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.