The head from the Marine training figure (the one with the big white near-useless plastic net.) SA body from a figure that wasn't in the new "Iraq fighter" sun-tanned fleshtone. Various bits picked up over the course of a couple years.

notes: The binocs have lenses, the pack looks pretty identical (except for less ties for the bedroll, really, don't believe Airborne, it is NOT a parachute.) I used an MP5 with the handhold/strap off, as it looks more like the M-32 pulverizer. The M-32 Pulverizer from 1997 now LOOKS outdated. The helmet is Bazooka's. (I want to army build Bazookas JUST for making early Joe figs, the Fritz helmet design in light green ACTUALLY matches V.1 Duke's Helmet. And looks ALOT like it to boot!)

Duke is my favorite character; I feel like he never had a definitive version, 12" or 3 3/4". Most likely he never will, since on the small Joes they can't get either fleshtone or size right.

Duke is iconic to me because he was the Captain James T. Kirk of GI Joe. He was the one with the best lines, he got the girl, he always did the right thing, and also occasionally made a stupid joke (Where does a Polar Bear sleep? Wherever it wants to! Abrupt fake-sounding laughter, credits.)
You either love or hate him for it.

So well anyway. This custom/kitbash has existed in my collection since '97. Starting with the Tuskegee Fighter Pilot figure with the plastic wings on the tan shirt. A few nabbed items from other figs, and ta-da: instant Duke in V.1 form. This figure was always constantly changing as the availablity of better parts came, different headsculpts, and better (SA) bodies. So actually, nothing from the 97 version still exists on this figure.

The headsculpt. I'm crazy about getting a new headsculpt from Hasbro for Duke. You know, one that isn't either in ORANGE, or in orangey-flesh and about 2 sizes too small.

This headsculpt came with the Advanced Grenadier 12" fig, and later on the Marine Training fig. On the Marine Training fig he was without the "Iraq" sun tan. Thus, the head was quickly swapped to an SA body that matched. I didn't like the head at first. I thought the chin was right, (strong, however, sadly, missing the cleft in the cartoon/card art) and the eyes were right. (slightly narrowed, looking a bit determined.) Proportions were right. Haircut was ideal (slightly above a recruit cut, but not shaggy. It seems to me that Duke would be well trimmed. And the only time it would be longer would be if he had been in combat for over a month. The only thing wrong was the forehead. I hated it. Seemed too large. ... BUT if you stand regular V.1 Duke (not mail in with fat head) next to this headsculpt, it's virtually identical. Right down to the heads both kind of tapering on the sides. And the grooves in the front of the hair. I then thought, wow, this must have been a head sculpt FOR Duke that wasn't used because the 12" small joe character line died.

And then... I had my definitive Duke.

NOTES: He is NOT wearing a green blouse. See here's the thing, V.1 Duke was a rehash like most mail-ins. His parts were mainly from Doc and Gung Ho. The only new things were the chest and head. So see heres the thing. Duke was an Airborne Infantry man, and the sculptor must have known this, as he is sculpted with an Airborne jacket, with it's defining slanted pockets. Over the typical Army green fatigues. The arms deny this, as if he was wearing the green shirt, they would be on the cuffs.

He is NOT wearing a short sleeve shirt. Take my word for it. (I don't think there was a short sleeved utility shirt.) It's just an oversight due to the rehashed parts. So I didn't put one on him. Theres no jump wings, as I haven't yet come across a pair I could put on him. I didn't go with an actual 1/6th jacket from an airborne infantry man, as the jacket goes to the tops of the thighs, and has four pockets. So he gets a blouse. With straight pockets. I can suspend my disbelief a lot when it comes to GI Joe, but not so far as to believe the US Army would make a utility shirt in green with short sleeves in 1983.

And he has five accesories. Flag armband, MP5, pack with shovel and bedroll, helmet and binocs. Straight out the mailer box 'n' ready for action.

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