G.I. Joe: The Pursuit of Cobra Zartan
Like with Destro, I take the risk of repetition with this version of Zartan, because even with an updated (or downdated?) head sculpt, the figure is by and large the same guy I got off eBay a number of months ago when rumors abounded of Pursuit of Cobra cancellations. I’m very thankful that this guy found his way off the trash heap, because if any figure deserved a mass retail release, it’s this guy.
Hasbro has had such a hard time finding a suitable update to Zartan ever since his inception in 1984, but recently has found their stride with the Resolute version and this one. It’s quite interesting that both of them seem to be great updates, considering that they both look at Zartan from wholly different perspectives. While the Resolute version appears infused with next generation technology, the Pursuit of Cobra version embraces a low tech nomadic stance, seeing him almost as a lost warrior or a past generation “wizard” above the more modern, tech-oriented perspective. I really think both of them are fascinating ways to look at the Cobra master of disguise, and part of me is thrilled that this new Zartan shares the same head sculpt with the Resolute version (not to mention the 25th Anniversary one) so they are all obviously the same guy, partially reflecting some of Zartan’s split personality issues. Who is he really? Does he even know?
Even though I do like the Zartan head sculpt from that angle, I certainly had no issues with Vosloo’s head, and think that his portrayal in the Rise of Cobra film was probably one of the highlights. He made for a great Zartan and his head sculpt was nice and sinister, but alas, this one is no slouch either.
From a design perspective, the sculpting and articulation of this version of Zartan is darn near flawless as they went with a mostly minimalist approach, giving him very little extraneous sculpted-on gear. He’s got a bare torso, some very cool elbow wraps, and basic baggy pants which would probably be a big assist blending into his surroundings. During JoeCon this year, Hasbro designers likened Zartan to a Mongolian warrior, which was a source of obvious inspiration,
Zartan’s paint ops are understated, yet magnificent. Sure, his skin tone is a pretty basic one, but the elbow wraps are a fantastic shade of leathery brown, and the very slight green and tan overspray on his pants is pure joy. He isn’t bright and colorful, but the minor changes in shade throughout keep him from being too bland an uninteresting. It really is the perfect blend.
Like most other Pursuit of Cobra figures, Zartan is layered with scores of great accessories that really add to the figure. His draped hood is an awesome evolution from his old school look, and adds further design greatness to this nomadic theme. His two knives that slide effortlessly into his waist sheaths are nicely done, I love the accessory bag that drapes easily over his shoulder, and the walking stick with mounted falcon only add icing to the cake. He looks to be in perfect disguise, even if he’s sort of hiding in plain site.
But when he really wants to go undercover, we’ve got the “Sandstorm” disguise. To this point “Sandstorm” is mostly a footnote in G.I. Joe history, and many folks don’t even remember the Sandstorm reports, though Hasbro did mention him in a Q & A session, as well as at JoeCon in 2009. To this point, Zartan’s alter ego has gotten a better reception as a Low Light head than as “Sandstorm”. Myself, I love the new blood being involved in G.I. Joe, so I was extremely happy to see a new character breathed some life (even if it was only to die at Zartan’s hands).
First we have Sandstorm’s head sculpt with removable goggles, which are both great. For being just an add-on accessory, a surprising amount of detail is put into the head, and he really seems to be his own character. Along with the head, a nice vest is included, which slips easily over Zartan’s torso and almost completely changes him into a different character, even with just a minor addition. Lastly, and just about the only real change to this accessory compliment, instead of coming with the brown machine gun/grenade launcher that Zartan came with in pre-production, he now comes with one of the cool machine guns that the Pit Commandos carried around in the Rise of Cobra. Honestly, it’s a minor change, not really for the better or worse.
From tooling to paint ops, straight through to the accessories, this is a Pursuit of Cobra figure you do not want to miss. We went so long without a credible update to the classic Zartan, the fact that we now have a couple of them released within a few months of each other is great, and it’s awesome to see the Cobra Master of Disguise getting some respect again. I love this new nomadic appearance, and Zartan just oozes character, even without the great Vosloo head sculpt. This one is a no-brainer. With Zartan and Dusty obviously leading the pack in Wave 2, fans and kids will have some great desert battles in the months to come.
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