Tan Clutch Revisited

A recent post on Hisstank featuring a set of custom original thirteen Joes in tan a la Grunt and Clutch got me to thinking about those two guys, and how much I like the tan repaints. I’ve covered ’84 Clutch once before, so why not share a few more thoughts?


Tan Clutch is one of my most fondly remembered Joes. I think I’ve told the story before of going to a friend’s birthday party in 1984 and being witness to his receipt of all the cool Joe vehicles for the year. In one fell swoop, my friend was owner of a Water Mocassin, Cobra Stinger, and VAMP Mark II. To this day, I still can’t decide which of the latter two I like more. Not only were both vehicles great new toys, but their drivers were as well. How could two simply repainted versions of previously available figures cause such a strong reaction?

Both were the perfect complement to their vehicles. Molded primarily in a contrasting shade to their vehicle, these two drivers didn’t just blend in behind the steering wheel, they owned their rides. In fact, I never had anyone else driving their vehicles. Even though I had a green Clutch, I primarily used the tan version, especially since it closely resembled his Sunbow counterpart. Clutch also had the double distinction of matching another driver figure, the Falcon Glider’s tan Grunt. Now the early Joe team had the beginnings of a desert force. Too bad the rest of the ’82 group wasn’t done up in the same fashion.


  • The closest I got to owning Tan Clutch as a kid was when I once spotted the VAMP Mark II at a True Value Hardware store in Chicago. It wasn’t until I acquired the Japanese VAMP last year that I finally got the figure after so many years. For some reason, Takara paired up the Sears Exclusive VAMP (with the sculpted shovel) along with Tan Clutch. It was one of the sweetest Joe finds I’ve made in recent years.

  • The only Vamp i ever had was the street fighter repaint.
    A few years ago, i was never too interested in the original 13 UNTIL i got Belormo’s book and relaiesed they were really great characters.
    I’ll get this guy…one day

  • Tan Clutch reminds me of my favorite weirdness in the Sunbow cartoon. I can’t recall which episode right now (possibly the last part of the Weather Dominator mini-series), but as the Joes are charging the Cobra base, we pan across to see Gung-Ho at the wheel of the VAMP, and running along beside, is Clutch. I assume they were bored and decided to switch jobs for the day.

  • Hey do you guys get the Sears Xmas catalog in the US? What does it look like now? Once upon a time it used to be a big thick book. Now, it’s just a stinking flyer inserted into the newspaper. Certainly fallen on hard times.

  • @Captainswift
    In WHERE THE REPTILES ROAM, at the skirmish early on in the episode, Covergirl can be seen riding a R.A.M and Scarlet can be seen driving the wolverine

  • After comparing the original Clutch with this one, I prefer the khaki version.

  • Both the Stinger & VAMP Mark I I were the shiz. Had the both and loved ’em! Tan Clutch is the man.

  • I recall Clutch being part of the Joe unit set the ocean atoll in Revenge of Cobra. Send a jeep driver to an uninhabited island. Though, in all fairness, the other two locations weren’t ideal for the vamp, either, a jungle and arctic mountains

  • @Vaughn Allan. Sears, at least in the States, closed its mail-order catalog business a good while back (1993, it looks like according to Wiki. Wow, I didn’t realize it was that long ago). A shame, since it ended a tradition over a century old. The Christmas catalog was part of that business (one of a few seasonal catalogs they put out during the year, but the only one with an extensive toy section).

    What they put out now is basically just a flyer with in-store deals in it.

  • I love this figure. I am also working on my version of the tan original 13. I need two tan sets of tan Clutch arms to make tan Breaker and tan Rock N Roll so i’ll be ordering two tan Clutchs eventually. I saw that post on Hiss tank and the picture-I’m going in a slightly different direction than that particular customizer and that’s pretty interesting, at least to me…

  • I got the VAMP II & tan Clutch for my 11th birthday in 1984. I liked them ok but I really wanted the first version more. It wasn’t until just recently that I finally scored the original VAMP with an 83 Clutch.

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