Friday, October 27, 2023

The ABCs of 31 Days of Toy Terror: Zartan (Retro) from G.I. Joe: Classified Series by Hasbro

   Today's the last day of the ABCs of 31 Days of Toy Terror, though there are still a few days till Halloween, so for those I'm just going with some other special stuff I want to review. Today, though, we've got the Retro version of Zartan from Hasbro's G.I. Joe: Classified Series. This figure is based on the standard Classified Series figure from 2021 but has a color scheme closer to the vintage toy and comes on one of the rather sharp looking (but flimsy) retro styled cards. Zartan isn't your typical monster or creature of the knight but he is kind of spooky. Hypnosis. Mystical Powers. Shape shifting. Wears a belly shirt. Man, he's downright terrifying! Let's take a look at the Walmart exclusive Retro Collection Zartan after the break...

The Facts:

Height: 6 1/4ths inches

Articulation: Swivel/ hinge ankles, boot swivels, double hinged knees, swivel thighs, ball jointed drop down hips, ball jointed waist, mid-torso hinge, butterfly pecs, swivel/hinge shoulders, bicep swivels, double hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, ball jointed neck base, hinged neck, and a ball jointed head.

Accessories: Pistol, knife, mask, hood, bandanna, two-piece backpack.

Non-Scalper Price: $25 dollars


* The retro inspired Zartan is on the left while the standard Zartan from 2021 is on the right. What's the difference? The paintwork mostly, though the retro Zartan doesn't come with the snake head and monkey paw that the standard Zartan had. That's kind of a bummer; fewer accessories and nothing replacing them. 

The Positives:

*  Zartan does look really cool here and the bluish-purple stands out nicely.  I think Hasbro was trying to capture the color changing feature of the vintage toy which turned blue when exposed to hear. He's fairly faithful to the vintage toy overall, true, but this Zartan also has details inspired by other eras. The armored he's wearing reminds me a lot of the Sigma 6 Zartan (which showed up on the 25th Anniversary Zartan, too). The armor is a separate piece over his torso but it's not designed to be removable. The sculpting is excellent and he's covered with interesting textures and plenty of armored plates.

* The headsculpt is still really creepy on Zartan! This time around, his eyes are more of a greenish color. The headsculpt reminds me of Arnold Vosloo who played Zartan in Rise of Cobra and retaliation. It's an incredible headsculpt with lots of character and personality. The paintwork is just phenomenal, too. It's very realistic for this scale. 

*  Zartan's hood is lighter here, more of a chocolate brown, and it's still removable. He honestly looks pretty nice with or without it. The hood seems to be a mixture of some sort of leather and some sort of hide. Maybe gator hide or snake skin? It fits on him really well as the interior is sculpted to fit perfectly over his head, so no worries about this slipping off.

* Zartan's pants and thigh pads are also much brighter on this figure. Since he presumably hangs out in lots of rough and nasty places, he's equipped with some pretty durable boots and lots of strategically placed armor to give him the edge in a fight. I imagine there might be tech in their that can help him with his disguises if you go with the theory that he uses a blend of his own arcane powers and holographic technology to truly change his appearance. Like the chest armor, the leg pads are a bluish-purple this time around. 

* The Classified Series still has incredible articulation and even though this is based on an older sculpt, it's still really good. He's got all of the joints you expect and almost nothing that gets in the way of him using them. His shoulder pads are attached to his armor and are a bit flexible so they can move around as needed.

* While I would have liked a bow for this figure, there ain't nothing wrong with this pistol. It's very similar to the vintage Zartan's pistol with a slightly more modern edge. There's got to be more to this than just being a pistol, right? I'm sure it has some nasty surprises packed inside.

* Next up is a pretty fearsome looking knife. This is a close quarters weapon for sure and I hate to think of what Zartan is capable of when wielding this thing.

* If you want to change up Zartan's appearance you've got a few options. First up is the hood, which I mentioned above. Another option is the bandanna. It just clips around his neck and adds a touch of color to the figure. It's the same color as the hood on this version of Zartan.

* Zartan comes with his traditional bulky and oddly shaped backpack. It's very similar to the vintage toy's accessory which was also included with the Zartan figures in the 25th Anniversary and the Rise of Cobra lines. It's always been used to hold Zartan's disguises and that's the purpose it serves here...

*  Inside is a a rather sophisticated interior with lots of details and a mask. The idea seems to be that Zartan's backpack can create masks, probably similar to how the disguises are made in the Mission: Impossible films. That's a really cool idea and I like how, again, this figure shows Zartan using technological means while also hinting at his supernatural abilities. The backpack comes apart easily and the mask fits securely inside. The interior paint applications are a little different on this figure than on the first release, so that's worth noting, I suppose.

* The mask looks similar to the vintage toy's mask. It's a true mask, not an alternate headsculpt, and it just fits over his face. When the hood is on the seams are hidden and you get a really disturbing and pupilless visage. Again, I imagine Zartan prints masks and then uses his other abilities to help complete his "disguises."

* One of the running themes of the Classified Series is that figures can hold all or most of their accessories in some way. Zartan can hold all of them and still have his hands free which is a really cool feature. The knife fits in a nicely designed sheathe on the back of Zartan's belt while the pistol fits over a plug on either side of his backpack.

* Like the rest of the Retro Collection figures, Zartan comes with a stand. His has the Cobra logo on it, like the rest of the bad guys. It's a nice enough stand and it makes me really wish Hasbro would include one with each figure in the standard line. 
The Negatives:

*  I'm still not a fan of the way the pistol attaches to the backpack. You push the peg through the trigger guard. It looks odd and just doesn't make any sense to store a pistol this way. The rifles... eh, OK, but a pistol? I really wish Zartan had a holder on his right hip, a smaller holster attached to the backpack, or even on the pistol so it could plug in where the accessories from the first figure went. 


* Hasbro committed one of the most grievous action figure sins here: They removed the monkey paw and snake head accessories, but didn't give Zartan anything to take their place. What are we left with? To empty holes in his belt! It's not as bad as an empty holster or sheath (remember how some of the 25th Anniversary figures would be missing weapons they had molded holsters for?) but it still irks me. 

   This isn't a bad looking version of Zartan at all, but it does kind of suck that he doesn't have a single unique accessory from the other releases. The colors are nice and I'm always glad to have the stand, but there doesn't seem to be as much effort put into this figure as some of the other Retro figures. Of course, he's better than other Retro release, too. He's still a Great and a 1/2 figure, though, and the Master of Disguise Zartan had plenty of extra gear to outfit this figure, too. Now that we've gotten spooky with all 26 letters of the alphabet, what's to come next? Just wait and see....

   For more of Zartan check out the standard Classified Series Zartan and the deluxe Master of Disguise Zartan

For more G.I. Joe: Classified Series reviews check out the following:


  1. his facepaint looks wonky on this one. On his right side it's been applied too high.

    1. Huh. It does look a little off up close. I don't notice it much in hand. Are they all like this, I wonder?

  2. Oh wow. Didn't know Walmart released this retro Zartan. Pretty cool.

    1. Yeah. He's a decent figure but not one that really brings anything new to the table like Retro Snake Eyes, Gung Ho, and Lady Jaye.


What'chu talkin' 'bout?