Thursday, May 31, 2012

#155 THE CORPS! – WAVE 1 (III) (1986)



In this entry I’d like to talk further about these figures. As you can see, the all have unique head sculpts, but arms, body and legs are repeated for different figures. There are only 8 types of body, 6 types of waist… for 18 figures, and this is probably the biggest flaw in this collection. It is true that with different colours and combinations it is difficult to notice that some parts in two different figures are actually the same, but if they had designed more body parts, they could have expanded the Corps universe much further.

In a second wave new figures were created, but surprisingly, these new parts were used only for the new figures, and not recombined with old parts to produce more new characters. I expect to show them here some other time soon.

Further waves had almost no new figures because Lanard decided to focus in new series, like the futuristic/space-themed S.T.A.R. line, or the Action Rescue line, specially after 9/11. These parts could also have been recombined to create new characters, but I guess the Corps line was not so successful as these other lines at the time.

The body parts are sometimes criticized due to the big size of their heads, but in my opinion, these are correctly casted, and have the proportional size to their bodies.

After the first wave of figures which I have show in the last three entries, the second wave 1990 was released with many repaints (also new figures, as said before) in very bright colours and flashy outfits. This is curious, since Hasbro didn’t create any bright coloured figure until 1991, so it cannot be said that Lanard copied Hasbro this time. In following waves (1996, 1999, 2001,…) the figures recovered more suitable colours for war and combat, and some of them were decorated using similar colours creating “teams”, but this is something I’d like to talk some other time.

To finish this series of articles, I’d like to say, that I am working in a visual guide of all Corps figures ever released. If you’re interested in helping me with this guide, please contact me. I still need some pictures. Thanks!

SHARK: The frogman is also a great figure, mostly because of its accessories and its grey suit. He really looks like a frogman. This is the only figure with specially designed legs, that simulate flippers.
Tactical Profile: Underwater exploration, surveillance and demolition
Dossier: Annapolis graduate and former Commander in the Navy SEAL’s. He has never had a mission fail, no matter how difficult.

FOX: Maybe my favorite figure today (not during my childhood) together with Bengala is Fox, some kind of nazi general, with a patch in the eye. Great colour scheme, an unmissable figure! There seems to be one variant of this figure with a different waist part.
Tactical Profile: Strategic mission planning and command. Excels at large scale, multi-force operations.
Dossier: Impeccable service record in High Command of NATO forces. Brilliantly directed operations combining land, sea and air power.

DRAGON HAN: A grey ninja, is quite difficult to see in this colour scheme, which by the way is very original, since it has two shades of grey. This figure has exclusive weapons, not used for any other figure. Unfortunately missing both finges, I am looking for two replacement arms with painted hands (Already found!).
Tactical Profile: Close range combat expert. Develops and practices devastating martial arts techniques.
Dossier: Served as advisor and martial arts instructor in the U.S. Armed Forces. He is a Grand Master in Taekwondo and Aikido.

HIRO YAMATO: The second ninja in the troop, this one is dressed in a black kimono, what makes it more likely to end in the team of the baddies. Also a great figure, came with a crossbow and quiver.
Tactical Profile: An expert covert operative. Specializes in silent reconnaissance and intelligence gathering.
Dossier: Member of an ancient and secret ninja clan. Trained since birth in all major martial arts, he lives by a fierce warrior code.

CROWBAR: The last two figures are two urban punks. They were also very likely to join Cobra (or most precisely the Dreadnocks). I love this figures in that criminal outfits, which I imagine to be made of leather and chains. Many spikes, and a cool helmet are the main features of this figure. That came with a small rocket launcher and a backpack that is copied from Major Bludd.
Tactical Profile: Reckless frontal attack
Dossier: Misspent youth as an enforcer in a inner-city gang. Very big, but not very bright. Strong sense of fair play. Sides with the underdog.

WHISPERING WILLIE: The second punk is made of exactly the same cast than Crowbar, but with another head sculpt. Also a great figure, he is so cool he has no trousers on. The weapons that were packed with this figure are the shotgun mentioned before (see Jones in the previous entry) and a triple-chainsaw, which is probably the most interesting weapon in the whole series. It is exclusive for this figure.
Tactical Profile: Does not understand tactics. His attack is always direct & overpowering.
Dossier: Brief formal military experience until he was discharged as too looney for service.

FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: SHARK, FOX, DRAGON HAN, HIRO YAMATO, CROWBAR and WHISPERING WILLIE
  • Toy Line: the Corps!
  • Year: 1986
  • Company: Lanard (Hong-Kong)
  • Size of the figure: 3 ½¨ or 8 cms.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

#154 THE CORPS! – WAVE 1 (II) (1986)


How the Corps! came to my collection was already told in the last entry. In this entry, I will make a short introduction to Lanard, the company that made them, and to the series self.

Lanard Toys was founded in 1978 and based in Hong-Kong, although they have design centers in Europe and the U.S.A. Even if they were founded in 1978, almost nothing is known of this company before 1986, the year in which they started their production of “the Corps!” line. This line was previously known as “Gung-Ho!”, but due to a lawsuit fromHasbro in 1988, “Gung-Ho!” became “the Corps!”.

During many years, “the Corps!” was the only toy line available in their catalogue. I guess this line was very profitable, even after the disappearance of Hasbro’s G.I.Joe in 1994, because Lanard has developed itself to a big toy company, multiplying the number of toy lines, and improving the quality of their products.

There is unfortunately not much more information on the web about the company, I don’t know why. If you try searching information about them, you’ll come to two very polemic affaires. First is the trademark infringement claim from GM in 2006, and the second is the violation of a Hasbro patent in 2010.

The first affair had a great impact in the media, as Lanard was selling without authorisation a military vehicle which was very similar to the Humvee, even the words “Hyper-Humvee” appeared on the boxes. Lanard, however wasn’t sentenced for that but retired the vehicles for sale.

The second affair ended similarly, as Lanard was producing and selling an air-pistol similar to the ones produced by Nerf.

Something else I wanted to comment about the corps, is the packages in which they were sold. I have included the pictures of the carded figures so that you can see the original illustrations, which I think they are quite good. Note the halo of the figure in yellow, orange and red, very similar to the one used in Hasbro's G.I.Joe. It is also interesting to note that the figures were packed individually, in double packs or in triple packs. In further waves, there would be even more possibilities to buy packs of figures.

BENGALA: An Indian soldier! Extremely cool figure. Its turban and the beard, make it an unmissable figure! Very well chosen are the accessories: the backpack is a copy of Lowlight’s and the rifle is the optimal weapon to hunt elephants, or tigers or whatever. I also like quite a lot the colour scheme, in which the brown shirt gives it the aspect of a desert troop.
Tactical Profile: Desert and arid, low mountain survival and tactical expert.
Dossier: Third generation member of the Royal Bengal Lancers. Works best solo. Prefers advanced guard or scout positions.

BOOMERANG BILLY: This figure also has an Australian flavour, since it came with three boomerangs and a small backpack to carry them. The rifle is a modification of Lamprey’s and the colour scheme is also similar to a desert camo, ideal for the Asutralian Outback!
Tactical Profile: Commands all ground-to-air defense systems and remote electronic surveillance
Dossier: Former member of the Australian Armed Forces. Highly skilled in hand-to-hand combat and state-of-the-art weapons systems

JUNKYARD: The second Black soldier in the collection has a “guerrilla” outfit in grey, could also be intended as an urban troop. It is also one of the coolest figures for me that were ever made. The accessories are specially interesting, including a small rocket launcher and a backpack, copied from G.I.Joe’s Major Bludd.
Tactical Profile: Responsible for all field communications and combat navigation during operations.
Dossier: Trained in all modern weapons and communication systems, he developed new satellite based navigation equipment.

JOHN EAGLE: My favorite figure as a kid, I always though he was some kind of mountaineer, although it was maybe intended to be a sailor… The weapons do not match very much the figure, since they are not firearms… but I also loved to play the silent guy that attacked with his silent crossbow without being noticed, in a ninja style. Looking for two replacement arms with painted hands.
Tactical Profile: Trained in martial arts and a veteran of many long range reconnaissance missions. Former Special Forces Green Beret.
Dossier: A master of covert jungle operations. Leading mission strategist.

GUNNER O’GRADY: My second favorite figure as a kid is a tank driver, a little bit in the G.I.Joe’s Heavy Metal style. It came with a great UZI, and some futuristic rifle.
Tactical Profile: A brilliant tactician and former Army General he now plans and leads all large scale armoured missions.
Dossier: Field commander of heavy Armored Combat Units.

JONES: Definitely not between my favorites, It came with the same pilot jacket than the previous figure, a cowboy hut and strange sunglasses. I now think he was probably made after Wild Bill, and that he should be an aircraft pilot, but I am not sure at all. The black gun is similar to Dr. Mindbender’s and the grey pistol seem a little bit like Flint’s one, although it is clearly no copy.
Tactical Profile: Counter espionage and covert mission specialist. Head of Mission Intelligence Services.
Dossier: Former professor of archaeology and history, he first saw service in counter espionage operations.

FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: BENGALA, BOOMERANG BILLY, JUNKYARD, JOHN EAGLE, GUNNER O’GRADY and JONES
  • Toy Line: the Corps!
  • Year: 1986
  • Company: Lanard (Hong-Kong)
  • Size of the figure: 3 ½¨ or 8 cms.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

#153 THE CORPS! – WAVE 1 (I) (1986)

From all G.I.Joe bootlegs that have been made, “the Corps!” are probably the ones which have had a larger lifespan and that have been sold most massively. The first units produced are from 1986, and as far as I am concerned, some repaints are still being produced (last “wave”, if we can call it so was produced in 2010 or 2011).

The first 18 figures (which will be presented in this and the next two blog entries, and which we will call “first wave”) were released in 1986 in the U.S.A. To Spain they would arrive some years later: in 1991 the first blisters packs were imported by El Corte Inglés. I don’t know exactly if this was the same for all department stores, but where I used to go with my mother, there were only blisters with 3 figures available, and they were sold for the same price (even a little less) than a single genuine Hasbro’s G.I.Joe. How could I let such an offer go? I bought all six packs at once.

The story behind this purchase remains unforgettable to me: A few days earlier, I had found a 5000 pesetas banknote (30 Eur) at the playground in school. There was nobody there except me, my mother and another teacher, I was very happy, and kept shouting: “Ha! I’ve found 5000 Pesetas!” (that was pretty dumb, but I was only 11). I gave the money to my mother, and in a visit to El Corte Inglés, she bought all the 6 packs plus a pair of trousers. Unfortunately, a few days after the purchase, the owner of the note appeared. It was another professor who had lost it; and during a conversation with the “witness” who was at the playground at the time, he came aware that it I had found the money. My mother had to return it, but I kept the figures.

Imagine what it would mean to receive so many figures at one time! I doubled (or even more) my figures in just one day, and played with them as if they were Hasbro’s figures. It would make a difference to me, and that’s why I still love these figures, and I have collected them. Some G.I.Joe collectors consider Lanards figures to be crap, maybe because they never had one as a child, or maybe just because elitism. 

In this and the next two entries, I will show and introduce the 18 figures in the first "the Corps!" wave. Here in the cardback are all 18 characters:

The first 6 figures in this wave are the following (Tactical Profile and Dossier is taken from the cardback of the figures, although there are several versions of each character) (Blister pictures are taken from a seller in todocoleccion.net):

LARGE SARGE: One of my favorites ever, the figure with beard and cap reminds most people to some king of young Fidel Castro. Great colours, great accessories (exclusive for this figure, not assigned to any other Corp) and a great add-on to a figure collection, since there is no “original” G.I.Joe with this revolutionary image.
Tactical Profile: Hihgly skilled in all forms of combat, he enjoys using the latest high tech weapons and equipment. Perfected powerful close range anti-armor tactics.
Dossier: Former Marine Sergeant with global combat experience.

HAMMER: This figure is very similar to G.I.Joe’s Falcon, same colour scheme, same beret. A nice figure. Note that the backpack that came with this figure is similar/ a copy of the backpack that came with G.I.Joe’s Flint, even in the same colour.
Tactical Profile: Long range reconnaissance patrol and sniper mission specialist
Dossier: Former Army Ranger and expert marksman, he made his personal mission to combat terrorism in all its forms.



CROC: Surely you can recognise which model they took for this figure. No? Yes, he looks quite a lot like Crocodile Dundee with a moustache, and for this reason, it was a very cool figure to play with.
Tactical Profile: Responsible for long range scouting missions deep in hostile territory
Dossier: Born and raised in the Australian Outback. Has never lived indoors. Former Australian Special Forces scout.





TONY TANNER: Another figure with camo uniform, also one of the nicest in the first wave. The mortar he included is a great accessory, and the M-16 is one of the best weapons in Lanard’s Corps.
Tactical Profile: As an explosives expert he provides support in large scale demolition.
Dossier: Trained as an Army Engineer and as a Special Weapons Operative, he has a history of accomplishing even the most difficult mission.

FLASHFIRE: One of the two black soldiers in this collection, is in charge of the flamethrower. It has a great head sculpt, and came with a backpack that is copied from G.I.Joe’s Barbecue and the gun from G.I.Joe’s Torch.
Tactical Profile: Specializes in surgical combat techniques using advanced, fire based, close range weapons systems.
Dossier: Noted for his icy cool when the heat is on. Fearless and effective even when fully embroiled in fiery combat.


WHIPSAW: Also a cool figure, since it cames with the same great accessories as Tony Tanner had, and is only dressed with an harness. This lead me to think as a kid, that he should be a tough guy. I am looking for a figure to replace its arm and head, that are currently broken.
Tactical Profile: Ex-Marine Master Sergeant and Drill Instructor. Field Operative, specializing in developing new combat methods and skills.
Dossier: Team Leader of specialized anti-guerrilla units.

FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: LARGE SARGE, HAMMER, CROC, TONY TANNER, FLASHFIRE and WHIPSAW
  • Toy Line: the Corps!
  • Year: 1986
  • Company: Lanard (Hong-Kong)
  • Size of the figure: 3 ½¨ or 8 cms.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

#152 FIGURAS EN ACCIÓN (F.E.A.) Nr. 6


The last issue of F.E.A. is not published and can be downloaded for free as usual. This number is somehow special for me, since I had the chance to interview Xavier Arumí (Rosaspage.com), author of many books dealing with Spanish and foreign toy companies, and which have been (or will be) advertised in this website. 

This latest issue of our magazine includes articles about Madelman in Mexico, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, Top Toys, Micro Machines and La Corona Mágica (Spanish cartoon series) plus the usual sections: news, interview, books and museums. This time it will be a bit shorter than the previous numbers, but worth reading!

The Micro Machines article has been written by myself, and covers the story of Micro Machines in general and also in Spain. If you can read Spanish, I’d be very happy if you download F.E.A. and tell me about it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

#151 SCHMIDT - DAS SCHWARZE AUGE QUARTETT (1989)



The Black Eye (often also Dark World), or Das Schwarze Auge (DSA) is a role-playing game created in 1984 by Ulrich Kiesow. These games were very popular during the 80s, after the world-wide success of Dungeons and Dragons (1974) or Tunnels and Trolls. Ulrich Kiesow worked in his free time as translator of fantasy texts, including texts of role-playing game’s books. His first game was Das Schwarze Auge, and the one that brought fame to him. DSA was expanded by numerous books, rules and characters. Maybe it was a success because of the fantasy world in which it is set, in the Tolkien style (with dragons, elves, dwarfs and all those types of fictional characters). I’m sorry I cannot give much information about the game, but I never played it in any of its variants.

Due to this popularity, the game had its own merchandising, and side-products, for example, this deck of cards I present here today.




It is nothing but a classic “quartett” card game, 32 cards in 8 groups of 4 cards each; this game can be adapted to any possible topic you can imagine. In this case, the images in the cards are simply illustrations of the playing books. The only curiosity is that some of these images were at the time unreleased.
Schmidt Spiele (not to be mistaken with FX Schmid) is a German game publisher. It was founded in 1912. The founder, Josef Friedrich Schmidt, had invented a few years earlier a game named “Mensch ärgere dich nicht”, that has been a great success ever since (English: Parcheesi or Ludo, Spanish: Parchis,…). The company is actually two independent companies that merged in 1970: one founded by Josef Friedrich Schmidt, and another one founded by his son Franz Schmidt. 

Although the company went bankrupt in 1997, it was sold to the Blatz-Group and they kept the name, so it is still possible to find card and board games with this name in toy-shops worldwide.

FACTS AND FIGURES 
  • Name: DAS SCHWARZE AUGE QUARTETT (No. 03170)
  • Year: 1989 
  • Company: Schmidt Spiele (Germany)

Friday, May 18, 2012

#150 BBURAGO: SU ETAPA CLÁSICA (XAVIER ARUMI)


The fourth book I read by this author deals with the italian die-cast manufacturing company Bburago, including the two “parent” companies that the Besana family created: Mebetoys and Martoys. Like the previous books, the main focus is the history of the company/companies, with very interesting chapters talking about the different series that were produced, and pictures that illustrate the text (this specific point has been improved in comparison to other books by Xavier Arumi).

Bburago is probably one of the scale cars manufacturers that I like the least, since they only made cars from the 1:43 scale on (no 1:64 series was ever produced). The book, however, got to get my attention from the very first page to the last. It is easy to read and include an interesting annex talking about the manufacturing process. It’s a great add-on to your library of toy-books.

For me, the most interesting parts were the chapters talking about Mebetoys, Martoys, and at the end, the history behind the acquisition of Bburago by the May Cheong group, owner of the Maisto brand (previously MC Toy).

The book is written in Spanish language. If you’re interested in it, you can buy it directly from the author on his website: rosaspage.com. It has a price of 14 Eur (plus shipping costs) or 3 Eur in eBook format.

About the autor: Xavier Arumí is the host of www.rosaspage.com, has already written a few books about collecting and about toys, comic books (that he also illustrate), and novels. He is a collector himself, and as you can check on his website, or reading his books, a great expert on toys, apart from a good writer.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

#149 NOREV MINI JET – CITROËN VISA, VOLKSWAGEN GOLF and RENAULT FUEGO (1982)




These cars belong to the Mini Jet series by the French die-cast maker Norev. The Mini-Jet series was the 1:64-scale collection that Norev made to compete against other companies like Matchbox or Majorette between 1975 and 1994 approximately.


It is very interesting to mention that the first casts Norev used in this series were actually bought from Schucco. The line was expanded again in 1976 with more ex-Schucco models and also in the following years, with self-made casts. After 1984 no new models were added to the Mini Jet series, although it kept selling until 1994, when the production of small scale Norevs ended.


These toys were sold in cardboard boxes with a window in the upper side (there seems to be at least two versions of these) or in a more sophisticated hard-plastic box. The models were made in different colours each, with different types of wheels and with variations in the colours of the windshields and the interiors.


Renault Fuego in red, blue and yellow with different windshield and interior colours

Renault Fuego in red, blue and yellow with different windshield and interior colours


About the casting and the overall quality of the models, I would say that the casting is great but they have some weak points, most notably the feeble axles that are very often broken. The interiors could be better casted, since most models do not even have a steering wheel and the chassis of each model could also be better done (including for example some casting, like exhaust pipes), they are in most cases plain (specially in the latter models).

Chassis with Mini Jet logo

The three models I am presenting are two Renault Fuego that I recently acquired plus a Citroën Visa and a Volkswagen Golf (first Golf, or Golf I) that Romain traded with me. 


The Volkswagen Golf in blue comes with stickers that seem to belong a well-known french brand for pasta. This car was probably a promotional gift by the mid-eighties. There are other brands that got to promote themselves using Norev cars, like "La Vache qui Rit" (cheese) or "Benco" (cacao drink).
I really like this brand although I only have a few of them (I own a few more that I expect to show some other time soon). It is very interesting to see models that were never or rarely produced by other brands, especially French cars from the 70s and the 80s.

See more vehicles from this series here.

UPDATE:
I have now a Renault Fuego in white and another Citroën Visa. The Visa is also in red, but has different window and interior colours. A nice example of a variant.



 

FACTS AND FIGURES:

  • Name: CITROËN VISA, VOLKSWAGEN GOLF and RENAULT FUEGO (Nr. 428, 429, 437)
  • Scale: Approx 1:64
  • Year: 1982
  • Company: Norev (France)
  • Size: 6 cms
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