If there was a character who suffered because of the relaunch of G.I. Joe in 2002, it’s Heavy Duty. In 2002, he was a fairly obscure but solid 1991 figure, that had seen a repaint in 1998, but wasn’t thought of as much more than “A neon figure from the 90s”. However, due to either a lack of copyright ownership, or just overall incompetence, Hasbro decided to take the beloved Roadblock character, strip it of the personality, and rename it Heavy Duty. So what was once a a guy who launched rockets at Parasites, is now a guy with a .50 Cal machine gun.
The shoe-horning of Heavy Duty into the 2002 line up is interesting, as the rest of the Joes were the classics. Fan outcry about Roadblock had been known for a while, so it’s not like Hasbro could say they didn’t know, and Heavy Duty might’ve been tossed in, because he was named after an actual Hasbro employee. Cronyism, baby!
As a figure, the 1991 Heavy Duty is excellent. He’s from 1991, which might be the apex of G.I. Joe sculpting and design, and Heavy Duty showcases that very well. His design gives him personality, yet also doesn’t stray too far from classic G.I. Joe designs. The improvements in sculpting, though, are noticeable. Heavy Duty’s torso is awfully reminiscent of Buzzer, but unlike Buzzer the tears on where his sleeves used to be are much more pronounced. The lower body on Heavy Duty shows quite a bit of a Bazooka influence, I like this, because familiarity helped to maintain consistency in the line for a decade.
The figure is a beast, a lot of the 90s G.I. Joe figures were bulked up, however few were done with attention to detail of Heavy Duty. He’s got large upper arms, but his lower arms were bulked up too, and even have sculpted veins. It works quite well with the specialty, so I don’t mind it. It’s not like 1991 Dusty, who all of a sudden is so swole, he’s gonna wear a tank top in the damn desert.
Another place where the sculpting shows itself, is the “JOE” on both his hat and belt buckle. The branding might be overkill, but it looks good. I also like the backwards ball cap, since it’s never before seen, and despite how 90s EXTREME it is, it also works in conjunction with his accessories, can’t have the brim of his hat obstructing his oft-lost eye piece.
The colouring used on Heavy Duty, is quite eye-catching. The green on his hat and camouflage is bright, but not really all that much brighter than the green pouches on Grunt v1’s arms. Of course, this colouring was enough to get the figure dismissed as a neon monstrosity, but that’s a mindset that’s changed a lot in the last 20 years, as people are more tolerant of colour, I think the fact that G.I. Joe photography has improved, allows people to accept the visual aspect of colour, rather than “THIS DOESN’T LOOK REAL”.
Heavy Duty is a figure made by his accessories. He’s got one of the earliest spring-loaded missile launchers, which in 1991 were done more in line with being G.I. Joe accessories, rather than the 1993 things that looked like they could’ve come with any toyline. He’s got a backpack and frame, that the two launchers and a gun system attach to. The way they all attach is quite nice, as it gives a lot of heft, to an already solidly built figure. The backpack part of it is my favourite aspect, as it explains how a dude would be able to carry such a behemoth of a weapon.
Heavy Duty has a fairly inspired character, he’s a classical music fan. It’s something that follows the general stereotype breaking character trait, commonly seen in G.I. Joe. However the fact that Heavy Duty comes from the mean streets of Chicago, means I have to discard that character aspect and make him a guy who’s a fan of weirdo-outsider rocker, Wesley Willis. Every Heavy Duty related post I do, usually has the “Rock Over London, Rock On Chicago!” saying, that every Wesley Willis song ended with.
Heavy Duty never quite got the respect he deserved, as he’s amongst the top of the 1991 line up, and even featured a repaint that showed the quality of the mold, unfortunately he got saddled with being a Roadblock replacement, which was a death sentence, especially when Hasbro was killing off numerous potential characters (Outback, Salvo, Low Light, Shockwave and Ambush) in order to provide a couple of fans lifetime achievement vanity figures.