The Duke-apalooza continues! I've never really been a Duke fan, yet somehow I've managed to pick up like a dozen Dukes in the past few months. Zoinks! Thankfully, pretty much all of the figures have been great ones (with face-covering masks or helmets, no less) so that eases the pain quite a bit. I'll tell you one thing as well, this Duke continues the tradition of Duke greatness (whoever thought I'd be saying THOSE words together?!?)...in fact, it takes it to a whole new level.

The first sign we got of Sigma Strike Duke didn't indicate much about the figure other than it was walking around in huge hunk of body armor. Was the armor all clip-on? Was there a normal figure under there? What was the backstory? This was all stuff we had to wait a few months to find out...but I think the wait has been worth it.

As anyone who has read my reviews will already know, I've got a thing for the sci-fi/military thing. Futuristic jump troops are just flat out neat...guys like the Marines from Aliens, Starship Troopers, even stuff like Exo Squad and the Mega Marines just seem way cool to me. Layered body armor, enhanced strength and speed...it all seems like a really cool addition to turn a normal human troop into a more formidable fighting force. Well, Sigma Strike Duke takes this idea to the extreme in an 8" scale, and I'm very happy to see it.

Immediately, the sheer size of this figure impresses you right out of the box. His torso is bulky and overly armored, his shoulders are huge, and even his forearm gauntlets are massive, angular, sledge hammer-like appendages. Yet in spite of all of these large plates of armor, the figure manages to maintain a strong sense of proportion (Sigma 6 proportion, of course, but proportion just the same) and also really manages to keep a sense of realism about it as well. Duke didn't just step into this block of armor and walk around. You can really tell from all of the intricate detailing that this is a carefully designed and constructed piece of heavy equipment, not just a magic metal vest that he slaps on. Around the neck and forearms, there is thick quilted padding, which makes some sense from a comfort point of view as well as a fitting point of view. If you were to wear a huge suit of armor, you'd need some sort of soft material between you and the outer protective blocks of metal. You get that here.

Some of my favorite parts of this figure are actually the legs...they are totally encased in solid metallic armored compound, and they just give the figure a real sense of strength and power just by looking at him. Even small touches like the overly padded, reinforced gloves, and the detail lines all throughout the armor really add lots of bonus points to this excellent figure.

I was a little disappointed to find that one of the hip joints is a tad loose on this guy. Most likely from the increased bulk of the figure, and it's not a serious issue, but something I felt I had to note anyway.

The colors on Sigma Strike Duke are excellent as well. You can see the underlying blue/black colors that make up Duke's usual garb, but over the top of it are stacks of blue, green, and black armor that layer perfectly and add a fantastic variety of colors to the figure, really making it stand out amongst the other Sigma 6 members on the team.

As with many of the Sigma 6 offerings, this figure is almost defined by his accessory compliment, and Sigma Strike Duke is VERY well defined by what he comes with...it is simply fantastic. While you can always hit the Tech Specs for more pictures and details, I just have to cover his weapons and gear here, too, because they are such an important component of this review.

First of all, his helmet and visor combination are a very nice start. I love the shape of his helmet and the opening for his face is nicely designed...his visor design is equally nice, but unfortunately it does have a little trouble staying attached. It tends to flop off relatively easily, but still, once it's on, it looks very cool. He's also got a pair of removable shoulder pads that really add a nice amount of bulk to the figure and thanks to the elastic strap and peg system, are held in place very securely. In addition to the pads, helmet and visor, Duke's other support weapon is his Switchfire pistol and holster. I LOVE this little touch. It's little things like this that really make these figures shine. However, normally compatibility is another large bonus point for Sigma 6, and Duke's holster simply doesn't have it. For whatever reason, they went with a two-hole mount point on his right thigh and the holster will only fit that...it simply will not fit the more common "universal" ports that the rest of the figures all come with. I have no explanation for this change, but it bugs me somewhat, because I'd love to be able to use this holster with other figures. I'm sure it's probably considered a magnetic holster that will only work on the P.O.W.E.R. armor, but I'd still love it if it would at least work with other figures as well.

As for the main weapons system... wow. Hasbro has totally and completely outdone themselves.

We'll start off with his backpack, which is obviously the power source, housing three AAA batteries, and containing all of the sound functions and button activation. Hasbro does an excellent job actually making the backpack functional, though, as they really go all out with the design itself, and even add a couple of rotating "jump jets" so to speak, which look like mini thrusters that can propel this soldier through the air, or even slow a potentially dangerous decent. I love the "jump jet" concept, and it's implemented very well here. There's a switch on the backpack as well, with three positions, "Off", "On", and "Demo". When you first get the figure, it will likely be set on the "Demo" setting, so to accurately reflect the appropriate sounds, make sure it's switched to "on". On top of the backpack are three buttons, which make standard noises regardless of which weapon is plugged in. The left button is "Power Up", the middle is "Weapon", and the right is "Forward Thrusters", and when the first and third noises are made, the jump jets actually glow and flash an awesome red color! It's a very cool effect, and the backpack comes across exceptionally well done.

As for the weapons...

There are four to choose from, and each has their functions, and each one fits pretty snugly into the weapon housing. The long range Laser cannon is probably the loosest fitting of the three, but it still works fairly well.

Probably the least effective from a weapon standpoint is the Power cutter saw. The design is fairly neat, and the green light that glows around the blade gives it some more depth, but essentially, it would seem pretty limited in its uses, so it doesn't rate very high on my "cool meter".

Second is the Flame blaster flamethrower, and as I've said in my Heavy Duty with Flamethrower review, I'm not really a big fan of weapons that shoot fire. I much prefer projectiles or plasma over simple flame, but you can't argue that this design is very cool. When the green button on the weapon housing is pressed, the fuel tank glows orange and it fires a spring-loaded flame projectile, which is all pretty neat.

The long range and long-barreled "Laser Cannon" is obviously the showcase piece (though it's not my favorite, it is a close second). Featuring a nice little hinge that folds the barrel down for storage, the design is absolutely amazing, and the functionality can't be argued. When you press the button strobing green light flows through the barrel, and a very cool laser sound is emitted. The design is great, the weapon just LOOKS powerful, but it's ultimately a very large and somewhat combersome instrument. Above you'll see I have the figure holding on to the rear handle with his right hand and the support handle with his left. A better way to have him hold the weapon is pictured below, but I just wanted to show all of the options:

As you can see above, I'd recommend using both support handles, especially when holding this larger weapon, since he holds it more steadily and more realistically. But while this is an incredibly cool weapon, my favorite one is the standard "Power Pulse Blaster":

This weapon perfectly combines raw offensive power, but still packages it in a more managable, smaller size. The weapon is perfectly designed and looks amazing. There are two small laser firings at the end of the rectangular barrel on top, and the large round cannister below fires one of two projectiles that come with the figure. The Pulse Blaster is more compact, and personally I like the design better, than the larger, more top-heavy Laser Cannon. When you press the button on this bad boy, it makes a missile launch sound as the rocket fires from the bottom of the weapon, complete with the firing whistle, the scream through the air, and then the final detonation. A pretty neat effect.

So, as you can see, Duke is fully equipped for just about any possible eventuality, and I really love most of the weapons he comes with. Even though I'm not sure how functional the saw is, the design is neat, all of the sounds are top notch, and there's a ton of play value packed in here. The overall figure design is fantastic, the backpack is awesome (and stays mounted near perfectly). Rotating jump jets, swappable weapons, even the cool helmet, pistol and holster all combine together into a fantastic package. What a great, great figure, and I can't help but highly recommend a purchase here. I think you'll really, really love what you get. Be aware, though. There have been reports of early batches having a mounting problem with the long-barreled weapon. These problems seem to be very isolated right now, but if you run across a figure with a long-barreled gun that simply will not stay in the mount, you may have a bad one, and you should consider returning it to the store. I've seen one poor person on our forums get hit with 3 of these, but nearly everyone else has had no problems. Just for your information.

Beyond that minor issue, though, this figure is top notch, and once again, doesn't make me feel bad about buying yet another Duke...and that's really saying something!

Good news is, though, this should be nearly the last Duke we see for a good long while...while we're getting one in an early wave next year, that is pretty much it for at least the near future, so Duke haters rejoice! But meanwhile, pick this figure up and pretend it's Dodger or something. ;)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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