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SIT-REP
This is the Sit-Rep, soldier, the Situation Report! It's here where we get the intel on the new troops, talk to the big brass, and generally do anything else that isn't in an archival capacity! So what are you waiting for? It's time for your debriefing!
Wave 7, 2008 Zartan

Cobra Eel | Cobra Flint | Pilot Scarlett | Sgt. Airborne | Specialist Trakker | Zartan

Review by Justin Bell

So why did it take so long? There have been plenty of chances, plenty of ways it could have been done, why did it take twenty-four years to get a suitable update to one of G.I. Joe's most core characters in Zartan? The vintage original has become an iconic design even though it didn't fully resemble his cartoon or comic look, and we have gotten a number of Zartan updates since then, but none of them even seemed to attempt to resemble the classic vintage look of the Cobra Master of Disguise. From his punk rocker look in the 90's to his warped cyborg wizard time during Joe Vs. Cobra... we even got the Hockey Mom version in Valor Vs. Venom (which I actually liked, but in all fairness, it didn't bare much resemblance to the character beyond his trademark face paint).

When the figure was slated for the Anniversary line, many folks were excited, myself included, but the end result was yet another departure from his trademark design. To be honest, I actually really liked the original Anniversary version of the character, it gave him some new life and new spirit, but I can't argue with the fact that we needed a more classicly inspired version. And here it is. Finally! Is there a reason why the best update to Zartan since 1984 was his 8" Sigma style version? Was the end result worth the twenty-four year wait?

For the most part, yeah. He's a remarkably cool figure, even if there's nothing really new and exciting.

To no one's surprise, Zartan uses Gung Ho's torso and the original Zartan's legs, but new arms and a new head, and of course his trademark armored chestplate.

The articulation is well done here, with some nice elbow joints, full range of motion in his hips and knees, and I love those cartoon-inspired gloves. I'm actually somewhat surprised that they went with a new head sculpt, as I really enjoyed the last one, but even as a new head, it looks really great. I love how the hood is sculpted to bunch up on his shoulders, it ends up looking extremely realistic. He ends up sort of peering out from underneath the pointed cowl, and I love that look. He ends up looking mysterious and menacing all at the same time, which is the perfect look for Zartan.

Looking at his paint applications, he pretty much is as he should be. Even though the original figure had a clear chestplate, he's always been seen with a black one in the comics and cartoons, and he gets that look here, and it looks really nice. It fits well, buckles on each side and fully resembles the Zartan character we all know.

This version of Zartan comes with the same accessories we're intimately familiar with, like his trademark pistol, backpack, and two facemasks. These current masks work about as well as they did back in the day, covering his facial features, but not really disguising much else. I do like the inclusion of the Storm Shadow mask, as it kind of draws back to when he disguised himself as the Cobra Ninja to infiltrate the Arashikage clan and assasinate the Hard Master. In fact, checking the gallery, you can see how I incorporated it with the Comic Pack Storm Shadow figure to get that look down pat. Of course the one accessory everyone has been talking about is the mini-Chameleon. Why I do somewhat question the need for Hasbro to shoehorn this vehicle into a single-packed figure, I do think it's a neat addition to the Combat Heroes line, which is something I think it was almost intended to be. It's a cute little addition, but obviously not the level of the original Chameleon, but I don't think it was ever meant to be.

For the first time in twenty-four years we get a high quality reproduction and update to our vintage Zartan that actually resembles his most iconic look. To be honest, I'm shocked we haven't seen more Zartans already, he's always been a very popular character and one that has always had a main focus in both the cartoon and the comic. While characters like Storm Shadow, Snake Eyes, Cobra Commander, Destro, and Duke get inundated with different iterations, Zartan remains a pretty slow release only getting a couple of figures in the past handful of years. Still, the end result ends up definitely being worth it, and we have the ultimate version of the Master of Disguise here, a figure that definitely does the character justice.

GRADE: out of 5

Archive entry:
Zartan (v14)

More action shots:

Images from the collection of: Justin Bell

For a great selection of G.I. Joe figures and vehicles like this one, check out BigBadToyStore.com.

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Yo Joe!

11/10/08

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