The Classified drought of earlier this year has turned into a monsoon and I could not be happier. I’ve been waiting for my Dr. Mindbender to show up for a week or so because Hasbro is really frequent with their communication about these pre-orders, warning me I’ll be charged soon, letting me know I was charged, and finally sending the shipping notice. Conversely, Gamestop sent me Zarana without a shipping notice! That’s weird, but a great surprise. She’s one of my more anticipated figures, so let’s take a look!
This Dusty/Crimson Guard/Zarana wave is the last gasp of the open window boxes for G.I. Joe so the art is mostly crammed onto the side. I like the energy in these drawings and the sort of manic glee Zarana has in this triptych. It looks to be clearly based on the classified figure because the costume details and weapons match the new elements for this figure. I was slightly disappointed to see that Zarana, Dusty and the CGs weren’t added to the back mural, but the line is getting pretty big now.
Zarana comes with an alternate hair piece, a knife, a larger knife, a gun with removeable magazine, and a pack.
The smaller knife has a bit of a stiletto feel to it and gets a silver paint hit for the somewhat rounded blade. It fits well in the hand and the thigh sheathe.
The rifle has some pretty intricate detailing and has a more realistic feel than some of the nerf-inspired guns. Well, more realistic to my untrained eye. I don’t pretend to be a gun expert. The magazine fits on there nice and tight, so I’m not feeling the fear of losing it. There is a bit of an outlandish add-on with a skill-saw blade on the front of the gun. It feels like a more subtle update on her vintage weapon’s larger blades, though I find it funny that the saw guard doesn’t guard her hands from getting cut when she holds the stabilizing post.
The backpack has a similar overall shape to the vintage pack, but I like the update here as well. There are some techno-looking hard edges mixed with soft cloth pouches and it’s visually interesting. There is also a large hole at the top that fits the hot knife. It really only slides all the way down in the one position and it stays on there well.
I want to say Hot Knife was the term the Hasbro folks used when they announced Zarana and this weapon looks like a hunting knife attached to a PKE meter. It has a bit of a red paint app to indicate that it has heat to it and the idea is that the knife charges up in the pack. It’s a cool idea and well executed in a way that I feel adds to the overall demolitions vibe I get from the Dreadnoks without taking her too far afield from her V1 look.
Like Lady Jaye, Zarana comes with two swappable hair options. One is more like her vintage figure’s mohawk bouffant and one is a bit more of a modern under-cut/mini-mullet. The mini-mullet has a really cool ombre paint application that transitions the bright orange at the front of her hair to the pink plastic of the hair piece with darker pink on the sides. It’s very effective and it kind of brings the more orange hair vibes Zarana had in the cartoon and I think I prefer it to the classic cut. The pieces swap out easily and I feel like they fit a bit better than Lady Jaye’s though you can still knock them askew when posing.
The sculpting on Zaranna is fantastic. First off, I enjoy the slight tweaks they have made to the vintage design with the tougher leather jacket feel to the top. The proportions are lean, but solid and feminine without leaning into a comic-book caricature of exaggerated anatomy. The detail just sings to me, it’s all so sharp. I feel like these are high-definition figures compared to some of Hasbro’s other less detailed offerings. Everything has texture and detail. The pants have a great jean texture and there are tons of tiny costume details like stitching on the boots, chains, buckles, and leather texture on all the straps that give the figure a boost of realism. The highlight for me is the face with her intense eyes and great sneer that communicates so much character. Sculptor Fred Aczon knocked this one out of the park.
The paint highlights the great sculpting particularly with the wonderful face print. The eyes are piercing and I think it brings out the teeth sculpting. There could always be more details highlighted with paint like belt and strap buckles (or the flame design on her boots) or some drybrushing and washes on clothing. I think the jeans could have especially benefitted from a drybrush.
Articulation is very good, but I have a couple of quibbles. Zarana has:
- Swivel/hinge shoulders, wrists, hips, and ankles
- Swivel biceps and thighs
- Ball and socket head, lower neck, mid-torso, and waist
- Double hinged knees and elbows
- Butterfly hinged pecs
- Dropdown hinged hips
The butterfly hinged pecs are neat because they are underneath her shirt overlay and seem to move better than most figures with this articulation point in the line. It’s worth noting that my figure’s hips worked perfectly out of the box and I didn’t feel the need to add any shock oil to them. Most points of articulation have great range, especially the ball joints (so much tilt), but there are a couple of issues. The shoulder pads are soft plastic and are glued to the shoulder, so hinging the shoulders upward is a little tricky and can bend up the shoulder pads. I wish they had used the method I’ve seen in Star Wars Black Series where the shoulder armor is attached to a peg that attaches to a cup that sits within the shoulder assembly so it can rotate with the arm or hinge out of the way. Maybe when they get to Zandar.
The hip hinge cut allows for the splits, but is also visible on the upper leg from some angles in a neutral position.
Overall, I love this figure. The Dreadnoks are my favorite faction in the Joe world, so I can be a bit nitpicky about them, but this hit all the right notes for me. The articulation quibbles do not ruin the otherwise great presentation and while it may be a bit of recency bias, Zarana is in contention for my top figure of the year.