The saga of the interchangeable Recondo and Clutch (or Double Clutch, as he was known for a while) in the early 2000s can be a confusing thing. In 2003, the same mold represented these two very different characters. Not an odd thing in the GI Joe world, considering that mold re-use has been pretty common since the days of the original figures back in the 1960s. The first Real American Hero series borrowed parts from one another, and at the end of the 90s RAH run, repaints were frequent. So in this case, who’s who?
Recondo first saw release in the 2000s in a two-pack along with the revamped Iron Grenadiers. Both were pretty well-done figures in terms of sculpt and proportion, especially when compared to the initial relaunch assortments. The mold features extra articulation at the wrists and boot tops, and these small additions really improve poseability without intruding upon the look of the figure. It’s the sort of stealthy incorporation of improvements that I wish had been put into place in the 25th anniversary series. Sure, those later figures also had moving wrists, but Recondo here doesn’t lose his if you look at him crossways.
This 2004 repaint was part of a Valor vs. Venom special value pack that also included Wild Bill and the Tiger Storm Copter, as well as a Sand Viper repaint. The previous year had seen it also released in green as Double Clutch as the driver of the Desert Coyote. To make matters more confusing, another repaint as Recondo (with a new boonie hat head) was also part of Valor vs. Venom in 2005. What was he driving? The Desert Coyote. What? I know, I know. It’s really strange. Well, guess what–the previous Clutch-driven Desert Coyote was also released again (boxed instead of carded) in Valor vs. Venom as well. So in the course of three years, you could get two versions of Recondo, and the same version of Clutch twice. Whew.
To me, the mold has always read more as Clutch than Recondo. Without the distinctive hat and moustache, the two most recognizable elements of the team’s premiere jungle operative, this might as well be someone else. That someone else, if you read the Devil’s Due comic at the time, would most likely be Clutch. With a cap and chest harnessed sidearm, he looks the part of a motor pool specialist. This particular repaint could also function in the role of an unofficial member of Night Force, with its dark color scheme.