Tuesday, July 12, 2011

REVIEW: GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra - Zartan

Produced by Hasbro | Released 2009

ZARTAN, who has been injected with nanomites, is a master of disguise and expert mimic who can impersonate anyone; he's also a COBRA mercenary and covert agent. He impersonates a GI JOE agent to infiltrate the Pit and retrieve the nanomite weapon prototypes, but it's his next impersonation that will be the culmination of his devious career.

Packaging Shots

Hasbro only produced a single Zartan figure for the Rise of Cobra line (there's a multi-pack figure, too but he's really just a repaint of this figure.) It's a shame, as Zartan is not only a cool toy concept (being a master of disguise) but is also one of my favourite GI Joe characters. Did this figure do him justice? Read on...

This figure sees Zartan in disguise, clad in the ''base camo'' of the GI Joe Pit troopers (recreating the scene from the movie.) The sculpt is fairly simplistic but just about works. However, his mid-section tapers away under his chest and it looks a little odd. I'm not sure why it does that, as it's not like it's been shaped this way for articulation purposes...

Detail-wise, there's not a massive amount going on, but what's here is OK. There's a (non-removable) pistol at his side, a walkie-talkie and grenade on his belt and his MP armband is a nice touch. It's all fine for what it is but it's nothing to really get excited about.

Whilst the body sculpt isn't particularly exciting, the ''non-disguised'' head is probably one of the best I've seen in the Rise of Cobra line. This figure's head looks so much like Arnold Vosloo that it's spooky. This is an incredibly life-like sculpt that really shows-up the quality of the others in the line. There's also a second, disguised head that depicts Zartan as a GI Joe MP. It's a pretty good sculpt, although it's not quite in the same league as the un-disguised one.

Articulation is fine, although the longer jacket tails restrict hip movement substantially. Don't expect to be able to get Zartan to sit or even bend his legs much beyond about the 45 degree mark. There's also no waist joint, but he does at least have a torso joint.

Whilst they work just fine, his wrist joints feel a little weak, as if they're going to pop-off the peg at any moment. This, combined with the incredibly soft plastic used to cast his hands, makes getting him to hold his gear a little problematic at times. 

Paint is nicely designed and cleanly applied. The base camo effect is well done and the tampo transfer MP armband looks good. Belt details are cleanly applied and the facial paintwork is clean and accurate. Although it's not particularly complex, I can't find fault with the application itself.

Zartan comes with an assault rifle, sword, two daggers, spare head, backpack and launching weapon.

The accessories are pretty good, overall. The gun is cast in a lifelike black colour and looks good - even if getting Zartan to hold it in both hands is a nightmare. The bladed weapons fit nicely into his hands and the second head looks good. Indeed, if you found multiple Zartans you could Army Build GI Joe MPs should you so wish.

The backpack looks good, stays closed when shut and accommodates the spare head with ease. The only drawback I found was it doesn't sit too well on his back. Perhaps the peg needs to be longer, as it doesn't really stay in the port too well.

The large, launching weapon works fine but the grips feel very soft. Combine this with the soft hands of the figure and it becomes difficult to pose Zartan effectively with the weapon.

Zartan also comes with his own base. One point I wish Hasbro would consider though is including an ''in disguise'' reversible base. What I mean is that it would be cool if the ''reverse'' face of the base featured the name of whoever Zartan was impersonating (in this case, an MP.) That way, you could choose to display him as Zartan or as his in-disguise alter-ego. I know it would mean designing and producing a new stand but surely that's no more cost-prohibitive than including an extra head and it would be a really neat little touch...

Anyway, quasi-rant over.

Final Thoughts
Zartan is a really cool character, probably one of my favourite bad guys in the line, so it's a little disappointing to see how vanilla this figure is. Yes, I know he's in disguise and trying to blend-in but that doesn't mean the disguised figure can't be interesting or exciting and I'd have liked to see Hasbro just give us a bit more in terms of better accessories, a nicer sculpt and just something to stop Zartan being so uninspired.

On the plus-side, though, Zartan's ''non-disguised'' head sculpt is amazingly good. I can't get over just how good a likeness this is of Arnold Vosloo, especially given how poor some of the other likeness sculpts have been. I don't understand how Hasbro can produce Zartan and Storm Shadow figures that look so lifelike and then give us Baroness, Duke and Cover Girl figures that look nothing like their on-screen counterparts. Maybe I'm being unfair and it's some kind of legal thing. But I doubt it.

It's just such a shame Hasbro didn't produce more Zartan figures for the line. I'm not saying that just because I'm a fan of the character but because the Zartan concept gives a designer so much more to work with than what we have here. He's a guy who's a master of disguise and can become anybody. Why didn't Hasbro really run with that and fulfill the character's potential?

In summary, Zartan is merely an OK figure. It's just too bad Hasbro didn't see the potential and give us more.

Production QualityB
Final ScoreB-

* I've awarded two scores for the Sculpt - the former for the body, the latter for the head.

Image Gallery


  1. He's not BAD per se. He's just a little plain and they really should've done more to make him Zartan-ish. That said, the head sculpt is amazing.


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