I’m really excited to introduce this guest review. Errex is a long time TVFT forum contributor with a pretty extensive collection. Kicking off what I hope will be a great series of reviews, Errex is showing off the Desert Ambush Duke from GI Joe: Rise of Cobra. Take it away:
Right off the bat, I haven’t been collecting G.I. Joe figures for quite a while, but when the new movie was announced, I admit I was looking forward to the new toys for it. After seeing a few online pictures of wave one, I knew pretty much which figures would made it into my very short list of “Buy -On-Sight” figures, with Conrad “Duke” Hauser (Desert Ambush) among them (if you must know, the others were the Baroness, Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow).
So, Duke. This version depicts the character as he appears in the first few minutes of the movie, before the events occurred during the transport of a new weapon system lead to his incorporation into the G.I. Joe Team. Duke is dressed in what appears to be the current desert BDU’s, complete with flak jacket and a helmet with an integrated night-vision array. The uniform is very well sculpted and looks realistically loose-fitting, with folds and creases placed appropriately. Limb articulation is well hidden and integrated into the look of the figure concealed by the sculpted high-impact knee and elbow pads, and even the laces on the boots look crisp and sharply detailed.
The flak jacket looks rather bulky, yet natural. It has sculpted pockets and Velcro panels and it is actually a rubber accessory with a couple of concealed clasps on the sides. Under the vest, the torso is sculpted as a regular BDU shirt, although the lack of paint in that area tends to make the figure look rather scrawny when the vest is removed.
The helmet looks like the regular lined military helmets, but it has a rather crude hinge on the front for the night -vision array to hang from. With the device in place, it looks good, but removing the visor leaves a downright ugly slot in the front of the helmet, thus limiting somewhat the display options. Despite this, the general form and detailing on the helmet seems correct, and it fits smugly onto the figure’s head.
And speaking of heads, this is a pretty good likeness to Channing Tatum, the actor who played Duke in the movie. Granted, it’s not perfect, but I suspect most of the discrepancies have to do more with the serviceable paintjob than to actual sculpting issues. For starters, the head seems molded out of brown plastic, with the skin painted on. The skin shade selected for Duke is rather on the pale side, but the eyes are cleanly painted and there is even a thin scar painted onto his right cheek, very much alike the one the original 1968 12″ Joes had. Duke also has a subtle five o’clock shadow effect going on that looks much more cleaner and precise than usual.
The rest of the body is sculpted in a sandy/tan plastic, with a two-color camouflage pattern done in browns. The Velcro panels I mentioned early are painted in a brighter yellowy tan color, and a few more details like the boots done in muted reddish brown color. Under the vest, however, there is no paint at all, which I don’t mind too much considering I won’t be displaying my figure with the flak vest off.
The articulation model for this Duke figure is pretty much the same used for the 25th Anniversary Collection line, which goes like this:
• Ball jointed neck. Allows for free swivel and tilt, but the vest does limit the range of motion available.
• Peg & hinge shoulders. Excellent motion range all around.
• Peg & hinge elbows. Bend 90° back and forth and allows 360° sideways rotation on both arms.
• Swivel wrists. Free swiveling range for both hands.
• Ball mounted torso. Free 360° swivel, but the flak vest again prevents any tilting.
• Double hinged knees. These bend slightly beyond 90° and are quite well hidden from view.
• Peg & hinge ankles. Good range of motion back and forth and free 360° swivel.
Other than the hips (which connect maybe a little too deep into the torso), any hindrance to the neck or hip joints is caused by the bulky flak vest, but then again that’s a very minor complaint. I’d rather have accessories interfering with the articulation of my figures than articulation woes caused by poor design.
And speaking of accessories, Duke comes with a veritable deluge of extras. I’ve mentioned the vest and the helmet but, What good is a soldier without the proper tools for the job? Duke comes with a backpack that plugs onto a port in the middle of his back and, on the inside, has a couple receptacles to hold nanomite containers. The backpack is nicely sculpted and very detailed, but it lacks any additional paint deco.
The nanomite containers look alike mortar shells, only done in translucent green plastic, with silver painted shafts; Duke ships with only one, but the backpack has indentations to accept two such items. Duke comes armed with a shiny black pistol fitted with a flashlight, and a variation on the M-18 carbine fitted with an undercarriage shotgun attachment. Sadly, the figure lacks a holster to carry the pistol, but there is a round port at side of the right thigh that could be used to fit a custom made holster to hold the gun.
The common theme Hasbro picked for the whole Rise of Cobra line seems to be oversized spring-loaded launchers of some kind, and Conrad “Duke” Hauser (Desert Ambush), actually fares better than most other figures in the line, because his launcher does look almost like an overlarge, real life Stinger SAM, as long as one leaves the bright yellow projectile alone; although I have to concede is that these launchers shoot with quite enough force, a rarity these days where similar devices barely can make it out of the barrel due to safety concerns.
Last but not least, Duke comes with a display base shaped like a regular dog tag, complete with simulated black rubber edging. The plate is painted dull silver and has printed on it the name of the character, call-sign, country, the word “Classified” and a single peg for Duke to stand on.
Out of the initial waves for the G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra toy line, Conrad “Duke” Hauser (Desert Ambush) is the most realistic-looking of the bunch, and is very well detailed and fun to play around with.
Errex Score: 90/100