The Pythona that almost was

In today's review of the GI Joe Collectors' Club member incentive figure Pythona, we spoke briefly about the character's introduction in GI Joe: The Movie and the fact that she didn't get an action figure. But she almost did:

Between 1985 and 1986, Ron Rudat worked on concepts for a character who was, at the time, known as "Pythona."

Given the timeframe, we can tell this wasn't the movie character - it was just a reused name. But look at the design elements:

Golden scales, big capes, the giant collar, the snake staff... this is the character that eventually became Serpentor! Isn't that wild? The Cobra Emperor was almost a Cobra Empress. Clearly when that idea changed, the name was simply recycled for the movie.

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5 Responses to The Pythona that almost was

  1. yo go re says:

    Somebody must've been watching Flash Gordon before sitting down to draw. Is it just me, or she look like Dale Arden in the '80s movie?

  2. Sean_C says:

    Female Serpentor concepts? I've never heard that, even from the guys who scour the world for behind the scenes stuff. Toys and character concepts were made a year or more in advance of when hit the shelves. Yes, there's Serpentor elements in those, but Serpentor's toy already would've been in production in 1985 to arrive on shelves in 1986 (and the season 2 cartoon animation would've been in production in 1985 to be ready for fall 1986). Serpentor's look probably would've finalized in early 1985, then sculpting, tooling, all tha stuff. It's seems more likely Pythona was to be Serpentor's consort. Or that Hasbro's design team didn't CARE what she looked like in the cartoon (they redesigned Baroness's look for her toy debut). Or that she was cancelled early, so the cartoon makers just designed their own look for her. But those are all assumptions. Many characters went through revisions before their final look (there's one more Pythona illustration out there that I've seen that's not shown here). Many more characters never got off the drawing board.

    Based on what I've heard about Cobra-La from interviews from Hasbro employees, I'm not sure where the Cobra-La character names came from (contrary to popular belief, comic writer Larry Hama didn't name every character), since Hasbro's team had the Cobra-La concept forced upon them by the producers of the cartoon (who were basically Hasbro's ad agency, Griffin-Bacall ). That's part of why there was no follow up items; they never wanted them there to begin with. So no Pythona and no Insecticycle vehicle.

    • Ronnie says:

      Actually, you have it reversed... sort of. Hama used Cobra-La as a stand-in name in a treatment. Hasbro's marketing people liked it enough to FORCE it as the final- even though Hama himself disliked it!

      • yo go re says:

        Close: the story's right, but it was Buzz Dixon (the cartoon writer), not Larry Hama. Hama just refused to use them at all...

        • Sean_C says:

          Yes. Dixon pitched the Cobra-La thing as one of two origins as to where Serpentor came from, since Hasbro just wanted to have the Cobra Emperor appear as if the character had been a part of Cobra all along, but never seen, sort of like the Emperor showing up in Empire Strikes Back. (Who at least was mentioned in A New Hope). This caused a big problem in the plans for season 2 of the cartoon that Buzz Dixon tried to sort out with Hasbro by offering 2 concepts. Hasbro went with both origin of the proposed ideas for Serpentor, the connection to the mysterious "Cobra-La" and a DNA clone made from historical conquerors. Dixon preferred the latter.

          So Hasbro's decision to make Serpentor mucked up GI JOE more than most people realize.

          The comic was spared because Hasbro wasn't insistent as to what appeared in it, though Hama said there were occasional mandates (including killing off Cobra Commander, which oddly never really happened in the cartoon movie...but someone at Hasbro insisted).

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