Updated: Dec 5, 2018
Review : Rocky Balboa* NECA, Rocky III Wave/Series : Rocky 40th Anniversary Series 1 Released : June 2016
*2 versions of Rocky are available in Series 1. Black trunks with title belt and blue trunks. This review covers both figures but at this stage we are working with the black trunk version and will update out gallery with the alternative version in due course.
From 2012 to 2014, NECA produced a small series of Rocky figures - with characters taken from the first four films including the titular Rocky Balboa, Ivan Drago and Apollo Creed. The series has taken on almost cult status and finding any figure from this original run of clam-shelled figures will mean paying considerably over the odds.
In 2015 it was announced that NECA would return to the Rocky licence with a 40th Anniversary series of figures. Within this they would re-release figures from the original range, as well as add in brand new sculpts.
Wave 1 of this 40th anniversary range would be based on Rocky III and contain two versions of Rocky and two versions of the main protagonist, Clubber Lang.
In this review we look at the first of the Rocky figures.
The first considerably change vs the original 2012-14 range is the move to a collectors box for these 40th anniversary figures. The box is a sleek gloss black and of comparable size to other collector lines including Funko's Legacy range and Star Wars Black Series.
Starting at the front of the box, and the black background is actually made up of spotlight stars. The film and character name is presented in stark white text to the bottom right. And to the bottom left is a high shine foil stylised image of Rocky. The window shows off the majority of the figure and wraps round the top flap, but not to either side as we sometimes see on this type of packaging. The colouring of the foil character images and the back drop of the figure tray will apparently be changed for each series.
The two spine sides are identical with the Rocky text logo at the top, and under this the 40th Anniversary wording. In the centre is another foil image, this time of the iconic silhouette of Rocky's celebratory fist in the air pose. Under this is the character name, and confirmation of the series.
The box back is made up of the movie poster for Rocky III and in this case it is this original movie poster that provides the inspiration for the figure itself and it's packed in Championship Belt. To the top of this poster is a short paragraph laying down the premiss of Rocky III. To the bottom of the poster is a four figure check-list detailing all the figures in the line, and on top of these is the wording "The Greatest Challenge".
Out of the box and Rocky is strapped into the usual inner tray, and this sits in the gold/yellow coloured backing card. Once unstrapped then Rocky comes out of the box fully ready to enter the ring, there are no accessories packed with him and the Title belt on the Black version is already attached to his waist.
Rocky stands 6 3/4 inches high, mirroring Sylvester Stallone's stature of 1.77m and that will accurately sit with fans as Rocky always shorter than the opponents he faced in the movies. Rocky feels a nice weighty piece, more so than other recent NECA figures - not sure if that is intentional?
The head sculpt is a strong representation of Stallone, and captures what I think were more refined chiselled features in the 1982 Rocky 3 vs the fresh faced Stallone we saw 6 years earlier in the original 1976 Rocky movie. The hair is perhaps a little less "bouffant"than we see on the film promotional posters, but is a compromise between the promotional images and the mid-fight Rocky.
The beauty of the Rocky figure is the decision by NECA to cast this figure in a very glossy flesh tone plastic. This is then washed to add muscle definition and makes the whole body pop whilst also looking glossy and sweaty as any boxer would be during a bout. On top of this the eyes are well painted as is the mouth.
Clothing wise and Rocky is wearing a pair of boxers trunks which are essentially a rubber piece applied over the top of the body sculpt. On one version of Rocky the trunks are gold with his name monogrammed on the side. These gold trunks are the ones worn by Rocky in his first, unsuccessful, bout with Clubber Lang. The other version is a set of black trunks. These are not actually seen on screen, but are rather the ones used on the promotional posters. The trunks hold loads of sculpted detail with fold after fold of the cloth and them also holding a high ridged elasticated trim.
The black trunk Rocky also comes with the Championship belt. This is a work of art, with a really intricate design of an elasticated yellow strap, over which is a red, white & blue over strap. There is then a huge gold eagle design central piece, and around the side some smaller circular images which are of the actual Rocky figures themselves - Clubber Lang, Rocky, Apollo Creed and Ivan Drago. The belt sits loose on the figure, but has no clear clasp to remove it - although I would guess it would slide (carefully) off via the legs with patience.
The boxing gloves are well sized and neatly painted in a high gloss finish. They are red on the black trunk figure, and gold on the gold trunk. Both versions hold a decal logo to the base, as well as intricate stitching up the palm to the base.
The boots are again identical on both figures other than colouring - black and gold on the poster Rocky, gold and white on the gold trunks version. The outer socks are textured with neat lines applied, but not overly neat so they don't look like a stitched material. The boots hold two tassels either side which hang independently away from the boot rather than being a sculpted part of it. And like the gloves they have a neat lace up sculpt, although one of the boots on mine had some heavy handed painting in its white colouring which lost some of the detail.
Articulation is key for a figure like Rocky, the range is crying out for action shots and to replicate boxing stances. To that end the figure doesn't disappoint. The head is ball jointed so looks fully round 360 degrees as well as looking up and down.
The shoulders are ball jointed and move out to the side by a full 90 degrees as well as up above the head. There is no bicep swivel but rather the arm rotates at the elbow as well as moving 90 degrees again via the single jointed elbow. The arm ends in a pegged wrist which is hidden under the gloves. This does give the arms a full range of movement for throwing punches, although you would need a wider elbow articulation (double jointed?) to be able to bring the gloves in to the face in a defensive pose.
The chest joint sits under the rib cage, and looks a touch unwieldy on a figure - but then again there isn't anywhere to hide on a figure that is essentially naked apart from a pair of socks and trunks. This chest joint is a big piece of the articulation as it allows you to hunch Rocky over to that familiar boxing pose.
The shorts hide the leg articulation at the hips. The shorts are cast in a rubber material so they do allow the legs to move to some degree. You wont get Rocky sat down or kneeling, but there is enough movement in the top of the legs to get into wider boxing stances. The knees are only a single joint, but this is fine as a double joint would not have added anything significant to the poses you can achieve. The knees do rotate at the joint, which does help stability.
Into the feet and there is a rocker joint at the ankle and a clever toe joint, which allows you to plant the back foot in a more realistic position with toe's flat on the floor. The weight and balance of the figure will mean you wont get a good stable stance using this toe joint, but putting the figure on a NECA pegged stand or similar will help you get some brilliant action positions.
As a start to the Rocky 40th Anniversary relaunch, this figure is almost flawless. It looks great, feels really robust and poses particularly well with just a few exceptions. You would argue the title belt version is better value for money, but then again purists will maybe plump for the gold shorts in being more screen accurate. Either way it's good to have a choice... whether we will still be as enthusiastic by the end of Series 4 and we have somewhere in the region of 8 Rocky figures in our collection. As a début I am going to score Rocky a 5 out of 5, applicable to either version.