so long as the figures themselves are good… and this one certainly is.
Unlike the Renegades Cobra Commander who had more of an animated look to him, Renegades Duke goes for a more “intermediate” style, and it really works. His outfit is clearly that of the cartoon, but a few touches make him look like any other Duke figure. And that’s a good thing! Mixing animated and “realistic” styles never really works for me. I can’t put my finger on it, but it just looks weird to imagine an Autobot team that has Classics Optimus, Animated Jazz, and Movie Bumblebee standing side-by-side. That’s why I never got into the Clone Wars toys: I didn’t have enough Star Wars figures to try going for two separate collections.
Duke’s head sculpt is one of the best head sculpts for the character I’ve ever seen. It’s not QUITE as good as the Pursuit of Cobra Jungle version or the 2005 Comic Pack figure, but it’s up there. His eyes are very blue and his hair even has some drybrush work to it to give it more “life.” I’m also glad they didn’t give him a tan. The whole “Jersey Shore” look unfortunately turned a lot of people off Renegades before the show aired, and that was a damn shame.
His vest is a pretty good match for the one seen in the cartoon. It has a good shape and fits to his body really well. Not only that, it doesn’t hinder arm or leg articulation at all! Heck, it could easily be an extension of his upper torso and it would’ve looked the same.
Without the vest, though, his neck ends up looking a bit awkward and long. It’s not on the level of, say, Rise of Cobra Thunder/Thunderblast (protip: take the alternate head from the 25th Anniversary Comic Pack Beachhead and give it to him. It looks a LOT better), but it’s still a bit distracting. Still, without it off, Duke has a great “hanging around the base” look, which far too many figures (namely arctic troopers) lack).
Of course, Duke’s articulation is as good as always, but what’s up with the hands? The new joints in the wrists make it look like he has some big tumors in them or something. It’s probably just a result of him being the first short-sleeved figure to get the new wrist style, but it is distracting.
Unfortunately Duke’s accessories are… odd, to say the least. He gets a gun similar to the ones seen in Renegades, which is cool, and a gas mask which I believe he wore on at least one occasion… but why does he need FOUR phase pistols?! Okay, I get that one (and only one) can hook into his hip, but why the other three?! I can understand having two, but four is a bit much, especially with no place to put the extras.
Gripes about the accessories and hands aside, Renegades Duke is a GREAT figure. While Jungle Duke is still my favorite, this one will be my “default” from now on, replacing Resolute Duke. Even if you’re not a Duke fan, come in to FPNYC and get one for yourself. Support the great Renegades cartoon, even if it seems all but done with…