Zartan (25th Anniversary) | Produced by Hasbo | Released 2008
ZARTAN can alter his skin color at will to blend in with his environment. He is also a master of make-up and disguise, ventriloquist, linguist (over 20 languages and dialects), acrobatic-contortionist and practitioner of several mystic Martial Arts. Very little is known about his background and origins, but most security agencies agree that he must have had European military academy training (probably St. Cyr). His training and skills make him difficult to find and almost impossible to capture. He has established a criminal compound in a remote swamp region, which he navigates on his customized Chameleon swamp skier.
Zartan - some slightly dodgy sartorial decisions aside - is a fun and very cool addition to the 25th Anniversary line-up.
Let's start with his outfit. The midriff-display armour is one of those utterly bizarre designs you're left pondering, not only because it's so terrible but also that nobody spotted how comical it was. Why would anybody wear a chest protector and leave their lower torso exposed? Not only that but the actual look is like somebody from the Love Parade. Which is fine, except Zartan is supposed to be a master of trickery and disguise, not a slightly festive, loved-up raver. Oh well.
The rendering of the costume - however odd the outfit may be - is nicely done. Zartan's (removable) chest plate has some good detailing in the form of straps along the underside and a faux muscle sculpt on the upper torso. The shoulder pads - which are not removable - match perfectly with the chest piece, as do his gloves and boots - unlike some toys were different pieces are cast from slightly different-coloured plastics.
There are some great details on the sculpt. The right boot, for example, features a knife sheath (for the included weapon), he's wearing a ''utility belt'' with various pouches and even his armour plates have connector straps. As I say, for all his attire is almost laughable, it's very well sculpted.
The head sculpt is cool, with Zartan's sneering face clad in an open hood. I like the fact that this Zartan and the Desert Battle Zartan from the Pursuit of Cobra line look like they're the same person.
Articulation is good. Although he has no waist joint, it's still possible to pose Zartan in a number of cool stances and he looks good however he's posed (silly outfit aside.) Even the hood doesn't inhibit his head movement. My only slight gripe is that his left hand seems very easy to remove. Whether this is a feature or a production error I don't know, but it's easy enough to just pop back on and it never feels as if it's going to snap-off or anything like that.
Although Zartan's purple, black and grey colour combo makes him look like a bruise, the actual application is very well done. Paint is applied cleanly with no run-off or splodges on his various details such as straps and buckles. Zartan's face paint - which appears to be molded - is applied perfectly.
Zartan includes some very cool accessories.
The most obvious Extra is his Chameleon swamp skier, a small-scale little vehicle. Zartan actually fits quite well onto this vehicle, even if it is a little cartoonish - after all, Zartan is supposed to be the leader of the tough Dreadnoks bike gang. Maybe he just rides this when nobody is looking.
Zartan also comes with two masks - one of a ''regular guy'' and the other of what appears to be Storm Shadow - that clip over his original face. They fit pretty well and the hood does a good job keeping them in-place.
Weapon-wise, Zartan has a dagger (that looks a little too much like a tuning fork to be too dangerous) and a pistol. He can grip both fine and the dagger fits nicely into his boot sheath. Sadly there's no corresponding holster for the pistol though.
There's also a backpack (that opens) which can be used to store his masks. The pack is simply ''hinged'' with a piece of bent plastic and it doesn't really snap shut, so I wouldn't advise opening and closing it too much. It's also not a great fit on his back, due to his chest armour, but with a bit of jiggling it will stay in place - just.
He also comes with his own stand.
Desert Battle Zartan was my first GI Joe, so I do have a soft-spot for the character. I'm pleased to say that this Zartan - again, silly outfit aside - does justice to my fanboyism. Although the midriff-shirt look is horrible, everything else is great (and even though the costume is horrible, it's well produced) - I love the masks, the backpack is cool and the swamp skier - again, although silly - is a fun little extra.
Definitely one of the cooler 25th Anniversary figures I've seen and although not quite as mighty as the Pursuit of Cobra version, he's still excellent.