Produced by Hasbro | Released 2008
DUKE was fluent in French, German and English when he enlisted. He graduated top of his class at the Fort Benning Airborne School. He opted for US Army Special Languages School, specializing in Han Chinese and Southeast Asian dialects. Upon graduation, he served in the Army's Special Forces unit in Southeast Asia, where he received the Medal of Honor and two Bronze Stars for single-handedly rescuing 34 POWs from a heavily guarded enemy compound. As squad leader of the TIGER FORCE commandos, DUKE leads this top-secret, rapid-response unit on missions to diffuse explosive situations around the world.
Tiger Force First Sergeant Duke
I'm not entirely sure how to label this figure. I've mentioned before that I wish Hasbro would be a little more prescriptive/accurate with their naming conventions, as they do seem quite slapdash. Anyway, Tiger Force First Sergeant Duke (or Duke (Tiger Force)) is from the 2008 25th Anniversary releases and although not as cartoonish as the previously-Reviewed Dreadnok Ripper, he's not without his problems.
The basic sculpt is the biggest problem I have with this figure. Like Ripper, he has very toy-like hip joints, which I find very off-putting. It's had to explain but they just don't seem to join-up properly and they remind me of the more primitive 1980s GI Joe figures. Which would be fine if the 25th Anniversary line was simply a re-issue of those toys, but my understanding is that the line's aim was to recreate the original characters but with modern tooling. Sadly that's not the case here.
It's a shame the hips are so weird, because the rest of the sculpt has some nice touches. Although a little heavy-handed in places (such as the buttons that appear to be about 2'' deep) the upper body features a number of details and extras that avoid it simply being a uniform shirt. Duke has a collar beneath his over shirt, a cool little ''airborne'' pin on his chest and there's a well-detailed belt, featuring pouches and pockets that's quite finely tooled. There are even stitch marks around his pockets. There's a lot going on here and I like it.
What's not so great though is the hand sculpt. Not only is it very vague and ill-defined, but there are also enormous mold lines and even gouges missing out of the limbs. Worst of the cut joint between the exposed lower arm and the sleeve is a terrible fit. There's a quite visible gap between the two pieces and there's a feeling that the forearms are going to come loose whenever you move them.
His lower half features a lesser amount of detail but there's a thigh pocket and a holster, plus some nicely-detailed folds in his tucked pants and his boots feature some interesting texturing that avoids them becoming plain. It's just too bad his hips are so oddly set...
The head sculpt is good, with a well-defined set of features without being cartoonish and Duke has a solid, determined look about him. Sadly though the casting is very poor, with very obvious mold marks around his head and especially across his ears. It's probably best to display him with his helmet on.
Articulation is fair-to-good, although he has no waist articulation, his elbows are cramped slightly due to his sleeves and - worst of all - his knee and hip joints aren't as flexible as they should be. The two don't work in tandem and it's impossible to get him to kneel on one knee without his upper body leaning backward to the point of looking as if he's about to fall over.
The paint app is pretty reasonable and aside from the VERY GREEN shirt, it's pretty easy on the eye. The tiger camo effect on his pants is nicely produced and everything's quite accurately applied, even if it's not massively inspiring.
Duke comes with a stand, backpack, assault rifle, pistol, helmet, removable bandolier and binoculars. The general quality of the gear is pretty good, with some nice detailing on the backpack (such as folds and a cleanly-painted shovel) and the weapons fit pretty well in his hands (even if the pistol is extremely large.) The binoculars are quite toy-like though, being cast from a single colour and not featuring a great deal of detail. They also tend to stick-out from his neck and can dislodge the helmet, which isn't the best of fits anyway.
For me the 25th Anniversary figures are a mixed bag. Some of them - like Specialist Trakker and the Cobra Eel - are superb toys. Others - like Dreadnok Ripper and sadly, this Duke - are disappointing. Yes, some of it comes from the too-cartoonish character designs but in both examples I listed, the actual production design is the root of the problem. Both figures have very toy-like, unrealistic groin pieces and hip joints and look like they're more primitive 1980s toys. I know the line is about recreating the original characters but it's also about creating them using modern, more life-like techniques. Sadly that hasn't worked here.
It's also a real shame to see such lazy sculpting on the hands and a lack of quality control with the actual casting of the figure. The flesh-coloured pieces feature very heavy mold lines and it really detracts from the finish of the figure, which is the real shame, as the basic design and look of the Tiger Force Duke could actually have made for a fairly realistic soldier. If you're looking for that kind of Duke, then the Rise of Cobra Desert Ambush or Pursuit of Cobra Jungle Assault Dukes are the ones you need, not this figure.
Whilst he at least he's not lumbered with a look as comical as Dreadnok Ripper, I'm afraid Tiger Force Duke is another one for nostalgia buffs only.