Zartan (50th Anniversary)
Hasbro did an excellent job making most of the Cobra hierarchy in the 50th Anniversary. The first year we got Destro and Baroness. The next year, we got Cobra Commander and Zartan. While I think Cobra Commander was kind of unnecessary, I really find myself drawn to Zartan. I didn’t think it would happen, but Hasbro finally made a Zartan figure I like more than Pursuit of Cobra Desert Battle Zartan. Desert Battle Zartan still an amazing figure, but I find myself strangely drawn to this new vintage-inspired Zartan figure. It’s exactly what I’m looking for from a modern Zartan based on his vintage look and I’m very glad Hasbro included him here. Honestly, now all we need is Major Bludd and I’ll have great versions of every major Cobra out there.
Hasbro changed up quite a few things on this version of Zartan. That’s good because the parts Hasbro has used on classic Zartan figures have become awfully dated in the intervening years. The legs come from the Jungle Assault Snake Eyes, you know, the one you don’t have in your collection because it was saddle with action attack features. It’s amazing how much reuse these legs have gotten over the years. They’re awfully specialized pieces, but the armor stands in very well for Zartan’s original boots and thigh pads. The details are in the right places, and they just look more detailed and a bit more modern than the vintage look. Around his waist, Zartan’s got a belt with a functional holster on it. I think it might be a new piece, but I’m not totally sure about that. Regardless, it’s a nice belt and it looks appropriate with the figure. Zartan’s chest comes from 25th Anniversary Resolute Duke. This is an outside the box choice, but I kind of like it. The high collar works nicely with the hood but the rest of the shirt is generic enough that it would fit with whoever Zartan is disguising himself as. To disguise the reuse, Zartan also gets the same chest armor Hasbro tooled up for the second 25th Anniversary Zartan. It’s a good piece and it definitely screams Zartan. However, it doesn’t fit as well as it did on the 25th Anniversary Gung-Ho since the Resolute Duke torso is a bit thicker. Mercifully, the clasp is under Zartan’s armpit, so you can kind of hide the fact that his vest doesn’t actually snap shut, but it’s still shoddy design work, even if it can be hidden. Zartan’s arms and head are the only pieces shared with modern Zartan figures. Both the arms and the head are from the second 25th Anniversary Zartan and that’s a very good call. They were good pieces back then and they’re still good now. The articulation in the arms is solid and they have all the classic Zartan details molded in them. Meanwhile, the face looks appropriately angry and mean and the open hood drapes nicely down the head. All in all, this is an excellent representation of Zartan. You can tell who he is supposed to be right away and the different parts means he doesn’t feel like something I already have in my collection. Plus, I’m glad to finally have a version of Zartan that is wearing a shirt. I’ve always felt that was pretty weird that most Zartan figures are shirtless, especially considering the comic later showed that the genetic modifications that gave Zartan his powers also made him extremely sensitive to sunlight. I don’t care how great your abs are, if you skin being exposed to sunlight causes blinding, agonizing pain, you’re going to stay mostly covered up.
Zartan’s design is pretty strongly inspired by the vintage figure and so is the paint job, though there are some liberties taken here and there to make him look a little more distinct. Like the classic Zartan, this version has maroon pants, but instead of black armor on his legs, Zartan’s armor has a bit more of a gun metal gray color and I like that. It’s a good color for metal on figures and since it’s a darker color, it looks kind of stealthy. The dark maroon and gun metal gray look good together and it makes Zartan look pretty sharp. The gun metal gray is carried up onto Zartan’s chest and shoulder armor. Zartan’s shirt is a grayish blue color. It’s an unusual color, but it works on Zartan. The paint work on Zartan’s shoulder armor is a little weak, with some visible flesh tone on the bottom edge of the left piece of his armor. Zartan’s skin tone is a little tanner than we’ve seen on Joes lately, but it does work pretty well for him. The paint work on his face is spot on and I love seeing Zartan’s face paint back in black. The hood looks great in a matching maroon and the top of the collar is also painted maroon to bring things together a little more. Despite the one paint error on his left arm, Zartan is a very well painted figure, and the paint work really helps make him shine.
Zartan’s accessories are also great for the most part, but there are a couple big flaws that really hurt him a lot. Zartan has two great accessories and two weak ones. Starting off with his good accessories, Zartan’s primary weapon is the great Night Creeper crossbow. Considering Zartan’s history with bows, I like seeing him using a modern, high tech crossbow. Honestly, the only accessory they could have used that would have been better would have been the compound bow with the bionic ear attachment on the front like he used when he assassinated Hard Master that was released with a 25th Anniversary comic pack Storm Shadow figure. Yes, it’s a bit dated, but it would be cool had an actual Zartan figure come with it. Zartan’s other great weapon is the pistol that’s in his holster. I think this is the same pistol that came with the second 25th Anniversary Zartan figure. I liked it then because it works well for his spy/saboteur character and I think it’s a pretty cool piece. Unfortunately, not all of Zartan’s accessories are winners. Zartan’s still got the knife that came with both 25th Anniversary versions. It’s an interesting piece, but without the sheath on his boot, it’s kind of lame. The knife is awfully small and I think it looks strange in Zartan’s hands. The other accessory that has some problems is his backpack and masks. The backpack is the same one that Hasbro has been using for Zartan since the 25th Anniversary line. However, somewhere along the line, something happened with that mold because it won’t stay shut. I’ve even shut the thing with no masks in it and it still pops open with a surprising amount of force. If you try to pack all three masks in it, the backpack doesn’t even shut, period. I think Hasbro would have been wiser to grab the backpack they gave Rise of Cobra Zartan. It still looks like the classic backpack, but it shuts tighter and could easily hold all three masks. This time around, Zartan gets three masks and they all look great. The paint work on the masks is incredible and I have to applaud Hasbro for doing such good work on them. Zartan comes with masks that disguise him as Random Bearded Guy (like the vintage figure), Storm Shadow and Duke. They all fit snugly under the hood, so they actually look better than the other times we’ve seen these modern masks. I honestly wonder if Hasbro may have retooled these pieces because they look and function so much better than the other releases. It does seem kind of weird to go back to masks for Zartan since I’ve gotten so used to the swappable heads, but there is something charmingly retro about Zartan having a backpack full of masks…if only the backpack could close properly. The backpack is a pretty big drawback in my opinion. Zartan’s always been defined as a master of disguise and the one accessory that’s key to that characterization doesn’t work properly. That’s a bad call. I appreciate that the masks themselves do work much better, but the backpack (which never had any problems) doesn’t now, so he can’t even carry one mask with him, let alone three. My only real complaint about the masks is that I’d love to see Hasbro give him a Ripcord mask someday just because that’s the one Joe I always think of when I think of Zartan disguising himself as one of the good guys. Beyond that, though, the masks are great it’s just too bad the backpack doesn’t work like it should.
Despite my beef with Zartan’s accessories, this is a great version of Zartan. It takes the original design and adds some additional details to bring him into the modern era excellently. I don’t know why I find this version of Zartan so captivating, but I do. It’s an excellent figure and it really is the reason I wanted to get the Vanishing Act three pack. Zartan’s finally gotten his “ultimate” version. Now I just hope we can get a new Major Bludd in the near future so we can finally have great versions of all the major named Cobra characters.