1986 Zarana

1986 Zarana

As a sub-group, the Dreadnoks started off very hot in ‘84 with Zartan, and subsequently in ‘85 with Buzzer, Ripper and Torch. After that, however, the Dreadnoks quickly became decidedly more mediocre, with ‘86 introducing Monkey Wrench, Thrasher, and Zartan’s twin siblings, Zandar and Zarana.

For the purpose they serve, I like the Dreadnoks. They’re fun figures that are unique and individualistic. Even the more generic or uninspired members add something to the line, in the way that they’re somewhere between being an army-builder and an actual character, kinda like Cantina goons in Star Wars. It gives Cobra some individual characters that are unique, but also unimportant enough to be disposable and believably subdued with relative ease.

Unlike the more generic Dreadnoks, however, Zarana has a much more defined character, and I have’t always liked it. In Sunbow, they gave her a really cringey romantic plot with Mainframe, which always irritated me a bit. A lot of the times in the cartoons, and also a bit in the comics, I felt she wound up just being an expy for the Baroness. In general, I felt as though the character’s portrayal was always either irritating or just phoned-in.

The figure itself is kind of fun. Having a female to hang around with the Dreadnoks is a tad interesting. The sculpt is overall very detailed and has enough paint to highlight most of that as well, which makes her a fairly fun figure. Like her siblings, Zarana also has a color changing gimmick, though eventually I don’t think there will be any more of these that work. For awhile, you could restore the gimmick by boiling the figure, but this only works some of the time.

gi joe zarana zartan dreadnoks v1 1986 hasbro action figure

Fresh after being boiled. I’m pretty sure it quit working again after this though.

Of course, there’ also the well-known big-head and earrings variant of Zarana. As I recall, early Zarana figures had the earrings head, while the later ones have the smaller head. Some people think the earring variant looks better, and I do think the detail is slightly better, but the derpy expression and gigantic size kills it for me.

I hate Zarana’s parts. She includes a red backpack and a saw-gun-thing. The backpack is rather forgettable, but her cutter weapon seems strange and a little contrived. A normal gun or pistol like Zartan’s would’ve been a lot nicer. I never bothered getting V1 Zarana’s parts, as the similar ones from the comic-pack figure were enough for me.

Zarana’s seem like they’re getting hit pretty hard by the newbie collectors. Pricing at the moment is very inconsistent on them and the earring-variant is going for around $50, while the other version (pictured here) is going for around $15. It’s funny to see people shelling out so much for the “rare” variant, when there’s clearly an ample supply of them being traded around. I like Zarana, but I’d probably not own one if I had to pay these prices.

gi joe zarana zartan dreadnoks v1 1986 hasbro action figure gi joe zarana zartan dreadnoks v1 1986 hasbro action figure

1986 Zarana Links:

Forgotten Figures

3D Joes

Half the Battle

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5 Responses to 1986 Zarana

  1. Mike T. says:

    I’m not a big Zarana fan. In general, the Dreadnoks as a concept don’t do much for me. I did use Zandar for a while. But, he was more of a stand alone character than really trading on his brother’s name.

    Zarana never did anything for me. I despised her in the comic and started to skip over her story arcs in the issues where she appeared. Her association with Road Pig just made it worse.

    Even today, I don’t really like the figure. The sculpting (outside of the head) is OK. But, the overall look and feel of the character is just something that’s never held my interest.

  2. R.T.G. says:

    1986 is a really odd year, as it’s probably the most cartoony year in the entire G.I. Joe line. This leads to some figures that wind up looking a lot worse than they would’ve either the year before or a year or two after.

    Zarana is a pretty big victim of that. Her character isn’t much either, since her role seemed to be “Zartan stand-in” or “Baroness stand-in”. It’s a shame, because her sculpt is based off of Wendy O. Williams (her real name), lead singer of a Punk band known as the Plasmatics. The Plasmatics were a legitimately shocking group int he 1980s, because they had a fairly aggressive tone, a woman singer, and some wild ass stage theatrics (Blowing up cars, chainsawing guitars, sledgehammering TV sets), which got them on TV every once in a while, but the interviews would usually go poorly “I destroy Televisions, to show that they’re just objects”

    I think the colouring on the figure, also does some damage. The pink is unique, but it undermines Zarana, as it kind of gives her the “Figure your sister or random girl who came over to play, can use” vibe. Might just be me though.

    • Oh wow, Wendy O. and the Plastmatics are mentioned once in GI Joe #12, by the guy in San Francisco whose car Scarface tears in half while escaping Clutch and Scarlett! I didn’t know about Zarana being based on her, maybe both references are Hama’s doing?

  3. My feelings about Zarana are totally dependent on which version we’re talking about. I hate the no-earrings Zarana. She was seemingly in every figure bin at every flea market I went to as a kid in the ’90s, the head is ugly, and they were usually in bad condition, plus I didn’t know how to change o-rings, so I came to see them as just clutter. But I like the earrings version, despite the large head, partly because it was new to me when I first found one and refreshed a boring figure, and partly becuase it just looks better. I agree the accessories are awful.

    I liked her comic characterization, because while she does have some similarities to the Baroness, she’s not overshadowed by Destro, who often seems to be one step ahead of the Baroness. Instead she has Road Pig, who I think is one of the more creative characters Hama came up with later in the run. And he’s definitely not one step ahead of her. I liked her Broca Beach real estate scam storyline, and I wish they’d continued it instead of shifting the focus to Millville. She was one of the only named loyal Cobras left with any personality after the Great Buried Freighter Purge, which made her stand out.

  4. A-Man says:

    IIRC, some Hasbro person said the story behind the second head sculpt was because a major retail buyer disliked the size of Zarana’s earring head. By that time some 35,000 earring head Zaranas had shipped. (If I’m remembering right). So completely new head was done up.

    I didn’t care for her back in the day and was unaware of the head variation for the longest time. Her weapon didn’t help. I recall she was peg warmer, back when gobs of figures were made. Probably didn’t help the future of females in the series.

    It’s rather interesting that Zarana became Cobra Commander’s right hand woman in both the later comic and DIC season 2 (the Baroness appeared in season 2 but in a mostly non speaking role).

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