If you’re just joining me, I’m sort of off this week and so I’ve prepared this drawn out feature on Hasbro’s 25th Anniversary Battle Pack to fill the void. Normally I could have knocked out this thing in a couple of parts, so this week’s posts may seem a little on the light side. Hey, at least when I’m padding content I come out and admit it. Anyway, yesterday we looked at the package and today we’re kicking off the figures with Duke. Ahh, Duke Hauser. I’ve got some great memories of the original Duke figure. I got him as a mail-away figure along with that weird Manta sail board. Sitting around waiting an eternity for mail-away figures was a staple of my youth. Unfortunately, not all the figures in this Battle Pack are all they could be and 25th Anniversary Duke has his share of problems.
So, let’s get the good stuff out of the way first. The sculpt is a great tribute to both the classic figure and the Sunbow design. He’s got his tan shirt with the US Flag patch and his tiny sculpted Airborne medal. The buttons and pockets are all clearly defined on the shirt and I love how his sleeves are rolled up. He’s all ready to dispense some Real American Justice on Cobra’s ass! Duke sports some green trousers that bunch up nicely at the tops of his high laced combat boots and he has a functional holster for his automatic pistol. Yeah! Love those functional holsters. This line must have been some of the first figures in this scale to include that feature. Duke’s iconic ensemble is completed by a shoulder strap with sculpted pouches and a grenade. That seems like more of a modern touch, but hey… it’s nice!
The head sculpt is also pretty good. Duke has a fairly stern expression as if he’s about to crunch some Cobras. They could have gone with something a little more neutral, but I like it. It has personality. The short blonde hair is appropriate and the paintwork is simple but clean. Some of the 25th JOES’ heads looked a little odd when viewed from the side. I think that was done in an effort to improve the ball joint articulation in the neck. It’s an Ok trade off and if you slap Duke’s helmet onto his noggin it helps a lot with that.
So now we get into the not so great stuff, and most of it centers on his arms. 25th Duke’s arms have become notorious for just how badly designed they are. Some of the problem lies in the articulation and some in the sculpt. For starters, the way in which the arms are sculpted severely inhibit the range of his ball jointed elbows. You just can’t get them bent into a 90-degree angle. Couple that with the weird decision to put the swivel cuts halfway down the forearm as opposed to in the wrists and you have a pair of arms that are not well suited to holding his rifle. But wait, it gets worse. The sculpt of the right hand is a sloppy and shallow grasp that can barely hold the rifle by the handle, so you may want to save that clear rubber band he comes with. Also, the two hands are obviously sculpted with the intention of allowing Duke to hold the rifle in both hands, but doing so is nearly impossible unless you want to make it look like he’s holding a guitar. The best I can do is get him to look like he’s about to bash in a Cobra’s head with the butt of the rifle.
As for the rest of the articulation… in the last couple years or so Hasbro has revolutionized the articulation of 3 ¾” figures. Alas, Duke predates that revolution and it isn’t until the 30th Anniversary figures that things really heated up. There’s a solid level of poseability here, but looking back I find some of the finer points are conspicuously absent. In fact, upon taking this figure out again and playing around with him, I was rather shocked by how far we’ve come. The legs feature double hinges in the knees and and hinges in the ankles, but where are the thigh swivels? Yes, there’s a ball joint in the torso, but where the hell is the waist swivel??? Looking back, the figure definitely has a transitional vibe to it. It shows promise, but sadly it’s not quite there yet.
What about accessories? Duke comes with a personalized figure stand, his rifle, sidearm, removable helmet, and binoculars. The binoculars are tiny and useless. I’m amazed I still have them and I didn’t even bother pulling them for the shoot, lest I sneeze and lose them. The rifle is a nice M-16 style weapon with an under the barrel grenade launcher. As much as I would have appreciated the Sunbow style laser rifle, I can’t help but love the detail on his gun. The pistol feels a tad oversized, but Duke still looks good holding it. What’s missing? Where’s his backpack? Yes, sadly, if you want the modern equivalent of the backpack that came with the vintage figure than you have to buy the single carded release of 25th Anniversary Duke.
It’s too bad we have to start off this week on a sour note, but it’s hard to overlook Duke’s issues. Don’t get me wrong, I still like this figure a lot as a display piece. To me he captures the spirit of the Sunbow design unlike any Duke figure before or since, but he hasn’t aged as well as some of the other 25th figures and that’s a shame because it’s only been seven years. You see, I’m old and I try to tell myself that seven years isn’t such a long time. It’s called self-delusion. When coupled with alcohol it’s a valid and sustainable life choice. Anyway, it’s hard to figure out what Hasbro was thinking when they designed the arms on this figure, because a little tweak here and there could have made this release so much batter. Ah well… tomorrow we’ll keep things rolling along with Scarlett.