Theme week once again! This week, we’re taking a look at the new movie line of action figures from G.I. Joe: Retaliation. We’ll start it off with Zartan!
Through a series of fortunate events, Indiana and Kentucky recieved a bit of the limelight in terms of toy collecting when Meijers started stocking the new G.I. Joe figures from Retaliation, Nearly a month and a half before the actual release date of May 28. I, along with my friends as well as others in the area, were able to get the full Wave 1 release, some actually able to find multiples. Enough back story…let’s get to this guy.
I’ll be honest, this is one figure I wasn’t looking forward to, from early pictures. Something about this Zartan just didn’t wow me. I got what they were doing, but from the pictures, it didn’t strike me right. I can happily say, in hand, the figure totally changed my tune. Early pictures had him in a red outfit with dark gray and black details (as well as the card back), but the actual figure is more dark grays and blacks with red highlights. This actually sets better with me, it just makes more sense to me. As for the head that is Zartan, the bald head has a chalky white flesh tone, looking more mad scientist than anything. What’s made this figure special is that they’ve used lightpiping, a familiar Transformers (and Jawas from Star Wars!)trick, to make the eyes glow. The Zartan head has green light piping, and the piping kind of sticks out from the top of the head. If he has his hood on, you don’t really see the piping on the top, but I’ve found that the effect doesn’t work as well. The alternate heads of Storm Shadow and the soldier (Duke, maybe?) have red light piping, and I’ve found the effect had better luck with the reds than the green. In both cases, the piping up on top still sticks up a bit off the head. The soldier has the same flesh color as Zartan, while the Storm Shadow head is all gray, and the Snake Eyes head is all black. The flesh color of the heads is a sickly green, not truly naturaly coloring. I think I like it because it looks off, so I take it it’s that way on purpose. Zartan comes in a simplistic gray body suit, that has a zipper on the chest, and some seamlines to break up the outfit. The sides of his stomach are in a deep red to give it color. There are some wrinkles and you can see some muscles of the figure. The shoulders have black armor plates, and black highlights are on the bicep and gloves to darken the figure up. The familiar gray wraps around the arms just above the elbow. Gray pants are met with thigh high black boots, with a solid piece on the outside, and straps on the inside. Folds and wrinkles give the upper boots some life and depth while flat shin guards cover the front of the lower legs, and squarish kneepads jut up and out over the knee. The soles have detailed grips and armor plates going over the tops of the feet.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation: The Assault on Articulation. People are really put off by some changes in articulation, and Zartan IS affected by this change, but let me tell you this now: I don’t feel it hampers the figure. The head is still on a ball post, and you have side to side movements on all the heads he comes with. Some do have wiggle up and down motion, but it’s a wiggle at best. The head is at a bit of a downward angle, but nothing like Recondo. The shoulders and elbows both have ball hinge joints, giving the figure solid movement. The figure is such a slender figure, there’s not a whole lot of restriction from the body. The wrists are simple swivels, there’s some overhang from the wrist onto the hand, but it doesn’t interfere. The familiar torso and hip joints are there, unaffected from the change. The knees have a single hinge joint, so there’s some restriction there, but I don’t find me needing to double over the legs of my figures much. The knee joint ends the articulation for Zartan. Gone is the ankle joint. Honestly, I don’t find it made that much of a difference, other than having two extra joints. Truth is, I’ve never really cared for the ankle joints on the Joe figures, because I didn’t think they added that much. The only ankle joint that I’ve really liked from the G.I. Joe figures are the Storm Shadow from Renegades, and the Joe Trooper from Retaliation. That’s just personally speaking of course. If you’re hung up about it, that’s your perogative, but I don’t think it hampers this figure.
As far as accessories, Zartan has a good selection of items. He comes with a hood that’s attached to a chest harness. The hood is unforgiving in terms of movement, so if he has that on, it’s going to restrict head movement. It’s got a window on the top of it to let light into the piping. There’s a slot on the back that can hold his small blue pistol. In addition, Zartan comes with three heads, Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, and a third, more blank looking head. Honestly, of the alt heads, I feel the one that looks best is Snake Etes, his black mask really meshes with the black on the figure. Zartan comes with a blue crossbow, and a gray quiver that attaches to his back. Zartan comes with a pair of blue swords that can fit in a gray backpack sheath. The configuration is meant to be persona specific, so he cannot carry all of his weapons, it’s more based on which head your using, can you load him up with certain weapons.
As I said, I wasn’t looking forward to this figure, but having him in hand sure changed my thoughts. He may be in the top 3 for me for Retaliation to date. If you’re in the Meijer area of the nation, and you can only get a couple figures, I think this is one of the figures to pick up. Very slick figure to start off the week!