Fine Vintage: The Master Of Disguise


If you ask any 80s kid who their favorite Cobra was I bet they tell you Storm Shadow or Fiefly, and admittedly both were awesome figures.  But also included in the Cobra lineup that same year was none other than Zartan the leader of Dreadnoks; a swamp-dwelling biker gang Cobra employed from time to time.   Unlike the the rest of his slithering shelf mates Z was not available carded on the peg.  Instead he came packed with the Dreadnok Swamp Skier.


Unlike the rest of the Joe line at the time Zartan featured a camouflage action gimmick in that his flesh tone parts were made of a heat-sensitive plastic that would turn blue in direct sunlight. Similarly the light green chasis of the Swamp Skier changes color as well.   In the cartoon Zartan was “allergic” to sunlight, and when exposed to it his skin would turn bright blue.   Whereas in the comic he was simply able to change his appearance through the use of holographs.  It doesn’t get any more 1980s than holographics.    z6

While technically a vehicle driver Zartan also comes with many accessories including removable chest and thigh armor, pistol, backpack, and a removable mask that bears a striking resemblance to an evil version of Jesus.  Both the chest and thigh armor pieces also included heat sensitive stickers that would change color along with the rest of the figure when placed in sunlight.


Incidentally the figure was not without controversy.  In his initial release Zartan’s included file card stated that he was a “paranoid schizophrenic” as a result of becoming so many different people over the years.   This of course did not sit well with some parents and so Hasbro omitted that line in later versions of the file card.  Below is an article from an Arizona newspaper detailing the account some twenty-nine years ago.

Z article

1 Comment

Filed under Xander Martin

One response to “Fine Vintage: The Master Of Disguise

  1. i don’t think there was a single character whose story was so different from the comic to the toy to the cartoon.

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