Vlad Vandal (1998)
The CORPS! Bio-Wing Battle Squadron is a unique set of figures/vehicles within Lanard’s Joe competitor brand. Most importantly I believe, it’s a fairly original concept that doesn’t borrow from established Hasbro material. Okay, maybe there’s some Cobra CLAW influence, but only in relation to the concept of a one-man glider.
I could have easily featured this entry on Power of Packaging, as it’s quite, uh, striking. We’ve got drop shadows, outlines and mixed fonts. I’m not going to bag on late 90s desktop publishing assisted packaging designs, because I can look back at my own portfolio from the time and see the same things. Glass houses and all.
The Bio-Wing figures are a departure from the usual CORPS! characters both in terms of concept and design. More super-heroic than military, the figures are boldly outfitted and painted. Vlad’s color scheme reminds me of Kenner’s Sky Commanders villains, the Raiders. Speaking of villainy, the packaging doesn’t denote which (or if) certain figures are aligned with the forces of good or evil. This was nothing new to Lanard, as the original CORPS! series didn’t denote factions either. Based on names, fonts and colors, I’m going with Vlad Vandal, Swamp Savage and Sky Terror as the bad guys.
Never missing an opportunity to reuse a mold, the set also saw release as part of the STAR Force sub-line. In general, the Bio-Wing pilots sported a more lithe physique than their basic line counterparts. I wonder if this was a stylistic choice or a necessity for fitting the bodies into the glider accessories?
Bio-Wings weren’t finished with the late 90s, by the way. They returned as stealth gliders when Lanard changed its figure construction in the early 2000s. I often come across variations of them when perusing the yearly warehouse sale.