The Joes don’t get much love around here at FigureFan these days, and I’m going to try to remedy that in the upcoming weeks with some looks back at the 25th Anniversary line of toys. Today we’re going to check out one of my favorite vehicles to be re-tooled and re-issued in the line. When I was a kid, the Vamp was the mainstay of my GI JOE forces. It was a rugged, all pupose little jeep with some good firepower that could get in an out of the action quickly. I loved the Vamp so much, I even traded some figures for one of my friends’ burnt out Vamps just so I could have two to play with. Naturally, when the 25th Anni. line came out, I was happy to replace my long lost Vamps with a minty new one. I was pretty surprised that I hadn’t featured the Vamp here on FigureFan before, although it did have a cameo in a comparison shot when I looked at the Cobra Stinger.
The packaging has its ups and downs. Its kind of a three-quarter box with a huge window, whereas I would have much preferred a straight up box that I could store the vehicle in. On the other hand, its hard to deny that this thing looks inviting on the toy shelf and I’d wager MISB collectors must have been pretty happy. The package showcases the toy and figure perfectly, against an animated action backdrop and the bottom of the box serves as a great base with the GI JOE logo shelf. Its kind of like buying the toy in its own ready made display case. Alas, the package on mine didn’t survive the opening process and also doesn’t store very well over time.
Let’s start off with Double Clutch. Yes, its obviously another instance of Hasbro losing the copyright to the original name. Calling him Double Clutch was a pretty clever way around that. I always loved the original Clutch figure, just because he reminded me so much of my original 1970s 12-inch GI JOE with beard and all. He’s just a great generic looking all-purpose Joe who is more than happy to drive the other guys into the fray and back out again. The update is a great looking figure. You can even take his vest off and use him as a pretty good “Green Shirt.” The addition of a functional holster and sheath are always a bonus for me.
Despite being a pack-in figure, Double Clutch still comes with a bunch of stuff you would expect to get with a single carded figure. You get a knife and an automatic pistol, which can be stored in the figure’s sheath and holster. He also comes with a removable vest and helmet. And lastly, the figure comes with his own personalized stand, which oddly enough, reads “Clutch.” Seems like somewhere along the way I misplaced Double Clutch’s pistol so I leant him someone’s sub-machine gun.
The Vamp itself should be pretty close to the toy you remember from your youth, assuming you’re as wretchedly old as I am. The body of the vehicle is basically the same with some little tweaks here and there to help it fit the modern era. The biggest difference is the seating area, which has been completely re-vamped (har har) to fit the larger 25th Anniversary figures and the seats are now painted, albeit a little sloppily. There’s a ton of great detail on the dashboard and the divider between the seats.
The hood is also more detailed than the original and includes a sculpted bedroll and a removable entrenching tool. The front bumper has two spotlights added to it, the front headlights now have clear plastic covers, and the hood opens to reveal the engine inside. The wheels are brand new sculpts, and I don’t recall the original having the little sculpted gas cap on the back of the right side.
The pom pom gun mounted on the back still swivels and raises and lowers. It has two new hoses added to it that come out of the back and connect to the base, which adds some cool detail. The lever with the firing gimmick that was present on the original, has been removed for this version. The back of the Vamp still has the little rack that holds the two removable gas tanks, as well as the tow hook so you can attach the Whirlwind if you happen to have one kicking around. The tail lights, which were just stickers on the original are clear plastic pieces on this update.
While you do get a sheet of stickers with the toy, several of the key stickers come pre-applied to make it look good in the package. Unfortunately, they weren’t applied with a lot of care, so you can see them running lopsided, particularly the “GI Joe” emblem on the driver side and the “United States” sticker on the hood. I’ve opted to leave the rest of the stickers off, but some day I might apply them.
I’m not sure how much I paid for this thing back in 2008, but I know it was under $20, and man was that a great deal. You got a fun, fantastic, and rugged vehicle with some nice, practical play features and a really solid figure too. With the quality of the current Joes on pegs (30th Anniversary, Pursuit of Cobra, and Renegads), I realize that a lot of collectors don’t look back on the 25th Anniversary Collection all that fondly, but I do. This pack is exactly the sort of thing that I miss so much from the world of GI JOE. The Vamp is as close to a perfect toy as you can get.