Monday, April 18, 2011

REVIEW: GI Joe Pursuit of Cobra VAMP with Double Clutch

Produced by Hasbro | Released October 2010

The VAMP multi-purpose attack vehicle hunts for Cobra in the thick jungle. The ultra-stabilizing suspension system smoothly neutralizes the toughest terrain imaginable. This makes it easy for the team to swiftly get close enough to Cobra forcer to stop them with the capture claw or blast them with the laser rifle!

Double Clutch is a fearless driver and ace mechanic on the GI Joe team. He has the raw instincts of a street racer and the tight discipline of a soldier. With lightning-fast reflexes and intense focus, he races the team's VAMP 4x4 vehicle through the jungle in pursuit of Cobra troopers.

RRP: $22.00 - Ross Dress for Less Price: $11.99
Retail confuses me. I really don't understand why this vehicle (along with wave-mate the Cobra Fury) didn't get a longer shelf-life in the Walmart, Toys R Us and Target stores of the world. After all, the Alpha Wave vehicles of the same period are still on shelves, so why did the Bravo Class vehicles get shunted off to clearance stores like Ross and Marshall's just a few months after their release? Although it's our gain, given they're retailing for half their RRP, it's a shame to see such toys relegated to the clearance aisles and stores and demonstrates how little faith the major chains have in the GI Joe toys...

Anyway, for collectors who've yet to find their local Ross Dress for Less stores carrying the VAMP, it appears there may be a new update coming your way soon. Over the course of this weekend, having never seen the toy anywhere, I found two Ross stores that both had two of the vehicles on the shelves. Hopefully this is also a sign that the cancelled Wave 3 Alpha Vehicles will be following soon. 

Packaging Shots


Double Clutch
Double Clutch is the driver of the VAMP (interestingly, nowhere does it explain what the initials VAMP stand for and the vehicle is only ever referred to as the ''multi-purpose attack vehicle'' the initials of which is - of course - an anagram of VAMP...) and for a bundled figure he's not bad. He's not great either mind, but he does the job.

The sculpt is fairly generic - indeed that's probably the best term to describe the entire figure. He's clad in olive drab combat fatigues with a black webbing/combat vest (which will be familiar to GI Joe collectors) and black gloves. 

The basic design is fine for what it is but there's nothing about Double Clutch to make him memorable. I'd have liked to see him in a t-shirt or more informally dressed, as the uniform look is pretty bland and makes him kind of forgettable. There's nothing really wrong with the execution - it has plenty of detail such as pockets and the folds are nicely done in the fatigues - but it's just a very dull design. If I was being kind I'd say he looked like a scaled-down version of a 12'' GI Joe generic infantryman. If I wasn't feeling so generous I'd say he looks like a GI Joe bootleg...

The head sculpt is pretty good, though, even if it does look like Tomahawk channeling Greg Kelly listening to Hanukkah Fever. There's a pretty lifelike look to the face and it does at least give him a little character. Interestingly the head used is not the same as that featured on the box art, which used a prototype head that was changed before production.

Articulation is pretty good, overall. His vest doesn't limit his movement to any real degree (except for the torso joint, which it kills completely - thankfully he has waist articulation) and the only real negative is his ankle joints, which are lateral rotators only (i.e. he can't tip his foot forward/backward.) It's not a massive drawback but it would be nice to have seen the more mobile joint used here, given how many other Joes use it. The joints themselves are well-produced, with plenty of flexibility and hold.

There's little in the way of paintwork. The body is cast from a single colour and doesn't feature any highlights or details beyond the GI Joe decal on his sleeve. The face paint-job is cleanly applied though.

So we've established Double Clutch - although nicely produced - is pretty generic. What about the VAMP?

The VAMP has been my personal Holy Grail for what seems an eternity, a period made worse by seeing other collectors posting pictures of the nine and ten VAMPs they'd found in their local discount stores when I'd yet to see a single one anywhere. You can therefore imagine my joy when I found not one but FOUR VAMPs on shelves this weekend (and before you ask, I only bought the one, as I wanted to leave some for other collectors who'd shared my pain!)

After all this then, does the VAMP live up to my expectations?

The basic vehicle design is superb - it looks like scale model of a real-world vehicle and although I'm not a massive fan of ''pure'' military toys, this is an outstanding piece of design. From its four-seat design to the switch-able weapon ports and the accessories, this is a brilliantly well thought-out toy.

There's a lot to cover, so we'll begin with the basics. The VAMP seats four Joes comfortably. This is one of the major reasons why I like the design so much. Too many vehicles tend to be single- or double-seaters so having a vehicle that can carry a squad of Joes into battle is great. What's particularly cool is that the cabin space works. Unlike some vehicles where your Joes need to be crammed in or there are canopies that don't quite fit, there are no such worries here. I also like that the seats themselves are sculpted with ''soft panel'' detail (which is also painted), rather than simply being a simple flat surface the Joes balance on.

There are also details like a gear stick and (removable) steering wheel, along with a sculpted dash featuring a variety of displays and dials. I always like to see controls within the vehicles and their inclusion here shows how much thought and effort has gone into the design of the interior. There are also storage slot for sidearms/smaller gear between the seats and even what appears to be a cup holder...

Moving to the exterior, the thoughtful design continues. The vehicle's chassis features a number of ports into which the VAMP's weapons may be slotted, allowing you to change and customise the armament depending which figures you wish to use. It's a simple but nice touch, which I like. There are also foot pegs on the running boards, so when your VAMP's interior is fully-loaded, there's standing-room for more Joes and there are numerous small details such as rivets, outlets and paneling that never make even the most basic of pieces seem ordinary.

The ''trunk'' also has some features of its own. For starters, there's the rotating/tilting Gatling gun mount. Mounted upon a swiveling base (again, with foot pegs for your Joe to stand on) the Gatling gun can be pivoted and rotated to engage the enemy wherever they may be. The gun includes a blast shield and belt of ammo, complete with a side-mounted ammo pod. In principle it's a great idea but in practice it just doesn't quite work. For starters, the mount tower doesn't click into the rotating base too well and tends to wobble. The ammo pod is also an odd fit and just doesn't sit well with the other pieces. Finally when the ammo belt is attached, the whole thing is just too large to rotate as freely as it should. (I'd advocate switching the laser cannon to the rear and mounting the Gatling gun above the driver's seat, with the ammo pod attached vertically to the side port.)

There's also storage space here for a number of items of equipment (see below) and it's great to see Hasbro not only giving this some thought but also executing the concept well. The gear - when stowed - stays in place pretty well, although the Gatling gun's ammo belt may dislodge it if you're not careful.

Yet more surprises are found at the front of the VAMP, which features a ''Capture Claw'' accessory.

The claw - which can be manually opened and closed - is attached to a rope/string running under the VAMP's hood. Pull the claw and the string extends. You can then use the rotating ''dial'' winch on the hood to retract the cord. This is a superb play feature and I can imagine kids using it to lower their Joes into danger or even help the VAMP scale surfaces. I'd have liked to see a slightly longer cord (it's only about 12'' or so long) but that's just a minor point. I also love that this play feature isn't gimmicky and doesn't compromise the toy's design in any way. When it's not in use, simply attach the claw to the front bull-bar and then you can forget about it until you need it.

The VAMP runs on four wheels (and includes a spare at the rear) and the movement here is pretty good. Give it a shove and it'll roll quite easily across the floor. It also features a suspension feature, similar to that found on the AWE Striker. This works quite well and there's a fair bit of give in it, but for reasons known only to themselves, Hasbro decided to produce the suspension rig in a deep, cherry red. The box art shows it in a more sombre green, so be warned. 

There's no paintwork on the VAMP beyond the seat covers. The application is acceptable, but a little messy in a few places. That said, you can only really see it if you're looking for it. It would have been nice to see some paint detail on the headlights and mirrors, but the use of solid plastic accessories - such as the explosive cannisters that attach to the rear flanks, the rear bumper and the bull-bars - help to break-up what could have been a simple green slab of plastic. It's just a shame they used those red pieces on the underside!

Double Clutch comes with a pistol (which fits into his hip holster nicely), a satchel and a helmet. The helmet includes a strap that - by default - tends to hang loose. You can fasten it but it takes a little effort. I found the best approach was to fasten it THEN place it over Double Clutch's head. When unfastened, it tends to wobble on his head somewhat. Like all vehicle drivers, Double Clutch does not come with a stand.

The vehicle itself comes with a number of cool accessories. For starters, there are grenade pods that attach to the rear-sides of the VAMP, plus a whiplash aerial that can be positioned in any of the numerous ports on the vehicle's exterior. There's a machine gun, a firing ''laser'' cannon and a Gatling gun, the construction of which also includes a pivoting support, belt feed and ammo case, all of which can be mounted on a rotating turntable in the VAMP's rear. Finally the set includes two fuel cans (which fit onto the VAMP's rear), a sledgehammer and a shovel, both of which can be mounted (again) in the rear.

The set includes a sticker sheet of over 80 decals and an instruction sheet.

Final Thoughts
This is, without a doubt, the best GI Joe vehicle I've ever seen. It looks great, the design is well thought-out and the extra pieces really finish it off.

Sure, it's not without its flaws: the Gatling gun assembly is wobbly and doesn't fit together properly; the red plastic suspension rig looks horrible; Double Clutch is pretty characterless. Had these - albeit minor points - been addressed than yes, you'd probably be looking at the first ever A+ Review at That Figures. It's that damned good.

Perhaps the revision/repackaged VAMP Hasbro showed at JoeCon 2011 will address the negative points I've raised. But even if it doesn't, the VAMP is still a phenomenally good vehicle. It's robust enough to play with, it's loaded with cool play features and the whole thing just looks great.

Go buy it.

Double Clutch

Production QualityB
Final ScoreB

Production QualityA-
Final ScoreA

Final ScoreA

Image Gallery


  1. Grats!! That is a nice vehicle and is probably my favorite from the line.

  2. Yeah, I was grinning like an idiot when I found one on Saturday. And having opened it and played with it, I still am...!

  3. My biggest complaint is all of the holes. I think it's cool that you can put the weapons in different spots but having all of the left over holes take away from the appearance IMHO

  4. Yeah, I can kind of see that. Maybe they should have included some plugs for those spare ports...

  5. I remember Clutch from the original toyline so i wonder way the name change to Double Clutch?

  6. Double Clutching is used a lot in street racing, so I'm guessing they funkified his name to make him more cool...


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