Lanard's The CORPS! line has always been a line I enjoy, due to their combination of super-low pricing and retro-style sculpts, with the ''New Recruits'' being a particular favorite style of mine. Now Lanard has re-issued a number of figures (and even added a few new ones!) with new packaging and a new colorway. Dubbed ''Total Soldier'' this new wave sees the figures moving away from their ARAH-era day-glo coloring to a more subdued, lifelike camo patterns.
The first wave of new ''Total Soldier'' figures is available in both single-figure varieties, battle scenario dioramas and multi-packs, dubbed the ''3-Man Recon'' sets (which, as the name suggests feature three figures, plus a small-scale vehicle) and today we're taking a look at the ''Flying Force'' 3-pack.
Let's jump straight in and look at each figure in turn.
Ivan ''Condor'' Lushka
Of the three figures in the set, Condor is based upon the oldest sculpt. The original release was molded from blue plastic and sported orange and silver detailing but in the new Total Soldier line, whilst he still he retains his day-glo orange vest, he now sports an tan jumpsuit with black detailing. And it's a very impressive bit of paintwork.
The core sculpt is well designed, with plenty of zippers and pockets and straps and other pieces to engage the eye (although he doesn't have any holsters or sheaths to store weapons) and the overall proportions are, on the whole, fairly good. His head may appear large but that's due to the helmet but with that said, his limbs do seem marginally longer than they should be.
Articulation is the standard CORPS! arrangement, with a swivel-joint neck, twist-and-rotate shoulder joints, single-jointed elbows (with a bicep twist), swivel-joint waist, T-crotch hips with single-joints and single-jointed knees. It irks me a little that the hip articulation is so basic, as the rest of the set up is so good (given the scale/price) but I can live with it.
His hands are pretty well cast and able to hold most items, although some of the larger weapons won't sit well in his grip. That, however, is down to a fault with them rather than his hands. And as you can see, he can stand reasonably well without support.
Ethan ''Spade'' Crowne
Up next is Spade, who, like Condor, has been given a new coat of paint.
Note that the stand is not included and is used here for display purposes only.
Like Connor ''Bolder'' Braddock, Spade features a very stylized sculpt, with an almost animated series/videogame look to his features. I'm a big fan of the ''New Recruits'' look and Spade is a great addition to the line-up, with a superbly-detailed sculpt that not only features an assortment of neat touches such as pouches and straps but also a functioning holster on his hip and a knife sheath in his boot.
The articulation is identical to that used by Condor, although due to the slimmer proportions of the figure's hips, he's not so steady on his feet and - as you can see in the above images - if you want to display him in an ''action'' pose, you'll probably need a stand.
Whilst I like the muted desert tone of his camouflage, I have to admit to having a soft spot for the original colorway, as it had a more roguish, ''sky pirate'' kind of look to it and I think the camo masks some of the sculpt details. And as you can see in the image below, the pattern is only applied to the character's front.
Still, even with this cost-cutting, the paint app is still tight and very nicely applied. I particularly like the stubble effect and his visible eye is very accurately detailed. Take note Hasbro.
Austin ''Buckshot'' Colt
The final figure in the set is an all-new sculpt.
Buckshot, like his pack-mates, sports some nice detail in the sculpt, with his suit featuring an assortment of pouches and wrinkles that are cleanly molded and make what could have been a fairly dull look pop pretty well. I particularly like the head sculpt although it looks more akin to something the WWF would have come up with for a biker who was also into wrestling. Think Jesse Ventura joins the Dreadnoks and you'll be pretty close.
As you've probably spotted, Buckshot doesn't feature the same level of articulation as the other two figures, instead being limited to the vintage-style 5-points (head, shoulders, hips.) Of all the new Total Soldier figures I've seen images of, Buckshot's ''neutral'' pose is the stiffest, standing stock with his arms at his side and his feet planted rigidly. It's a little distracting but no worse than some of the Marvel toys Hasbro has released recently, or indeed the bundled drivers included with some of the GI Joe: Retaliation vehicles.
I can live with limited articulation if the ''at rest'' pose of the figure has some dynamism to it or the articulation works to accentuate movement and action. And whilst I'm not a big fan of this ''straight upright'' pose, I can just about excuse it here, as Buckshot is basically just designed to fit into the pack's fourth main piece, the Mach Storm Glider.
The Mach Storm Glider
The Mach Storm Glider is an armed hang-glider, used for - I assume - recon and light enemy engagement. Of the four 3-Man Recon sets' vehicles, I think this is the most successful (the bikes, although fun, are difficult to get the figures to ride in any kind of convincing manner.)
Thanks to the adjustable control bar and ''snap-in'' hip restraints it's a simple matter to ''mount'' the wing onto any of the figures in the set. I used Buckshot simply as he has the reduced articulation set up and so stands more solidly but you can choose whichever pilot you wish to man the craft.
It also sports two machine guns and pre-applied decals and whilst it's not the most complex of ''vehicles'' I could see it being a lot of fun for kids, especially as the pilot will remain firmly in-place during whatever soaring and swooping maneuvers it's subjected to.
I'm reminded very much of the GI Joe Air Assault Glider (with Captain Ace) set - right down to Buckshot's mustache and the wing-mounted weapons. Except in this case, it's actually kind of fun. Maybe it's because it's kind of kitsch (in a good way) or just that it's so damned cheap. Whatever the reason, I dig it.
Extras & Accessories
The pack also contains an assortment of various weapons, the identification of each I'll leave to better men.
If I'm being honest, it's a mixed bag. The quality of the plastic is a little on the rubbery side and the coloring of the tan and grey weapons is a little off. Some accessories - such as the tan weapons designed for Spade - work well. Others, such as the over-sized shotgun, are simply too large to sit comfortably in the hands of the characters. The grappling/harpoon gun and shotgun do feature pegs that can be inserted into the back ports of the figures, so even if they can't hold them, they can at least be displayed with them.
Lanard's The CORPS figures - along with the Chap Mei/True Heroes toys - prove that cheap doesn't always mean nasty. When you consider that for less than the price of a single-carded figure from any of the ''big'' toy companies you can get three figures, an assortment of weapons and a mini-vehicle, it makes you wonder just how the likes of Hasbro and Mattel can really justify their prices.
In terms of articulation, the figures are the equal to - and in some cases even surpass - a lot of offerings at this scale. Indeed, unless you're going for something along the lines of a GI Joe figure, you'll be hard pressed to really find anything superior to The CORPS! figures (annoying T-crotch limitations aside), especially at a competitive price. So the plastic must feel really cheap then, right? Sure, some of the weapons are quite rubbery but the figures themselves are no worse than what Hasbro gave us in the Retaliation vehicle sets. And to really seal the deal, the sculpt work and paint apps (in particular) are surprisingly good and put a lot of other figures of this scale to shame.
Their stylized look (and admittedly at times odd proportions) may not be to everybody's tastes but if you're a fan of retro action figures or you're a collector of ''Knock Off'' toys (and that's not intended as an insult to the line in the slightest), or if you're looking for some extra pilots for your Joe-scale vehicles then you're sure to find something of note with this line.
As for the Flying Force 3-Man Recon Set, it's a perfect example of what makes this line so much fun. Great, stylized sculpts, neat articulation, superb paint apps and a boatload of accessories, all at a price you really can't afford to pass-up.
A fun set at a great price.