Lightning Mobutu (1988 CORPS!)
While Lanard’s Corps line borrowed elements from GI Joe, the company has also produced a share of figures that, while odd, are their own unique creations. Witness other lines like the STAR Force sub-line’s crazily inventive Space Cowboys or the heavily sought after Bio-Wing fighters. The main Corps line itself worked in a little strangeness when an assortment of sports based international team members were added to its lineup in the late 80’s.
Lightning Mobutu, an African track star, joined the Corps when his homeland was taken over by a maniacal dictator. Like other figures of the time, he brought a new look to the team. Where the original Corps lineup consisted of mainly military figures, the new sports based look made for a huge contrast. Lightning is outfitted like he’s still ready to compete on the track. Of course, he’s gained a weapon, a powerful laser guided crossbow that’s equipped with specialty bolts. A track star with a crossbow–why not?
Mobutu’s headwear is the most interesting aspect of his design. It brings to mind African masks, and also nicely incorporates goggles and a nose guard into its design. The end result has elements of both the futuristic and traditional. Other elements are worked into the costume in a similar manner. The neck of the shirt is reminiscent of a necklace, and the continent of Africa is also represented on his shirt. Such obvious references to his background may seem corny to some, but I think the design comes together effectively.
Unlike most other Corps molds, the series to which Mobutu belonged was not repainted or re-released ad infinitum through the 90’s and into the early 2000’s. In a strange twist on the sports theme, the mold did get a release as part of a separate Lanard line called Blade Warriors (with attachable inline skates) but the figure was not named. He was simply part of a group called the Red Renegades. For all his strangeness, he’s a fascinating part of Lanard’s action figure output, and one of my favorite Corps figures.