1984 Zartan: Master of Disguise
Includes: backpack, face mask, shield, 2 knee pads, pistol
Never shake hands with this guy. You can't trust 'em.
Roll over the images below to find out more, or click the images to enlarge them. Photos courtesy of Phillip Donnelly.
Early versions of Zartan's file card featured a psychological profile labeling him an "extreme paranoid schizophrenic". There was some blow back. The Mental Health Association of Indiana requested that Hasbro halt distribution of the "doll."
Hasbro made a running change at the factory to remove the psychological profile. I still like to consider him highly unstable.
Kirk Bozigian (G.I. Joe Product Manager) discusses where the color change plastic came from and how they decided to use it in a figure.
Interestingly, the television advertisement for G.I.Joe #25 has been found with two different narratives, one that reveals the color change ability earlier on and another that saves that reveal for the ending.
The mystery of the floating mask artwork
In 1984 Hasbro unveiled artwork of Zartan running alongside his floating mask. This art was shown on the cover of the U.S. catalog and on the back of every carded figure in the cross-sell section. This cross-sell space was reserved for single carded figures, and did not traditionally promote vehicle drivers or pilots. Zartan is the only exception to this rule in the 1980s. Zartan was not released as a single carded figure, and instead was released with his Chameleon. In 1986, Hasbro again released this artwork as part of the 1986 "Action Cards" Trading Cards (by Milton Bradley), and Takara (a Japanese licensee) released Zartan on a blister card and used the U.S. artwork, making this a highly desirable figure. Zartan photo courtesy of Phillip Donnelly.