Zartan (2003 Custom)

In my younger days, I was heavily involved in action figure customizing. Most of my focus was on Marvel comics, with a particular bent toward the more obscure corners of their well populated universe. I tackled the likes of weirdos such as Brother Voodoo, Shaman, Spirit of ’76, Wonder Man, Nighthawk, Fixer, the Son of Satan, and even Videoman. I also delved into commission work for a while. Sadly, time and interest just seemed to slip away, not to mention my preferred 5 inch Toy Biz format gave way to the Marvel Legends style.

Zartan came about ten years ago as I was thinking of customizing the comic and cartoon based GI Joe characters into the recent 5 inch Toy Biz Marvel action figure style. As you can see, the old boy is now more than a bit dusty, and the paint has some chips here and there, but I’m still kind of proud that I was able to accomplish what I’d set out to do, and created a Zartan that could stand alongside my other 5 inch Marvel figures. Hey, it could happen, right? I mean, the Marvel Joes occupied the same universe as the other Marvel published titles back in the day, right?

Ten years ago, I even had a suitably ugly early 2000’s web site with which to share my creations. It’s now vanished into the ether, but thanks to, I’ve dredged up the links seen above, as well as the write-up for Zartan himself:

“A departure of sorts, but still continuing the theme of comic weirdness is Zartan, from the GI Joe animated series and comic. Zartan represents the most extensive sculpting for a figure here to date. The hood, chest, shoulder and leg armor, belt and boots were all sculpted. The base is a Corsair torso and arms, Dreadknight gloves, Prowler legs and a Johnny Storm head.”

Scintillating prose, eh? Aren’t you glad I included the recipe, in case you’d like to make your own?Anyway, I can’t believe how much time I put into sculpting the details on this figure. I think if I tried something like this now, I’d probably still be working on it a year later. I have some GI Joe custom ideas brewing in my head, a bag of both vintage and modern parts collected for a rainy day, and a few bricks of Sculpey (do today’s customizers still use Sculpey?) just waiting to be shaped and molded. One of these days…

I can only imagine revisiting Joe A Day in ten years’ time. Maybe I’ll still be doing it. Then again, maybe I’ll have moved on to bigger and better things, like finally following my real dreams and starting a daily blog dedicated to the history and societal impact of can openers.


  • That’s awesome! U have skills!

  • Please sir, kindly refer to the above mentioned and much beloved Marvel characters as “B-listers” rather than “weirdos.” Nighthawk, Wonder Man, Shaman, and Fixer are among my all-time favorites. So show some respect here!

    (Except, perhaps, for Videoman. Knock yourself out there…) 😉

    Great custom, regardless. Very sweet!

  • Looks really cool.

  • I could see zartan being a moonknight villian

  • Great work ! I have only customized LJN WWF figures. Yours looks like a lot of work ! Nicely done !

  • I loved the Toy -Biz 5 inch size. Ihad almost every single one at one point, but they were fazed out at retail and I ended up selling the whole collection to pay my car insurance, lol.
    That Zartan is sure sweet! In regards to customizing, I work at my own pace. I have a corner in the basement that has a few projects I work on when time and opportunity permit. suprisingly, with little pressure to actually finish a project, they often get done with a month or two, sometimes longer. It took me five months to finish my custom emerald Zap, because I must have put fifty coats of watered down paint on it! Somethings better than nothing and even 15 minutes a day gets alot done….

  • So when does the can opener site open? I am very concerned that this generation does not give can openers the respect they deserve.

  • Dreadnok: Spirit

    This is really an amazing figure. I just wanted to say you did a really good job on this!

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