THIS…I HUMBLY SUGGEST!!!
Man oh man do I remember the eager eagerness with which I eagerly wanted Serpentor as a kid. I was eager.
Despite being the kind of Joe fan that likes realistic weapons that shoot bullets instead of lasers, I am also all in on such elements as Serpentor and Cobra La. Sure, I draw the line in some pretty hypocritical places, but creating a simulacrum using the DNA of dead leaders is fine, where apparently the Joes having too much gold on their uniforms isn’t.
I don’t understand it any more than you do, but the heart wants what it wants.
As a fan of both the comic and cartoon, Serpentor was ushered into the line with gigantic fanfare. An entire cartoon mini-series was built around his creation, and he also was the recipient of his own long-running plot in the comic. There were differences in execution, of course—the cartoon dug deep into bluster and loud declarations, where comic Serpentor’s leadership push-pull with Cobra Commander was subtler (at least, most of the time).
But basically, this is a big dude in a gold snake suit.
Getting both Serpentor and his air chariot at the same time definitely gives me those nostalgic vibes of childhood acquisition. Sure, you could have one without the other, but it just feels…incomplete. Swooping Serpentor around on his air chariot while Joes scramble for cover is a large part of the fun.
The chariot is a massive beast of a thing, and very faithful to the original. Much like the toys of days past, it requires some assembly out of the box. But, with a few clicks, everything is ready to go. I like the fact that the chariot comes with two detachable .50 caliber brownings, the type that Roadblock really should have come with.
All of the important notes from the original chariot are carried over, but enhanced for the Classified Series. There are footpegs for his feet, and his hands grip the handlebars solidly, so once he’s fully attached he’s not going anywhere. The handlebars do seem a little low if you want him to be standing upright, so he’s going to need to be slightly crouched with his knees bent if you want him to not look like he’s hunched over. But all together he looks great, and like I said—nostalgia overload.
Serpentor himself is about 96 percent great. I only have one issue with him, and I’ll get to that in a second, first, the good. The sculpting, with that insane amount of scales, is excellent. I feel the same whenever it occurs, but for Serpentor in particular I’m glad that he’s an extraordinarily faithful update to the original.
Another aspect that is very similar to the original is the cape’s connection point. It’s wrapped around the shoulder balls, so it gives that same feel as the original, but with a much better material. There’s a snakeskin motif on the fabric that looks very similar to the fabric used for the black and gold Supreme Cobra Commander.
He poses excellently. He features a double wobble torso, so you get a ball-joint at his diaphragm and another at his waits. This allows him to get a pretty decent side to side and front and back, design willing.
The hips were fine right out of the box, no heat of oil needed. Newer sculpts seem to not have the issue that so many of the earlier figures were having with overly-tight hip balls. At least, in my experience.
The elbows and knees, however, were super tight. I’m not overly concerned with them breaking, but good grief did it take some effort to get those things moving. Once they were bent they were fine, but that initial breaking of the contact point or whatever it is that makes these pinless joints so tight is a bitch and a half.
I’ll get to the heads in a second, but first the accessories. Outside of the chariot itself, Serpentor comes with a snake-themed sword, a staff, two different wrist-blade attachments, a Cobra and a straightened-out snake. In the cartoon, Serpentor would take one of the snakes from his shoulder, straighten it out and throw it like a spear, in what might be the freakiest thing ever done in a cartoon.
No snake is ever that accommodating in real life.
In GI Joe: the Movie, one of these disturbing as hell snake spears is responsible for Duke’s dea…I mean, Duke’s “prolonged coma that he eventually comes out of.”
Serpentor comes with a pair of swappable parts for his snake helmet, and here comes my sole complaint with this figure.
The head itself remains on the figure, but there are two swappable upper-snake helmet sections. One features the Cobra hood attached to the helmet, and then there is another separate helmet section and hood, so you can move his head around. The separate sections effectively emulate how the original figure. The connected hood looks fine, but you won’t be able to move his head, so for my purposes I’m going with the separate pieces, because I like to have his head move around.
But…if I’m being honest, I really don’t like the helmet sculpt at all.
I like the head inside the helmet, the expression—one of calm menace—is fine. But the helmet itself is just…too dinky. It’s too tight to his head, looking more like a snake ski-mask than a snake helmet. And my biggest beef is that the two upper fangs are basically on either side of his nose, with the tips pointing towards the inner parts of his eyes. Not only are they always going to be right there in his field of vision, but the positioning makes the entire head look far less impressive. Most of the interpretations—original toy, comic, cartoon—all have more imposing helmet, where his face is sunken inside, and the broad snake mouth his head rest in allows for the fangs to be further apart, nearly at the outermost corners of each eyes.
It was the first thing that struck me when initial promo images started to show up, and in hand it is really the only part of the figure that I don’t like. A girthier helmet would have made this a 100 percent success.
Well, ok, I would have liked more hand options as well, but we did get an air chariot, so I can understand that.
With that aside, it is a damn fine figure, and is in the running for my figure of the year. He has to compete with several other Joes for that title at the moment (he might be neck and neck with Sgt. Slaughter) but that’s ok. He’s used to that.