I love Lanard’s The Corps!, but you’ve probably noticed that I’ve only published one article on the toy line up to this point. That’s because each figure has so many releases and variants that you have to be an expert to write anything comprehensive on the franchise. Good information on the toy line does exist, but it’s often buried in labyrinthian forums, so it’s tough to compile. Especially when you’re blessed with a short attention span like mine.
Luckily, I found an expert. Today I’m joined by my friend Cody (visit him on Instagram), who’s exhaustively researched and chronicled every version of The Corps!’s Whipsaw– which happens to be his favorite figure.
To me, Whipsaw was always just one of “the hat” guys, and was sometimes the “bare chested harness” guy (which made him more interesting).
Hopefully Cody’s passion and attention to detail rubs off on you, too. Because now I’m a diehard Whipsaw fan.
Cody will be doing most of the heavy lifting on this article, with both photos and writing, so almost everything you see here was submitted by him. I’ve left a little note in each section and a couple photos here and there, but he did all the hard work.
Whipsaw Version 1
1986-1989 (Blue Card)
The Corps! were released in 1986 as a competitor to GI Joe. It was originally released as “Gung-Ho!”, until Hasbro sued because of their figure of the same name. Hasbro won, so Lanard rebranded the toys as “The Corps!” with the subtitle “International Security Force” on the same blue cards as the Gung Ho ones. There were 18 figures in the original line, of which Whipsaw was one.
Whipsaw was listed as an artillery expert and a small unit leader. The filecard also notes his “strong point is being able to teach his vast store of military knowledge to others”. In that sense, he can be seen as a companion to Sergeant Slaughter released in GI Joe- although not based on a real person, the characters were both capable leaders and instructors. Also like the Sarge, they are both Marines. To me, this makes me think Whipsaw is a tough customer, just like his contemporary, and that’s exactly how I played with him- a rough and tumble leader who’s not afraid to fight hard.
This first figure has a lighter skin tone than the rest- he would receive a tan in the second version that he would keep for the remainder of his run. He has on a green hat, green camouflage pants and an interesting harness on his bare chest. As a kid, I would say this figure looks like a badass who would win every scrap he got in. As an adult, I’d think he would have a serious risk of scarring and damage to his chest, at the very least receive nipple chafe from the harness. That being said, I do like his sculpt. He has a cool hat, he looks confident, and the camouflage is appreciated.
He came with a machine gun and a mortar with a stand. This is not as complicated as say, Short Fuse’s mortar from GI Joe, but it’s a neat secondary accessory. Compared to GI Joe’s first offerings, Lanard put out a pretty good product. It was not nearly as detailed as the figures Hasbro was releasing in 1986, but for a company just getting started, it held promise.
Dustin’s Notes: I really like this figure and always have. I like it enough, in fact, that I thought I owned it until I went digging around my Lanard bins for this review.
The colors and sculpt on this figure are “realistic military” enough that it fits in well with both GI Joe and The Corps! in the 80s, but it boasts some of Lanard’s signature weirdness, too.
The assault rifle the figure comes with is one of the most useful pieces you can grab from any Corps! figure. It fits in well with Joes and most other 3 3/4″ action figures, and it’s not much of a thumb-buster for Corpsmen, either. The mortar is also pretty nice, but isn’t as common as the rifle. I have about 7 mortar stands in my collection, but only one mortar. Go figure.
Whipsaw Version 1/2
1986-1991 (Yellow Card)
Whipsaw version 1 and 2 were released on a yellow card with the new Corps logo. Some cards date to 1986, and some date to 1988. The original 18 were joined by six new comers- and Whipsaw eventually received a new version. Sadly, this is probably my least favorite. The desert camo isn’t a particularly strong set of colors, the harness he’s wearing also looks a bit odd, and his skin color doesn’t quite match what’s on his hands. He’s alright, but not quite what I’m looking for. Detractors can’t even call him a neon toy since he has so little bright colors.
Whipsaw Version 2
1992-96 (Black Card)
In 1992, the line was released on black cards in various forms- singles, 2 packs, 3 packs, and even up to 10 figures! Another 6 new figures joined the lineup, and some of the figures even received new paint jobs. But not old Whipsaw! He was released with the same colors. This era was notable for introducing Lazer Force and the sports themed figures (Steve Wyoming, Lightning Mobutu and Hat Trick LeMonde being the most infamous).
Whipsaw soldiered along in his semi military outfit. The only reason I don’t like this figure is it’s caught in between. It’s not quite neon and garish, and not quite realistic and militaryesque. Being a child of both means you have a hard time fitting in with either. Just like Whipsaw, I also feel very mixed about him. It’s sad because the carded version I have is the year I was born (my primary motivation for getting it) and it’s my least favorite. But salvation was on the horizon….
Dustin’s Notes: This figure is exactly what I think of when I think of Whipsaw. During this era, Lanard was doing their own thing and letting their freak flag fly, which is why’s it’s my favorite era for The Corps!
You still get the great sculpt, but you get colors you’d never see Hasbro even try to get away with from 1991 to 1994. The caution tape harness? The pink “chocolate chip” desert camo? Brilliant!
Interestingly, my figure split at the upper arm while I was taking photos for this article. The lower arm just pops right out at the swivel joint. It went back in without much of a problem, but that’s something I’d never seen before.
Whipsaw Version 3
1997-1998 (Red card, World Response Team)
This is it. This is the version I got as a kid. Granny bought me the 3 pack from Walmart with him, Large Sarge and Tony Tanner. But let’s get the official details down first…
In 1997, the line was rebranded with a more serious looking red and black style packaging. Corps dropped the six sportsmen, never to be seen again in that form. The lineup consisted of six different color schemes, with 3 characters in each one. Whipsaw received a new green camouflage on his hat and pants that made him look extra ready for battle. As said before, his team was Large Sarge and Tony Tanner. This was the figure I grew up with and loved. Gone is the indecisiveness of the early 90s figure. What replaced him is a character that is most definitely military.
I had two growing up- two figures that I still have to this day. The one on the left got his fair share of battle damage- two broken thumbs and a hell of a lot of scraping on my grandparent’s new brick-lined car shelter. The one on the right was the one I stuck with, but he was also damaged. He lost half an arm (which I carefully preserved in a RJ Reynolds tin) and his thumb. His legs are loose and he can barely hold a pose, but he is my hero. This is my Duke, my Snake Eyes, my everyman.
I christened mine Lance- maybe I didn’t remember the name on the package or that was just the character I wanted him to play. Who knows? But regardless, it was done. Lance was another name for me I almost received (based on the crackers of the same name) as a child. So, in that way, he was like my cool alter ego in the action figure universe. He was my self insert and strongest character all rolled into one.
I won’t go too much into play time, since this is more about the figure, but Lance’s primary role (after getting scuffed up in a Dragonball Z esque battle as described above) was being the leader of the Water Snake extermination squad. As a kid, I liked snakes, and my dad did me the mixed favor of letting me watch the first Anaconda movie. It gave me inspiration for years of adventures, but boy there sure are some traumatizing things in that movie a four year old probably shouldn’t have seen! Moving past my bad dad, Lance’s story was he lost the arm in a snake attack and would often be called upon as the reluctant expert to lead a team (think Grant in Jurassic Park 3- he joined not because he wanted to, but to try and take care of the others because he knew no one else could).
He’s a great figure. Even taking off the nostalgia goggles, I can still see the cool camouflage, eye black for extra detail, and much more detail on his chest.
Dustin’s Notes: I think that this might be Whipsaw’s “default look” for a lot of people. It’s much less avant-garde than version 1 or 2, and it sticks really close to the whole “realistic military” thing. It’s a really nice looking, versatile figure.
Mounted Patrol (Mountie)
Photo Courtesy of the OG13.com Forums
Also in 1997, Corps released the Mounted Patrol. This stereotypical set of figures came with horses and featured a Cowboy, a Native American, and a Canadian Mountie. From what I can gather, the Mountie was not released in the United States (possibly Europe?). The chest and arms are unique, but the head is distinctly Whipsaw! I have wanted to own this figure for years. Maybe one day I will, but until then I will dream.
Dustin’s Notes: I would love to own this figure, but I also need food and shelter. So until I become a being made of pure psychic energy, I will just gaze longingly at this photo.
1997 (Animal Patrol)
Photo Courtesy of the OG13.com Forums
Finally, Whipsaw version 3 was also included with another animal patrol, this time featuring two Rottweilers. In addition to his normal equipment, he came with harnesses for the two wild dogs. I never saw this set as a kid, but I think it’s very cool now. As Mutt and Junkyard, Snake Eyes and Timber and Law and Order demonstrate, it was a popular idea to include animals in military figures.
Dustin’s Notes: It’s Whipsaw, but he has dogs! If you ever see this, you’d be a fool not to buy it.
Whipsaw Version 4
1999-2000 (Total Action Series, Red Card with Black at Top)
The next installment of the Corps got a slight redesign- the globe of the previous title card was changed to a radar, and the series was subtitled “Total Action Series”. Six figures were lost from the line, including the legendary Whispering Willie. Six new figures were added, including Full Proof (Steve Wyoming’s head with more military like gear) and the mounted patrol Cowboy and Native American, named Shooter Sam and Tracker Tom.
The Whipsaw this year was a small change- his hands became green like his shirt, and his highlights (like the logo on his chest, pockets on his belts and strings on his boots) were made orange instead of brown.
This figure is a kitbash. Deal with it.
I would say that it seemed like they were cutting costs by removing the hand paint application to instead apply more orange. The reason behind the change will never be known, we can only speculate, but that is my best guess. As that is the only change for this year, it is still a solid figure. The green hands do distress me a little- the ideal might be the hands from version 3 with the new orange of version 4.
Dustin’s Notes: This figure is a great example of how you can really get into the weeds when you’re trying to identify which version of any given Corps! figure you have. Thank goodness for my esteemed contributor.
Rick Ranger Version 1
The Mountie got a spiritual successor, who was incidentally a successor to Whipsaw. Rick Ranger included a sniper rifle, pistol, a radio and a backpack. In universe, he was a former Texas Ranger, but in my universe, he’s just Whipsaw in a different outfit. His brown camouflage doesn’t seem particularly useful, but his black hat is definitely cool.
Dustin’s Notes: I like this one, too. The desert camo is very nice, but it’s also very different than the camo you see on most desert-themed military figures. I think the little pops of orange add a lot of visual interest.
Until I started putting all of Cody’s photos and writing together for this article, I thought this was Whipsaw and not Rick Ranger. Do you see how hopeless I’d be if I tried to do this on my own??
Police Officer Version 1
Also released during this time was the police officer. He was an unnamed character released with 2 other unnamed policemen. This was a rare set to find, and these figures go for a bit more than your ordinary Corps figure.
I love the sculpting on this figure- his uniform looks great, there are stripes on his legs and molded on pockets and a radio on his torso. The face is slightly different, but the hat is the exact same. The hands also feel nice and slick- they don’t seem as fragile as previous hands. Definitely worth the hunt.
Dustin’s Notes: All of Lanard’s first responder and civilian figures are very cool. They work perfectly for both GI Joe and Corps! photos, as well as displays. This guy looks like a highway patrolman or a small town sheriff.
Whipsaw Version 5
2001-2002 (Collector’s Edition, Orange and Yellow Card)
The Corps O-ring era was winding down in the early 2000s. They chose to switch to T crotch figures to emulate GI Joe (which was now back in the game; and also quickly switched back to O-Ring again for a few more years). But before that, the classic figures received one more version. The six figures dropped last series came back for this final send off.
This version of Whipsaw looks great! He keeps his cool eye black but has a new tan hat, and a nice brown shirt. His light brown pants came in both dirty and non-dirty versions. The dirty pants appear to be more rare in my experience. This is a great final version of the figure. His name was officially changed to Whip Saw on the packaging, for some reason, and his specialty was watered down to “Jungle Warfare”, which is accurate based on his first file card but leaves much to be desired.
Dustin’s Notes: Another solid figure. I’ve never seen this one in person, but I’m going to be on the lookout for it.
Rick Ranger Version 2
As a new series regular, Rick Ranger also received one last, superior version. This new paint job drops the strange camouflage for a pleasing dark green.
This year, the Corps figures went back to the individual colors for each figure instead of the same colors for a 3 man team. This helped to differentiate each figure as a single hero who could be on any team, not just the one that their camouflage matches.
Dustin’s Notes: First off, this figure rules. Secondly– he is basically a Weapons Grade Park Ranger, which is amazing. Even though this toy is cast and painted in completely muted colors, he really stands out to me. I can’t think of another military figure in this scale that gives off the same energy.
Rick Ranger was one of the few to make the jump to the Commando era, along with Flashfire, Large Sarge, Gunner O’Grady and others. Rick Ranger received a new mold, totally different from the previous. His filecard was the same as Chopper from the vintage era, and his bio subsequently was given to Firestorm, a new member of the Commando team. He still had formal policing experience, but why the bios were switched is beyond me.
Lanard Stock Photo
The reason I mention this is because the Rick Ranger face was used for a new figure, a new subteam called BUCKS (Bio Nuclear Containment Squad… for some reason). His radical uniform certainly seems like a radioactive hazard, and I mean that in the best way possible. What’s important about this figure is that it was then in turn used for…
Lanard Stock Photo
In the Elite era, this mold was used and recolored to make the first Curse leader, Ogre. The Curse was the new Corps enemy, something they didn’t have in the vintage era. The Elite series fought against the Marauders, the first major enemy faction. (Crowbar and Whispering Willie, despite looking like Mad Max villains, were actually good guys!)
So, in an admittedly tenuous way, Whipsaw’s “family tree” extends all the way through the 35 years of the franchise. From good guy to eventually being used as the mold for a bad guy, he has been there in some fashion.
Dustin’s Notes: I actually have this figure! I couldn’t find him, though. But The Curse is sneaky like that.
Thank you for sticking with me so far. I wanted to collaborate with Dustin here at Dragon Fortress because I think his style of writing is fun and witty, while also being quite informative. This particular figure means a lot to me and I’m glad he was willing to do an article with me on this figure.
When I was a kid, GI Joe was out. When I got my first toys in 1996 and 1997, GI Joe was nowhere to be found. Unlike some of the older kids, I didn’t think the Corps were trying to copy GI Joe. I thought they were the best ever, just like kids born before me thought GI Joe was the coolest. They were my heroes and I wanted to catch em all- wait, that may be skipping a few years. Regardless, I wanted more of them and I got a fair bit as a kid. I still have all the old figures in a box so they’re not mixed up with my new ones. I never want to forget these heroes of my childhood. I have the same personal attachment to them as a kid might have to Duke, Scarlett, Destro or Cobra Commander.
“Lance”, the first Whipsaw I had, is in rough shape, but that doesn’t stop him from going out. I like to take him fun new places for photography. He went with me to the coast, he went with my mother as a good luck charm to Vegas (and she returned with pictures), and he’s been with me to a couple other states as well.
I get upset when he can’t hold a pose because of his weak legs, and he certainly can’t hold a gun anymore- but none of that stops him from being my friend. He’s a toy with a story, just as valid as any GI Joe, Ninja Turtle or Master of the Universe. I only hope that I have been informative and entertaining as I’ve taken you on this journey- and thank you for coming with me!
Dustin’s Notes: Thanks for reading, everyone! What’s your favorite Corps! figure? Did we leave anything out? Which one should we look at next? Let us know in the comments!
11 thoughts on “The Corps! Whipsaw Review (All Versions)”
A couple of decades back, I bought a large lot of Corps! figures which included multiple figures of several characters. There were a few Version Two Whipsaws. One was in poor condition, which meant he had been loved and appreciated, having experienced a lot of action. He was intact, but suffering from heavy paint wear and loose joints all around. Keeping the better versions, I didn’t have the heart to toss him out, so I sat him (he couldn’t stand any more) on our roof top, and I left him there for several years keeping watch over our humble abode, through countless Santa Ana winds, major showers and thunderstorms, not to mention the damaging rays of the sun being beamed down upon him on a daily basis. Finally, I realized that Whipsaw was never going to leave his position, so I buried him not far from where my mom had dug up an equally trashed Death Star Droid from the late 70s Star Wars line which some previous resident of our house had laid to rest. Whipsaw’s plastic had hardly faded, but his o-ring disintegrated over time, leaving him in pieces. I’d like to think that a future owner will someday dig up his remains and wonder what led the fallen soldier to end his days there.
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I absolutely love this story. Thank you so much for sharing it! I hope someone does dig him up and give him a new home someday. It’s interesting that all of that California sun and wind didn’t do more damage– but I guess some toys were built to last in very strange ways.
This is a great review, thank you both! I’ve never collected Corps and I didn’t know anything about them, but these figures are neat and the review made their history interesting. I’ts especially intriguing how Lanard’s basic approach differed from Hasbro’s–it sounds like they reused molds more, and kept the same sets of figures on the market for years? I guess that’s one way they were able to achieve lower prices with equally good articulation and pretty similar-quality accessories, molds, and paint?
Those sheriff and police figures are tempting. I have visions of them as Springfield cops confronting the Joes, or as state patrol getting beaten up by Dreadnoks. But I see how expensive they are…sad.
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Lanard reused the same molds so many times (sometimes for different lines), but it worked because it kept product cheap and kept it on the shelves. So you nailed it! I think it worked out nicely, because there was a huge stretch of time (late 80s through early 00s) you could go pick up a cheap pack of o-ring figures that you could play with, cannibalize for parts (including t-hooks, screws, and o-rings), or just steal the accessories from. I’ve always loved the toys themselves, but I’ve heard from a lot of folks that they just bought the toys to use as GI Joe parts.
As for quality, they are about the same. But it’s much easier to break a Corps! figure’s thumb (or crotch, or hand, or arm) if you’re not careful. But, if you’re careful, it’s usually fine. The Corps! and all of its offshoots are one of my favorite toy lines, so I think the positives outweigh the negatives by far.
That’s a good use for the cops! I sometimes tend to think of them as Crimson Guards during their day to day lives, or use them in ways similar to what you suggested. They are kinda expensive, but you can find them in mixed Lanard lots if on eBay (or probably Mercari) if you’re patient and look often enough. That’s how I got mine.
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Wow! What a cool article. Really gotta check this Cody guy out sometime… Oh wait, this is our collab. Anyways, thank you for letting me write for the site, and hope to collab again!
Here’s a good question… how do you take such good diorama photos? I love your setups!
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Hah! Thanks again for doing this one with me (aka doing all of the real work). I think it turned out great.
My setup is basically some caveman shit. I will send you a “behind the scenes” photo the next time I’m doing something, so you can gaze in awe at what an appalling patchwork it really is.
I want to say there was an early version of Whipsaw that reused Shark’s torso, with the “zipper” chest lines on it! Yeah freakish lines on his skin. But my brief net search finds none. Maybe I’m misremembering.
Folks dis The Corps! as the figures you got when you asked for GI JOES. Maybe that happened, but you could a lot worse. As 3 3/4″ GI Joe knock-offs go, they were in the better quality range. They had the swivel arms, same basic construction. Thumbs were…not as bad as some other knock-offs. A pretty decent selection of characters. A lot of parts reusage, sure. Again not as much as Remco’s variously named lines and the Galoob A-TEAM mold reusers “Commando Ranger” and such.
I kinda hate the 2000’s CORPS t-crotch figures, though. Personal taste, not quality. Part of it is that the scale changed and they bigger and bulkier…not very compatible with even the GI JOE stuff from that era.
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Yeah, I remember the switch to t-crotches so they could compete with the 2002 Joes, but once Hasbro made a quick switch back to the o-ring afters collectors protested, I figured Lanard would do the same and go back to revisiting the classic Corps! molds, but they never did.
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If you ever find a photo or any other proof of extra-textured Whipsaw, let me know and we will update the article. I’d love to see it anyway.
And yeah, I think The Corps! was probably the best of ANY of the “plays with major brands” lines, beyond just GI Joe. Mega Bloks/Construx has since waaay surpassed what they used to be, but Lanard’s still out there competing with NECA and stuff. It’s wild. I think that new big spaceship for their modern Star Force guys looks great, too.
I’m not into the t-crotch Corps! figures, either. Some of them have neat designs, but they’re just not what I expect from the brand and seem a lot less fun to me. I will say I think the newer, more articulated Corps! figures are quite good, and their 4″ Aliens figures (the Xenomorphs themselves) look really good, too.
The Corps! always need more love. For a brand who’s entire thing is being the cheap option, so much love and care is put into them. And 2 for £6 means you can buy legions of them. Theres a great balance between quality and quantity.
I must admit I cheered out loud when Ogre turned up at the end. For a figure I grabbed to harvest his weapons for other figures he’s terrific. He so versatile! The henchman! The crime boss! The bounty hunter! The Starship pilot! Theres so many roles for him to play. I kinda want to lie on the floor and make my afternoon revolve around his adventures.
Back on topic, Whiplash is great, but I know my younger self would have had to find him a jacket. He looks freezing in his hazard striped harness.
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Ogre is a great figure. I was kind of bummed when I couldn’t find mine for a photo– I was looking forward to playing around with him a little bit. He has to be somewhere, though. Right?
As a kid I was way less forgiving of any of the more “realistic” military figures who weren’t wearing proper shirts. It was fine for Quick Kick and Liu Kang, but it didn’t work for me as far as army guys went. But I never saw many of the iconic 80s action films until my late teens and early 20s, so that might have something to do with it. Now I don’t mind it at all– it just gives a figure some character.