Zartan (1993 Ninja Force)
It seems no major Cobra player was safe from the swift pen of redesign and sub-team reallocation at the end of the first Real American Hero line. If they weren’t being placed into robotic spacesuits, they were painted in bright hues or transplanted as ninjas. Such is the case with Zartan.
I really can’t fault them for sticking to the big guns to the end. After all, the A-list characters were a big part of the foundation for success in the line’s heyday. If you’re trying to find new ways to keep the line viable, it makes sense to fall back on familiar names. One need only look at the two RAH follow-up lines to see the dangers of creating a new mythology from the ground up.
So to continue the second year of Ninja Force, they put a heavy hitter in the lineup. As only the second Zartan figure, and following up one of the most well-remembered figures of the line, it was an uphill battle. Zartan falls victim to his own previous success, as I’m sure a lot of reactions fell into the “that doesn’t look like him” category. I agree the design is a huge departure, but I understand the direction in which it was taken.
After all, Zartan is the leader of a biker gang. So why not make him look like one? While the colors were typically of the gaudy variety of the time, I think the figure fails mostly due to the sculpt and the action feature. He’s too thin, and the twisting waist is a letdown. I also miss the classic zartan accessories. Even though he’s a part of Ninja Force here, I still miss the master of disguise aspects of the character. The unique leg knife holsters are my favorite element of the figure–I’m a sucker for on-figure weapons storage.
Finally, I’ve always wondered what color Zartan’s hair was under his hood. Who would have guessed neon orange? And it matches his weapons. Nice.