Sensei Kabuto (Lanard CORPS!)
Lanard’s Corps! line, in the midst of aping Hasbro’s 1980s GI Joe offerings, introduced an assortment of figures that branched off in a unique direction. Among the alltogether military operatives came football players, a wrestler, a hockey player, a track star and a martial arts fighter. And you thought the Joe team’s addition of the Fridge was fanciful.
Sensei Kabuto, being a martial artist, is the one character in the assortment that doesn’t solely have a sports oriented background. His talents in a fighting art at least can be more reasonably applied to a military group than a guy who previously brandished a hockey stick or ran track.
The CORPS! sports series was also memorable for its unique weaponry. Kabuto’s armament of choice is a hand held fireball catapult. I’m sure you’ve all seen martial arts tournaments during which the contestants break out into battle with flaming versions of medieval weapons, right? Actually, the bio card mentions that the catapult is used to create a smokescreen. Hadn’t thought of that. Pretty impressive.
Par for the course with Lanard, many of the series’ molds were recolored and given inline skates for a later series titled Blade Warriors. I kid you not. That’s where my blue bedecked Kabuto originated. Unfortunately, I don’t have his skates.
The sports figures wouldn’t be the end of Lanard’s experimentation with broadening the scope of their Joe scale action figure product. In the 90s, medical and rescue toys would come to the forefront, as well as more offshoots, like space and adventure/exploration themes. They even put horse in space. God bless Lanard Toys.