Tuesday, March 15, 2011

REVIEW: GI Joe: Pursuit of Cobra - Desert Battle Conrad ''Duke'' Hauser

Desert Battle Conrad ''Duke'' Hauser | Produced by Hasbro
Released December 2010

Conrad ''Duke'' Hauser commands the GI Joe team. He wears impact-absorbent battle armor to protect him as he pushes deep into Cobra territory during the desert battle. He keeps moving closer until he's right on top of the deadly Cobra HISS Tanks - then he blasts them with is plasma cannon.

Packaging Shots

Desert Battle Conrad ''Duke'' Hauser
I'm not sure why Hasbro felt the need to give Duke's full name. Much like the two Pursuit of Cobra Destro figures, both use their code-names on one stand and their full name on the other. Maybe it's to differentiate the stands (although why you'd need to I've no idea.) Anyway, on to the figure itself.

Desert Battle Duke (as I'll call him) is a nicely sculpted figure but he's also a bit of an oddity. I'll come to that in a moment.

The basic figure is clad in fatigues, with an ''impact-absorbent'' chest piece and a few other minor pieces of armour (such as kneepads.) Unlike a lot of other GI Joes, the chest piece is cast as part of the basic sculpt and is not removable. Overall it's a pretty good sculpt for what it is, but it's not the most exciting of figures. 

The head sculpt is fine, nothing really to complain about but then again, I'm struggling to really say anything nice about it either. The whole design is just kind of ''there'' and there's not much to get excited about. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice-enough piece but it suffers from the ''vanilla'' look Duke is often saddled with. A stronger identity as a Desert Battle Duke would have been a good move. Jungle Assault Duke is good because they took the whole Jungle Assault thing and ran with it but here, there's not much to really get your teeth into. This could as easily be Urban Assault or Aliens Cosplay Duke.

Articulation is fine. He's quite easily posed, thanks to the lack of bulky costume pieces, so you can - for example - easily stand him grasping a rifle in both hands. I like that.

Paint is very nicely applied. The metallic blue of his chest piece and kneepads (and backpack - see below) feature numerous scuff-marks, with a light silver-metal dry-brushing working really well to give the armour a battle-worn look. The rest of the app is clean, if a little uninspired. One thing I'm not sure about though is his choice of pants - he's supposed to be in his desert gear here, yet he's clad in olive drab. Surely some kind of tan or desert camo would have been a better choice, especially as his shirt is a more desert-friendly colour. Maybe it's based on a real-world look. I don't know. I just know I don't think it looks right and weakens the whole Desert Battle theme.

Desert Battle Duke comes with a lot of extra gear. Unlike other Joes, though, his equipment is relatively simple - it's just very bulky.

His main accessory is his back-mounted Deplaz (DP-SM) Dual Plasma Cannon. Essentially it's a backpack piece with two mounting ports, into which fit the two plasma cannons (and from each of their bases extends a small cable with a controller on the end.) Like the armour, these too are painted with the scuffed-metal effect and that looks great. Unfortunately though the weapons as an actual concept are just too far out there for my tastes. I like my GI Joes with an element of the futuristic, sure, but these are more akin to something from the Robocop line of toys.

Duke is also equipped with a rifle that looks like the pulse rifle from Aliens and a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher, both of which can also slot into the backpack's twin ports for storage purposes (so long as the plasma cannons are not present). The pack includes eight missiles (which fit into the plasma cannon's multiple ports), the backpack and his own stand.

Final Thoughts
There's something not right about this figure. The Pursuit of Cobra line did undergo a number of changes and delays and a number of the originally-displayed preview figures were either cancelled, retooled or modified substantially. I get the feeling that Desert Battle Duke was originally intended to be quite different to what we have here. It's as if somebody at Hasbro looked at him and decided he needed to be made more ''extreme'' and ''cool'' and the way to do that was to turn him into a walking sci-fi tank.

The plasma cannons - frankly - suck. They're poorly manufactured (the mounting it quite loose and the control cables are too short to pose them properly) and the backpack doesn't even fit properly into Duke's back port. I really do get the impression they were a later addition to the figure and I really, really dislike them, as they ruin what could have been an excellent figure had they kept him a little more realistic. Whilst I like some futuristic elements in my Joes, these are just too silly a concept. 

Despite the figure's USP being these ''awesome'' plasma cannons, I'm displaying him without them. And as I accumulate more spare backpacks and equipment I'll be dressing him with them, because even stripped down to his two core weapons and his backpack, he still looks a thousand times better than he does with the silly plasma cannons in place.

Production QualityB+
Final ScoreB-

Image Gallery


  1. I saw him the other day when i went and picked up my Alley-Viper but i just don't like this figure or any of the other Duke figures even from the original toy line.

  2. The Jungle one is actually pretty good, as they've given him a mission (and thus, an identity.) The accessories are good, he looks pretty cool and it's a nice figure. This one is just a bit too sci-fi-ish.

  3. The design of this Duke is from G.I. Joe Renegades. I think they wanted to integrate the characters in this line. But eventually dexided to make their own line.

  4. Yeah, I'm just glad they decided not to go with the Clone Wars/JLU ''animated'' style of figures. At least the Renegades toys can stand beside the other Joes and not look out of place.


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