GI JOE Classified: Zartan by Hasbro

Ah, Zartan! He was one of my favorite characters back in the day. His figure was cool enough, with his color-changing skin and his swamp skimmer vehicle, but I think it was his appearance in The Revenge of Cobra mini-series that really sold me on the character. He was a mercenary, he was leader of a biker gang, he was a master of disguise, and his daring rescue of Cobra Commander from Blackwater Prison is still among my favorite GI JOE Sunbow moments. Needless to say, I was hotly anticipating his appearance in the new Classified series, and was happy that Hasbro didn’t keep me waiting long.

OK, so I’m a little mad at Hasbro for not releasing Zartan as a Deluxe with his swamp skimmer. The Chameleon hasn’t gotten a lot of love over the years, and it would have been the perfect vehicle for the 6-inch scale. But I suppose that’s not out of the question for a future re-release. Besides, one look at this figure in the package, and all was forgiven. The character art on the package is amazing, and the looks to be no slouch either. Let’s get him out of his box and check him out!

Most of the Classified figures have been marrying old and new design elements, but Zartan feels like he has his feet firmly planted in tradition. Indeed, he kind of looks like he borrows elements from the original figure and Sideshow’s Sixth-Scale version, which happens to be my favorite look for the character. He dons a pair of dark brown trousers with chunky combat boots and while he isn’t wearing a shirt, he does have armor on his chest, shoulders, and a pair of armored gauntlets. There’s some excellent attention to detail here, including the texturing on his trousers, the sculpted straps holding his armor pieces on, and even the tiny sculpted rivets that secure his chest piece. He’s got a belt that hangs around his waist, as well as a sculpted one with a Dreadnok-themed skull buckle. Everything about him looks rugged and ready for action!

The portrait is also excellent! The original figure and cartoon always had me wondering whether that thing on his head was a hood or his hair, but that’s been long since answered and here we can easily tell he’s a bald man wearing a hood. The hood is pretty rigid and stays on well. It features some reinforced areas that resemble some kind of reptile scale hide. Zartan is also sporting a brown scarf around his neck, which can be removed.

With the hood off, we can get a better look at the head sculpt. Zartan is sporting a little smirk and some really nice definition to his facial features. He’s also got a little Robert Z’Dar action going on with his chin. Naturally he has his iconic eye tatts, painted in a glossy black, and his eyes have a not-quite human appearance to them.

Zartan’s belt includes a sheath for his rather large combat knife. The sheath is textured to resemble alligator hide and the curved grip includes a finger loop, which works with the trigger finger on his right hand. The black blade is a nasty piece of business, with a slight swell to the edge and a serrated back.

His belt also has holes to peg in these two… I dunno, trophies? One is a snake’s head with its mouth wide open and about to strike, the other looks like a monkey hand. I’m really not sure if these are supposed to be trophies or part of some kind of swamp mojo fetishes, but they look cool and add a lot of character to the figure. And if you don’t like them, you can easily remove them and toss them in a bin.

Next up is his trusty pistol, and the design of this one is clearly influenced by the sidearm that came with the original figure. It’s a rather boxy looking design, and I absolutely love it. Sadly he has no holster for it, but it can be clipped to the side of his backpack. Backpack? Let’s check out the backpack!

The backpack is another accessory heavily influenced by the original figure. It’s large and bulky and contains one of Zartan’s masks. This large and boxy piece of kit opens to reveal some beautiful sculpted details, including some licks of red paint on the interior. The mask fits snugly in the compartment and can be worn by Zartan in conjunction with his hood, just like on the original Real American Hero figure. Nope, clearly that is not Zartan. It’s just some other guy wearing his clothes!

As far as I’m concerned, Classified Zartan is another direct hit for this series! Hasbro kept pretty faithful to his original design, while mixing in some gritty realism, and the result is spectacular. There’s some beautiful detail work on his armor, his accessories are all on point, and he looks great when displayed with Classified Cobra Commander and Destro. And yes, I’d still like to see a Deluxe version of Zartan with The Chameleon, although if we do get him packed with a ride, it’ll probably be just a recycled motorcycle from the Marvel Legends line.