#2774: Zartan

ZARTAN

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

Man, who would have guessed that a master of disguise would be so hard to find?  What is he, good at this job or something?  I mean, come to think of it, what if Zartan’s actually been in my collection the whole time?  I did have two Snake Eyeses floating around at the beginning there…

Joining the line in 1983, Zartan’s been a pretty consistent fixture of the G.I. Joe franchise ever since, cementing himself as one of the most distinctive baddies, right up there with Cobra Commander and Destro.  He’s found himself in every re-interpretation of the franchise since, right down to being one of the few carry-over characters in both of the live-action films.  How about that?  His name’s been high on most-wanted lists since Classified was launched, and now he’s finally here…as much as any of the Classified releases are here, anyway.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Zartan is figure 26 in the G.I. Joe: Classified line, and was technically in the same assortment as the Cobra Infantry figure.  However, as of this time, they seem to only be shipping in separate solid cases, rather than assortment cases like previous (and later) line-ups.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 35 points of articulation.  Zartan’s articulation scheme is the same one we’ve grown accustomed to for the line; it’s a good set-up, and I really have no issues with it, so no complaints there.  Zartan looks to be an entirely new sculpt, at least from what I can tell.  Given his non-standard design, it’s not a huge shock, I suppose.  Speaking of design, Zartan’s definitely cut from the Destro styling here, going for something quite close to his very distinctive V1 design, just with some of the very specific smaller details changed, for the sake of the larger canvas to work with.  It’s a good design, and definitely reads well for Zartan.  It’s nice that they went for the classic Zartan, rather than trying to mix things up, because prior lines have tried, and it rarely goes well.  The construction on the figure is rather similar to the others in the line, with lots of separate overlay pieces and the like.  It gives him a nice layered appearance, but it also results in a figure that’s a little less sturdy than I might like.  The hood and scarf (which appears to be a re-use from the Viper) are nice, but they lack any actual way to affix them to the figure, which means they move around a lot, and pop out of place, which can be rather frustrating.  Likewise, as cool as it is that they included the monkey’s paw and the snake head, the fact that they’re separate pieces means that they fall off, making them easily lost (I’ve already lost the snake somewhere, because I didn’t notice it had popped off until after the fact).  Additionally, while the armor on the chest is cool, the fact that the shoulder pads are just attached to it, rather than using the separate attachment like we saw on Baroness and Storm Shadow does feel like a slight step down, and makes posing a little more restricted.  Ultimately, it’s a sculpt that looks very nice, but he’s nowhere near as fun to mess with as some of the other figures.  In terms of paint work, he’s generally pretty good.  He’s very brown, which is right for the character.  The eyes do seem a little wonky on mine, as they did on all of the copies I was able to look at.  It’s not the end of the world, I suppose.  Otherwise, the application’s all pretty good.  He does lack the color changing feature he was originally advertised with, it should be noted, because Hasbro has supposedly lost the recipe for the vintage figure’s plastic.  Zartan is packed with a small gun, a knife, a back pack, and a mask patterned after the one included with the original figure.  Interestingly, while Zartan now has pupils (which the vintage figure did not), the mask doesn’t (which the original did).  I don’t know how convincing a disguise that’s going to be, Zartan.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Zartan was supposed to hit early in the year, but he seemed to be struck by quite a few delays (likely due in part to the plastic thing), so I had more of a wait on him than the Trooper that was shown alongside him, whom I got back in February.  I actually wound up getting Zartan a whole month after the the Flint and Lady Jaye I just looked at the last two days, even.  Ultimately, after all that waiting, I was a little bit underwhelmed by the figure, I think.  He’s not bad, but he’s not quite as good as I’d hoped.  Still, he looks good with the rest of the line, so I’ll be fine with sticking him on the shelf and just leaving him there.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#0167: G.I. Joe Resolute Cobra Box Set

COBRA COMMANDER, STORM SHADOW, ALLEY VIPER, BARONESS, DESTRO, ZARTAN & FIREFLY

G.I. JOE 25th ANNIVERSARY

Hoo boy. Yep, this review is gonna be a long one. Typically, I try to do boxed sets as one review for the whole thing whenever possible. That’s not usually that much extra work, until I run into something like the set I’m reviewing today.

This isn’t the first time I’ve looked at GI Joe’s A Real American Hero incarnation, but it’s the first time I’ve looked at this particular branch of it. After the early 2000s GI Joe VS Cobra interpretation started to dwindle, Hasbro once again relaunched the line as GI Joe 25th Anniversary, to coincide with the titular anniversary. It was a combination of boxed sets and single packed waves of figures. Eventually, the line’s sales fell, so Hasbro moved several of the remaining figures to a few online exclusive seven – packs. Yep, I’m going to be looking at seven figures today. Hang in there readers!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This was a one of two online exclusive boxed sets released in the summer of 2010. Both sets were based on 2009’s GI Joe: Resolute, an animated movie that was aired as a series of shorts on [adult swim]. The script was written by comicbook writer Warren Ellis, and it served as an update of sorts to the cartoon from the 80s. This set featured the Cobra characters from the series.

COBRA COMMANDER

Cobra Commander, as the name implies, is the leader of terrorist organization Cobra. He’s one of the few characters that had more than one look over the course of the series, so they’ve decided to give him his more standard uniform that he wears for the majority of the series. It’s a cool design, and serves as an update on his original 1982 figure. The figure stands about 3 ¾ inches tall and features 22 points of articulation. The Commander shares his torso, waist, upper and lower arms, gloves, upper legs, and shins with his first 25th Anniversary figure, and was also an almost wholesale re-release of the Resolute version of the Commander released in the main line. The sculpt looks like a pretty great representation of the Commander’s appearance in Resolute, despite the re-use. Most of the figure’s success comes from his add-on half cape and skirt piece, which both cover up the reused pieces and give the Commander the regal dictator look he should have. The head adds to that, with a nice, more angular update to his traditional mirror faced helmet. The paint on the figure is all very well done, with no real signs of slop or anything. He’s conveyed here in the cartoon’s more muted tones, which accent the figure’s sculpt very well. It would be nice if there was perhaps some more detailing or a wash of some sort to bring out some of the sculpted folds and such, but at this scale, it’s not a huge issue. Cobra Commander includes a sword, a pistol, an ornate knife/dagger and a stand bearing his name and the Cobra logo. That’s a nice assortment of accessories!

STORM SHADOW

Storm Shadow was Cobra’s resident expert in all things ninja. He served as a counter point to GI Joe member Snake Eyes. Storm Shadow’s design was based on his original design, with some thorough tweaks to update it a bit, I suppose. He stands about 3 ¾ inches tall and has 22 points of articulation. He shares his torso, arms and waist with the 25th Anniversary Quick Kick figure, but everything else is new. Storm Shadow also features a hood, sash and shirt as add-on pieces, allowing you to dress him how you like, I suppose. All of the pieces are well sculpted, doing a decent job of capturing the character’s look from Resolute. The add-on pieces look a bit bulky from certain angles, but it isn’t too bad. The paint is serviceable, but not the greatest. There’s a few spots of sloppiness, and he could really benefit from a wash of some sort. The details really get lost in the white. Storm Shadow includes two katana, a backpack with sheaths for them, a claw attachment for his hand, and a stand with his name and the Cobra logo.

ALLEY VIPER

The Alley Viper is this set’s army builder. Admittedly, not the most practical way to release such a figure, but don’t let that color your opinion of the figure. He stands 3 ¾ inches tall and has 22 points of articulation. Most of his basic body comes from either the basic Resolute Cobra Trooper or the previously released samurai version of Storm Shadow. He has a new head, helmet, goggles, and chest armor. These pieces make a world of difference, making the Alley Viper look like a brand new figure. The sculpting it really great here, with lots of little texture work, especially on the torso piece. The paint on the figure is clean, and looks great all around. The Alley Viper includes two large rifles, and a display stand.

BARONESS

The Baroness is the right hand…woman, I guess, and has been a fixture of Cobra since the beginning. Her figures in the past haven’t been the greatest. This one’s not the worst, but it’s not an amazing. She’s a little under 3 ¾ inches tall and has 22 points of articulation. She shares her body with the previous version of Baroness from the 25th Anniversary line, with a new head. The body is perfectly fine. Nicely proportioned and all. The head is another story. It seems like it’s more of a molding issue than a sculpt issue, but nonetheless, it’s not a very good piece. The paint is serviceable. It’s all very cleanly applied, but there’s nothing super impressive. She includes a removable pair of sunglasses, two sub machine guns, and a display stand.

DESTRO

Destro was Cobra’s weapons supplier, though more often than not he was just treated as a part of the Cobra hierarchy. His design deviates the most from his original look, but that’s understandable. His original design was probably the most dated of the original designs. He’s the tallest member of the set, clocking in at a full 4 inches and featuring 22 points of articulation. Destro’s only shared piece was his head, which he shares with all of his previous 25th Anniversary releases. Everything else is brand new, and it’s all very sharply sculpted, which is really cool. Like Cobra Commander, he’s got a very regal sort of look to him. His paint work is simple, but it’s all cleanly applied. It looks accurate to the show. Destro includes a machine gun, a briefcase containing a sub-machine gun, two pistols, an alternate cybernetic arm, and a display stand.

ZARTAN

Zartan was the leader of the Dreadnocks, and the resident master of disguise over at Cobra. He stands about 3 ¾ inches tall and features 22 points of articulation. He shares a head with the previous 25th Anniversary version of the character. I believe all the other pieces are new. He looks pretty spot in to the character’s look in the cartoon. The sculpt is decently detailed, and properly stylized, which looks pretty good. The paint is perfectly fine, with no real slop or bleed over. He’s done nicely, but the color scheme is pretty bland, so he kind of blends in. He includes a smaller gun, a sniper rifle, and a display stand.

FIREFLY

Firefly was a beloved show by creator Joss Whedon, cancelled after just 13 episodes… No wait, sorry. Firefly is a Batman villain who…no, that’s wrong too. Firefly is actually Cobra’s something expert. Not certain what, but he looks while doing whatever it is he does. He stands 3 ¾ inches tall and has 22 points of articulation. He shares his body with the Resolute Cobra Trooper, with a new head and a body armor add-on piece. All of the sculpting work is solid, with some great detail, particularly the stitching on the mask, which is a cool touch. The paint is once again solid work, but like Zartan, it’s really drab. For as cool as people seem to think the character is, he’s not the most exciting figure. He includes a rifle, a missile, a rocket launcher thing (not pictured), and a display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Resolute box sets were what really got me into the 25th Anniversary line. I had enjoyed the cartoon quite a bit, and I really liked the updated designs, so I was all aboard for the figures. I had initially really wanted the set for Cobra Commander and Storm Shadow, but once I got the figures in hand, I really enjoyed the Alley Viper, way more than I thought I would. Not that Commander and Storm Shadow are bad. Sure, the set’s not all perfect (I’m looking at you Baroness), but it’s a lot of fun and it was a great way to get an instant set of all the main Cobras.