Lars Lazer (1999 Corps!)
I’m sure most Joe fans have a story or two about getting an “almost” Joe gift from a well-meaning but ill-informed relative for Christmas, birthday, etc. I had a one of those experiences, too. Give Grandma a break; everybody doesn’t pay attention to name brands and such, especially when there’s a cheaper and similar looking figure hanging on the pegs next to the real deal. Back in Joe’s 80’s heyday, I think the shopping experience went something like this for the erstwhile relative seeking to please a nephew, grandson, or whomever. “Hey, little Johnny really likes those little men. Oh, wow, these are only $1.50! I can get him two!”
So when little Johnny opens up his gift, instead of Storm Shadow or a Viper, he’s now the proud owner of Tony Tanner and Whispering Willie. “Thanks, Grandma!” he forces out, feigning excitement before trudging off to his bedroom to the throw the unfortunate Corps! figures into his junk toy pile.
But hey, I kid the Corps! line. I actually dig it, for what it is. Sure, it was a cash-in attempt on the Joe brand, but for me it had just enough of its own style, and sometimes a bit of out and out weirdness that the line has carved out its own little niche within my eclectic collector psyche.
Lars Lazer hails from a later series of the Corps! line, and like many of his brethren has seen reuse and repaints numerous times since. The most obvious crib from Joe here is the helmet. Yeah, I think we all recognize that noggin as our favorite Cobra frogman. In all honesty though, I think the figure is quite impressive. A decent color scheme, some nicely done details and body armor come together to produce one of the coolest “almost Joes.”