Updated: Dec 5, 2018
Review : Apollo Creed Rocky 40th Anniversary Series (NECA) Wave/Series : Wave 2 (Rocky IV) Released : May 2017
Pros : Two figures in one, with the ring entry Apollo and the in-ring fighting Apollo. Despite complex design, the paint apps are spot on Cons : Minor gripe around leg articulation. The jacket is a tad tough to remove
The original Apollo Creed 7" figure from NECA was released in 2012. This 2012 version was Apollo as seen in the first Rocky movie in 1976 where he went head to head with the titular character. After this, figures of Carl Weathers have been very short on the ground with NECA seemingly unable to translate Weathers likeness to the Predator licence or indeed replicate any more of Apollo's Rocky appearances.
Roll forward to 2016 and it was announced that the Rocky figures were going to get a new lease of life in a 40th Anniversary collection spanning 4 waves, each based on one of the first four Rocky movies. After the first wave focused on Rocky III and included figures of Rocky and Mr T, the second wave was confirmed as being based on Rocky IV and fans of Apollo Creed were delighted to find we would now get the "showman" figure - complete with top hat and Stars & Stripes tailcoat. Apollo was released onto store shelves in the Summer of 2017.
The Rocky 40th Anniversary figures are now boxed releases rather than the original blisters. The standard design is a black box with spotlight star icons as a backdrop. Over this we get a theme colour, which for the Rocky IV releases is a bring red. This red design is used to create a two tone image of Apollo in the bottom left, and on the side spines the red is used for the silhouette of Rocky in that iconic arms raised victory pose.
The movie name is picked out in a simple white text, with the character name underneath. The figure is presented in a window on the front of the box which wraps over the top flap.
While the front of the box is tailored for the figure, the reverse of the box is standard for any of the four figures in the Rocky IV wave. We get a short synopsis of the movie and how World Champion Rocky faces off against new challenger Drago. Under this is an image of Rocky from the end of the movie, wrapped in the Stars & Stripes. The box reverse ends with images of the four figures that make up Series 2 - Apollo, Rocky and two Drago figures.
The bottom of the box, if you are interested in this detail, confirms the development team for the figure and also carries the NECA and MGM logo's. The figure is accessed via either the top or bottom flap. It slides out within an inner cardboard tray which is a deep red to create a backdrop to the figure and is consistent with the overall red theme.
Apollo is strapped into the clear plastic tray with four black twisty ties. Either side of the figures head sits the top hat and the alternative head.
The likeness to Carl Weathers is exactly as you would expect from NECA. Not only is it very well sculpted likeness, it also captures the smiling fun loving Apollo that we see dancing to James Brown as he makes his journey to the ring to face Ivan Drago. The head is cast in a skin tone plastic with the eyes and mouth painted over the top. The teeth are visible thanks to the beaming smile, something we don't always see on Action Figures, and these are painted with impeccable detail. Moustache and Hair are sculpted with texture - but are a plain black colour.
Moving down from the head and you start to appreciate some of the other detail in the outfit including the individually painted stars, the golden tassels on the shoulders and the red tassles on the boots.
Overall the outfit works well and even with such stark contrasting colours like red and white, there is very little bleeding or issues. The blue front collar of the coat is bring and also carries a sculpted texture. My only grip for the coat and costume is that from the back it does make Apollo look a little hunchbacked. Of course this is because the coat is a separate piece, and the issue is negligible considering no-one will display Apollo from this angle.
The Top Hat is a separate piece and cast in a rubbery plastic so it has a degree of give. It too is painted really well with more red and white stripes and individually painted white stars. It fits neatly onto Apollo's head and does not look oversized or unnatural - or at least no more oversized than it was in the movie - excellent engineering.
The jacket is removable, although there is nothing on the package that indicates so. It is not the easiest to remove, and you will need to pop off the gloves and then position the arms behind Apollo and slide the coat off. It is tight completing this maneuver and I would not recommend doing it too often. There is however no obvious damage to the paint of the coat or to the joints of the figure.
With the coat off you now have Apollo in his ring attire ready to fight. The body is a re-use of that original 2012 release figure, but it certainly doesn't show its age with well defined musculature and body tone. The shorts are a new piece with the higher blue waist band. Again, these are very well decorated with more red & white striping and white stars on the blue trim.
The gloves appear to be the same as the 2012 figure but are repainted white with red trim to be accurate to the Rocky IV movie. They even carry a decal for Tuf Wear, the company that supplied the gloves in the film. The boots, like the shorts, are new and are white in colour with red trim and tassels and red & blue stripes down either side of the sculpted laces.
Of course once in the ring the happy-go-lucky Apollo demeanor changes to the meaner and more focused Apollo we know. To replicate this, NECA provide an alternative head sculpt of Weathers. This is cast in the same skin tone plastic with the same level of paint detail on the eyes and hair.
The head is on a slim peg with a notch to keep the head in place, the smiling head pops off easily and the replacement slides down and clicks in place neatly.
The 40th Anniversary figures from NECA have been mixed in terms of articulation and it seems to depend on whether the figure is a new release or if it uses a 2012 sculpt. The upper articulation is excellent on Apollo. The head is free moving on that peg, and beneath this neck joint we have a ball jointed torso that allows the abs section to be bent forward or backward - crucial for that specific boxing stance and guard.
The arms are ball jointed at the shoulder with a wide range of movement upward and outward - although if you have the coat in place this will be reduced. The elbow is a single joint, but it bends to 90 degrees and also rotates. You have a similar rotation on the gloves also for the final position of the hands.
The hips on any NECA Rocky figure are restricted by the rubberised trunks that they use. While this hides the hip joint neatly, it does stop Apollo hitting anything other than a standing pose. You can rotate the hips under the trunks to vary the pose slightly and to line up the joints underneath as needed. You then have a single jointed knee which will only bend to about 90 degrees. This knee does rotate like the elbow, but doing so goes against all the laws of human joints and rotating it also exposes a hole in the joint which ruins the look of the figure.
To aid the stances, we have ankle rockers built into the boxing boots. And the cleverest part of the foot joint is the jointed toe which allows stepping forward & backward poses.
Just in case you want a stern looking Apollo in his coat and hat, I can confirm the hat fits the serious head as well as it fits the smiling one.
Apollo Creed is the star of the Rocky IV releases, and is arguably the star of the 8 figures that NECA have released in the 40th Anniversary collection. Sadly, he may be the last as sales don't seem strong enough for NECA to continue with the Rocky I and II figures - denying us further Apollo figures. Apollo is bordering on the Ultimate level of release coming with two head sculpts and a distinct outfit change - and all of this is painted and sculpted really well. Articulation is limited around the legs, but nothing that stops me lining up Apollo in a boxing pose against Drago or entering the ring and dancing to James Brown.
The only criticism you could level at Apollo is his scarcity. He sold out from initial deliveries really quickly and this was certainly helped by the raft of Predator collectors who wanted to grab the Weathers head to make their own Dillon figure. Even as we write this review just 6-months or so after release, you can be paying anywhere up to twice the original RRP to bring Apollo into your NECA collection.
I score Rocky IV Apollo Creed a perfect 5 out of 5.