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.
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.
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.
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.
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.