It seems like just yesterday when Sigma 6's release was on the horizon...set to hit in October, 2005, these new figures were getting widely panned by collectors everywhere for their scale, their design, and even their name. 3 3/4" was fading away (so it seemed) to be replaced by these oversized monstrosities with anime features, large hands and goofy sculpts. How could this happen?

I was among the first supporters, always willing to give Hasbro (a company that has kept me captivated with toys for over twenty-five years) the benefit of the doubt, and quite unwilling to relentlessly slam a new toyline without even getting it in my hands first. Not to mention the fact that when I first started seeing pictures of this new line, I was instantly captivated by the original design, and actually found myself really liking the new sculpting techniques. So, as usual, I had a feeling I would be standing firm against the overwhelming wave of hatred for Sigma 6, which was something I was kind of used to when it came to regular Hasbro releases over the past 4-5 years, anyway.

Now a year has passed. Unbelievably, yes it has been a year already...a year of ups and downs and different experiments...and without a doubt, a year of complete success. With each passing month I see more and more staunch Sigma 6 opposers realizing that while this isn't the G.I. Joe they grew up with, it is a line with potential, and it is a FUN line, which is the most important thing. Some like the designs, some don't...that's going to happen. But best of all, people are actually giving the toys a chance, and many of those who are, are coming away with VERY positive opinions about them. Sales are great, the cartoon is picking up steam, and while they might not be your G.I. Joe, they are excellently produced toys, and most importantly, toys that are FUN, which is something alot of us elder collectors sometimes overlook.

From simply a production standpoint, I think it would be tough to argue that the figure designs themselves hadn't made huge strides as look at this figure will immediately show you that Sigma 6 figure design is light years beyond what it was just a year ago, and considering the original figures were pretty darn cool, that is REALLY saying something! As for Zartan himself...if Lt. Stone weren't in this very wave I'd call him the pinnacle of Sigma 6 design asthetics to date, but as it is, he must somewhat share that role with the good Lieutenant.

As with most of the COBRA agents in the Sigma 6 line, new sculpts are required in order to properly represent the COBRA agent's appearence, and new sculpts are used to absolute PERFECTION here. Whatever the reason may be, Hasbro has been totally incapable of producing an updated Zartan that was even remotely as interesting design-wise, as the original was back in '84. Whether it was a complete misuse of parts (like the '01 SAW Viper re-use), a separation of concept (like the bizarre open shirt cybernetic armed new sculpt versions), or something totally out of the blue (like the ski-cap/chest pad version) it just seemed like Hasbro could not grasp the elements that made Zartan cool, and do him service in an update. Closest they came to was a comic pack update that just pretty much used the same exact mold.

Well, the first time I saw the animated model for Zartan in Sigma 6, my response was "finally!!!". Hasbro/Gonzo got the design perfect. He had his trademark hood and facepaint...he had some very cool gauntlets...and he had some absolutely incredible looking chestplate armor, that looked nice and modern, yet still managed to capture Zartan's classic look 110%. Ever since I first saw that animated model, I've been praying for a Zartan figure that would accurately depict this new look. Well my prayers have been answered. The Sigma 6 Zartan is here, and it is incredible.

The head sculpt is simple, yet perfect, and the way Hasbro has sculpted the plastic hood is near perfection as well. Original prototypes showed a more cloth surface hood, but this plastic one looks great as well. The way they actually shaped it over his head to drape properly is simply fantastic. Zartan's torso is a work of art, too, with perfectly layered body armor and chestplates, all sculpted very nicely and integrated well together. There's lots of nicely designed metallic armor detailing, and they worked the torso articulation in here beautifully.

Throughout the rest of the mold, with his oversized armored gauntlets, armored legs, and fantastic oversized shoulder pads, this Zartan is nearly perfectly translated from his animated counterpart, and the figure is just designed excellently. I do have one slight complaint about his arms...due to the size of his gauntlets, the elbows don't quite flex as far as I'd like them to. This is a pretty minor complaint, though, and at least from a design standpoint this figure looks fantastic. Thankfully, too, the shoulder pads are on swivel joints that allow them to raise and lower easily, so Zartan's arms are not hindered in that way at all.

From a color perspective, it's pretty tough to go wrong. If you can stick to the old brown and metallic format, it's safe to assume the figure's paint scheme will be successful. That is definitely the case here. The bulk of his actual uniform is brown, as it should be, and he appears to be wearing a bodysuit, which is a cool way to update the character to more modern times. Over this plain brown bodysuit is layered armor painted in various shades of metallic silver and somewhat darker shades. There is a certain texture and sculpting to his armored plating that really gives it a sense of protection, and even a sense of functionality. This armor looks like it's a lot more able to conceal the holographic technology Zartan uses than even his effective original sculpt from '84. The paint apps here are very muted and pretty standard, and I think they work remarkably well.

One weak point in the Zartan figure, I have to admit, is the accessory compliment. I know Zartan's never really been known for his gear, but there's just something very strange about this stuff he's toting around. It's obvious from his voice on the show that he's meant to be Australian, but his weapons have a decidedly "Old West" feel to them. Perhaps Hasbro was going for a "Mad Max" kind of style, which has some neat potential, but the cow's skull theme to the crossbow seems kind of odd. I do like the fact that they're concentrating on a bow-style weapon, since Zartan is well known for his archery skills from the Joe comic, I'm just not really sold on the sculpting style of his weaponry. His quiver is strange, but I like the elastic strap, and it works well for holding his arrows. The spike-wheel-chain weapon is pretty strange, too, not really sure where that came from.

One accessory I DO love are his arm-mounted machine guns! They attach securely to his gauntlet port and are sculpted near-perfectly! I do really like how Hasbro made these an improvised weapon-system, with the cloth wrapping around the barrels and the really looks like some old junk that Zartan cobbled together to create a dangerous weapon that can really cause some damage. What a fantastic gun, I wish the rest of his gear was this neat.

All in all, I've been waiting for a good Zartan figure ever since I first saw him in the cartoon. I am not the least bit disappointed! Things are a little odd...he's a "Mercenary" instead of "Master of Disguise" as he's always been, but it still works for him, and they do at least reference his disguise ability in the filecard. The figure sculpt and paint apps are absolutely flawless. I'm not 100% sold on his accessories, but those are give or take, and ultimately the figure itself is the important part. Hasbro knocked it out of the park with this figure, and I recommend Zartan without ANY hesitation whatsoever. Awesome job!














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