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REVIEW: G.I.JOE CONVENTION ZARTAN/HAWK MORPHING SET
By Thomas Wheeler

This was, for me, the one that got away. I simply didn't have the money at the G.I.Joe Convention to get every single exclusive being offered, and the Zartan-morphing-into-Hawk three-pack was, as such, the one that went by the wayside. However, since that time, I have acquired this set, and it only seems fair to offer a review of it, since I reviewed everything else.

The set is a three-pack, which includes a Tiger Force version of the original 1984 Zartan, a Tiger Force version of the 1991 "Talking Battle Commanders" Hawk, and a "middle" figure that uses the body of that same Hawk figure, with a Zartan head.

It is this middle figure that is really the oddball one of the lot. For one thing, the Zartan head is not the same Zartan head as on the Zartan figure. That would not have worked, as the Zartan upper body and the Hawk upper body, given the years in which they were originally made, have different neck openings. Zartan, from 1984, has the neck point that only allows the head to turn from side-to-side. Hawk, on the other hand, from 1991, has the "ball joint" that allowed for greater overall head movement.

Although I am hardly an expert on the new-style G.I.Joes, what appears to have been done here is that the head from a new-style Zartan figure has been outfitted with a new neck joint compatible with the 1991 Hawk upper body, and used in place of the original Zartan head. And for the most part it's a pretty good match, both in fit on the Hawk body and in comparison to the original Zartan head, although the head-dress is somewhat different. However, the end result of a figure with Hawk's body and Zartan's head is still pretty peculiar looking.

Then there's the Tiger Force Zartan figure. This Zartan hasn't been seen since 1984. The traditional-style Zartan that was sold in the 2000-2002 sets actually used the body of the SAW-Viper. This is the original Zartan, head to toe. And overall, it's very cool -- with one mild peculiarity.

The snap-on chestplate and leg pads have been molded in clear plastic. Now, in fairness, they were molded in clear plastic in 1984. But they were painted black for the most part, with clear spaces on them so that the color-change stickers they came with could show through. I recall being told once, years ago, by a Hasbro executive, that different types of plastic actually require different particulars in their molds. It's entirely possible that the chestplate and leg pads HAD to be molded in clear plastic for this figure.

The effect, though, is of Zartan wearing a see-through shirt. Frankly, that's just a little on the creepy side for my tastes. The back of the chestplate, which is molded to Zartan's back, has been painted dark grey. I suspect I may eventually do the same for the chestplate and the leg pads, and I probably won't be the only one.

However, overall, it's an excellent Zartan figure, and the first time the original Zartan has turned up completely in twenty years, so I can hardly complain about the return of the original version of such a popular character.

Finally, we have the Tiger Force General Hawk. Now, I know that according to the storyline, this is supposed to be Zartan fully morphed into General Hawk, to trick the Tiger Force troops into a trap set by the Dreadnoks and Dreadheads being led by Zarana. But it's a little hard not to see this figure as simply a Tiger Force version of General Hawk.

This is the 1991 version of General Hawk, a figure who was originally part of the Talking Battle Commanders line. As such, he has a rather flat space on his back where the original talking backpack went. However, this is nowhere near as glaring on him as it is on the from-the-same-series Cobra Commander that turned up in the first set of the comic/figure 3-packs.

And it's a good figure of General Hawk, even if the face doesn't greatly resemble the Hawk face that was used in 1986 and again in 1991 for "Jet Pack" General Hawk. Granted, with the sunglasses molded to the face, it's sort of hard to tell for sure. The hair color is excellent. Hawk has been both blonde and brown-haired. The hair color on this Hawk is a sort of greyish tan. Nice compromise.

The uniform design is excellent. Distinctly military overall. And even allowing for the orange Tiger Force trousers, it's still an improvement over the "General Tomahawk" from the 2000-2002 line, where someone got the idea of doing the "mixed color" plastic idea, only they used brown and white mixed together on the jacket, and the result looked like the general had been carpet-bombed by pigeons. The jacket on this Tiger Force Hawk is solid brown, so I guess he found a dry cleaners that took care of that for him...

Since, ultimately, this set is supposed to be of just one character, Zartan, morphing into Hawk, there's only one file card, and it's for Zartan. It reads as follows:

ZARTAN Master of Disguise File Name: Unknown (uses aliases too numerous to list.) Birthplace: Unknown

ZARTAN is one of the most notorious mercenaries working for the Cobra organization. He is a gifted umpersonator, ventriloquist, linguist (over twenty languages), acrobatic contortionist, and a master of several mystic martial arts. Highly skilled in both infiltration and espionage, he uses an almost chameleon-like ability to blend into his surrounding environment. This is accomplished with specially-designed microchip-sized hologram projectors implanted into his uniform, weapons, and equipment. He uses a stealth "invisibility" to enter top-secret locations unnoticed and often impersonates members of the G.I.Joe team.

His current scheme is the theft of a top secret Hydrogen Fuel Cell. However, to accomplish this task, he must assume the identity of GENERAL HAWK ABERNATHY and assign unsuspecting troops to the Tiger Force unit. These soldiers will carry out an ill-fated mission to a secret base that doesn't exist - a mission destined for failure at the hands of his sister, Zarana, and the Dreadnoks.

"Like the king of a chess game, I've appointed my queen to a position of power, allowing her to maneuver around the board and set a trap for my enemies."

Overall, it's not a bad set of figures at all -- just a little on the weird side. But it does complete my collection of G.I.JOE CONVENTION Exclusives, and I certainly recommend it as such!