1991 Heavy Duty

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.

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6 Responses to 1991 Heavy Duty

  1. Mike T. says:

    Heavy Duty is tough to use as his weapon is so bulky. But, he looks amazing. Posing him can be frustrating. But, when you get it right, he looks great. I’ll argue his eyepiece is one of the toughest accessories to find among carded figures. I think it’s on par with Firefly’s phone since even when it’s included, it’s always broken. But, no one cares about it and even 2 years ago, you could buy a carded Heavy Duty for less than a Firefly phone.

    The repaint of this figure in 1998 was nice, but not up to snuff with the original. The stupid use with Chuckles was not good and was wasted on that figure. I assume the employee connection was a big reason why Heavy Duty was used to much starting in 2002. I seem to remember that Hasbro didn’t have the rights to use the Roadblock name until they re-secured it in 2003. But, with all their BS, I wouldn’t necessarily believe them.

    1990 figures are finally getting the respect they deserve with all the figures going for dumb prices. But, the 1991’s are of the same quality and you can get them relatively cheaper with some figures actually still being deals. I’m hoping the ’90’s figs take a hit when the market corrects. I’m sure most of them will. I think it’s going to happen here, soon.

  2. A-Man says:

    I never had a problem with Heavy Duty V1. Redundant specialist? Sure. I guess…he combined heavy MG and anti tank…he made 1/10 of the team obsolete! Who tattoos kill marks on their arm? Not anyone you’d want to mess with!

    Funny thing I recall a parent at TRU with a list of figures they were looking for, for their kid, mind you this was 1991…scalpers and comic nerds hadn’t ruined toy collecting yet. Anyway Heavy Duty was listed as B.O.B. (Battlefield Obliterator) and I have no idea where they got that from. I’d seen the list because I helped them get figures off the higher pegs.

    2002 Heavy Duty reminds me more of Freight from eXtreme than Heavy Duty…maybe that figure should’ve been Freight. That fig is another “big guy made too small” figure, though. I did like the head sculpt. The later Nusculpt Heavy Duty was more generic and less military.

    Heavy Weapons TRU 6-pack should’ve had Heavy Duty, Salvo, Rock’n Roll and others.

  3. mwnekoman says:

    This figure really has some of the best coloring of any 90’s figure, as it’s mostly realistic colors that are made more interesting with neon accents. As you went into the years after this, more of the figures were solidly neon, but ’91 figures like Heavy Duty were nicely in line with classics like the V1 Viper.

    His weapon-rig is really tied to the character, and it’s hard to use him without it because of that. With that said, I really dislike the way it hides so much of the figure’s waist and legs. I think it would’ve been interesting if there had been a repaint of him akin to Sonic Fighters Rock ‘N Roll, with some alternative weapons.

  4. generalliederkranz says:

    I remember getting this guy as a kid, and very quickly breaking that red eyepiece. The “aim here” mark on the weapon rig over his crotch was a joke I was old enough to understand, but not quite old enough (or something) to think was hilarious like some of my friends did. I thought it was really nifty that his missile launchers were modular, and interchangeable with the AH-74 Desert Apache (which was really the only thing nifty about that helicopter, since you couldn’t even get a figure in the cockpit). I soured on the spring-action launchers very quickly and they almost ruined the line for me, but if they’d done more of them like that, interacting with vehicles, it woudl’ve been a lot better. The other nice thing about Heavy Duty is that he matched up well with the brighter green vehicles, like the Badger and Attack Cruiser. I have lots of good memories about that lineup of figures and vehicles.

    I see the point about Heavy Duty being turned into a Roadblock clone in the 2000s, but the makings of that were there from the beginning. “Muscular Black guy who carries a huge and heavy weapon into battle, but who also has a more delicate side appreciating European high culture” can describe either one of them. And you could probably write a whole master’s thesis on the layers of racial stereotyping and hamhanded antiracism that go into that characterization.

  5. The only reason I haven’t reviewed this figure is because I don’t have the red eyepiece. Someone needs to make a repro already.

    Great review and photos! You did one of my childhood favorites justice.

    The new sculpt era Heavy Duty just did not seem like the same character to me. I owned a few versions because he was in a lot of the two packs. His look wasn’t bad for the time, but he just really didn’t have the same personality or presence. It got maybe a little better in Valor Vs. Venom, but still wasn’t quite there. All of the new sculpt HD releases didn’t make me hate the character or anything, as I can separate the original from what came later. It just made me wish Hasbro was a little more creative and a little less cash-grabby.

  6. Pingback: 1987 Big Boa | Attica Gazette

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