Ultra Adventure basic Figures Review
In February 2003, Lanard first showed their "Ultra Adventure" line at the New York International Toy Fair. This was supposed to be Lanard's answer to Hasbro's GI Joe Adventure Team revival, and would herald a new age of really cool non-military adventure-themed 12" figures and playsets.
It didn't work out that way. Hasbro's Adventure Team revival fizzled due to a lack of attention, and Lanard's knockoff attempt had a hard time finding any retailers willing to give it a chance. This is depressing on two counts because, first, I had really high hopes for Hasbro's AT revival, and second, I really liked what I saw of Lanard's Ultra Adventure line.
Luckily, last January, almost two years after they were shown at Toy Fair, the Lanard Ultra Adventure basic figures finally showed up at retail in my neck of the woods at a tiny discount chain called "Magic Mart". They were worth the wait. These are terrific surrogates for the Adventure Team, and at a very low price of ten bucks apiece, they are quite a bargain, as well.
These are very imaginative and well-designed toys, and it's clear that someone on the development team must have grown up as a fan of the original Adventure Team.
There are six sets in this line, and I picked up four of them. Each includes a Lanard Ultra Corps 12" figure, a cool mission-specific outfit, and a nice selection of cool, but occasionally toy-like, accessories. Each set also comes with a couple of maps, I think all of them the same maps of the UK and France, but hey, maps are maps, and any paperwork is better than none!
The Lanard figures themselves are okay, but not state-of-the-art. While they do have double-joints at the knees, they lack any neck articulation beyond simple rotation, and have single-jointed elbows. They feature limited ankle and wrist movement and a fairly decent waist joint, but the lack of an articulated neck really brings them down a peg. The headsculpts range from impressive to acceptable, but kitbashers will likely just strip the figures for their outfits, and then drop the figures in the "kiddie pile". For kids, these are great toys. I plan to eventually put all the outfits on Hasbro figures with flocked hair, just to beef up my Adventure Team ranks. But the figures will go to neighborhood kids or my nephew. The outfits and accessories alone are well worth the ten bucks, so the figure can be considered gravy.
The outfits are very much in line with the Adventure Team color schemes. The stitching is strong, and although they do have Velcro closures, they seem to fit well on a vintage-styled GI Joe body. The boots, although not distinguished in terms of left and right, have some really nice detail work and fine sculpting. Sadly, they were a little too stiff and small to try to force onto a vintage GI Joe foot, but they should work well with other, smaller-footed figures.
The six sets offered in the line are Stellar Mining, Deep Woods Danger, Deep Treasure, Extreme Heat, Arctic Rush, and Sheer Elevation. Of these, I passed on Arctic Rush and Sheer Elevation because I was already dropping forty bucks on them at that point, and wasn't too crazy about the color schemes on those outfits. I did see enough to give you a description.
Stellar Mining-This is the way cool Astronaut set, and it's loaded with goodies. The set comes with a white space suit. The material is a little sheer, but it looks great. It's complete with plastic gloves that snap over the figure's hands, and a very cool astronaut helmet with working visor and space boots. Also included are a really neat-looking rocket backpack, a pick and shovel, a cool claw/retrieval thing, and three pieces of what appears to be space coal. Of course, any mission to mine asteroids or other worlds wouldn't be complete without maps-of the UK and France. This set is ridiculously generous with the goodies for having such a low price.
Deep Woods Danger-This set features the outfit with the most subdued colors of the series. Not dull, but very good for a forest-setting. The shirt is olive with brown "leather" patches on the upper chest, and the pants are Khaki. The star item of this set is the elaborate compound bow, complete with removable spare arrows. Even cooler is that this bow can be strung with one of the clear rubber bands that holds the set together. Also included are a working backpack, binoculars, a machete, folding shovel, pick, and some camping equipment (a very nice thermos, kerosene hotplate, and mess kit with utensils). This was the first set I chose to open and transplant to a Man Of Action Adventure Team GI Joe. Except for the boots (which are a great sculpt with gaiters) everything fit just fine, with enough room in the backpack for all the camping gear and tools. This is another winner. Oh, and he comes with a map of the UK and France.
Deep Treasure-You can't have an Adventure series without a SCUBA set, and this is it. Another generous helping of accessories goes along with a goatee'd figure wearing a partially-rubberized red and black wetsuit and a surprisingly-detailed oxygen tank with all the attendant rebreather gear and other cool diving accoutrements. The flippers are okay, but may be a difficult fit on other figures. In addition to the outfit, this set comes with a small propeller-driven sea sled type of thing (forgive my highly technical descriptions), a harpoon gun (non-functioning), goggles, and some cool underwater treasure in the form of "gold" masks and a box filled with "coins". The star of this set, besides the outfit, which is reason enough to grab it, is the underwater camera, with two giant flash units. Evidently, this diver is searching for treasure in the UK and France, judging by the maps.
Extreme Heat-A way-cool set, this features a figure dressed in what looks like the old GI Joe Crash Crew set, only repurposed for use as a volcano explorer. The suit is the same pattern as Lanard's Haz-mat outfit, and is one of their more impressive offerings. This version is done up in silver metallic fabric, and is a three-piece outfit, complete with a hood with clear panel. Black boots and gloves complete the gear. On top of that, this set comes with an oxygen tank and full-face mask a yellow hard hat, and a yellow (weathered) tool box, which appears to be loaded with film canisters. Those film canisters would go with the star accessory of this set, the 35mm camera, mounted on a tripod. That piece alone might be sought out by Adventure Team fans looking to replace lost tripods from AT equipment. As is now to be expected with these guys, our volcano hunter is inspecting the many mountainous eruptions in the UK and France.
Arctic Rush-One of the sets I didn't pick up, Arctic Rush is a Snowboarder set, complete with the snowboard, helmet, backpack, binoculars, climbing tools and goggles. He sports a red and black jacket, and gray, black, and red pants, plus a dark blue ski cap and orange-ish boots. I'm sort of regretting not picking him up, so I may make a return trip for him soon. The fellow in this set apparently spends most of his time snowboarding in the UK and France.
Sheer Elevation-This is the mountain-climbing set, and it was easy for me to pass on because of the loud purple jacket. The figure also sports a very nice-looking helmet, black and gray pants, and an assortment of climbing gear. And he has the distinction of being the only figure in this series with sneakers, instead of boots. This guy roams all over the UK and France, looking for mountains that aren't' erupting, so that he can climb them. Not a bad set, but the colors just didn't work for me.
So there you have it, six really cool adventure themed figure sets that sell for a measly ten bucks each! How can you go wrong with that? If Magic Mart weren't so far off my beaten path, I'd probably have duplicates of these by now. If you have an affection for the classic Adventure Team, and lament their recent retirement, by all means you should check out these guys. At ten bucks a pop, you can treat the figures like uniform dummies add a few repro AT decals, and go to town with your beloved fuzzheads.
I know I plan to.