Zartan is the leader of the biker gang known as the Dreadnoks and classic villain of the G.I. Joe A Real American Hero line of toys, comics, and cartoons. He first appeared in 1984 as a deluxe action figure sold with his swamp skier, both of whom could change colour when exposed to sunlight. Zartan is a master of disguise in every sense. He has excellent camouflage abilities and can impersonate almost anyone. The G.I. Joe Classified Zartan action figure was announced in 2020 and finally released in early 2021. I had Zartan as a kid but lost him (I have always suspected that some other kids had borrowed it from me!). So now, decades later, I have a cool Zartan action figure, once more.
The G.I. Joe Classified Zartan is an update from the classic toy. Most collectors will like him because he so much of the essence of the original toy but with a remarkable update that improves on the original. Whereas the original Zartan’s hood could not really be removed without ungluing it, this one’s hood is removable and not hair as was often depicted in the cartoon. It is a hood. With nice patterns. Zartan is brown, like his original action figure with the shoulder armour, pads on his thighs, and chest armour, the same way he was in the 1984 version. Even his backpack which now resembles a portable 3D prosthetic printer looks like it is a reinforced unit. Finally, Zartan’s gun is a larger version of his original toy.
However, Hasbro’s designers did not limit their take on Zartan on his old look. They gave him snake patterns on his hood and gloves. He also sports a leather-like belt with the new Dreadnought logo that Hasbro designed. It is a skull with ram horns on the side. While I like the snake patterns on Zartan’s hood and gloves, I am not certain that they belong to this character. Dreadnoks’ main clients may be Cobra, but they are still independent from that organization and mostly hired muscle and special operatives for them.
Zartan has one of the best sculpt of the G.I. Joe Classified line. What I like about this Zartan action figure is that he is less super villain and more biker than the old version who always looked a bit odd next to the other Dreadnoks. The face is creepy and not someone I would like to stand next to, but that’s just right for this character. The details on his chest are wicked and similar to those he had in the cartoon and his original toy. You can even feel the fabric patterns on his pants and boots. One complaint is that his abdominal seem too tiny for his frame. The reason for that is the huge shoulder pad that give the appearance of having a wider frame. Another complaint is the placement of his dagger’s holder. It is on a diagonal on the right side of his waist. The tip of the dagger’s handle rubs against the right forearm of the action figure constantly. The holder is glued on and cannot be removed easily.
There is minimal paint on Zartan as the base plastic is the one used throughout many parts. I don’t like the styling of the makeup on his face. It is not like the one from the original action figure. His eyes also have no irises and have this metallic blue shade that looks odd. There are few coloured parts on his shins and his chest armour, but they don’t have any shading. One major complaints collectors had about Zartan was the colour change paint was not applied to the skin of the toy. This was originally planned and advertised by Hasbro who subsequently changed that by invoking costs and complications with this process. It would suck if Hasbro released a version two Zartan later whose skin does change colour. We all know they will to spite us and make us buy this toy again.
Zartan is tall. He is nearly as tall as Destro. This should not be. He should much shorter than Destro. He still looks great next to other G.I. Joe Classified action figures.
Zartan is one of the most stable G.I. Joe Classified action figure whether he wears his backpack or not. I am impressed with how you can pose him on most surfaces, and he’ll remain still. He does not have a leg slightly longer than the other one like Destro
or balancing issues because of a tip heavy chest, backpack, or destabilizing weapon.
Zartan feature the first rivet-less articulations on his double joint elbows and knees. This is a new technique adopted by Hasbro to limit rivets and bolts on their action figures. This adds to the aesthetic value of the action figure. He has articulations at the neck which is on a ball-joint and can pivot. His head is also on a ball joint adding to his posability. His butterfly articulations at the underarms is more flexible than most G.I. Joe Classified action figures. He has articulations at the shoulders that allow them to rotate and pivot without being encumbered by the shoulder pads. He has bicep curls at the wrists who can also pivot sideways.
Of course, Zartan has ab crunches which are not affected by his chest armour. You can twist his waist and rotate it a bit. Like all G.I. Joe Classified action figures, he has the dropdown hip articulations that add to the mobility of the thighs when moved up or sideways. He can easily do the split. The thighs have curls. The shins can rotate. The ankles and feet can pivot, curl and twist. I find all of Zartan’s articulations to be smooth and durable. Unlike other action figures, posing him does not feel like one is about to break the toy.
Zartan’s props are made of PVC but the plastic used for his body seems to be a better graded plastic as the articulations are not stuck nor do they feel like the toy is about to break when you use them.
Zartan’s props are unique, just like him. He has two charms that can peg on his belt or his backpack. One of the holes on the belt is too narrow to insert the charm without breaking the peg. So, I store it on the backpack. One of the charms is a snake head. The other one is a monkey's hand. These charms are weird and new to the mythology of the character.
Zartan comes with a gun that can be stored on his backpack on some of the peg holes. The chest armour is not removable unless the arms are removed and the plate is unglued. The scarf appears to be the same the Vipers wear and is easy to remove from his neck. This scarf is a bit nod as Zandar, his brother traditionally wears a scar. The hood is easy to remove but finding the best fit may take some time. Once well-installed on his head, it will not fall off.
Finally, I have to mention the backpack which is very close to the original one. It looks like a portable 3D prosthetic 3D printer which can create and store Zartan’s masks and extra faces. The backpack easily pegs on his back and unlike Duke
, it will not fall off easily. There are many details and paint applications inside of the backpack. The backpack splits in half to reveal the stored facemask. The facemask stays on Zartan’s face without any problem. It is a great feature inspired by the 1984 toy.
Zartan comes in the same styled G.I. Joe Classified box but the inside cover of the box features the Dreadnoks’ logo instead of the G.I Joe or Cobra logos.
Zartan costs about $19.99 USD and $29.99 CAD. This is a good thing as his original toy was more expansive for parents than the other G.I. Joe toys at the time.
Zartan is available at large surface stores and at many collectible, and toy stores online. The funny thing is that he comes packaged in boxes with the Cobra Infantry action figure which is more in demand as collectors want multiples of this toy for their army-building needs. Thus, even though a popular character, Zartan has been easy to obtain. At the time of writing, several stores had their shipments of Zartan and Cobra Infantry delayed. However, there are many other stores where collectors can get this toy. Hasbro seems to have stocked up and produced sufficient amounts of this toy this time unlike other G.I. Joe Classified action figures.
Zartan is a great toy that you should buy if you get the opportunity to, and if you like G.I. Joe Classified action figures.