Updated: Dec 5, 2018
Review : Ivan Drago Rocky 40th Anniversary Series (NECA) Wave/Series : Wave 2 (Rocky IV) Released : May 2017
Pros : Arm and upper body articulation, attention to detail on the gloves, shorts and boots Cons : Head sculpt is not quite there from some angles thanks to that mouth
After tackling Rocky III in the first wave of the 40th Anniversary Rocky Series, NECA switched to my personal favourite Rocky IV in the second wave. This second wave of four figures could end up being the last as NECA seem on the fence about whether to pull the plug on the other two waves which would cover Rocky and Rocky II.
This second wave finally brought us a realistically painted Rocky in the US flag that had previously been a Video Game release. We also get Apollo Creed in his showman outfit. And to square off against both Rocky and Apollo we get two versions of the Russian Ivan Drago.
Here we will be looking at Ivan in his yellow shorts. This is the figure that fought, and ultimately killed Apollo Creed at the start of Rocky IV.
Each Rocky figure comes in a window box that is black in colour, with the very 80's spotlight star background. Each wave has a theme colour, and wave 2 is red. You first see this in the artistic impression of Drago to the bottom left of the box front and then again on the two spines where the Rocky silhouette is picked out in red. The film name and character name is, in contrast, a bright white.
Round the back of the box we find that iconic image of Rocky, draped in the US flag, celebrating at the end of the movie's climax fight. Above this sits a synopsis of the film itself. The box back ends with a four figure checklist that summarises the other figures in the Rocky IV wave.
Out of the box, Drago is seated in a clear inner tray that sits in a red card backdrop. He is tied into position with those annoying twist ties.
The likeness to Dolph Lundgren is particularly strong, both looking at the figure head on and also from the side profile. The square jaw and the flat top hairstyle are crisp and well sculpted. But there is something about the mouth that does throw off the look, it is maybe turned down a little too much, almost an exaggeration of the look they were going for.
While this is essentially a re-release of the earlier Drago figure, the painting has improved with better definition in the hair. There is also an intensity captured in the painting of the eyes. I do think, going back to this issue with the mouth, that this new version uses a more intense lip colour and that is contributing to the exaggerated look that I am finding odd.
The body of Drago is pretty much perfect in that it captures the toned and ripped look of a 1985 Dolph Lundgren. Not only do we get muscle definition, but up close we can see tendons and sinew - and all cast in a skin tone that is also glossy and therefore looks sweaty as though pre-fight. There is no paint detail as such on any of the skin areas, the figure relies on the sculpt and the natural lighting to define depth and texture. Once you start looking closely at the rest of Drago you do start to appreciate the detail NECA have drip fed into this release. First off the yellow shorts carry a small hammer & sickle on side while red pin striping goes up either side. The shorts are washed over the base yellow with an orange hue that gives them an almost golden look. If you look at the boots then there is more detail like the intricate sculpted laces, the red striping and again more Soviet icons with the star and half moon on the back of each boot. The gloves too are not just a plain red and white. They are really glossy to start with, and also carry a Tuf-Wear logo on each glove - and this is the actual make of glove used in the movie.
Articulation is maybe not as strong as we saw with the Rocky figures to date. The upper articulation is stronger than the lower and starts with a ball jointed head which can be rotated and be angled up or down - down being the best one so Drago can look down at his "inferior" opponent.
The shoulders are ball jointed and can be raised above the head and out to the side. The issue with the shoulders is that with the width of Dragos chest the arms can never go directly by his side and will always be set out from the body if you are doing any neutral posing.
Boxing poses on the other hand are easy to achieve thanks to the wrist joints and the ball pivot hidden under the gloves. Jabs and Punches are easy to maneuver and the gloves can also be put into a combination of defensive positions.
The waist crunch further supports boxing poses allowing Drago to look like he is ducking and weaving.
The hip joint is locked in behind the shorts, so there is very little movement here - your choice is between a neutral stance or a slightly wider neutral stance. What you can do however is have Drago stepping or advancing forward. By doing this and using the single knee joint you can further enhance your fight pose. This is supported by some stiff ankle rockers, and that unusual and innovative toe articulation to allow for a "stepping" position.
In the movie Drago was named "Death from Above" amongst other things, and the figure replicates the 6ft 5inch frame of Drago/Lundgren and the figure towers over the Rocky counterpart from the same wave.
While Drago cuts an impressive solo figure, the real beauty of these NECA figures is the fight poses and making the most of the fight injury parts that NECA throw in with certain figures. Here is Drago meting it out to Rocky and standing over our hero while we wait for a 10-count.
I have to recognise that this is one of two Drago's in the wave, but I don't mind that as each has a place on the shelf - this one to square off with Apollo Creed (if I can ever find one) and the bloodied red short Drago to go up against Rocky.
Considering this is my favourite Rocky movie, and one of my overall 80's favourites I am going to try not to be too biased while I sum up and score Ivan Drago.
From a sculpt point, this is an excellent figure aside from that slightly exaggerated mouth. The articulation is dated, but does enough for what you want out of a boxing figure. Paint and detailing is good, but I would have liked some more paint application on the skin tone - something akin to what they did with the black short Rocky in wave 1. These are all small issues, but do detract from what could have been a pretty perfect figure.
Considering NECA are keeping these under £25 while smaller and less detailed figures are exceeding this new barrier in 6"-7" figure pricing - Ivan Drago is pretty good value for money. I therefore score him a 4 out of 5.
Checkout the NECA figures available at Kapow Toys