Clutch (1984)

Are you a green Clutch fan or a tan Clutch fan? That’s a tough choice. It’s not a question of Kirk vs. Picard, Death Star vs. Enterprise or Elvis vs. Beatles proportions, but still worth consideration in geek circles. While the first version is all about the iconic first 1982 series, the later tan version stands for me as a big part of the Real American Hero line’s evolution into the greatest boys’ toy line of the 80’s. It built upon what had come before, and by adding just a bit of a twist, opened up the line to many possibilities. So which figure do I like more? From a color perspective, the tan version.

There were also two versions of Clutch in the 80’s Joe media, since he was featured in both the Marvel comics and the Sunbow cartoon. When I look at which media version of Clutch I prefer, the comic version comes out on top. Of the original thirteen Joes, he always stood out to me as a well-defined character. Clutch was someone that while you could almost guess what he was going to say in a situation, you were still surprised at his audacity. The cartoon version, obviously not as fleshed out, had a more simplistic portrayal. While he was still quick with a smart comment, the cartoon Clutch seemed to be a good-old-boy, a far cry from the comics’ sometimes uncouth Jersey gearhead.

It’s funny that after all the years, and the hundreds of figures released, that I still find something interesting about this simple repainted figure. While the modern Joe figures are amazing, there’s something you just can’t beat about the old guys. Is it the paint scheme? Is it the vehicle he was packaged with? Is it the comic portrayal? I think all of those elements contribute to my fondness for the figure.

7 comments

  • I always felt like Sunbow got Clutch and Breaker confused as the same character.

  • I wish we had gotten a 25th Anniversary update of this with the VAMP Mk II–it would’ve been easy for Hasbro to do.

  • Excellent review as always, Rob. There’s just something magical about the early stuff. That’s why figures like the tan versions of Clutch and Grunt have reached mythical status among collectors. Clutch was always so much cooler in the comics. That’s where I first encountered him and his early portrayal is the reason why he became my favorite Joe. Larry Hama fleshed him out in issues #3, 5, 6 and 7, followed by Steven Grant in #9 and then Clutch’s solo adventure in #20 which, unfortunately, is always eclipsed by the issue which followed. As for the figure, it’s gotta be green for me. I never had the VAMP Mark II as a kid while the original Vamp was and remains my favorite Joe vehicle of all time. Even so, I can see how the cartoon repaint helped get kids interested in the toy line seeing how green Clutch had been pretty much sidelined in the comic by 1984. As a fan, I eagerly waited for the tan suit to appear in the comics along with the second VAMP, but it never happened.

  • Clutch was the coolest Joe among the original 1982 G.I.JOE’s team.

  • There is something about this figure– green, or tan — that just makes you like him!

  • I liked Clutch because he had the hots for Scarlett, andshe hated him. I could empathize,

  • I liked Clutch because he had the hots for Scarlett, and she hated him. I could empathize,

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