Tuesday, September 18, 2012

GI Joe Retaliation: Zartan

Presenting the Cobra shape-shifting mercenary, Zartan from the GI Joe Retaliation line.

I remember being totally in awe back when I was a kid and had a 1984 released Zartan figure. The figure action changed color in the sunlight (yeah we were a generation that was easier to please)! Even Zartan's body-armor had thermal sensitive stickers that changed color depending upon the temperature, and he came with a swamp skier that also changed color in the sunlight.

Oh happy days.

Unfortunately his 25th anniversary figure - which came with a scaled down version of the Swamp-Skier - does not change color.

He was probably toxic.

There was also a really, really cool version of Zartan released in the Pursuit of Cobra line which I have not reviewed, but can be glimpsed here.

In the Marvel comic line, Zartan - older brother of Zarana - is actually the true killer of the Hard Master - whose death resulted in the destruction of the Arashikage clan, Storm Shadow joining Cobra, and the blood feud between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow.  I'm personally hoping that this angle will be explored in the upcoming GI Joe Retaliation movie.

Especially since a lot of people are fans of Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow fighting side-by-side rather than against each other - and Storm Shadow did cross over in the comic books.

GI Joe Retaliation Zartan's blister card reads: "Zartan carries out his sinister missions for Cobra Commander. As the master of disguise, Zartan can impersonate anyone, but if you look closely into his eyes, you may see a tell-tale reddish glow that reveals his true identity."

GI Joe Retaliation Zartan comes with:

  • A scoped compound bow with the unique ability to have a quiver underslung - though you can also mount the quiver on Zartan's back  
  • A quiver of crossbow bolts
  • A pair of Ronin Swords with scabbards akin to the ones that came with the GI Joe Retaliation Ninja Showdown Set
  • A Battle harness with built in cowl
  • A strange stapler gun like pistol reminiscent of the pistols used in the GI Joe Renegades line, but not quite there. The pistol's sheath is interestingly at the back of his harness. One has to reach under his armpit to draw it out. It's nice and hidden, but not very practical. 
  • Three alternative heads:
    • Snake-Eyes
    • Storm Shadow
    • Flint (At least I think it's flint)

What's NOT to like about GI Joe Retaliation Zartan? 

Yup. We're starting with what's NOT to like because this is a really bad figure - almost an insult (Well I guess it's an insult) to how far Hasbro has been able to take the line in 25 years.
  • First reason: Blue weapons. what's with that? All of Zartan's weapons have an unrealistic blue cast. Did Hasbro run out of paint or is this a feeble attempt at a nod to the fact that the original Zartan can turn blue? Or is this some new international law so that people don't mistake these weapons for the real thing - like orange caps on airsoft rifles. Fine. We can overlook this and just say that Hasbro wanted us to give buyers the option to customize these weapons by painting it themselves.
  • Next is his cowl. The cowl has two problems. The first is that there's a coin slot on top. Not really sure what that's for - but we'll talk about this again later. The second is that it's built into the harness. IT DOES NOT TURN!!! If you want Zartan's head to turn, you have to reach into the cowl and force him to turn his head - which is harder than it sounds. I suppose we could cut it free with a good blade. No that knife does not come out.
  • Speaking of cutting, have you noticed all the bad excess mold/cut marks? Zartan is filled with them. It looks like he was ripped apart from his mold by an amateur model builder with a nail clipper. For shame Hasbro!!!!
  • You can actually remove the offending harness and you're left with an acceptable - albeit lanky - figure. 
  • Which brings us back to the issue of his cowl. Apparently the coin slot is there because Retaliation Zartan is bald and decided to try growing grass on his head like a mutant chia-pet - no wonder he's so angry - and chia pets need not only water, but sunlight, hence the slot to let the sun in.
  • Is that a nose or what?
  • It gets worse! Retaliation Zartan's chia pet head turns red when he "uses his powers." This apparently is the  "tell-tale reddish glow that reveals his true identity " that his blister card mentions - and all their eyes go red and blank. If the Joes can't see those tell-tales, they deserve to die. 
  • But the tell-tale is strangely inconsistent for Retaliation Zartan as his alternate Snake Eyes head has no such tell-tale. The head is most probably a discarded early model as it is rough in detail, or a flawed overproduction that Hasbro did not want to waste.

  • Retaliation Zartan also has Retaliation Snake Eye's inability to grasp both swords. You can balance it so that the smaller blade appears to be held, but it limits the available poses. The compound crossbow is clearly Retaliation Zartan's best weapon.

But the WORST thing about the GI Joe Retaliation Zartan Action Figure is that Hasbro did not gift him with the new wrist joints, NOR DID THEY GIVE HIM ANY FORM OR ARTICULATION FOR HIS FEET!!!! Were it not for the stand - and the fact that it's not flushed with the ground - Zartan would not be able to kneel. Yes, you can still get off some pretty kick-ass poses, but not without a stand as his pose-ability is limited.

What's to like about GI Joe Retaliation Zartan? 

Not much actually. If you want to feel cheated for your hard earned cash, grab a GI Joe Retaliation Zartan action figure.

The only thing I really like about him is the harsh look of his primary face - especially while he has the cowl on - it looks like he smelled something really bad or he's really pissed off and concentrating.

Storm Shadow's extra head looks promising - especially once you wipe the shinny red chia-pet head off him. I like the blank stare of his eyes.

The GI Joe Retaliation Zartan Action Figure was picked up at the  Toy Kingdom Toy Expo at the retail price of PhP 599.75 less 10% (Roughly US$ 14.28 less 10%). He's available on Amazon for US$ 9.24 and dropping (Roughly PhP 388 plus shipping).

Don't waste your money. Go buy a POC Zartan instead.

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