Monday, April 8, 2024

Action Figure Review: Clutch with VAMP (Multi-Purpose Attack Vehicle) from G.I. Joe: Classified Series by Hasbro

 A combination of Easter, a short vacation, and being sick has kept me occupied for a week or so, but here I am with another new G.I. Joe: Classified Series review and this time it's the (current) second largest vehicle in the line: The VAMP with the Original 13 team member, Clutch. Despite being two young to have had the Original 13 figures as a kid (I didn't get into G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero until some time in 1986), as a fan of the Marvel comic and the property in general, I love the Original 13 team members and getting them in the Classified Series is definitely one of the teams/ subsets/ goals I look forward to most completing. There's something cool about how they express their individuality while also looking and feeling like a cohesive unit. I did get the HISS (though I didn't review it last year), so this is the largest vehicle for the line I've taken a look at. It's a nice update to both Clutch and the VAMP that feels true to the original toy while still also having that modern, "Classified" series feel to it. It doesn't feel like a straight up retro redo nor does it feel overly antiquated. Ready to roll with Clutch and the VAMP? Then grab your toothpick, jump in, buckle up, and hold on. We're making tracks after the break...

The Facts: Clutch

Height: 6 5/8ths inches

Articulation: Swivel/ hinge ankles, boot swivels, double hinged knees, swivel thighs, ball jointed drop down hips, ball jointed waist, mid-torso hinge, butterfly pecs, swivel/hinge shoulders, bicep swivels, double hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, ball jointed neck base, and a ball jointed head.

Accessories: Pistol, shotgun, 2 helmets, wrench, and gear pouch. 

The Facts: VAMP (Multi-Purpose Attack Vehicle)

Dimensions: 13 inches long by 7 1/8ths inches wide.

Articulation: 2 hinged front tow hooks, 4 rolling wheels w/ shocks, rotating winch, hinged hood, rotating steering wheel, sliding shifter, hinged windshield, rotating and hinged gun turret, and a swivel tow hitch. 

Accessories: Front headlights, 2 sets of top mounted flood lights, shove, gear pouch, 2 roll bar handles, fire extinguisher, 2 gas cans, axe, gun turret, 2 M2 machines, two ammo strips, and 2 ammo boxes. 

Non-Scalper Price: $100 dollars

The Positives:

* Lance J. Steinberg, better know as Clutch (or Double Clutch from 2003 through 2010), is the G.I. Joe team's original star driver. Besides just driving, which is his specialty, his original file card eluded to him having lots of experience and extra skills such as Ranger school, bodyguard training, and covert ops school. Clutch definitely seems like a jack of all trades and far more than just a driver. Hasbro has continued to make most of the Original 13 look consistent while still feeling unique, and Clutch isn't overly beholden to the original figure. He's sporting a cool vest over a green t-shirt, combat pants and boots, and a nifty tool kit. Most of his gear is easily accessible and carried on him, though the VAMP is loaded down with lots of extras, too. If Clutch needed to swap vehicles quickly, though, he's carrying most of what he needs. 

* While the vintage Clutch, Rock 'N Roll, and Breaker all shared portraits, the modern figures are all unique. Clutch looks a bit thinner to me and a bit more grungy. His file card talked about him greasing his hair with motor oil and rarely shaving, so being a bit rough around the edges seems to fit him just fine. He looks sharp, though, and seems to have just a hint of amusement on his face. I do wish he had a toothpick in his mouth, or an alternate head with one, but maybe Hasbro thought various individuals would assume he was smoking or something. 

* Clutch is also sporting some tattoos on his arms. The left arm has a set of images on his bicep all focused on racing (some lucky dice, a burning tire, and a pair of checkered flags) while the right bicep has a pair of tools crossed and some 'chick" looking kind of like a pinup girl. Hey, chick is Clutch's word, not mine!

* Clutch comes with two helmets to change thins up a bit. The first is the standard ballistic helmet that originally came with Grunt. It's green, matches the rest of his uniform just fine, and looks pretty good. It's a nice update to the vintage helmet and there are plenty of little tactical embellishments on it. Furthermore, the chin strap is loose, which seems to fit Clutch's personality. 

* The second helmet covers Clutch's full head and looks like the helmets on the Steel Corps troopers. Grunt also came with one and I like some of the team having these helmets for special operations. More protection, better visual enhancement (the red visor and various greeblies surely give him plenty of support), and the built in communications equipment really feel something a modern, elite special forces soldier from a top secret unit would be sure to have. You've also got some sharp teeth on the side of the helmet, like you'd see on the nose of an aircraft. 

* Outside of the VAMP, Clutch can do whatever he needs to do to defend his comrades and complete his mission. One thing that's always a pleasure with the Classified Series is the articulation and Clutch is as finely tuned as you'd expect. He moves freely, with only a bit of friction from his vest, and he looks cool no matter what he's up to. 

* I've seen a lot of criticism that Hasbro includes too many shotguns with the Classified Series figures. I can see that, though I really like shotguns, so I'm biased. Clutch definitely needs something for protecting his ride and I don't think this M4 shotgun (or Benelli SuperNova) with a pistol grip and a hollow barrel is a bad tool at all. We've seen it before with Cover Girl and General Hawk, but this one has the best paintjob yet. 

* Clutch also shares the same modified M1911 pistol that Hawk and Cover Girl came with, though he gets a brown pistol grip.

* His holster looks like a separate piece but it's permanently attached to his vest. It stays in place well that way, though, and it holds the pistol safe and secure. 

* Clutch also comes with Cover Girl's wrench, though his is red. That'll make it easier to find if he drops it. 

* I love the toolkit on his right thigh. It's a removable piece with what looks like a flashlight, a slot for the wrench, what might be a gauge for checking tire pressure, and a multitool. It's a great kit for repairs on the go. 
* Let's talk about the VAMP now, as that's kind of the star of the set. Inspired by the Lamborghini Cheetah, the VAMP has always felt like a classic military jeep blended with a sporty off-road vehicle, and the Classified Series vehicle still manages to look like a traditional military vehicle yet still has a modern feel. I'm very impressed by the size, the weight, and the quality. This is a durable, heavy vehicle that feels like a very high quality release. It doesn't feel "hollow" or "light" at all. 

* The VAMP is nicely scaled to the figures and holds two of them quite easily. If they've got larger holsters and stuff it can be rough, but most figures work plenty fine.

* The tires are really well done. Great treads, a nice, rubbery feel, and they look just a bit oversized for more easily navigating harsh terrain. 

* The bottom of the vehicle isn't crazy realistic or anything, but it is nicely detailed and it has some very nicely functioning shocks. I love how the VAMP rolls. Hasbro really designed the shocks quite nicely, making for a very fun vehicle.

* Here's a look at the front of the VAMP. The boxy, modern look of the vehicle is on full display here and there are plenty of neat little extras borrowed from various versions of the VAMP. There don't seem to be any stickers here; everything is either a fully three-dimensional detail or is a neatly applied stamp.

* The front of the VAMP has two bright yellow tow rings (which can pivot up and down) and some extra floodlights that can be attached over the front bar.

* The winch on the VAMP also functions. Nothing fancy; just a string with a hook that you can roll up. Still, it's pretty cool and could look good in a display or in a photograph. I mean, you're not really going to be hauling anything with this, right?

* The shovel on the front of the VAMP is removable and probably comes in hands for all kinds of purposes. This detail actually comes from the VAMP Mark II, though I remember it best as a kid from the Street Fighter: The Movie Street Striker that I owned. 

* I'm going to talk about the environmental sensor (the gadget on the right) in a moment, but right now I want to point out the cool storage bag on the hood. It is removable and while it's not quite usable by figures, it does look nice. That's another detail borrows from the VAMP Mark II.

* The hood is hinged, allowing you to access the engine. Like the undercarriage, it's not crazy detailed, but I think it gets the job done. The opening hood also makes for fun photo ops of Clutch or Cover Girl working on the VAMP, wrench in hand. 

* The VAMP also has six floodlights on top of the windshield which you can remove if you want. They're just an extra piece, though I like the look of them,. Of course, you've also got a windshield with a bit of tint to it.

* The windshield flips down, too. If you remove the gear pack it'll go down even further. 

* The seating area has a separate handle for the driver to hold onto (there's one on the passenger side, too) and two steps for helping them up into the VAMP. Lots of cool little written details and logos, too. 

* Check out these sideview mirrors. They actually reflect!

* The cockpit of the VAMP has plenty of screens and digital displays and such, along with a spinning steering wheel and a sliding shifter.

* Here's the passenger side.

* I love the little fire extinguisher in the rear window. Looking at the directions, it took me a couple minutes to realize this was, so if you get yours after reading this review you shouldn't be stumped!

* On the back, between the taillights, is a rack with storage space for the two gas cans and an axe. The axe clips in fairly tightly and the gas cans should stay in just fine unless you flip the VAMP over. 

* Underneath the storage rack is a tow hitch. There's nothing yet for the VAMP to haul but something has to be coming soon, right? The tow hitch does rotate, which hopefully makes it less likely to break. It's pretty sturdy, though, and doesn't feel brittle like some of the vintage tow hitches. 

* Here's a look at all of the gear and accessories for the VAMP together. the axe is a bit rubbery and perhaps a tad undersized but everything else is pretty nice. Most of the accessories even have some paint applications to bring out the details. 

* Interestingly, Hasbro changed the VAMPs weapons to a pair of M2 machine guns rather than the seemingly more sophisticated weapons system of the vintage toy. The M2 machine guns do look nice, though, and they have removable ammo belts and ammunition boxes. They're still presumably fired by remote control from the driver's seat or passenger's seat, though, as there doesn't seem to be a great way for a gunner to sit here without looking incredibly awkward. 

* The ammo boxes can set on a rack below the M2 turret. Stand them up on their side and they do stay in place quite well. The turret can rotate and pivot up and down. 
The Negatives:

* Personally, I think the M2s are the weakest part of the VAMP. They're not unrealistic or terribly outdated, but they just don't seem as cool as the more sophisticated weapons system the VAMP originally came with. I actually bought a replacement gun from TBC Designs Co. on Etsy, and I like it much better. 

* On the right is what has been referred to as an environmental sensor, but the vintage vehicle and many of its followers had a small hood mounted machine gun there. I'm not opposed to an environmental sensor, but it's a boring swap for a hood mounted minigun. I wonder why it was changed or left off? Could have been a cool extra.
   I'm really impressed with both Clutch and the VAMP. If you consider Clutch to be a standard priced figure (he is pretty well accessorized), the VAMP runs around $75 bucks which I don't think is too bad for a fairly large and very well made vehicle. It has lots of features and moving pieces, functioning shocks, and quite a few accessories. The only thing I don't love about it is the M2 turret. It just seems a bit too plain for a G.I. Joe vehicle. Still, this thing is a lot of fun and looks excellent with the Original 13 crew posed around it (or the ones we have so far). It's a Great and a 1/2 set and surely will be one of the highlights of the year for the Classified Series.

Looking for more of Clutch and the VAMP? I actually reviewed the G.I. Joe 25th Anniversary VAMP with Double Clutch as a guest review at MWC

For more G.I. Joe: Classified Series reviews check out the following:


  1. Wow. This is an amazing set. I also hope they eventually make the original 13 when all is said and done.

    1. I don't doubt that we'll get them all this time around. They've all sold well, too, and Hasbro is clearly putting a lot of effort into them unlike other times they've done the O13 (some of the 25th Anniversary releases were quite weak). We have Short-Fuze, Zap, Flash, Steel, and Grand Slam left, along with a Col. Hawk if they decide to release him with a repainted Mobile Missile System. Flash's laser rifle is already tooled as part of the Glenda figure, so that's a good sign.

    2. Need my Short-Fuze - he was my first Joe since my dad was a mortar man in the army. I never had a Flash, but the HAL and Grand Slam were my all time favorite. Would love to see them with their red pads.

    3. I imagine we'll definitely see Flash and Grand Slam with the red pads. Short-Fuze could be very cool, I just hope they update his equipment a bit to be more modern.


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