When the Real American Hero G.I. Joes started showing up in stores in 1982 there were 2 Cobras and 13 Joes. Of these original 13 Joes 9 were released as single pack figures and the other 4 were included with vehicles. Clutch here came with the V.A.M.P. jeep. Vamp stood for Multi-Purpose Attack Vehicle. Yeah, I know. The vamp was an awesome vehicle and remains one of my favorites to this day. I actually preferred the black repaint from 1983 which I didn’t realize until writing this entry that it was actually a Sears Canada exclusive and probably much rarer than I ever realized. I’ll have to look into this further later. Anyway, Doug was the one who owned the original Clutch and Vamp. In fact Doug owned 10 of the original 13 leaving me with only Stalker, Snake-Eyes and Short Fuze. I’m not sure how that happened but at least my small team was rich in diversity. Stalker was the only black guy and the only guy in camo. Snake-Eyes was the solid black masked commando and Short-Fuze was a blonde white guy in a plain green outfit. 9 of Doug’s 10 were white guys in plain green outfits with the only exception being Scarlet who was a chick. Hasbro has always reused parts for various Joes but it’s never been as obvious as it was back in that first year. There were only about 4 original heads, torsos, legs and arms to choose from and the Joe team was made up of a mishmash of those pieces so many Joes even had the same face. Clutch who had a dark black beard shared the “bearded face” with Rock n’ Roll (blonde) and Breaker (brown). I did get my own version of Clutch 2 years later when he was re-released in a tan outfit. I mentioned in my last post how Doug and I had a thing for beards when we were young so Clutch was always one of our favorites. In the comics Clutch was portrayed as a scruffy faced chauvinist and a jokester which made him one of the more interesting characters to read back in those early days.
In 2008 Clutch was released for the 8th time and like the original this version came packaged with a retooled VAMP. The reason this figure isn’t called Clutch v8 is because Hasbro lost the rights to the name somewhere along the way and changed his name to Double Clutch, then back to Clutch, then Double Clutch again. This is technically Double Clutch version 3. Nobody said toy collecting was easy, this s**t can get confusing. I think this is the first time I’ve ever said “retooled” on here so I’ll quickly explain. Retooling is when an older mold is tweaked slightly. Modern Joes are a 1/4 inch taller than the older figures so Hasbro can’t simply release old vehicles the way they were otherwise the Joes won’t fit in the seats properly. This Vamp was retooled to be to scale with these slightly larger Joes which is cheaper for Hasbro as opposed to designing a brand new VAMP from scratch. This modern version of Clutch actually has a lot more going for him than the original. He has lots more detailing in his sculpt and even has his very own face this time. The biggest problem I have with this figure though is that face. It’s not bad but it looks kinda mean which just doesn’t suit Clutch’s character. I really wish he was given a softer expression. He has crappy joints midway up his forearms which detract from the figure as well. These arms have been used on many figures over the years. Ask any Joe nerd about “Duke arms” and they’ll go off on a rant about these things. Those things aside Clutch is still a good figure who comes with a great vehicle. 6 out of 10.