1988 Duke (Tiger Force)

1988 Duke (Tiger Force)

Tiger Force Duke is two things I like, being that I like Duke and I like Tiger Force. Yet, strangely enough I don’t know if I feel that much of a connection to the figure besides it being the tiger-pajamas Duke who mostly only comes out once a summer to play with his other tiger-print friends I like more. Which has it’s appeals, given that the original Tiger Force is a very strong set of figures, so just having a Duke to match them isn’t a bad thing.

Objectively, I think there’s a case that can be made that Duke is the third weakest figure of the set. The worst figure is probably Frostbite, just because he’s the one that makes the least sense, and second would be Bazooka, since keeping the football jersey and losing the colors doesn’t really hold much appeal. Duke loses a lot for the scant paint on his head, with V1 Duke making the head work with his painted teeth and a separate color for his hair. Tiger Force Duke changes his hair color to brown, presumably to save on money since it matches with the color on his belts and bandolier. He also has these weird peachy-tan pants that are a shade that doesn’t really match with any of the other Tiger Force Figures. Most of the other figures share a color or two between them that works nicely towards making the Tiger Force look like a cohesive team, but Duke’s pants don’t match with anything. It could look worse, but I’ve always felt he looks a tad bit inferior when you sit him next to Flint.

It’s a good looking figure despite all that though, and I’m probably the odd one for not holding him in such a high regard. The olive green shirt is a nice shade that still perfectly fits with the heavy use of green from early in the line. The brown details and peachy pants also do nicely to make him look less monotonous and show more detail than the original figure, which is a big plus. If he had more orange or yellow on him, he’d probably be a lot less popular, and I don’t know if I’d really like that either. The worst thing he probably has going for him though, is that I always compare him to Flint, and while this is a good figure, that one’s a great figure.

The Duke mold went through a lot of changes up to the Tiger Force release. I’m going to assume something must’ve go awry with the arms early on, since late-release Dukes from Hasbro and Takara both swapped over to V1 Grunt arms (Probably when they sent the Doc mold to Plastirama?). Tiger Force Duke (and later, Chinese Duke) has Hit & Run arms, which works pretty well as a substitute, though I’m not sure I’ve seen a shirt like that with elastic cuffs before. The Tiger Force release also benefits from only using the sharper Duke head, compared to the original which had both this version of the sculpt and a doughy, soft looking version early on.

For parts, you get the same kit of fun gear from V1 Duke: a tan helmet, a green backpack, an M-32 Pulverizer and a pair of binoculars in dark grey. The green backpack is really nice and because it’s a common color, it also pairs decently with a few other figures. The helmet’s the same color as his pants, so it’s also unique to him and not easily mistaken for any other version of the casting.

Tiger Force Duke’s run around $25 for a mint complete figure. You’ll find some examples that swap the gun and binoculars for similar black versions though, so that’s something to look out for (mine’s usually pictured with alternate parts, since my only copy of his gun has a broken barrel). It’s a lot for a figure, but just a year or so ago Tiger Force anything would be hitting north of $70, so it doesn’t seem to bad to me now.

gi joe tiger force flint arah 1988 vintage hasbro cobragi joe tiger force duke roadblock flint tripwire 1988 hasbro

1988 Duke (Tiger Force) Links:

Attica Gazette

Half the Battle

3D Joes

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3 Responses to 1988 Duke (Tiger Force)

  1. Mike T. says:

    This is a weird one for me. I love the color of all his accessories. And, in general, I like the figure, too. The colors are different. And, adding him with other 1983/1984 molds in standard coloring helps diversify a photo.

    But, I never use this guy. I got him in a lot very early in my collecting days. And, he went into a drawer and never really came out. I’m not sure why. I’ve tried to get him out more often. But, in the end, Duke isn’t really an important enough of a character for me to remember him.

    There’s a guy who’s made a really nice LBC of Tiger Force Spirit using Duke’s chest and arms, Roadblock’s legs and standard Spirit head. Were the parts not so expensive to acquire, it’s one I’d do myself.

  2. HitandRun says:

    Tiger Force has always been an interesting subteam to me. As a kid I thought it was very cool – the figures all looked great. They were released when I was around 7 or 8 and I can still recall my mom getting me TF Lifeline, a figure I loved through the rest of my childhood playing days. TF Duke and his fairly muted jungle colored design do work for me, it’s very comparable and in some ways gives a little bit more character to his more subdued original 84 figure. The brown hair always confused me a little bit though. He didn’t have the bright yellow tiger design and from the pictures above I love seeing the contrast of his figure against the Tiger Sting as well as blending in to the background in the other images you posted.

    The TF figures have one thing going against them that is my biggest pet peeve when it comes to collecting and it’s the cracked elbow syndrome. It has always been something that bugged me going back to my early collecting days. Therefore I have pretty much avoided collecting Tiger Force figures. That does not apply to the vehicles though as I have a few of them and love the TF design and how consistent it was with all the vehicles whereas the figures were a little bit more varied in their execution of the tiger force design.

    Also, it’s crazy to see how much the market has crashed in the past year – $70 down to $25. Curious to see how far the Joe market crashes.

  3. A-Man says:

    Yeah, dress shirt with elastic sleeve cuffs. Guess Leatherneck’s arms weren’t available, either.

    I got all the carded TF figures in one swoop IIRC. They were the first GI JOE figures to appear since 1986, I think, at the local Gibson’s store in the small lame town I lived it back then. So I had money saved, since we maybe went to a larger town/city twice a month at most. And they were a total surprise. Had no idea they existed or were coming since it was late 1988, and they weren’t announced in that year’s catalog.

    And that’s where memorable times end. I can’t say I used TF Duke a lot especially, already had V1. And my acquisition of TF vehicles was much slower. (So slow I still don’t own the Tiger Rat).

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