Zartan (Desert Battle) - Pursuit of Cobra Pre-Production

When pictures first started leaking of the upcoming Pursuit of Cobra line during JoeCon, my first feeling was "crap...usually I'm there". But my second feeling was "HOLY crap. Those are some freaking awesome looking figures".

For whatever reason, Hasbro has had a somewhat back and forth with what they want to do with the G.I. Joe franchise, and has been struggling to find a real identity. Is it military? Is it science fiction? Is it purely an homage to what it once was in the 80's? Or simply a regurgatation of what we saw from Paramount on screen? There is a delicate balance between fantasy and military, that honestly I feel like was last accomplished with the Sigma 6 line (scale conflicts aside). However, with the Pursuit of Cobra, Hasbro finally feels like they know what they want to do, and they are just killing it.

I've already covered the pre-production version of Desert Battle Ripcord, and of course, it was a thing of beauty...but I mean, come hard is it to make a cool tech trooper in a crazy jetpack? The Desert Battle Zartan is almost a total opposite of that, being a very "low tech" nomadic looking warrior, and manages to pull it off with equal perfection.

Who would have thought that an Australian Dreadnok could be conceived as a low budget, low tech desert nomadic warrior carrying around a bird and toting a large knife? I never would have thought it would have worked, but this freaking WORKS. This figure is fantastic.

The overall design of the figure is fairly basic. He uses the familiar Arnold Vosloo sculpted head (which looks awesome for Zartan, I gotta say), a bare chest, simple bare arms with elbow pads and arm wraps. His legs are equally unremarkable, but they're so nicely sculpted and nicely painted that it makes up for what could be somewhat bland design elements. But honestly, the beauty is in the little things. The intricately sculpted pants, the kneepads, the nicely weathered paint apps just make the figure "pop" even without any gear. But as with any Pursuit of Cobra figures we've seen before, the gear is what really makes the man.

The base figure for Zartan is cool, don't get me wrong. It's great in its simplicity, it maintains the spirit of Zartan and really has some great elements. But once you add the gear to it, this figure is just plain sick.

I love the sculpted hood with shoulder trim, it looks fairly realistic and still holds true to Zartan's vintage style. He's got an awesome machine gun and very nice pistol as well, both military in design and quite realistic. The pistol with the tactical flashlight looks similar to many of the ones that came with other Rise of Cobra figures, but it's actually new with some much better sculpting. I also love the M4 with the grenade launcher as well.

The post with the falcon is an interesting addition and really makes the fans think back to once again looks like a low budget nomadic desert soldier or mystic man (which is a pretty neat twist).

And then there's the disguise...Zartan has always been a master of disguise, but honestly the disguises were pretty ridiculous. Swappable faces underneath the same hood and over the same chestpad really doesn't look all that impressive, but in this case we get Sandstorm. A fully swappable head, a very nice removable vest, and suddenly this looks like a whole new character (as it should).

The look is generic enough that it works for a military guy with the right stuff on top, but mix it up just enough and Zartan takes his own identity and this figure works nearly flawlessly in both areas.

Not only does the Sandstorm version look great, but he's got a head that works amazingly well for an updated Lowlight, AND he's got some great removable goggles at a 1:18 scale, which is impressive to say the least. The vest is intricately designed with sculpted straps, a great canteen, and lots of nice layered fabric and design.

There are some flaws to be found, here and there... once again, the elbow joints don't seem quite as fully functional as they were in the Rise of Cobra (though still much better than most Anniversary offerings). It's a bit of a struggle to get him to hold his machine gun in a good two-handed pose, but that is a minor quibble.

It seems so simple looking back at it, but Hasbro has had a real hard time getting the "spirit" of Zartan just right. From 90's punk to techno wizard, he has had many different personalities over the years, but few have captured the spirit and essence of Zartan's mystery like this one does. Where many of his disguise aspects have come from technology in the past, this version seems to dip more into the mystical angle, and I think it works very, very well. High quality figure, great concept and amazing accessories all add up to one great looking figure, and a terrific sign for what's to come in 2010 for G.I. Joe, no matter what branding the line is retailing under.


Quick and Dirty Low Light even better with a black Mutt vest
Thanks to m6d for the idea!