It's no mystery why Cobra always loses its battles with GIJoe. It's not just the raging incompetence, but also the composition of the organization. GIJoe is GIJoe, top to bottom. Cobra Commander, meanwhile, has to oversee any number of factions. Destro gets pissed and the entire legion of Iron Grenadiers goes with him. Hurt Tomax and Xamot's feelings, and you've lost the Crimson Guard. And unless you want an angry punk biker gang chainsawing down your bedroom door at 4am, you'd damn well better listen to Zartan's concerns.
Zartan is a master of disguise
who can impersonate almost anyone by changing his appearance, voice and clothing. He can enter and escape places that were thought to be highly secure, fueling his ghostly legend, although sources indicate that he uses an optomagnetic device that bends light and makes him seem invisible. He is fascinated by weaponry of the past and present, and has created customized weapon systems. He shows little mercy toward anyone whom he and his Dreadnok gang of mercenaries have captured. He will do anything to get the information he wants, and enjoys leaving captives in dank cages in the bayous until they are willing to talk. Despite his cruel streak, he releases captives wounded but alive, so that stories of his unique talents will spread far and wide.
For old-school fans, the Sigma 6 line is a lot like Transformers Classics: a lot of respectful nods to the old toyline, but with definite modern updates. Of course, some of the figures stray pretty far from the old model sheets, but Z-Man here hews tightly to tradition. His color scheme is brown and black, and he's got a few random armor plates. It's a good look for a swamp-dwelling paranoid schizophrenic gang leader with multiple personalities. But then, what isn't?
Even Zartan's face has the classic look,
though the dark patches around his eyes used to be separate, not one solid piece. His eyes are silver, rather than the original white, but it works. There's a suprisingly subtle texture on his hood - and yes, it is a hood. Some folks have always been confused about what that thing is: they think it's hair. What? Where did that come from? The toy, the cartoon, the comics... it's always been a hood. Anybody who tells you different is on the sauce.
Sigma 6 Zartan comes with a bevy of weapons,
most of which look like he kitbashed them himself. And they've all got ridiculous names. For instance, the "Dreadnocker," the crossbow that plugs into his forearm and has a handgrip. It's spring-loaded; when you put one of the included bolts in it, the arms open automatically. The bolts, one tipped with an arrowhead and one with a grenade, fit in a quiver that slings over the figure's shoulder
and looks like it's made from a bundle of reeds. Someone was asleep at the wheel, though, because there are spaces for three projectiles, but the figure only has two. Yay.
Next he's got the "Hideburner," which is described by the packaging as a "firecoil." It's some kind of disc thing with a retractable cord
that has plastic beads on the string. In-story, it wraps around an opponent and heats to 212°. Owie! His final weapon (actually the coolest) is the "Bushranger," a double-barreled machine gun that plugs into his arm and looks like it's held together with duct tape.
Zartan is 8½" tall, and moves at the ankles, knees, hips, waist, torso, wrists, elbows, shoulders and neck. And, suiting an acrobatic-contortionist and practitioner of several mystic martial arts, everything but the torso, waist and ankles are balljoints. He's in a Commando wave, so the top and bottom of his packaging snap together to for a storage locker.
So, that's nice and all, but you can't help but think of the two play features they forgot. First, and most blatantly, Zartan doesn't come with any kind of disguise! All we're asking for is a mask, like the original had.
It could plug into place under his hood. Lt. Stone, one of the Joes released at the same time, comes with two disguises, including one that TURNS HIM INTO ZARTAN, and big Z doesn't get anything at all? For cryin' out loud, Hasbro! What the hell?! Additionally, it would have been cool if he reacted to UV light like the original - his skin should change colors in the sun. But compared to the lack of a disguise, that's a minor thing.
Even if this figure is missing one important feature (and one that would just be cool), he still has a lot going for him. With only a minimal redesign, Sigma 6 Zartan should appeal to fans of the original figure. Now how about some Dreadnoks for him to command?