If there is a short list of things G.I. Joe collectors would likely not ask Hasbro to make, new versions of Conrad "Duke" Hauser" are probably on the short list. Since 1983 we've been treated to about 43 versions of the figure in the 3 3/4-inch scale with several more larger figures which often proved as a testing ground for pretty awful gimmicks here and there. Thankfully this late 2010 release (labeled 2011 on the card) cuts the gimmicks and, on the whole just gives you a fairly nice, definitely futuristic, action figure. Hasbro essentially made the old Duke with some new armor, and did a great job of it.
Standing just over 4-inches tall, Duke is so good you'll probably be mad you bought the 25th Anniversary versions. The head sculpt is better, the body is less restricted in his movements, the hands are sensibly jointed at the gloves, and for some reason he's got his collar popped. Preppie Duke, reporting for duty! But in all seriousness, it's a pretty good and mostly new figure. I say "mostly" because the legs are recycled from the 2010 Zartan figure. Since it isn't obvious, I'd say it was a smart move on Hasbro's part to ensure that this figure's costs were kept down without you likely noticing it until after you got it home.
Duke has three weapons which can plug into one another in various ways-- for example, the Pulse Rifle can plug into the Rocket Launcher, you can plug the Rocket Launcher into his backpack, the pulse rifle can be stored on Duke's back in the backpack hole, and so on. It's a nice way to exploit the many weapons all at once, without having to dump them into a parts box for you to lose the next time you move. I'm really pleased with how the deco on the backpack turned out, and the eight removable rockets on the weapon are a nice touch-- although I suspect with heavy play they'll get lost or eventually just be so loose they won't stay on. Thankfully, as I am not six, this isn't something I personally need to worry about. Duke has no problems holding any of his weapons, although I will say it would be nice if the over-the-shoulder rocket launchers that plug into the backpack had some form of grip for him to hold.
Due to the fact he came out in a wave with the best Snake Eyes figure ever, odds are history won't remember this one too fondly. I like him because the gadgets he comes with are unique and the sculpt is good, although I can't say it's so good that I couldn't foresee Hasbro finding a way to make an even better Duke in the coming two or three years. It's worth getting-- particularly if your stores haven't raised the prices above $6.99-- and it's worth noting this is probably the best of the post-2007 Duke figures. He's also the only 2011 figure that seems to be capable of hanging around for more than a couple of days, along with the new Storm Shadow.
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