Clutch (1993)


The Mega Marines were a part of the sub-line mania that swept through GI Joe in the 90’s, a part of Hasbro’s strategy of varied gimmicks intended to stoke kids’ interest in the Real American Hero. Of all the extra features added to the line, Play-Doh armor was my favorite, as it allowed extra playability that didn’t detract from the figure molds themselves. When you’re done, you can just pull the stuff off the figure. Since it’s not a water based gimmick, there are no rusted screws to worry about either. As far as molds go, I find the Mega Marines figures to be some of the best of the late line figure designs. You just have to see past the colors, although I also confess to finding them fun anyway.

Even though I’m a lover of all things GI Joe and all things colorful and wacky from the 90’s, I admit that I hadn’t tried out the moldable bio-armor aspect of the Mega Marines toys in a while. I’ve even covered a few of them on the blog, but hadn’t broken out the Play-Doh lately. Mostly this was due to the fact that I didn’t have any of the stuff lying around, and the original cans had long dried up (they are almost 20 years old after all). I started to take my usual couple of pictures of the figure, without accessories, then remembered that I do have some Play-Doh in the house. “I’m sure my two and a half year old son won’t mind if I borrow his can of bright orange for a bit,” I thought as I gathered together Clutch’s armor mold and missile launcher. I was impressed with the results, and the bright orange I had was a pretty good color match. The Play-Doh warhead missiles are an added attraction, although you have to smush the end of it down when locking the missile in place.

So how did Clutch end up in a group of Marines? I don’t know. I assume he was wedged in simply because the group needed a driver for the Monster Blaster APC, and Clutch is the highest profile ground vehicle driver the Joes have. It’s a shame that the group never saw any action in the comics, as I can see Clutch, a man with no worries about speaking his mind, having a few choice comedic words about his group, their mission, and most definitely their outfits. He probably would have wanted to at least pinstripe, flame out, or chop and channel the Monster Blaster.

I think I prefer Clutch’s armor over the other Mega Marines, though Gung Ho is nice as well. Of course, a lot of this mold was reused for the convention exclusive Slaughter’s Renegades. Hmm, maybe I should try giving those three some bio-armor at some point.

I’m here to tell you, if you have any of the Mega Marines figures, and you happen to have some Play-Doh around the house, you simply must at some point load up the bio-armor mold and stick it on the figure. No matter how you’re feeling, I bet that at least some part of this process, whether it’s pushing the doh down into the mold, opening it up to see your handiwork, carefully removing the excess and rolling it up in little balls, or giving the armor a satisfactory smush from a Play-Doh tipped missile launcher, might just put a smile on your face.


  • The Mega Marines seem to be the most forgotten part of the classic line (along with the Air Commandos). Honestly, they looked more suited to be the Dino Hunters than Ambush & Low-Light. Except for the monsters, the figures looked like they had decent sculpts. Hasbro certainly wasn’t short of ideas, but combining action figures like GI Joe & Play-Doh was odd and seemed mismatched, like chocolate or mint as a pizza topping (it might have worked with a more fantasy-themed line with bulkier figures, like He-Man or TMNT. Here it’s odd, not horrible, just odd and a bit of a flop). The bright colors somehow seem to work (Eco-Warriors also worked. Maybe it was the association of bright colors around yellow with hazardous materials).

    Maybe for those of us who don’t have any Mega Marine figures, could more pictures be posted of what the Play-Doh looks like inside the container and how it gets molded into the armor? These figures don’t seem to be photographed much and the start & end get shown, but not the middle. Having that might increase awareness of this forgotten subteam. It might be nice having even the old Play-Doh photographed for color matching (does it change colors when it dries?). Did the Cobra Mega Marines come with Play-Doh?

    Maybe Hasbro should of had a moldable bio-monster made from clay (think something like Clayface with a few different shaping molds) instead of the brutish beasts they released.

  • I guess the reason they never appeared in the comics was that at the time, the comics were too busy making snake eyes do stupid things [like stab his wife]

  • Play-Doh or just…”d’oh!”…

  • Ha! When I saw the banner earlier in the day, I got a feeling that you’d spotlight the Clutchter’s rarely seen second version.

    I could always use a smile on my face, so I might track this figure down along with a fresh can of Play-Doh. Back in ’93, I remember being glad to see my favorite Joe back on the shelves, but his clean shaven mug and all that orange kept me from picking him up. I’d stopped collecting by that point anyway, but this would be a neat mold to re-release in more realistic colors, either as my man Lance himself or a whole new character.

  • This is one I wish I would have been more versed in the Joe mythos when it came out when I was 8-ish. My brother and I collected Joes but didn’t read the comics or anything so I had no idea who this “Clutch” guy was…or that he had such a history with the Joe team. I remember instantly latching onto Gung-Ho because I loved that character (even though I only had the dress uniform version–which still saw a buttload of fights even though he was dressed to the nines) and I think had I known who Clutch was, I might have liked him that much too. Clutch is definitely a guy that would’ve benefited from some version between 1982 and 1993…not that this version is bad (honestly, I kinda dig him) but just from my recollection standpoint, I never bit on him because he was listed as a vehicle specialist (that came with no vehicle–and for a vehicle I probably wasn’t going to get) but had I been more familiar with his history on the team, I’m relatively sure he would’ve been a big hit with me as a kid.

    I gotta say, the Play-Doh does look AMAZING on those guys. But I don’t remember the stuff they packed in ever looking quite that nice (though maybe I just never went to all the effort of removing all the excess) so I’m wondering if that was low-quality Play-Doh they packed in. I’ll freely admit, I smile when I saw you had him decked out in the “bio-armor” for the main picture because my first thought was “I don’t recognize Clutch’s chest” because I’d forgotten about the moldable bio-armor gimmick.

    • It’s also amusing how the background info contradicts itself. There’s Clutch referring to his old habit of greasing his hair with motor oil as per his 1982 file card, but then they mention that Duke recruited him instead of Hawk. Bad enough that Clutch debuted in the comic way before Duke showed up anywhere… he wasn’t even an founding member and now, neither was Clutch! Worse retcon ever, but at least he still drove an APC as in the earlier comics.

  • This was one of my first thrift shop finds, and I have to say I do like it despite the colors. I’ve been tracking down his remaining accessories, which at this point should be down to his machete, shotgun, and figure stand. (You do realize he’s holding the wrong missile launcher, right?)

    @Little Boa, they did come with ‘moldable bio-armor’–the only one in the sub-series that didn’t was the Bio-Viper.

  • Even in earth tone colors this figure would never be Clutch. And as a US *Army* Ranger what the hell was he doing attached to a MC special ops unit? Why not another Marine or a SEAL instead?

    • I’m surprised they didn’t make this Mainframe, now that I think about it–he IS a marine, and the comm gear on his head would work fine to tie him to the character. They could say he was made part of the unit to deal with the Cyber-Vipers.

      • Acer, that is brilliant. You are a genius. I had never ever seen Mainframe potential in this sculpt but now I can’t unsee it. That should have been an update of Blaine Parker.

  • Little Boa:

    Maybe for those of us who don’t have any Mega Marine figures, could more pictures be posted of what the Play-Doh looks like inside the container and how it gets molded into the armor? These figures don’t seem to be photographed much and the start & end get shown, but not the middle. Having that might increase awareness of this forgotten subteam. …

    Definitely these are rarely photographed figures especially with the molds. I think this is the first time I’ve seen the Play-Do on a Mega Marine. At least a recent, not original catalog picture.

  • With the collectors club having Blast-off, Gung-ho, and Mirage (must have been) available, all whole sculpt, I was hoping to see Clutch re-imagined by them. I think it is a great sculpt and new repaint is one I would have went for. But, man, the whole set of Mega-Marines would have been a fun club set.

  • I’ve seen this guy carded at the flea market for 15 bucks, but can’t seem to pull the trigger….

  • Oh man, one of my favorite lines next to the Star Brigade. I just had Gung-Ho and the two monsters though. I have to admit, I never realized that there were missile molds on either side of the vest. I think I may have used the mold once, then put it away, never to be seen again.

  • There’s some real custom potential with this figure. Needs some “stubble” painted on for me to see him as Clutch, though. That biormor is a crack-up!

  • You’re right about the molds being some of the better ones of the ’90s Joes, and the Monster Blaster APC was awesome–probably the best vehicle after 1990.

  • Nice write up. Sounds like a fun process.

    Looking forward to breaking these out for!

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  • Dreadnok: Spirit

    The Mega Marines were very similar to the Eco-Warriors in that both had you fill up their equipment with something (Play-Doh or water) to add more play value. I personally very rarely used either gimmick aside from the first few times I played with them. I just didn’t feel like getting out Play-Doh or water every time I wanted to play.

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