Review by Fred Meyer & Chris Chung
Pics by Fred Meyer
One of the most anticipated moments of any Joe Con is the reveal of the convention souvenirs. These are the pieces that are most limited in number and that seem designed to sell out before the convention’s end. Case in point: the Rescue Ops two-pack from the 2014 G.I. Joe Collector’s Convention. Designed to complement the larger boxed set, the Rescue Ops two-pack brings a member of the Original 13 Joes from 1982 to the Compound Z epidemic as part of a fast-moving team designed to find and aid survivors in the midst of the chaos. Such an individual would have to be skilled in both transportation as well as providing an escort to the team’s field medic. I can think of no one better suited to this task than Specialist Lance Steinberg-- code name: Clutch!
Yeah, Clutch came out of left field for this set. It would have been kind’a cool if it was Skidmark, as they have all the parts to make him---and no one would have expected that, but Clutch is certainly cool.
Rescue Ops Clutch is one of those rare instances where a combination of existing parts from a group of figures just comes together to form a fantastic whole. It’s kind of like Voltron-- but without the lions and the talking mice. (I never did understand that.) Without further ado, here’s the parts breakdown:
I’m not a customizer and, as such, I don’t have the eyes for parts that some of my peers in this hobby do. This is not a combination that I would have ever envisioned for Clutch and yet the more I look at it the more impressed by it I am. For one thing-- it just looks tactical. Secondly, it provides head-to-toe coverage which makes sense considering that Clutch is supposed to be wading into a hot zone full of zombies to rescue survivors. There’s a real practicality to this body design that manages to capture the best aspects of all of the source parts. The G.I. Joe Trooper arms offer hinged wrists which makes dynamic weapon posing much easier. Plus, the sculpted “wrist monitors” convey a nice high-tech feel. (The hands are also proper ‘C’ gripped, so they can actually hold weapons well. Wow, what a concept!) Factor in the kneepads from the Renegades version of Ripcord and you have a nice SWAT-esque uniform that makes sense for someone who is jumping into a hostile situation.
I agree he’s a solid figure, but that alone wouldn’t have done it for me. But what did, was his coloration. The Club did a good job on this. Yes, admittedly he’s plain and very utilitarian looking, but sometimes simple works the best. The brown and tan go well together, and the black acts as the perfect accent. His color palette has a bonus of allowing him purpose in several different environments, and this is further enhanced by a uniform that could function in pretty much all weather conditions.
I’ve often said that I would prefer to see Hasbro/GIJCC design one definitive head for a particular character and reuse that sculpt for subsequent releases. In this case, the Rescue Ops Clutch shares the same head that was used for the 25th Anniversary Clutch several years ago. This provides a nice sense of continuity for the character even if I’m not 100% sold on this head for Lance Steinberg. (I tend to prefer Clutch as he was first depicted in the Marvel Comics series-- with shadow as opposed to a full beard.)
Likewise, that’s why the Mega Marine head was my favorite version of Clutch. You could add a bit of blackwash to get the stubble, but not have to worry about the full beard.
The only odd detail about this particular reuse of the head is found in the eyes where a white paint application was applied underneath the black to simulate the sclera of the eyes. Maybe it’s just me but this gives Clutch a decidedly cartoonish appearance which contrasts with the otherwise tactical nature of the figure. I’ll probably be accused of nitpicking but I find that I prefer the paint apps from previous versions of Clutch better and might just perform a head swap with the version released with the Pursuit of Cobra VAMP instead.
Nope, you’re not alone. I noticed this as well. I call it “Scared Clutch” as his eyes are wide and it makes him look frightened or freaked out. Sure, zombies can do that, but I dislike permanent expressions except neutral on my figures because it locks them into one emotion. Therefore I simply swapped it with a 25th head and now he looks composed again.
The Zombie Initiative set features a G.I. Joe team that’s divided on how to best manage the Compound Z crisis. It’s quite clear which side of the divide Clutch falls on; in spite of the “Rescue Ops” tagline, Clutch’s gear is completely dedicated to the rapid elimination of the infected. Included with Specialist Steinberg are the following:
I’ve stated before that Clutch is attached to the “Rescue Ops” team and yet his gear seems fairly lethal. The M4 is pretty handy for accurately putting rounds into the skulls of the infected. Conversely, that same rifle could be used to slow the zombies down by targeting the knees-- although it would be a much more difficult shot.
Center mass dude, don’t waste ammo trying to hit (or miss) a leg shot. If you want to stop a threat as quickly as possible, we always aim for center mass to knock out the Central Nervous System.
The pistol and silencer also make sense given the sound sensitive nature of the undead in the modern lore. The riot faceplate from the 30th Anniversary Law makes sense to further protect Clutch as he wades through the hordes to escort survivors to safety. It’s not easy to get it to fit over the helmet due to the narrow circumference on the sculpted strap and I find that I just tend to leave it floating on top rather than forcing it into place.
I don’t even use the face shield. It’s practically useless. Sadly there’s no more “snap on, stay on accessories” like in the old days…
Bruce Campbell: You know Jeff, I've gotten a lot of use out of chainsaws over the years. Killed a lot a zombies, saved a lot of lives, but at the end of the day when push comes to shove... they're just too damn heavy.
Overall, it’s a solid kit designed for someone who has to move quickly through a hostile environment and bring back survivors. I like everything that’s included with the figure-- even if Bruce Campbell thinks the chainsaw is a bit impractical!
Yeah, the chainsaw is a nice fantasy zombie killer, but in reality it’s not that great. It’s heavy, it needs gasoline, you have a high propensity to injure yourself when flailing it about, it leaves you unbalanced, and unlike light sabers which instantly go through stuff whist conveniently ignoring mass, velocity, and inertia, you can’t just swing a chainsaw and tear apart a zombie with each swing. It takes time to chew through clothing, flesh and bone, and you need to apply the appropriate force to make sure it cuts into something because it won’t bore in by itself. In fact, the chain will act like sharp caterpillar tracks and will actually want to bounce off things. And for anyone who’s ever used a chainsaw on wet wood, what happens when the chain get wet? Yup, it tends to get stuck, it falls off the arm rail, or if it’s really bad (like blood and gore), wet material will get inside the housing and choke it. As Fred says, it’s a practical tool to have in a rescue operation, but not a realistic weapon against a crowd of undead unless you have nothing else.
At this point, my opinion of the figure is probably pretty obvious. The Rescue Ops Clutch is one of those instances where all of the design elements just come together to produce a truly terrific figure. From the parts choices used to construct the body to the included gear designed to outfit the character, there’s a lot to like in this figure. It’s also nice to see a classic character from the debut year of the A Real American Hero era used in such an interesting fashion. Clutch is the security detail of the Rescue Ops two-pack. He’s tasked with getting Ice Storm to the infected, providing over watch while the field medic does his job, and ultimately bringing him back home safely. It’s a perfect role for Clutch and the execution of this figure is spotless. Of all of the figures tied to the Zombie Initiative convention set, this is one of the strongest and the best Generation 3 release of the character to date!
The Bottom Line: All bias aside, this is a fantastic tactical update to a classic “Original 13” character. Worth picking up but it’ll cost you a premium price on the secondary market.
Yep, this Clutch is a great update to the 25th version, but I think this was a missed opportunity. If Clutch was going to be in this set, the cancelled PoC version we saw in the Concept Case would have been the way to go. But he wasn’t, so no sense pining over what was not to be. As for his inclusion into other people’s collections, I’m not sure he’s needed. Sure, if you think he looks cool, buy him. But if you are on the fence, you should ask yourself what does this Clutch offer you over the Clutch you may already have? The better articulation is nice, but is that enough? For me it was, and that’s why I bought him. But maybe it’s not for you. If that’s the case, what else does he offer that you can’t find elsewhere; and is he worth the exorbitant prices you’ll have to pay on the secondary market? Regardless of that decision, he’s a well-designed figure none-the-less.
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