The Sigma Six line, on the whole, has produced some of the most impressive accessories I've ever seen in an action figure line. They're well-crafted, well-detailed, well-painted, and often have very interesting action features of their own. There's no queston that considerable attention was paid to them, and credit should be given as such.
Even so -- one would hardly think I needed another Duke just because he came with a REALLY -- BIG -- GUN -- regardless of its capabilities.
However, there was something about this Sigma Strike Duke. For starters, he got a lot of play in the animated series' second season. Hi-Tech had designed this special armor, called P.O.W.E.R. Armor on the toy package, even if I have yet to be able to find an explanation for that abbreviation assuming there even is one, that -- well, if the "basic" Sigma Suits enhanced the strength and other capabilities of the wearer, then this was the Sigma Suit on steroids. And of course there was that whopping big weapon. Both the armor and the weapon were somewhat unstable. They were TOO powerful. One shot and they'd overload. On the other hand, when the entire Sigma Six Team was kidnapped, Duke didn't really have much choice but to use the hardware to knock gently on Cobra's door. There's no question that it was impressive.
Let's consider the Duke figure first in this set. It's really an amazing version of Duke, and there have been no shortage of Duke's in the Sigma Six line. The skin tone is -- about average. And at least they stopped trying to paint a blonde five-o-clock shadow on his face. But the funny thing about Duke is that between a skin color change in the first one, a distinctly darker one in the "Sea Ops" version, and a notably pale one in the "Arctic Gear" version, Duke's skin tone has run the range. This Duke has a skin tone that's very slightly darker than the original version of the first Duke -- and it's a good shade. Probably the best I've seen yet.
The armor uniform is absolutely spectacular. It is extremely detailed, for starters. I've seen action figure vehicles that didn't have this much detail on them, never mind figures. A considerable percentage of this detail is also painted, even some of the smallest bits. The color scheme is perfect for Duke, as well. It combines the dark blue that the original Sigma Six Duke us known for with a decidedly military green. Add in some very dark metallic green-grey, and black, and the overall armor outfit really looks impressive.
This isn't some "snap-on" armor over an existing Duke, either. The only detachable parts of the armor are the shoulder pads and belt. The rest is an all-new action figure except for Duke's head. There's also a removable helmet with a green visor. The visor also raises and lowers, and is removable. Frankly, it's more removable than raisable. It's not the best fit in the world, and may be the one design glitch on the toy as a whole.
Duke also has a sidearm and holster attached to his upper right leg.
What I find especially interesting about the armor is that, really -- it's not an implausible design. This doesn't look like something out of Star Trek or Star Wars. While I can't quite see a present-day soldier running around in a suit like this, the design fits well within the G.I. Joe concept. This design would even work well as a 3-3/4" action figure, and let's face it, the Sigmas are a little more fanciful. Overall, this is a truly superb Duke figure, just on his own, never mind the considerable weaponry and hardware.
And let's discuss that now. There's a reason this Duke had to be packaged
in an extra large box, and that's because of the massive gun he comes
with, and its accessories. Let us hope that whatever strength-enhancing
capabilities the P.O.W.E.R. Armor offers, it also includes some decent
bodily support. Granted, the gun, without any of its attachments, is
only about 3-1/2" in length. But it's still pretty bulky. It's
attached to a huge power pack that attaches to Duke's back. This is
also the battery pack. A long cable runs from the backpack to the weapon.
There are three buttons on the backpack. Press the red one, and the
sides of the backpack light up, and a sound similar to a fighter jet
going overhead goes off. This thing is LOUD, too. Press the blue button,
and again, the sides of the backpack light up, and it makes a sound
as if it's charging up somehow. It's a deep, mechanical sound that's
not quite a revving noise. Also very loud. The green button is where
things get interesting. This activates the weapon.
There are four attachments: A power cutter saw, a flame blaster, a power pulse blaster, and the largest, and the one attached in the package, the heavy cannon. Now, here's where there's a nice little bit of extra detail. Attaching any of these to the main weapon causes it to automatically make a little "click-clack" noise, as if the weapon is "really" being prepared for use. Detaching any of these causes a different "click-clack" noise, as if the weapon is being disengaged.
And, of course, all four of the weapons have different sound effects of their own, which can be activated by the green button on the weapon itself. The green button on the backpack only continues to activate the single shot and machine gun noise regardless, and it's a little silly to have a power saw make a noise like a machine gun. The power cutter saw makes a racket like a lawn mower gone berserk. Buzzer the Dreadnok would love this. The saw blade also turns, by hand. The flame blaster makes a sort of "whoo-whoo-whoosh" sound, very deep and loud, and can also fire a "flaming" missile at the same time. The power pulse blaster makes a noise that sounds like the whistle of a bomb being dropped from a great height, followed by a loud bang. This attachment can also fire a couple of missiles. FInally there's the largest attachment. The heavy cannon. Attaching this results in a massive weapon that is over ten inches in length, so it's "taller" than Duke himself. The inside barrel of the gun is transparent plastic that reflects the green LED very effectively. Pressing the button results in a loud, somewhat high-pitched blast, a single shot and then a double, that honestly sounds a fair bit like the blasters on fighter ships from Star Wars. To find this in a hand-held weapon, and to regard something this big as a hand-held weapon, is pretty impressive and intimidating within the Sigma Six universe. In other words, there's enough cool stuff here to offer plenty of "play value" for any kid, as well as impress an action figure collector who generally isn't impressed by accessories.
The character description on the back of the package, essentially the file card, actually pretty much outlines the animated episodes in which Duke utilized this equipment. It reads as follows: "When several members of his team were held captive in a Cobra fortress, Duke armed himself in a special suit that turns the wearer into a one-person fighting system. Duke ripped a hole in the stronghole with a 'pulse' blaster, then used a 'laser' cannon and flame blaster to send Cobra forces running. After taking out the remaining troopers in fierce hand-to-hand combat, Duke used the suit's power to cut open the cell holding his team. Before the Cobra forces could regroup, Suke and his team escaped from the stronghold and were on their way back to the Sigma 6 base."
Okay, so it's more or less a basic outline, that gives all four weapons a chance to shine. Interesting that it references the heavy cannon as a laser cannon. That would explain the transparent barrel and why it doesn't fire any missiles. As well as the "blaster"-like sound effect.
Overall, this is an extremely impressive addition to the G.I. Joe Sigma Six collection. It even impressed me, and I am usually not impressed by reissued characters, nor by accessories. But this is a very cool item. Like I said, plenty of play value for kids, and an overall cool set of toys, period. The figure is a very cool version of Duke with a very impressive suit of armor, and the weapon system is just as impressive.
The SIGMA STRIKE DUKE set definitely has my enthusiastic recommendation!