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  • Writer's pictureMephitsu

Review: G.I. Joe Classified Zartan, Master of Disguise, Hasbro Pulse Con 2021 Exclusive

Updated: Dec 31, 2021


Zartan, The Master of Disguise, has been a fan favourite character within the G.I. Joe Universe since his debut in the 1980s and his original colour changing figure and swamp speeder. In 2021, Zartan joined the new 6-inch Classified Series as a general release. The figure was then souped up for the October 2021 Hasbro Pulse Con with a Deluxe boxed release featuring an alternative deco Zartan, weapons, accessories, disguises AND a recreation of that 1984 colour-changing feature.

This figure was supplied to us free of charge by Hasbro for us to photograph and review.

Zartan arrives in a closed box with a deep red theme across the cover and sides as well as illustrations of Zartan himself. The set is numbered #31 in the Classified series. On the back of the box there is a large montage of the G.I. Joe and Cobra characters released to date, but no background text or a recreation of those vintage statistics cards you could cut out.

Returning to the box front, the cover features a rotating wheel built into the artwork around Zartan's head. When rotated, the wheel displays the varying faces of Zartan in disguise and replicates the various disguises in the box.

The box cover is held in place with tape - and once cut the front cover opens up to reveal the figure within in a more standard Classified Series window box. The opposite side of the cover has the Dreadnoks logo and this same design is used as a backing card behind the inner plastic tray. I am not sure why the cover does not utilise a Velcro fastener as seen on other releases and in other lines?

Zartan is a direct re-use of the general release figure but with an updated colour scheme. This starts with the armour panels which remain cast in dark grey plastic, but the dark grey is offset with painted silver panels. The trousers are recoloured in burgundy to match the original 1984 figure and the skin tone on Zartan is a paler more sickly colour.

The sculpt is excellent, capturing Zartan in a realistic setting with photo-real deco adding realism to the eyes that stare out from behind the black face paint. Zartan comes with his hood, and a neck scarf piece both in a soft burgundy plastic and shaped to sit around the head and neck and hold in situ.

The 'Master of Disguise' element of the set is explored by the inclusion of additional faces, some swap out heads and a mask. The three faces include the bearded version from the general release and two other older faces. These are a rubbery material and are deliberately painted with white soleless eyes and limited facial details. These 'faces' are designed to slot over Zartan's own head, and then the joints hidden behind the hood section.

There are then two alternative heads that replace the Zartan head. These are Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow heads, parts obviously already available in the line and thrown in for some added content. The final disguise is a skull mask that slots over the head with a strap section. The fit is very good considering how bad masks usually look at this scale.

As well as being a Master of Disguise, Zartan is also packed with a small armoury to fight off the Joes. This includes a white bow and a quiver of arrows, taken from the Artic Storm Shadow figure and repainted. Like all Classified backpacks, the quiver slots into the hole on Zartan's back and can be used by any other Classified figure. The bow is not supplied with a string, and there is no single arrow to pose Zartan ready to fire.

There is a large sniper rifle complete with an articulated triangular stand that comes down to support the weapon as Zartan lines up to fire a shot. It can be handheld, or Zartan has enough articulation for a laid down sniper look.

We then have the black plastic gun and knife, as included in the original release, with the knife provided with a sheath on the back of the belt so it can be stowed away. It is interesting, and a bit of a shame, that while all the other general release accessories are included - there is no place in the Exclusive for the Monkey Paw and Snake Head that would hang on Zartan's belt. The hole on the belt where these would hang remains in place.

Zartan's backpack, as seen on the original 1984 figure and included in the general wave release, is packed into the set and features the function on the side to holster the pistol. The case opens, but Hasbro has not managed to hinge it like the original, and instead, it comes apart into two halves. Inside we have painted details on both halves with a cavity in the middle in which one of the facial disguises can be stowed away.

Again the backpack connects by way of the hole in Zartan's back and if you wished, it could be used by any G.I. Joe Classified figure.

Articulation comes in at 24 separate joints making Zartan fully agile and with plenty of posing options including the ability to kneel, sit, and utilise all of his weapons. The joints include boot cut on the boots as well as double-jointed knees and elbows, butterfly shoulders, and a jointed neck at the base and where it meets the head. The figure is a pleasure to pose and display and all the joints feel secure with the possible exception of the torso T-joint which has a bit of play - something we see on the Marvel Legends line too and that can worsen over time.

I've left the final feature of Zartan to the end. The colour-changing feature was not included on the standard release, much to fans disappointment. Hasbro has gone all out for the exclusive version with the exposed skin tone treated in heat reactive paint. As the temperature around Zartan lowers the skin transitions from skin tone into a blue - the images below are as blue as I could get him after about 5-mins in a freezer. While it is a little gimmicky in terms of a collectable item which will unlikely get to experience extremes of heat - it does bring back fantastic memories of 8-year old me playing with Zartan and the colour change facilities built into that figure.

All in all, the Hasbro Pulse Con Zartan is of course much superior to the general release although you are paying for that privilege. The armour colour and updated trousers are, in my opinion, a better aesthetic than the duller general release and the various accessories all work well enough. It is a shame that we missed the Monkey Paw and Snake Head, leaving a reason for fans to go out and still buy the original, and despite having a hinged backpack in 1984 the same cant be said of the 2021 version.

This exclusive won't hang around long, so for a more definitive version and the ability to time travel in your head to the 80s and play with a colour change feature this is a figure to go out and secure now before the price skyrockets.

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About Me : As a child of the 70's and 80's I grew up in a golden age for action figures and in my youth bought and sold myself through collections of Star Wars, G.I. Joe (Action Force) and M.A.S.K. while also dabbling in He-Man, Transformers and Ghostbusters. Roll forward and I am now reliving that Youth with the action figures of today and am a collector and fan of the larger 6-8 inch figures from my favourite movie and TV licences - including the ones mentioned above, but also the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Who and the Aliens. I launched The Mephitsu Archives in 2015 with a view of creating a UK focused site or these figures where fans can pick up the latest action figure news, read reviews and get information on where to buy their figures and what is currently on store shelves. I hope I am delivering that to you guys...




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