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Hasbro: GI Joe Classified Series Pulsecon Exclusive Master of Disguise Zartan Review

I loved the retail version of Zartan and wasn’t expecting another variation to make it out so soon, so the Pulsecon Zartan was not only a surprise, but was an instant upgrade in every way from the previous version. There’s room for both in my collection, but boy do I love this one.

I had very few complaints about the initial Zartan (covered by Matthew K last year right here) but I did have two “things that could be better” nitpicks. Which are like baby complaints.

The first was the color scheme. The previous Zartan was a little drab in color, with an almost monochromatic feel to him. I missed some of the perkier vintage colors.

The second complaint was the placement of his knife. I really wish it had been attached to his boot, instead of at the back of his belt. Like I said, a baby complaint. The color scheme is improved, while the knife placement is not. I think I can live with that.

The new Zartan not only gives him some poppier mahogany browns in place of the darker chocolate browns of his regular version, bu tit also adds touches of silver on his chestplate, shoulderpads and thigh covers. While not exact, it is all very reminiscent of his Marvel comics appearances, where his chestplate was often all silver. It’s also close to a version of his file card art when he was single-carded. In short, I love the different colors on this, and this has taken over the previous Zartan’s spot as my “main” Zartan.

This version also reintroduces the color-changing feature found in the original toy. The color change is activated by cold instead of UV rays this time around, but having a Zartan that changes color smacks the nostalgia bone pretty hard. It was a cold day when mine arrived, so he showed up with a bad case of the blues. The color shift feature lasts a nice long time once he hits the near-freezing point, and just a touch of body heat will snap his skin back to normal. The only side effect of the color-change feature is that his skin seems to have a slight yet permanent blue-gray undertone. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but it does stand out when put up against the previous figure.

Outside of the color-changing and the additional colors of the figure, it’s overall the exact same figure, well-articulated and less inhibited in the torso than some other figures due to the nature of his costume. I do find I need some blu-tac to keep his hood permanently seated on his head. I’m finding more and more that the drop-down hips make me more nervous than the benefits afford. They weren’t terribly stuck on my figure—I didn’t have to heat/oil them to get them to move easily, and there doesn’t appear to be any white stress marks—but something about the engineering or structural integrity needs to be addressed. So they don’t feel quite so problematic

Being a deluxe, this Zartan comes with a bunch more accessories than the previous version. The knife, pistol, backpack and vintage-specific mask carry over, but he loses the paw and snake voodoo pieces.

In addition, he also has a bow, quiver and sniper rifle. Since this is almost a Marvel Comics Zartan figure, the bow and quiver make a lot of sense, since those weapons were particularly important to the “Who killed the Hard Master” storyline. He also used a bow and arrow to kill Serpentor.

Uh…spoiler alert, I guess.

The bow he used in the comics was different than this one, but the sentiment is there, and they already had a mold for this one, so it’s not a surprise that it was shifted over to him.

He comes with several different masks/heads, most of which are relevant to the same general storyline. In addition to his vintage mask, Zartan comes with Hard Master and Soft Master masks that all fit snugly to his face the same way the vintage inspired one does. There’s also a skull mask with some cybernetic looking eyes that attaches by a strap that goes around his head.

(I would love to get actual Soft Master and Hard Master figures in this line.)

He also comes with a full visored Snake Eyes head and a Storm Shadow head.

This variation of Zartan was an unexpected but most welcome upgrade to the previously released figure. Everything about it gives me that feeling that I want to get when I have a Classified figure in my hand.