Tuesday, August 3, 2010

NEW RECRUITS!!! Say whaaa???

I've said before that I grew up with modest means. That pretty much means that if there was a cheap, knock-off toy line I probably had more of those than the real deal. One toy line I had several of as a kid was The Corps! from Lanard toys. They were cheap, simply made, crudely sculpted military action figures constructed almost exactly like the G.I. Joe figures of the 80's. As the Joes evolved The Corps figures pretty much stayed the same. All the way into the late 90's Lanard was pumping out copies of the same figures they made in the 80's. You gotta love a company that just sticks to what works for them. In recent years, The Corps line started to slowly evolve. Gone were the rubber O rings holding the torsos together. There were no more ball-jointed hips. The Corps figures started being made with simple cut joints at the waist, hips, and neck. This limited the articulation, but the focus started moving toward better sculpts and paint applications. The packaging was starting to reflect the company's dedication to the line-- awesome illustrations of the characters by comic book artist Leinil Francis Yu started covering the fronts and backs of the cards. Suddenly the characters had personalities and backgrounds-- there were clearly defined good and bad guys. The figures still weren't up to the standards of the Joes of the same time, but they were getting there. The bodies of the newer Corps figures were a lot bulkier than Joes-- they dwarfed the Joes, and the accessories and the hands that held them were massive compared to the smaller Joe weapons and hands. Being a custom action figure maker, I liked where the toys were going, but I still couldn't use a majority of them because the parts just didn't look right mixed with Joes.

That all changed today.

I was in Wal-Mart checking out the action figures, picking things up and putting them back because, honestly, everything costs too darn much. Then I happened upon a section I usually ignore when scoping out potential custom fodder. There they were... The Corps! figures with their bright packaging featuring Yu's artwork. I started to walk past when something struck me as odd... there were NEW Corps characters...

These are the "New Recruits." Evidently there are 6 new characters in the line, and the figures are pretty darn exceptional for a toy line that has always played second fiddle for the Joes. I only picked up one pack, because I wanted to see how they were.

It appears the artwork on the profiles of the new characters isn't Yu's, but at least it's nice stuff. Good packaging art is always a plus in my book (I'd rather see artwork than pictures of the toys... I don't know why-- I guess Mattel spoiled me back in the He-Man years). There's a whole new team known as "Shinobi Squad" with new characters "Rain," "Mirage," and "Decoder" ; The "Flying Force" gains "Spade" ; The "Covert Commando" unit gets "Bolder" ; and the bad guys known as "The Marauders" add "Roadrash" to their roster.

Now... how are the actual figures? Not bad at all!

In my pack I got Slash (mysteriously he's called "Decoder" on the back of the package) and Bolder. Slash is a ninja type guy with big arm blades, and Bolder looks like the road warrior. I guess he's supposed to be some kinda ex-cop or something. The sculpts on these guys are really darn good for what I've come to expect from The Corps. There is a lot of sculpted on detail, and the sculpts are surprisingly sharp. The faces are nice touches as well, because they each have their own personalities that come through. Slash has a really sly, crafty look on his partially exposed face while Bolder looks suitably brash and cocky. He has a smirk that Harrison Ford would be jealous of.

They're fully detailed from head to toe with all kinds of interesting gear and doo-dads sculpted onto their uniforms. Bolder's sculpt is a bit soft, but Slash's sculpt is almost as nicely done as anything from Hasbro or Mattel in the 1:18 scale. The paint apps are nice and clean with very little slop or overspray. A few of the lines are weak, but I found similar if not worse paint apps on the Iron Man 2 figures I saw a few feet away from these figures.

The package claims that the new Corps figures have 15 points of articulation, but I have yet to find point number 15. No problem, though, because the newer articulation is a MAJOR improvement.

The articulation breaks down like this:

-cut neck
-pin and post shoulders
-pin and post elbows
-cut waist
-cut hips
-hinge knees

They've managed to trim down the joints on the figures so that they can have slimmer limbs. This allows for a lean, dynamic look that older Corps figure lacked. The older figures had big, wonky joints that required the rest of the figure to be bulked up to match-- this is one of the main reasons why the older figures looked so bizarre next to G.I. Joes. Now you get a much more streamlined figure that fits in much better with G.I. Joe figures. I had JUST been talking to someone last week about how the Corps figures needed to be trimmed down... my wish is granted!

Each figure comes with two accessories: Slash has his two arm blades that clip onto his wrists, and Bolder has a nightstick and a sawed off shotgun. The coolest thing about Bolder's design is that both of his weapons can be attached to the figure when he's not using them. NICE! Slash's arm blades can be turned around on his arms to give the appearance of being folded back-- not quite as nice as having a holster, but it works for me.

As you can see, these new guys look pretty good with other 1:18 scale figures. They're still a bit bulkier than G.I. Joes, but they fit in really well with Star Wars and Marvel Universe figures.

Are they perfect figures? Not really. Are they worth buying? You better believe it. This two-pack cost only 3 dollars. 3 bucks for two decently made, 1:18 scale, fully-articulated action figures with accessories is pretty much unheard of. Combine that with the fact that they have improved the design to fit in better with other lines, and you have a winner of a toy. I'm going to grab the other new guys when I go back to Wal-Mart. The guy called Mirage looks so insanely weird I have to have him. A ninja with a coolie hat? Oh, my!

If you see the new guys, give 'em a try. You just might dig 'em enough to collect 'em all!

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