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Hasbro: G.I. Joe Classified Series Retro Zartan Review

The retro-carded releases in the Classified Series continue to be some of my favorite offerings of the line overall (I REALLY hope they continue) and Storm Shadow and Zartan are starting to ship now. This week we will be bringing you looks at both, starting today with Zartan.

Zartan has already had a pretty impressive run in GIJCS. This new retro card release is the third time he has been offered in the line, and all three iterations have had unique traits to make each one pretty different. The mainline release held down his overall updated look for Classified, while the convention exclusive “Master of Disguise” gave us his color-changing effect. As you would imagine, this new release takes us all the way back to the vintage roots, and like many retros before him, this is my favorite version of Classified Zartan so far.

That isn’t to say that I have not liked the previous releases – the original had some really fun accessories, and I am sucker for the color change effect of the exclusive, but the color palette and overall look of this latest figure is the most successful for me. It is funny, I have preferred the retro releases of all (I think) the characters we have gotten so far, even though I have very little/no nostalgic attachment to the vintage line. More than anything, I think it speaks to the strength of those vintage looks, and how they can be carried over to today’s lines with modern sensibilities.

The most striking difference is the blue, black, brown, and grey color palette – and it looks great. The original offering is a bit drab being mostly brown and black, and while the silver of the exclusive is cool, I like this combo the best for such a garish character. The Dreadnoks seem as though they are anything but muted, so while Zartan might have the most conservative design of them all, the added color makes him fit in better with Zaranna, and hopefully many more to come.

Zartan is also not quite as pale in terms of his flesh tone as before, and I find this to look a bit more natural. I would have loved it if this version could have been color-changing, too, but I understand that is an added expense for something that I would only use infrequently. Still, the FULL callback to the retro look would have made this just about perfect. The eye color on this version is pretty wild too, so just for the use of greens and blues, it is instantly more striking.

Also included are *most* of the weapons of the original, plus the COBRA logo emblazoned black stand. You get the blaster, back pack, mask, and knife, the latter of which has been nicely painted with a sliver blade instead of solid black. His belt (obviously) still has the peg hole for the monkey paw and snake head, but those pieces are not included here. It makes sense as they are not vintage, but I love that paw so much that I will be swiping it from the standard version for this one in the display. As with the previous releases, the hood and neckerchief are both included and removable.

I realize that this Wal-Mart/Hasbro Pulse shared exclusive line isn’t for everyone, but I am really enjoying it. I love the Marvel Legends and Star Wars retro lines, too, so I guess that makes sense. There are currently two more figures on the docket in Snake Eyes and the Crimson Guard, but I hope that it does continue. The card art and bios are a great touch, and even though last we heard there would not be more, I think there is still some work to do. Scarlett, Duke, and Cobra Commander are all in dire need of retro releases, and Flint, Beach Head, and the upcoming Rock ‘n Roll would all benefit, too. Don’t stop now, Hasbro!

Like I said, if you didn’t get a pre-order in for these, Wal-Mart is the place to go, so good luck in your hunts, WM exclusives are always a pain to track down. Zartan is worth it, though. Stay tuned for tomorrow, Benty will have a look at Storm Shadow, and in my opinion, this might be the best SS figure ever.