Lanard Ultra Corp


"The following is a guest review.  The review and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the guest author."

Mark Patraw checks in with a review of the new Ultra Corp - Plague! He doesn't sound like a nice guy, does he? Tell us all about him, Mark!

As toy prices continue to climb, I find myself more willing to check out some of the less expensive products put out by smaller companies.  Tonight, I'm taking a look at one of Lanard's $10 12-inch military figures, Simon "Plague" Crill.  Also, my thanks to Mr. Crawford for hosting this review.

Packaging: **1/2
These guys are hard to miss on the pegs, largely (pun intended) because the blister cards are so big--it stands about nineteen-and-a-half inches tall, seven-and-a-half inches wide, and two inches deep. The layout is such that the figure, and some of his accessories, are situated at the top of the bubble, while his "mission gear", in this case the chain gun and one of the time bombs, are featured/segregated into the lower bubble area, which, as you can probably guess, is why the things are so darn tall. I think Lanard could have squeezed everything into a smaller arrangement, but, like I said, the size alone tends to demand your attention as you wander down the toy aisle. The front of the card/bubble is fairly minimalistic, but there are character-specific cardboard inserts to spice things up a bit--the overall look reminds me of Hasbro's Sigma 6 packaging (the cheaper ones without the accessory locker that is). You get a good view of the figure and his goodies, which is what matters. In comparison, the back of the package is quite attractive/colorful; all four figures in the wave, along with their accessories, are pictured, and each gets a short bio (the tri-lingual text is small and a tad hard on the eyes though). Plague's (who's the only bad guy in the set, by the way) reads:

"General disregard for order and authority. Will use sabotage and intimidation to increase his own wealth and personal power. Loves to control those weaker than himself by creating danger-filled situations. Does all he can to foil the ULTRA CORPS and strike fear into the hearts of a free world."

That's a pretty generic background that could apply to any number of villains (minus the ULTRA CORPS name that is), but I like to see characters fleshed out like this. G.I.JOE figures wouldn't be nearly as entertaining without their clip n' collect bio cards, right? The bubble is both taped and glued to the backing, but rips off fairly easily, once you sever the tape with scissors. No twist ties--hooray!!! There are two transparent rubber bands anchoring the shotgun to Plague's hand/leg, and most of the accessories have tape positioned over them, to keep them in their tray depressions, but that's it. Plague just pops out. Unfortunately, the packages don't appear to hold up to shelf wear all that well, the bottom of the bubble on mine was already starting to come loose in the store, and the other Plague figure that was on the pegs, the one that I didn't buy, had suffered severe J-hook structural failure (which some Wal*Mart employee "corrected" by punching a new, second hole to the left). Considering the size/weight of these guys, Lanard probably should have made them a bit sturdier.

Sculpt: **
Plague's got more sculpted work than your typical sixth scale military figure, but that's a direct result of his having little in the way of a "real" removable outfit (just the pants). The head is fairly generic in appearance, but the raised-lip sneer gives him some personality, and I like that they gave him a little ponytail in the back tied with a skull. The portrait art on the front of the package makes it look like he should have had some facial scarring, which is absent. The vest is done very nicely and sports some micro texture work in addition to the more obvious ammo belt, grenades, pouches, knife, radio, and straps--while that'd be fine on a smaller figure, in sixth scale one generally expects all that stuff to be actual removable accessories, not permanently sculpted elements. There's some minimal effort to imply muscles in his arms and legs, but he's not ripped by any means. For some reason, he has unusually thick thumbs on his pre-posed hands, maybe to improve the grip or make them more resilient to damage when inserting/removing accessories. The boots are sculpted onto his feet and feature detailed laces, treads, and stitching. Mold lines are very noticeable and there's a small chunk of plastic sliced off the inside of his left forearm for no apparent reason. While the head and hands are rubbery, the body and limbs are made from a hard, hollow plastic that has a "cheap" look/feel to it. I'm not sure how well it would hold up to rigorous play with children, but I didn't have any problems with his sturdiness.

Paint: **
The paint is pretty typical mass market work: Nothing too elaborate and prone to minor errors. The eyes, teeth, and hair are very clean and well done, but a couple of spots of the brown hair color got on his left neck and cheek. His earrings didn't get any paint apps at all and are left flesh tone. The cool skull tie he has on his ponytail is painted the same color as the hair, this really should have gotten its own paint op. All the gear on his red vest is painted brown, black, and gold--it's a little sloppy, but still looks good. I like the airbrushed grime on his arms and wish they had put some on his face too, as I feel that would have added to his villain factor. The coverage of the black paint on his wristband and watch is pretty poor with the flesh tone plastic showing through in spots. The boots are painted a uniform brown.

Articulation: ***
Plague's articulation consists of: rotating neck, ball-joint shoulders, ball-joint elbows, pivot/rotating wrists, semi-ball joint waist (it turns to the sides, but not all the way around, and shifts around a bit forwards/backwards--feels like there's a spring/rubber band of some sort in there), ball-joint ratchet hips, double-jointed pin knees, and pin ankles. You can get quite a few poses out of him, and he can even do the splits. The joints are all fairly tight and he stands well on his own, with or without accessories, in a variety of poses. In addition to what he does have, I would have liked to have seen a ball-jointed neck and some cut joints in the arms and legs, but overall, I'm satisfied with his poseability.

Accessories: ***1/2
All of these 12" Ultra Corps figures came with a plentiful and varied arsenal. I didn't see any re-use at all between the three different characters my Wal*Mart had, which always impresses me, especially coming from a smaller, less-known company like Lanard.

- Knife. It's molded in black plastic with silver paint on the wicked-looking blade. The sculpt is simple, yet convincing. I wish Mr. Plague had a sheath, web gear, etc., to house it though--you can stick it in his pocket or in the waistband of his pants, but neither looks particularly good. More importantly, accidentally stabbing yourself in the arse when you sit on the knife you jammed in the back of your jeans is guaranteed to not impress the ladies.

- Shotgun. It's molded in silver-ish plastic and sports a fairly detailed sculpt, but, without any paint apps to accentuate things, it ends up looking very toy-ish. I was a bit disappointed to see that the pump action on this doesn't work, because, in the package, it looked like it did to me. Still, it's a shotgun, and no self-respecting bad guy should be caught without one.

- Time Bombs. They're molded in black plastic, have a single red paint op on their tabs, and the sculpts are identical. I thought these were elaborate grenades at first, but, upon closer inspection, you can see little clock faces with 01:00, or, alternatively, if you flip them the other way, 00:10, sculpted onto them--it would have been nice if these numbers had been picked out with paint so they were more visible. I like to keep these hanging out of his pocket, which looks pretty good.

- Whip. This consists of a sculpted handle and triple-braided tip (Cat O'Three Tails?), connected to one another by a length of red cord. The grip and business end are both molded in black, rubbery plastic with red, sparkly paint apps. I think the string on this should have been twice as long, as it ends up looking fairly short when fully stretched out (just look at the picture of Plague holding it). Still, it's a more exotic alternative to the traditional guns, knife, and explosives that I appreciate. You can always give it to the secret dominatrix custom figure you're got hiding on the top shelf in your closet.

- Chain Gun. This is Plague's biggest toy, clocking in at just under six inches in length. The sculpt is fairly complex--there are bolts, cables, and all sorts of weapon-ly goodness. The gun is molded entirely in silvery-gray plastic--unfortunately, the little, shiny sparkles embedded in the plastic kind of detract from the realism. It has four paint ops, two yellow and two red, which are all pretty clean in appearance. It even has a point of articulation: the barrel assembly rotates, although not as smoothly as I'd like. And, yes, as you can see in the photos, Plague's arm articulation allows him to get a convincing two-handed grip on this monster.

- Ammo Belt. This is molded in rubbery gold plastic without any paint apps. You can feed it through the slot in the chain gun, or, hook the two ends together and strap it around Plague's body--a nice attention to detail that also adds to the play value.

- Pants. Plague's sole soft goods accessory. His britches are light gray and sport black stripes. They open and close via a velcro crotch and the bottoms of the legs are elastic. There's also a single, working pocket on the left thigh--it doesn't have a snap/velcro, but it does give you an option for stashing stuff. The stitching on the pants is fairly good, but there were some errant strands I had to cut off on the cuffs. The legs have a tendency to ride up a bit, at the ankles, when you bend the knees, but, other than that, they look pretty good. Having a sculpted vest and real material pants results in something of a mismatched look though, especially when he's not wearing them.

Fun Factor- ***
I could see a child having a lot of fun with this guy, given his poseability and selection of gear.  My only concern here, again, is how well that hollow body would hold up to the abuse kids subject their toys to.

Value: ***1/2
Plague ran me $9.83, plus sales tax, at my local Wal*Mart. That's a mighty fine deal considering that most 6" figures are going for $10, or more, now, and many don't come with a whole lot in the way of accessories. The quality isn't exceptional, but considering the price point, it's certainly adequate, and it's not like Lanard is trying to pass these off as high-end, museum-quality collectibles. These represent a decent, cheaper alternative to Hasbro's current 12" Indiana Jones or G.I.JOE offerings.  I imagine some of the parts could be useful for customizers as well.

Overall: ***
The sculpt and paint are mediocre, but the good amount of articulation, large number of accessories, and low cost bump his overall rating in my opinion.  People used to buying Sideshow, Hot Toys, or Medicom figures will likely want nothing to do with this guy, but, he's a solid offering for those that can't afford the high-end stuff.

Score Recap:
Packaging - **1/2
Sculpt - **
Paint - **
Articulation - ***
Accessories - ***1/2
Fun Factor - ***
Value - ***1/2
Overall - ***

Where to Buy -
Wal*Mart is the only store that carries Lanard product, that I'm aware of, in my geographical area (Marquette County, Michigan). There are four figures in this wave, the one I'm reviewing, Ivan "Condor" Lushka (an air trooper with a mini jetpack), Hiro "Ghost" Nomura (the requisite ninja guy, doubtlessly inspired by G.I.JOE's Snake-Eyes/Stormshadow, even though he isn't dressed in stereotypical shinobi garb), and Alex "Rucker" Brody (an urban commando/SWAT dude). My Wal*Mart didn't have any Condors, but it had at least two each of Plague, Rucker, and Ghost (either Condor is short-packed, sold out quickly, or they didn't have enough room to put them all out on the pegs). In addition to the 12" figures, my Wal*Mart also stocks a fairly wide selection of 3-3/4" Ultra Corps figures which can be purchased in a variety of formats: two figure packs, three figure packs, boxed 10 figure sets, and boxed vehicle/figure combo sets. Those run anywhere from around $2.50-10.00 each. If you don't see any locally, I imagine you might be able to find these online too if you hunt around.

For Parents -
Lanard recommends these Ultra Corps 12" figures for ages 3 and up, due to the potential choking hazard small items present. Also, the character is pretty much a violent terrorist-type, which some people may not be comfortable with their children playing with, given the times we live in--that said, the "good" guys need a "bad" guy to thwart, right?

Figure from the collection of Mark Patraw.

This page copyright 2000 - 2008, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Hosted by 1 Hour