The PopCulteer
October 6, 2023

While I have covered a lot of toy shows in 2023, I have not really done many in-depth reviews or had much in the way of news on cool new toys here in PopCult. I intend to do better, and there’s no better time to start than now.

So today The PopCult Toybox returns with one photo review, one toy/comics Kickstarter plug and the long-awaited return of Cheesy Toy Knockoff.

So let’s Dig in, shall we…

The Member’s Mark Elite Adventure Corps 4-Action Figure Pack
Exclusive to Sam’s Club

Lanard Toys has been a bit of a phantom presence in the toy aisles of late. They produced toys based on a few movie properties that Walmart procured th elicenses to a few years ago, and they have a very “Jurassic” line of figures vs. dinosaurs sets that turns up at various offbeat retailers, but their signature lines, The C.O.R.P.S. and its 12″ counterpart, Ultra C.O.R.P.S have been largely absent from store shelves for quite some time.

Even their website hasn’t been updated for almost two years, and I’m a big fan of this company, so it was a relief to finally see something new from them turn up.

Sold under the Sam’s Club brand, Members Mark, this is a set of four 11.5″ action figures: An Outdoor Explorer; An Airborne Ranger; A Fire Fighter; and A Space Explorer.

Honestly, they had me at the Space Explorer. I’m old enough to have grown up with Major Matt Mason and Billy Blastoff, and as soon as I saw photos of this set turn up on social media, I knew I wanted it.

The figures themselves are typical of current 1/6 scale action figures aimed at kids. They have eleven points of articulation, molded-on clothes, and not a great range of motion. They are poseable and have lots of play value for kids, but they also have a lot of customizing potential for adult hobbyists who are willing to be creative.

The headsculpts appear to be exisiting sculpts that Lanard has been using for over twenty years on their Ultra C.O.R.P.S figures (although they could be new sculpts by the same designers). The bodies are hollow with limited articulation, and painted-on detail. Being hollow, they don’t have much heft to them. They’re very light, but seem sturdy enough for kids. Some of the figures have very loose joints, particularly in the elbows.

The headsculpts are good, but have been used before. The paint detail ranges from really nice and tight on the Space Explorer to a bit sloppy on the Outdoor Explorer. None of the figures have paint detail on the back.

All four figures have gloved, gripping hands which are sturdy and flexible. Each figure also comes with headgear or a helmet, three of which have working visors.

And there are accessories. Each figure gets three or four accessories, which are wrapped in tissue paper, tucked away in a small box in the middle of the packaging, and they are decent, if not remarkable.

The Outdoor Adventurer appears to be a Mountain Climbing rescue guy. Curiously enough, two of his four accessories, an angled flashlight and a walkie-talkie, are also painted on his vest. He also comes with a pocket knife and a pick axe. He’s a brightly-colored figure. His climbing helmet does not fit his headsculpt very well. He comes with molded, spiky hair and it’d work better on a guy with a buzz cut.

The Airborne Ranger comes with a pilot’s helmet AND a headset with a microphone. He can’t wear both at the same time. He also has a walkie talkie (same mold) and a Bowie knife. His flight suit is military green, with yellow webgear painted on. That helmet is worth another look.

This is the most military-looking figure of the lot, and his helmet is really cool and fits well. It might work on other companies’ figures if you try. This is also a good place to know that there’s some nice diversity at play in this set. Two of the figures are White, and two are Black.

The Fire Fighter comes in a tan fireman’s outfit and has appropriate headgear, with a visor. He comes with an axe, a pry bar and some kind of Jaws of Life type tool.

The Space Explorer comes with a really cool helmet that click-fits onto the body and has a working visor. He also has three space-tools: a space pick, some kind of grabbing tool, and either an oxygen tank or a laptop. It appears to be up to your imagination. He’s why I got this set, and I’m very pleased. The world needs more 1/6 scale astronauts.

For the price, this is a really good deal. Five bucks a pop for a 1/6 scale figure with way better articulation that the Marvel Titan Series is great, and the fact that they have accessories is gravy.

To be honest, I would’ve grabbed a set if they were all four astronauts, and the idea of them doing different colored space suits, like they had in 2001: A Space Odyssey, is really appealing, but it’s probably an easier sell to have a sort of “Adventure Team” with four totally different figures.

This set is listed at the Sam’s Club website, but at least for me, it cannot be ordered online. However, they did have a pretty healthy supply at the local store the last time I was there.

Please don’t ask me to pick one up and send it to you. It’s in a huge package, and the postage would probably double the price, and if I run around picking up toys to mail out I’ll never get around to writing reviews on the medium-sized mountain of toys I’ve acquired so far this year.

The Member’s Mark Elite Adventure Corps 4-Action Figure Pack is NOT a high-end collectible for adults. It’s a nicely-priced kid’s toy that may appeal to some adult collectors who aren’t obsessive about detail, accuracy or articulation.

GHOST Agents/Metropolis and the Max Almond Action Figure

Okay, this Kickstarter Alert is not only about an action figure. It’s about a really cool treasury-sized comic book project AND an action figure of one of the main characters, which will be made using the Super Joe Unlimited body. Plus it involves a classic movie!

I met Rocko Jerome, the writer/producer of GHOST Agents at Kentuckiana last July, and I was knocked out by his cool comic book project. Coincidentally, that’s also where I met Jason from White Elephant Toyz, who will be producing the figure, so you know it’ll be high-quality.

As the PR says, “Published by Cosmic Lion Productions, GHOST Agents is an art-forward anthology series made up of short, self-contained pieces; where every story exists in the same world, and characters reoccur throughout the centuries spanning narrative. If you read it all, a rich overarching storyline will emerge, but you aren’t required to do that, and readers are encouraged to dip in as they please.”

It’s got terrific art, great shorter-length stories and it’s printed on newsprint in an oversized format, which is near and dear to my heart.

And with this newest edition, they plan to up the ante by including an adaptation of Fritz Lang’s now-public-domain classic film, Metropolis, which will be integrated into the GHOST Agents universe.

Check out the trailer…

And read these paragraphs, liberally-quoted from the Kickstarter page…

As with previous releases, this latest volume comes in the iconic treasury-sized format on newsprint paper – measuring a whopping 8.7 x 13.3 inches! Fans who are new to the series can pick up the earlier volumes (Apocalyptico and Crimson Reckoning) as add-ons to the campaign, in addition to exploring a whole host of new tiers and unique offerings that will suit all tastes and budgets.

“One of the most exciting things about this new campaign – other than the introduction of Metropolis – is the debut of our very first GHOST Agents action figure in collaboration with Super Joe,” adds Jerome. “This 9-inch depiction of Max Almond: Agent X-44 explodes onto the scene with wild, fully poseable energy. Will he battle your other toys… or seduce them? YOU DECIDE!”

I’ve been trying to cut back on the number of Kickstarter campaigns I support, but THEY KEEP DRAGGING ME BACK IN. You can find out all about this project HERE.

Max Almond: Cool spy action figure. The next-best thing to astronauts!

Marvel’s Dark Knockoff Knight Returns

Longtime PopCult readers may remember that, more than a quarter-century ago, way before blogs were even a thing, I wrote an action figure column for the much-missed Toy Trader Magazine. My favorite part of writing that column was the Cheesy Knockoff of the Month.  I’ve covered a few knockoffs here in PopCult, but I’ve fallen behind a bit. However,  I saw this absolute winner at a local retailer who shall remain nameless because I don’t want to get them in any trouble. It’s a bootleg toy, made by a nameless Chinese company without clearing the proper copyrights, and then illegally brought into the country and sold to unsuspecting (or uncaring) discount retailers.

And I eat up crap like this with a giant grin and a big ‘ole wooden spoon. Now, you may be asking yourself how I know that this is a bootleg toy.

Well…just look at it.

It’s an action figure and child-sized mask of that famed member of The Avengers, Batman.

You remember The Avengers in the Infinity War movie, right? Thor, The Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America and Batman!

So, that was a bit of a dead giveaway. In case you never read comic books, Batman is published by DC Comics, while The Avengers are published by Marvel, and in the movies, barring something amazing happening, never the twain shall meet.

let’s look at the back of the package…

As you can see, Superman, Spider-man and Thanos are also apparently in The Avengers. Looking at some stuff like this online, I discovered that there are also sets with The Flash and Aquaman. “Different Experiences” indeed!

The figure itself is about ten inches tall. Here it is next to the Lanard Space Explorer so you can see how tall he is, and also how teensy his little head is…

I should also point out that the joints on this figure are looser than a marionette. Another reason he’s standing next to the Space Explorer is because he can’t stand up on his own.

The box promises light and sound features. There are no sound features. If you push a button on his back (under the nylon cape), a little red diode on his chest lights up. This is not something that Batman really does, but it is a special feature on many craptastic action figures sold in exotic and far away “everything’s a dollar” stores.

The few paint ops are slapped on in an amusingly sloppy manner, and for some reason, Batman’s eyes are red.

Hmmm…his eyes are red and he can’t stand up.

Go home Batman, you’re drunk.

Adding to the peculiarity of this cheesy knockoff are the hands, which are shaped like they’re meant to hold a pole or something, but aren’t flexible, and don’t really even look human. Also, the seams on this figure barely meet, and it’s held together with screws. No sonic welding or glue for this sucker.

One last bit of fine cheesiness is Batman’s famed utility belt. Not only is it a paper sticker…it only goes half-way around him, just enough so you can see it from the front.

I’m not gonna tell you where I found this unpolished gem of a turd, because you don’t need it. I paid too much for it. So basically I took a bullet for you guys.

You’re welcome.

And that is the return of The PopCult Toybox in this week’s PopCulteer. Check back for fresh content every day, and all our regular features.