Thursday, January 26, 2012

REVIEW: GI Joe Dreadnoks Battle Set - Zanzibar

Produced by Hasbro | Released January 2012 [Big Bad Toy Store Exclusive]

ZANZIBAR was raised on a garbage scow and spent most of his youth picking pockets on crowded piers. He's tried river piracy, stock fraud and smuggling, but they were too much like real work and not nasty enough for his tastes. His lucky break came when he delivered bootleg gas to a filling station owned by ZARTAN and was immediately invited to join the DREADNOK gang.

Dreadnoks Battle Set Zanzibar
Astute readers may have noticed that last week's Review-A-Day look at the Dreadnoks Battle Set figures dried-up this week. I'd love to say it was because of time issues or that I had other projects to work on that demanded my attention but the truth of the matter is that the remaining two Dreadnoks - Dreadnok Thunder (AKA Thrasher) and the subject of today's Review, Zanzibar - just didn't really inspire me. It would be remiss of me to not complete the full 7-figure pack Review (and I'll be doing so tomorrow with the Dreadnok Thunder Review) but I can safely say now that whilst the other five figures range from the good to the awesome, Zanzibar and Thunder are both pretty weak figures...

Read on if you'd like to find out why.

Obviously it's the same packaging we've seen in the previous Dreadnok Battle Set figure Reviews, so I'll just move along. I'm trying to get this over with as quickly as possible...

Sculpt And Design
Zanzibar is - in case you haven't already worked it out - a kind of pirate. His swashbuckling look is, I presume, an affectation rather than an actual practical outfit but when it comes to some of the 80s character designs in the GI Joe Universe, you can never really be too sure...

Like the other figures in the pack, he's a kitbash from a few other sources but to the credit of the designers, they've done a pretty good job of managing to pull together a ''pirate'' from these pre-existing parts. The torso and upper body sculpt is nicely produced, with some good muscle detail and the unusual thigh armour/leg-guard/folded boot combo on his lower body is certainly interesting.

The figure also features a harness with shoulder pads, pistol holster and knife sheath. It's a nicely produced piece that works very well to keep the weapons in place, although the pistol holster's position is simply too high and - as a result - the flintlock butt tends to get in the way somewhat. But at least it's nice that we've got somewhere for Zanzibar to stow his weapons when he's not using them.

One issue I experienced - and this could be limited to my figure - is that Zanzibar's torso was misaligned when I removed him from the box. It can be corrected with a bit of force but the harness can get in the way a little. I also found a tendency with the figure to lean back into this misaligned positioning whenever I reposed him. As I say, it may not be a widespread issue but I'm throwing it out there in case others have experienced it, too.

Whilst the sculpt's execution is just about acceptable, it's the design that really lets him down. If you've never seen Zanzibar before or owned the earlier release, you'll probably think he's simply too ''silly'' a design to really work. I just don't ''get'' the character and this makes it very hard for me to really like him. Is he supposed to be a real, working pirate? Or is he some kind of lunatic who only thinks he's a pirate? Even his real name, Morgan Teach, is a joke (being a combination of two historical pirates' names.) Like I say, I just don't get it.

But neither will fans of the character (if such people exist.) You see, Hasbro has updated the character's look but included an error that illustrates a lack of attention to detail with this figure: compared to the original figures his eye patch is on the wrong eye. This may seem trivial but it's something owners of the original Zanzibar(s) will no doubt find annoying and given that this is a brand new head sculpt, it seems odd that Hasbro would make such a mistake.

Eye patch-related errors aside, the head sculpt is actually fairly realistic. But again, this introduces some problems. You see, whilst it's a pretty lifelike design, Zanzibar's facial features are quite comical. Yes, he's sporting a swashbuckling moustache-and-imperial combo and he has his dashing eye-patch, but he also has buck-teeth and a very goofy look about him. But then he's also got a very nasty battle scar. I don't get what the character is supposed to convey. Is he supposed to be a scary pirate or a comedy idiot pretending to be a pirate?

Somebody help me out here, as I just don't understand what Zanzibar is supposed to be.

Zanzibar features a fairly standard articulation set-up that works well but does have some issues.

As mentioned above, the torso joint on my Zanzibar was bent to one side. I've since fixed it but it does seem to favour that position. The torso harness is also a little restrictive and tends to either get in the way when moving the upper body/head or pop up when the torso is twisted, resulting in the right shoulder pad sitting incorrectly on the figure. Minor points but worth noting.

I'm also very concerned about his wrists. They seem incredibly weak and I found that placing weapons in them or turning the joint to be a harrowing experience. I genuinely felt as if they were about to snap off as I was posing him. That's really not a good thing at all.

Zanzibar's paintwork is pretty good, on the whole. It's not the most exciting of colourways but I do like that his pants appear to be combat fatigues he's re-purposed and there's a consistency to the green/purple/black colour sheme.

The app itself is pretty clean, with the costume details being nicely applied and the facial details - such as his moustache and even beauty spot - being nice touches. My Zanzibar does feature a mis-applied blob/line on his neck though. I do like his skull and crossed swords tampo tattoo, though.

Extras And Accessories
Zanzibar comes equipped with a pretty good arsenal of weapons and although their design may - like the figure - seem anachronistic, the execution is pretty good.

Zanzibar comes with a silver revolver, which fits well into his left thigh holster. It's an unusual accessory for him to carry, given his pirate look but it's a nice enough bit of gear. It's a shame it doesn't really sit in his hand particularly well but given his other gear, it's probably best just to keep it holstered anyway.

The cutlass, dagger and flintlock pistol are all nicely produced, with both blades sitting quite comfortably in his hands. The flintlock is more awkward and doesn't fit so well, though so again it's probably best left holstered. (The dagger, for what it's worth, is a superb fit in the lower-back sheath.)

Zanzibar also includes his own base.

Final Thoughts
Unlike Zandar, who is an excellent update to the original figure, Zanzibar fails to really live-up to his potential. The numerous, small-but-annoying errors and vague design just don't sit well with me, I'm afraid. As much as I've loved the other Dreadnoks, I'm saddened to report that Zanzibar just doesn't cut the mustard.

Fans of the original figure may dig him for nostalgia value (even if the overhaul introduces errors) but even with the rose-tinted spectacles of childhood remembered the production errors and annoyances will probably leave you with a bit of a bad taste in your mouth.

There are a couple of things I like about Zanzibar. I like that he can stow his gear when he's not using it and the head sculpt - however goofy - is lifelike. But that's about it, truth be told and whilst I don't hate this figure, I don't like it, either.

Does he ruin the Dreadnoks Battle Set? Of course not. The other figures are very good (and maybe that intensifies the weaknesses of this figure) so you should still go ahead and grab it. Just don't expect Zanzibar to be your pick of the pack.

Overall, a nonsensical design made all the worse by weak execution.

Sculpt and DesignB-
Extras and Accessories B
Final ScoreC+

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