Tuesday, April 12, 2011

REVIEW: GI Joe Rise of Cobra - Conrad ''Duke'' Hauser (Desert Ambush)

Produced by Hasbro | Released July 2009

Before joining the GI Joe team, he served as a Special Forces Army Captain. He commands a military convoy protecting MARS Industries' Nanomite weapon prototypes, unaware that the convoy is heading straight into a terrible trap.

Packaging Shots

Conrad ''Duke'' Hauser (Desert Ambush)
Released as part of the first wave of the Rise of Cobra figures, this toy also captures Duke in his pre-GI Joe team days. It's a very cool-looking toy with a lot going for it.

Let's start with the basic sculpt. The figure is a good representation of a ''standard'' soldier, dressed as it is in uniform fatigues and issued with ''standard'' kit. Were it not for the Duke head, this would make a pretty good Army Builder.

The fatigues are nicely molded, with a ''baggy'' feel about the uniform - it doesn't simply look like painted-on clothing on top of skin. There are visible folds and creases and various patches and pockets sculpted into the detail. The core sculpt is enhanced with a removable rubber vest, complete with a built-up collar. It's a great piece of design that not only gives the figure a great look but also looks very realistic. Just look at any modern US Soldier in desert gear and you'll see they'll probably be wearing something very similar to this. It's surprising to see this level of realism in a figure so early in the Rise of Cobra releases, as it wouldn't look too out of place in the more lifelike Pursuit of Cobra line (although given this is before Duke joins the team, it makes sense that his uniform appears more ''normal.'')

There's not much to say about the head sculpt. It's the pretty standard Rise of Cobra Duke head. It works well enough but I'm not a massive fan of it. It's not that it's bad; there's just not really anything to get excited about with it.

The only other minor point - and I can't decide if I like this or not - is that both his hands are cast with his trigger-finger out. On the one hand (heh!) it means he can hold his weapons with ease and look good doing it, but on the other, when he's holding a two-handed weapon, one hand is always left with a finger sticking out. On the plus side though, both hands grip very well.

Articulation is very good. Thankfully the vest doesn't feature coattails. I was initially concerned that his hips may be restricted due to this piece but that's not the case at all. As you can see from the Image Gallery and the accompanying pictures, he's a very flexible figure. Joints are loose enough to allow movement but stiff enough to hold a pose, which is really what you want!

Paint is another area where the figure scores well. The uniform is rendered in a suitably mundane sand/olive tone with brown camouflage. What's especially nice is everything matches, with his backpack being molded from this same colour and his weapons both being produced from black plastic. The colouring may appear a little ordinary but given this is Duke in a ''real'' military uniform, that's exactly what you want and why it works so well. 

The head is accurately painted and - for the first time I can recall - there's even a trace of Duke's stubbly goatee beard. It's very subtle but it's there and it helps make Duke appear more like his on-screen counterpart.

Desert Ambush Duke includes a number of very good accessories.

As mentioned, there's a removable vest/jacket and his uniform is further augmented with a helmet (including night-vision eyepiece, as seen with Night Fox and Kickstart) and backpack. The backpack includes two grooves within into which the included Nanomite grenade fits perfectly. His pistol may also be stored here when he's holding his assault rifle with two hands.

A working rocket-launcher completes Duke's arsenal. The weapon may be a little on the large side but it's better than some of the similar weapons included with other Rise of Cobra figures.

A dog-tag style base is also included. Interestingly this is a different style of base to those previously seen - presumably to reflect Duke's status as a regular soldier before he joins the GI Joe team. I'm unsure if any other figures from the line include a similar stand and it's quite an unusual-looking piece.

Final Thoughts
Some renditions of Duke can be a little vanilla. After all, he's the square-jawed, all-action hero-type and - as such - tends to be a little predictable. However, like the Jungle Assault Duke, this figure has a definite role which makes for an interesting figure.

I particularly like the down-to-earth-ness of this Duke. He'd sit well with the more realistic Pursuit of Cobra figures perfectly well and not stick out like some of his other incarnations from this line would. And given how much of a Pursuit of Cobra fan I am, you'll understand then why I like this figure so much.

What's also great is that it all just works. The paint app is great (and nicely designed), the weapons and accessories all fit together precisely and the figure is well-produced and looks great. It's always a pleasure when everything comes together in that ''just right'' manner and that's exactly what happened here.

This is without a doubt one of the highlights of the Rise of Cobra line and is a great example of how good the GI Joe line can be.

Production QualityB+
Final ScoreA-

Image Gallery


  1. A Duke i really like! At last. : )

  2. Yeah, he's a really cool figure. I was very impressed and didn't expect him to be as good as he is.


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