The Tiger Force sub team was Hasbro’s first foray into mass retail repaints. Prior to that it’d either been vehicle drivers or Mission To Brazil. Looking at Tiger Force’s character selection, the figures who happened to be major players in the cartoon, which was on in reruns, tended to get the least garish color schemes. Not only was it a cheap and easy way to re-use molds, it also helped provide classic characters who hadn’t been available in years, yet were still major in the Joe media.
Duke is one of those figures, he’s also the only Tiger Force figure that had changes to his construction, as he is now outfitted with the 82 COBRA waist, and Hit and Run’s arms. Duke had originally been quite the Frankenstein, so the fact some of his parts were missing isn’t all that surprising. Hasbro however went quite far to ensure the pieces used were a close facsimile of the original figure.
I’ve always liked Duke. His figure was strong, and that cocky smile gave him an air of confidence, not every figure had. This and his “Man Of Action” portrayal, always gave him some form of recklessness, to me. He’s confident enough to make a low percentage play, but good enough at his job that he usually gets results. However when he fails, it’s usually in a spectacular fashion. I guess I always looked at him as sorta being like Captain Kirk.
The Tiger Force figure is decently coloured, yet different enough from the original to be a different look for our favourite man of action. The pants are quite a strange shade of peach, but combined with the green shirt, they actually work pretty well. It also beats the hell out of bright yellow highlights! Duke however suffers from one fatal flaw, and that is the fact he was painted up with brown hair. Most of the Tiger Force hair colouring changes were iffy to begin with, but Duke has the worst change of all. What actually kills the figure, and I hadn’t noticed this until I’d had a conversation with my favourite G.I. Joe Photographer; Plastic Battles was that Duke’s teeth aren’t painted. That’s what makes his face seem so off to me.
If you’ve got a spare Tiger Force Duke, one thing you should try to do is place a version 1 head on the body. It’s an easy fix, and it goes a LONG way in improving the overall look of the figure. Sometimes you don’t realize how much certain looks are integral to the character.