G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Zartan

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A 50th Anniversary three-pack that includes my favorite G.I. Joe character and one of my favorite COBRA characters?  Seems like a dream come true.  Not only are they giving us an update to COBRA’s venerable master of disguise, but they’re basing the figure on the Concept Case version, a rendition of Zartan that has been a fan favorite for the past few years.

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I’m not entirely sure what Hasbro used as source material for this particular version of Zartan, with the gray shirt and differently armored legs.  Perhaps it’s a feeling that here in the 21st Century a dude in a hood and armored belly shirt doesn’t have the same gravitas as he did over 30 years ago?  I’m not sure, but I don’t mind.

The parts are all reused, with what I believe is the G.I. Joe: Resolute Duke’s torso and the familiar Zartan head and arms.  The legs belong to the Pursuit of Cobra Jungle Attack Snake Eyes, which is a pretty awful figure, but the legs themselves manage to translate okay to this updated figure.  The strange thigh pads are an interesting call back to the original Zartan, though the slanted leg armor looks considerably different than his vintage styled ones.  I don’t mind, though, it’s a great updated look for him.

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Zartan’s articulation is decent.  His arms are carried forward from the 25th Anniversary version, but unlike many figures of that era, the range of motion is actually okay.  Sculpting is a little soft there, however, making his arms look a bit slim and underdetailed.

The head and hood are great looking, and I like the more bulky armored legs.  Wearing a shirt underneath his armor works fine for me as well, and even if it doesn’t have a real link to a different media, it’s a cool look, and when he wears a mask without the armor on, he looks at least a little bit more like a guy in disguise.  Just a little, though.  Zartan mostly has his classic paint scheme, with brown pants and a brown hood over a gray shirt and a healthy helping of very cool almost reflective metal for the chest armor, shoulder pads, and leg armor.  It’s a great look for him and makes him look classic as well as gives him a shot of something different.

Accessories

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Anyone who has owned previous versions of Zartan will find a lot of familiar gear here, including the removable armor, his trademark backpack, and three different masks.  He also comes with the same knife he’s come with since the first 25th Anniversary version (though unfortunately he has nowhere to store it) as well as the multi-crossbow launcher that has come with a number of other figures.  He’s pretty well equipped and the accessories all add something nice to the overall look and feel of the figure.

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Out of all the concept case entries that were visible at JoeCon several years ago, the Zartan update didn’t really speak to me.  I wasn’t sure what the motivator was behind the aesthetic changes, but now that I’ve got this figure in hand, it’s got some interesting updates and I can’t find much to complain about.  Of course there aren’t a whole lot of improvements here when compared to a couple of spectacular figures like the Resolute Zartan or Pursuit of Cobra Zartan, but as far as classic looking updates go, it works okay.

I still feel like Zartan deserves the “Ultimate” treatment, similar to COBRA Commander, Destro, Storm Shadow, and Firefly, and maybe some day we’ll get it.  For those looking for the ‘be all end all’ version of him, this isn’t it.  That doesn’t make it bad, and in fact, I find it to be a very entertaining update, but for anyone who is looking for that sort of figure, I want to make sure expectations fall where they should be.

50th Anniversary Zartan
  • Character
  • Sculpt
  • Articulation
  • Paint Deco
  • Accessories

Summary

I'm a huge fan of Zartan as a character, and wasn't really captivated by the Concept Case update that I saw at JoeCon a few years ago. However, I know a lot of fans were, and can understand why Hasbro went that way. The updated look as a lot of classic homage with it, but with a few more modern parts to add a bit of variety. It doesn't feel like a fantastic update, but it's fine, all told.

Pros

1 - I like the aesthetic of the added shirt underneath the chest armor
2 - Reflective metal paint apps on the legs and torso look great
3 - A bunch of useful gear, including the three masks, which offers some great playability

Cons

1 - 25th Anniversary parts look dated and don't move as well as more modern counterparts
2 - Not a drastic enough improvement to the classic version to feel like an update worth doing

3.3
  • PiggyV01

    Nice review as always. I’m sorry if this is a rude awakening but you may be colour blind. Those pants and that hood are maroon, maybe burgundy but not brown.
    The crossbow bums me out. Give me a bow and arrow and maybe dual sawn offs and somewhere to store them.

  • King Randor

    Zartan is my favorite Cobra from the vintage line and this is a great update to that figure. The Pursuit of Cobra version has dropped to second now because it’s a such complete departure from the original. The face / hood have been tweaked enough since the 25th version to stand out and the torso and leg changes are really solid. We now have great, updated versions of Cobra Commander, Destro, Storm Shadow, Firefly and Zartan. We now need ultimate versions of Baroness, Tomax, Xamot, Dr Mindbender and Serpentor !! (50th Baroness has a terrible head sculpt, rerelease the TF crossover version)

  • Rob Osborne

    Resolute is still the best version to me.

  • Phillyflopper

    I opened this set and have been disappointed. Zartan’s left arm has sort of the Lady Jaye syndrome of the hand not wanting to stay on the joint. And underneath the joint, the peg has high stress marks on it. The paint apps are ok, but this 2015 wave has been all over the place and play with my emotions. As they go from being awesome, to ok, to just having reminders of the dubious quality control of last year.

  • Rob DiBank

    My big problem with this figure is the asymetrical collar on the torso forcing his hood and chest armor to sit at such odd angles.
    Really if they’d replaced the chest with a different one, this would’ve been a winner. Instead he just looks like a lopsided factory error. :/