Clamp Champ nimbly escaped my detection as a kid. By 1987 I really wasn’t into He-Man anymore, and the only figures released that year that I was kind of dimly aware of were Mosquitor, Scare Glow and King Randor. But I think had I seen Clamp Champ on the shelves I would have dug him.
Ironically some of my least favorite figures (heroic warriors especially) come from 1986, a year when a lot of new tooling was brought into the Masters of the Universe toyline. It’s great that they invested the money, but stylistically a lot of it just wasn’t my thing. By bringing back some shared parts in the 1987 line, the feel of the toys became much more familiar and in line with its established style. Clamp Champ in particular feels like an early MOTU figure, because his body isn’t overly encumbered by gimmicky action features. His gimmick is entirely in his weapon.
Clamp Champ reuses the legs, crotch, chest and arms from He-Man and the armor from Fisto (albeit warped slightly to make it fit on the slightly larger chest from He-Man). He’s given a newly sculpted head as well as a clamp weapon (“power pincer”). The figure was designed by David Wolfram, who also designed Tyrantisaurus Rex, Laser Light Skeletor, King Randor (action figure), Scare Glow, and others.
Clamp Champ’s cross sell artwork closely matched the final toy. He’s given some nice paint deco, including two tone boots and painted bracers, like King Randor. This level of paint detail, ironically, was never given to the original He-Man figure, although it was certainly planned in the prototype stage.
In Clamp Champ’s packaging art (above), he faces off against Ninjor, just as he did in his commercial and in other media. Nothing seems to make the two characters obvious nemeses, other than the fact that they were released in the same year.
In the 1987 Style Guide, Clamp Champ is given the following description (as far as I’m able to make out):
This brave and gallant knight is responsible for guarding King Randor and the Royal Palace of Eternia.
We see these elements in the minicomic he came packed with, The Search For Keldor (illustrated by Bruce Timm, story by Steven Grant). In the story, “Klamp Champ” (probably an early spelling of the name, later dropped) is a tireless, loyal defender of King Randor who uses his might (but not his clamp weapon) to defeat Ninjor. He’s depicted as strong, agile, and in possession of super senses that prevent him from being taken by surprise.
Clamp Champ battles against a bizarrely off-model Beast Man (update: per Dušan M., it’s meant to represent the movie version of Beast Man, although it looks more like a blend between movie and toy) in the MOTU newspaper strip story, “Attack on Snake Mountain”.
In Lifetime Part 2, published by Star Comics, we got a glimps of an older Clamp Champ from an alternate timeline where Prince Adam lost his power sword in a time warp:
Clamp Champ also appears on this Spanish promotional sticker:
Clamp Champ is a part of the large cast of characters in William George’s Eternia and Preternia posters:
Clamp Champ also shows up in two posters by Earl Norem for Masters of the Universe Magazine:
The 1987 Power Tour – a live action stage show featuring He-Man and She-Ra – also included a few relatively obscure characters, like Blast Attak, Snout Spout and Clamp Champ:
Because Clamp Champ came out at the tail end of the toyline (and wasn’t around in stories for years before, like Sorceress or King Randor), there isn’t a great deal of back story to the character. His narrative arc is at least expanded somewhat in the Masters of the Universe Classics continuity, but I’ll write more about that in a separate article.
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18 thoughts on “Clamp Champ: Heroic Master of Capture (1987)”
I LOVED Clamp Champ when I was a kid. He was the only figure I ever saw from the final wave. Like I mentioned in my own recent feature on the Champ, I was a big fan of movies like Shaft and Foxy Brown, and had noticed that there were no black MOTU figures. (Though, being a child, it didn’t occur to me why that might be.) If I hadn’t already thought the Champ was cool, the included minicomic, The Search for Keldor, would have ensured that I did. Whereas characters often just showed up in the minicomics and did little of importance, this dude straight up plucks an arrow right out of the air, and then kicks the shit out of the super ninja that shot it at him. Artist Bruce Timm also drew Clamp Champ with a little ‘fro, further strengthening the connection to Shaft in my adolescent mind. And that pretty much set the template for the Champ’s characterization in my MOTU adventures: He was a smart, tough-as-nails ass-kicker who other characters would turn to when they had a problem, and the ladies couldn’t resist him. His reuse of Fisto’s armor only made him cooler, as Fisto was one of my favorite characters. This meant, in my mind, that Fisto and the Champ were brothers, and they would frequently team up for various adventures. I tended to assign vehicles to specific figures; Fisto had Stridor, He-Man had Battle Cat, Man-at-Arms had the Battle Ram, Mekaneck had the Road Ripper, and so forth. Clamp Champ had to have one of his own, and he got one of my very favorites: the Bashasaurus.
I also took his role as bodyguard to the King from the minicomic and took it one step further, making him Eternia’s main defender whenever He-Man was captured or unavailable for some reason. He frequently found himself busting into Snake Mountain to rescue a captured He-Man, or teaming up with He-Man and Fisto against impossible odds to save the planet. The Champ doesn’t seem that popular in general among MOTU fans, but he remains one of my favorites.
Great thoughts! I think Bashasaurus is a great vehicle for him 🙂 He’s really a figure who deserved more media exposure – it’s a pity he didn’t come out until the end of the line.
I feel dumb asking this, but can I get a link to your Clamp Champ feature?
Sure thing, here it is! https://midnight-rant.blogspot.com/2017/11/rant-review-masters-of-universe-clamp.html
Great review! I’ll put a link to your site on my links page 🙂
Thanks, I appreciate that!
I always thought Clamp Champ was awesome. I never had him as a kid, and he’s almost impossible to find in the wild. Which is why when I finally found him at Retro Games Plus this year, I bought him even though he was missing pretty much everything. Don’t care. Glad I finally have him in any capacity.
I don’t blame you. He’s got an awesome head sculpt, worth it just to have him with no accessories.
I still remember seeing Clamp Champ as a little dude and thinking how different he looked from the other heroes and how awesome that was- this was a dude that was very much like Shaft that I had seen on the Saturday afternoon movies who was a brother kicking ass and taking names in Eternia, and it was something we just hadn’t seen before. I always remember the part in the mini comic about the reflexes and I always played with him as a warrior who could pretty much stop any incoming attack hand to hand. Man, those last figures were a real gem of a line up and they really went out with a bang for an assortment that was by and large shared parts.
Yeah, 1987 was a great year for He-Man! The year of Scare Glow, Mosquitor, Clamp Champ, Sorceress and King Randor!
Well..if you say so. Hardly anyone got these in 1987 because they were too hard to find and low in production numbers.
No MOTU cartoon, bad comic stories, classmates moved on to new toys or girls….
Okay, not a great year for sales, but there were some cool figures nevertheless 🙂
I just want you to know I received a letter from Mattel many years ago. Now the letter states what year each figure came out and the redos as well. For the above figures that you mentioned, Mattel said they came out in 86 1/2. So I am guessing that they only get 1/2 credit for the year because it was out later that year. If I find the letter, I will send you a copy if that is ok with you. Thanks.
Thanks Lewis, I would love to see it if you can find it. I think the same might be true for King Randor – he appears in 1986 commercial for I believe Rokkon and Stonedar, as a free figure you can get with proofs of purchase. Both figures first appear in Mattel’s 1987 catalog, but if they had come out later in 1986 they might not have made the 86 catalog
Is the narrator calling Clamp Champ “TRAP Champ” in the vs. Ninjor commercial?
I heard it as Clamp Champ
Interesting hero. Sadly as a kid I never liked his weapon (I still don’t like it), seeing it as cumbersome and range wise very inefficient, so I never bought Clamp Champ.
Is fun that his equivalent in the POW line, Netossa, had a much better equipment to capture people than him 😀
Yeah, the weapon is totally impractical. Once I finally get a hold of this guy I might just pose him with one of the Grayskull weapons.
I did still loosely follow MOTU releases and comics at the tail-end of the line, so I was aware of Clamp Champ, and as with many, he stuck in my mind as he was, finally, a black character.
In the proceeding couple of years the line had become very gimmick-driven and “anything goes”, so like battram and some others, I was pleased to see a return to the more ‘traditional’ style of design, and CC would heave easily fit in well much earlier in the line.
I think he only thing I didn’t particularly like was his weapon itself – a bit oversized (hey, this is long before 200x!), a bit impractical, and echoes of that ‘gimmicky’ that had soured my love of the line. In that, I also wasn’t keen that his name reflected his weapon; was he maybe the only one who could handle this unwieldly cumbersome combat claw? (Couldn’t even He-Man handle it?)
But that was me just being picky and overall CC’s a decent character. He’s more obscure to the casual fan, but he was featured quite heavily in the Marvel UK comic and various other media of the time. Sadly he was often fighting alongside the likes of Rio Blast and (urgh) Snout Spout, so I never fully to him as “one of the gang” as much as I maybe should have.