Clutch (1982)

Straight arm or swivel? Seems an odd question to ask, since the 1983 figures are regarded as improvements to the first year offerings. Not only did the later figures offer the added poseability option of the swiveling arms, but the waists were also slimmed down. The new arms themselves also seem just a bit beefier. Even the rivets looked less intrusive.

I didn’t have too many straight arm figures as a kid. My first Clutch was a swivel arm, and I didn’t pick this one up until my adult collector days in the late 90s. I actually revisited all of the 1983 original thirteen figures, buying up straight arm copies of each. Why? At the time, not much reason, other than for the sake of completeness.

Looking back on the 1982 Joes from a toy design within the context of their time, I can appreciate where action figures were in the early 80s, when Kenner’s vintage Star Wars’ line ruled the boys’ toys roost. The more sparse designs, in terms of both the outfits and the figure construction, have their own particular clunky charm. I’d like to see these guys blown up to the twelve inch scale a la Gentle Giant’s jumbo vintage Star Wars series. Imagine the huge rivets and a giant o-ring inside!

What if GI Joe hadn’t evolved in its construction within the Real American Hero line’s second year? Would it have been the runaway success it became in 1984 and 1985?











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  • For me, I’m sticking with the swivel-arm versions. Aesthetically, they look better. Maybe I’ll get just one straight arm figure for a sense of completion–Grunt, since he was silhouetted in ARAH’s first ad.

  • Ah, my namesake. I only had a few straight arm figures at first but since I first dove deep into the line in 1983, all of the drivers had swivel arms, beginning with good old Lance here. Isn’t he the coolest, though?

    I believe the whole premise behind GI Joe’s 80’s incarnation would have carried the line forward on its own, but innovations such as the swivel arm and ball headed neck, in addition to some superb sculpting made this era popular enough to last well over a decade and span the governments of three presidents. That was quite a feat back in its day, to say nothing of the modern day toy industry.

    It would be interesting to give these guys the Gentle Giant treatment. They certainly deserve it.

  • Dreadnok: Spirit

    I’ve never had a straight arm Joe figure, but the swivel arm versions always seemed perfect. As for this figure, it’s a nice looking one.

  • I was a 82 guy and got all the original straight arm figures except Hawk.

    Clutch is another of my Top 3 Joes and this is THE version to me. I vividly remember getting the VAMP and HAL and hooking them up for rapid deployment and then unhooking the HAL from the VAMP and putting GS in position on HAL with Clutch running interference in the VAMP! Those were great times to be a kid…

  • The only member of the streight-arm-orignial-13 i have is Short fuse. I picked him up a couple of weeks ago. Problem was some cowboy [possibly William .S. Hardy] tried to fix his badly rusted screw with araldite. His right arm broke at the socket when i was fixing him but i managed to return him to almost loose mint condition.

    In regards to this guy, he’s such a great character and his antics in the comics i found amusing. Keep in mind this comic book was targeted at kids and some of his antics werent exactly kid friendly.

    Oh and that Special missions issue where he was sent to as part of a team to try and barter a deal with an old goose stepping moron. What was Duke thinking when he decided Clutch needed to be part of that team! Was he expecting him to not show any emotion? When i read that one for the first time, i was wondering what all the kids who bought that issue thought. It wasnt just another kids toy commerical toy catalouge. And thats why the ARAH comic will forever be the best comic series of the 80’s [well to me atleast]

  • I never actively sought straight arms out, just not my preference for collected things. As I have grown over the last few years (and “grown” is subjective), I have found swivel necks not as appealing, too.

    I did end up with two straight arm figures through my inattentiveness in a large trade. It was funny, I thought it was all swivel arms, they were all really nice loose figures, I just thought I had a really minty fresh figure with a tight swivel arm.

    But it didn’t budge, and there I was with my first straight arm figure!

    Look at Clutch in your photo, though, it looks like right where the shirt sleeve ends there would be a swivel joint, doesn’t it?

    For straight arms, it’s a really unique first year, though. Collecting them all now would make for a great collection of rather unique ‘Joe figures.

  • I guess I’m the odd duck here. I got all the original 13 as straight arms except for Grunt back in ’82. I finally got a swivel-arm version of Grunt a couple years later and then just recently bought a straight-arm one to complete my ’82 collection. To this day, the only ’83 swivel-arms I have are Grunt and Grand Slam from an extra HAL I got for a birthday or something.

    For the ’82 figures, I just prefer the straight arms because they’re my original Joes and that’s how they came. I may still track down the swivel-arm versions someday just to feed my obsession, though. Maybe I’ll make that my 50th anniversary project.

  • I have all the 82/83 Joes. 82 Zap is the hardest to find mint-most if not all have multiple thumbs broken.82 Grand Slam is notoriously difficult to find. But in general, the 83 versions are generally somewhat tougher to find, especially 83 Orange Pads Grand Slam. Speaking of the 83 versions, I got outbid yesterday on a light blue Funskool 83 Snake Eyes that eventually went for 405 dollars. I bowed out at 240 bucks. I can’t justify 400 bucks for a small figure.
    Clutch and the VAMP are my first Joe toys so I’m very fond of the early stuff. I like the early years-82 to 84. By 1985, I was entering high school and Joe was not as intriguing as it once was. I also quit the comic after #53.The 25th rekindled my interest for Joe-what a trip it was to visit the toys and Marvel Comics from 86-94 from an adult perspective.

  • Since I got all the ’82 Joes before swivel arm, I didn’t have any ’83 versions. I really missed them being able to hold weapons well, and many a straight-arm thumb was broken. That said, the ’82 waist is certainly more robust for play.

  • In recent years, looking back at the ’82 Joes, they make me think how similar they were to the original 12″ line of Joes, and the later Adventure Team. Aside from Scarlett, Stalker and Snake-Eyes, the rest of the Joes are mix-and-match toys, with almost all sharing a body and head with one or more others.

    And what really stands out in that way are Clutch, Rock n Roll and Breaker who, just like the old Adventure Team, are three identical bearded guys only distinguished by their hair color. You could use them for AT customs before we got real 3 3/4″ versions.

  • Oh, I’ll have to find my light blue Snake-Eyes and put him up for sale…

  • @Troublemagnet
    Two weeks ago i spent $550.oo AU on a loosemint G1 Jetfire. Now i have to worry about Harmony Gold suing me. Sorry got a bit sidetracked. Yeah i heard these early ARAH figures are getting dearer on the secondary market as they are becoming harder to find in good condition. I heard Zap is hard to get unsullied as his arms are made from weak plastic which breaks very easily and “Silver” Grandslam is difficult to find as his paint wears off easily. In Primary school i had a boneheaded classmate who swapped a loose/complete V1 streight arm Zap in exchange for a POTF2 Rebel trooper. I wonder if he has any more 82 figures or did he swap them for magic beans?

  • Swivel arm, combined with figure quality is what made GI Joe. Of course, I think they did have to get more imaginative to really take off.

  • I’m old. All my O13s were straight arm, I never had any of them in swivel arm.

  • That Snake Eyes was a $20 figure back in 2000-2001. Most collectors that are newer to the hobby don’t realize that Cotsworld imported massive quantities of that Snake Eyes and the green cammo caucasian Stalker in the ’90’s. There’s a ton of guys out there who have a set or two in their basement or closet not realizing how pricey they’ve become. But, really, the black Funskool Snake Eyes is harder to find…just not as interesting.

    As for Clutch, I had the straight arm figure along with Breaker, Hawk and Snake Eyes. I never had a swivel arm as a kid, but have since upgraded to only swivel arms in my collection. No reason to waste space and resources on inferiorly constructed versions of the characters.

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