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V.A.M.P. w/ Double Clutch

GI Joe Generation 3
by yo go re

Not only is GI Joe Generation 3 bringing back all our old favorite characters, it's also given Hasbro an excuse to re-release some favorite vehicles, as well.

The GI Joe team deploys VAMP vehicles when they need to cover some ground with speed, firepower and a let's-get-down-to-business attitude. With Double Clutch at the wheel, a VAMP can cruise into the middle of a Cobra base with tires screaming and machine guns working overtime.

The first G3 vehicles were the Target-exclusive "Attack on Cobra Island" releases. You know, the HISS tank, the repainted SHARC, all those. Apparently the idea proved successful, because now we're getting wide releases in the same style - one classic vehicle, one updated driver.

VAMPs are the GI Joe team's rugged, all-purpose ground vehicles. They can be outfitted for battle with a rear-mounted machine gun and can tow larger weapons. Tough and hard-working, VAMP vehicles can roar into battle with guns blazing or provide a protective escort for valuable cargo that Cobra wants to get their hands on. When the GI Joe team launched a direct assault on Cobra Island to rescue a kidnapped physicist, a VAMP had a direct and decisive part in the action.

Continuing the trend of well thought-out acronyms, VAMP stands for Multi-Purpose Attack Vehicle. Yeah. At least the comicbook tried to fix things, by identifying it as the Vehicle: Attack/Multi-Purpose. To everyone else, though, it was just "the jeep." Simple, identifiable, realistic... can't beat that.

Surprisingly, the VAMP is a new mold - or, if it isn't, it's at least undergone an extensive retooling. There's a 2001 copyright on the undercarriage, suggesting it's re-used from the Desert Striker, but the upper body looks nothing like it. The jeep is 8½" long, 4¼" wide and 4" tall, counting the gun on the roof. Of course, the gun can raise and lower, as well as turning, but we're talking its "at rest" position. Two rubber hoses connect the gun to the body of the vehicle.

There's impressive detailing both in and outside the VAMP, and plenty of play features. Besides the gun, there are two removable gas cans in the back, the hood opens to reveal the engine, the steering wheel can turn, and - in a VAMP first - the fabric roll and the utility shovel on the hood are both separate, removable items. Wow! The head and taillights are clear plastic, and the seats are both painted and sculpted with a different texture. This is some really impressive work.

Obviously, it doesn't take any special training to operate a VAMP - unlike all the weird vehicles the '80s line came up with as time went by. If you can drive a car, you can drive a jeep; can't say the same for the HAVOC or the Raider, you know? But still, if there's one guy you want driving your VAMP, it's Clutch.

Double Clutch was a mechanic at Manny's Machines and was heavily involved in racing street machines prior to enlistment. Naturally gravitating toward anything with lots of horsepower, Double Clutch can drive any ground vehicle so that you get where you're going fast and in one piece - and with as much engine roar as possible. The street racer in him comes out when Cobra forces are closing in on all sides. That's when Double Clutch slams the VAMP into high gear, leaving the enemy eating dust ten miles back and wondering what happened.

Yes, for legal purposes, this figure has been renamed "Double Clutch," but that's pretty stupid. Clutch was one of the original 13 figures, and also one of the few to get a distinct characterization: he was a womanizing, chauvinist lout, and was constantly hitting on Scarlett - to no avail. He's also one of the few characters ever shown to be conclusively dead on the cartoon, that place where parachutes always popped out at the last second and lasers shot crooked.

Like the original figure, Clutch is built from shared parts. He uses Duke's arms, Snake-Eyes' torso and legs, and he gets a new head and boots. He's got a full beard, a feature which would come and go over the years - he was usually just scruffy, but it would vary from artist to artist. Besides, the original toy had a beard, so that's all the reason we need.

Clutch has a helmet (that's a bit too small for his head) and a new vest that vaguely resembles the design of the original's shirt - one of the few unique pieces in that first assortment. He's armed with a knife and a pistol, both of which can be stored safely on his right leg. That's a good detail: if he needed access while driving, having the weapons pressed up against the door would be a hindrance. Not that the VAMP has a door, but you get the idea.

The figure has enough articulation to sit comfortably in the jeep, but don't assume that getting him in place will be a snap. The vehicle was designed for slightly smaller figures, so getting him to duck in under the rollbar can be tough. He looks okay once you get him in, though, and that's what matters.

Picking up Double Clutch and his VAMP will set you back about $15, but that's not too bad a price for how much toy you get. The vehicle is sizeable and has a lot of cool features, and the figure is just as good as we expect from the G3 line. And if you think "Double Clutch" is a dumb name, someone at Hasbro obviously agrees with you: the display stand, which always has the character's name printed on the front, just says "Clutch," so there's no mystery who that is behind the wheel.


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