I've had this profile scheduled for months. It was just the way it fit into the schedule with various other figures and the fact that this profile was mostly done. Then, Hasbro dropped the Classified Python Patrol Cobra Officer release last week. So, now it looks like this is a response to that. But, hey, I'll take the weird kismet and roll with it.
I don't much care for the Cobra Officer. I have always been a Cobra Trooper fan and found the Officer to pale in comparison to the much more detailed Trooper. But, the Officer included an AK-47. And, to a kid of the '80's, this weapon was the symbol of the bad guys and tied Cobra's imagery to the two greatest evils of the era. So, the figure was imperative, even if it wasn't my preferred Cobra army builder. As a kid, I bought a Trooper at a Kohl's store. But, I don't recall the Officer mattering very much to me. He was in our collection as my parts bin still as some Officer pieces in it. But, the Cobra Trooper was always my preferred Cobra and the Officer was, to me, a lesser figure that wasn't really worthwhile when the superior Trooper was available.
For some reason, Hasbro switched the names on the Python Officer and Trooper. It's not quite a 4-LOM/Zuckuss level screw up. But, it has lead to decades of confusion. Personally, I always felt the Officer mold was better suited to be a trooper since it was bland and included the assault rifle. But, the notion of this mold being an Officer over the Troopers is so ingrained from the original blues, that the name bungling can't prevent me from still seeing this figure as the Officer and the other figure as the Trooper. I have just this one Officer. But, I have quite a few Troopers and even some Factory Custom troopers to supplement them. So, I still see this figure as the officer, even if the official name is that of a trooper.
The upside to this Python Trooper is that the colors and python pattern are excellently done. Green Cobras were all but non-existent in the vintage line. (At least, outside of 1989!) So, the fact that this Python Trooper sports a green shirt makes him stand out. Oddly, grey was also a sparsely used color among vintage figures and this Trooper also features grey accents that highlight the mold's details. The bottom of the figure is cast in black with grey highlights to tie the top to the bottom. In short, the figure isn't a color combo that appears very often and it allows for this figure to be a standout.
The Python Patrol used a color scheme that was consistent across figures. So, this Trooper features the same green that you find on the Python Officer's straps. What is really nice, though, is that the green also matches with the Brazilian Exclusive Python Patrol figures. Gatilho is a nice match for the Officer. And, you can easily mesh the exclusive Brazilian characters with the Hasbro army builders to create a larger, more cohesive team. And, if you pair them up with the Sears Dreadnok Ground Assault, you get a cool little cadre of Cobras that can be used in some specific scenarios.
And, it is in that vein that I use the Python Patrol to this day. I missed them when I was a kid. And, even my brothers were pretty much done with Joe in 1989. So, Python Patrol was solely a subset that entered into my consciousness when I was a collector. It wasn't one that really resonated with me beyond the Viper. But, in 2008 or so, Hasbro released an anniversary sculpt Python Trooper. At the same time, there was a Hiss Tank available at retail. I liked the combo and thought about how awesome it would have been to have had a vintage style Hiss and Python Trooper available at retail just a few years before. But, at the time, Python Patrol figures were dirt cheap. So, I stocked up on some Python Officers and built an army that remains the bulk of my Python Patrol collection today.
The Python Trooper has an accessory variant. His AK-47 can be a glossy black or a light grey. It is imperative to not confuse the light grey weapon of this figure with the white AK-47 from one of the Battle Gear packs. You'll also often see the original, charcoal colored AK-47 from the 1982/1983 Officer with these figures, too, as they are actually easier to find than the black rifle from the Python figure. You can see both variants in the photos below. Neither of the variants appear to be more common than the other. But, these days, it's far more common to see Python Troopers sold with incorrect weapons that it is to find them marked with specific variants of the rifle.
It is a ridiculous travesty that the 2022 Cobra Trooper/Cobra Officer set hasn't been repainted into Python Patrol figures. Hasbro could drop a 6 pack of 4 Troopers and 2 Officers in a white box and baggies (like they do with Star Wars army builders) and sell them without too much difficulty. They took the time to make these new molds and we have yet to see them reused outside of a last minute addition to the Skystriker. Maybe we'll see them someday. But, at this point, I don't hold my breath. It's far more likely we'll see a repainted Trooper or Officer included with a $120 Transformer before we see a real army building pack that's themed and directed at collectors. It would really be hard for Hasbro to have bungled the vintage Joe homages any more than they did.
The Cobra Officer mold wasn't used all that much. The straight arm figure was sold in Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. The swivel arm Cobra Officer was sold in various countries and was available as a mail away for years and years. In fact, bagged Cobra Officers were available as late as 1999 from Hasbro Canada. The mold was used for the 1984 Stinger Driver. Then, Python Officers were sold in 1989. But, they were also available in things such as the Chuck-E-Cheese promos. Hasbro remade the Officer mold in 2004. But, they then found the old mold that same year. It was used in a Toys R Us set, a Comic Pack and the Night Watch set from the DTC line. Then, we got the 2022 Officer and it's repaint on the Stinger Driver. Factory Custom makers have done an Officer mold. So, you can find the proper color variants that Hasbro should have done in that realm.
Way, way too many Python Troopers sell in the $50-$70 range. And, that's not just dealer sales. You'll see the market push that high, too. You can get mint and complete figures in the $40 range. But, even incomplete figures sell in the $30 area. As the crotch is brittle, it's much easier to find broken figures. But, even they will command premiums at times. Python Patrol was once considered less desirable than standard paint job figures. But, those days are gone as collectors have realized that the Python Patrol exists in far lower numbers than their contemporaries. So, pricing now reflects that.