Updated: Dec 5, 2018
Review : Rocky Balboa NECA, Rocky IV Wave/Series : Rocky 40th Anniversary Series 2 Released : May 2017
NECA pleased collectors back in 2016 when they announced they would be returning to the Rocky licence, with four waves - covering the first four films in the Rocky saga. Wave 1 hit in 2016 with figures from Rocky 3. Almost immediately afterwards the 2nd wave was announced as being based on the 4th film with figures of Rocky, Apollo Creed and Ivan Drago.
Sadly it has take nearly a year for this 2nd wave to hit shelves, and there is no guarantee that this series will continue to the 3rd and 4th waves initially promised.
Rocky Balboa, from Rocky IV, is a combination of some previous NECA releases. In the main it uses the Video Game Rocky sculpt and flag from 2014 but of course now applies a more realistic paint job. To add a degree of added value NECA have also added the "blood spit" head that came with the 2013 release.
The packaging is all new and is now a window box as opposed to blisters. The box colouration is red for wave 2 (vs the gold of wave 1) while the rest of the box design remains consistent. Essentially the box is a gloss black with spotlight stars. There is a red image of Rocky (from Rocky IV) in the bottom left corner and the character name and film picked out in white to the right of this.
Round each side the Rocky logo and 40th Anniversary text are in white with the arms raised Rocky silouetted in red.
Round the back of the box we find a short paragraph that sets up the events of Rocky IV. Under this is a still from the film showing Rocky (Stallone) celebrating draped in the American flag. Under this is text confirming the film as Rocky IV and then four inserted images of the other figures in the series - Apollo Creed and Ivan Drago (two flavours).
Rocky can be accessed via the top or bottom flap of the box, both of which are taped shut. The inner tray, with the red background, slides out and in this sits the clear tray. Rocky is packed ready posed in his flag, he is strapped in with a number of twist-ties. The alternative head sits to the top right.
I have admired this figure for a number of years since I saw the Video Game version - particularly because Rocky IV is my personal favourite of the films. As Rocky comes out of the box, he is posed and ready to replicate that famous scene from the end of the movie, and for many collectors I guess Rocky will pretty much go on he shelf without any other adjustment.
There is however an articulated figure under that flag, and the flag is easily lifted off to get at the figure underneath.
Like the first releases from wave 1, Rocky is cast in a flesh tone plastic which gives him a sweaty look - perfect for a boxer. The body is well proportioned and defined but where the wave 1 Rocky figures had some darker wash on the body, this one is left plain and that looses some muscle definition. There is some paint applied to the skin tones with a blood splash across the chest - this is ok, but looks a little brown rather than blood red.
The trunks are red and white striped with blue banding. They have some further blood splases and the red stripes do have some "scratching" to age them - they were of course handed down from Apollo.
The head sculpt is an older version from the original Rocky wave and is not as good a likeness as the revised version that was packed with. It also uses the flesh tone plastic, but has paint application for the lips and a subtle stubble on the chin areas. The left eye of Rocky I think is painted to look like it is a black eye, but it ends up looking more like Rocky applied more mascara to the left than the right. The hair is a flat black colour with a touch of shine - so again, looks sweaty.
Top half articulation is very good on Rocky. His head can rotate fully and there is plenty of forward and backward motion. This helps more later on when we get on the alternative head. The torso has a ball joint and this allows for those bob and weave motions when posing.
The arms are well articulated with ball jointed shoulders, a rotating single elbow joint and rotating gloves where they meet the forearm. This all means that Rocky can adopt some gloves up defensive poses.
He can just as easily be posed with some jabs and punches, perfect for action shots agains Drago.
As we can now see in these close ups, the gloves are a glossy red with white trim, stitching and laces. There is a tiny decal on the side that reads Tuf Wear, the brand of glove Rocky wore in the movie. I always love how NECA gets into that level of detail on their figures.
Going back to articulation, the bottom half of the figure is less impressive. The thigh joints do "move" but not much more than rotating in the cuffs of the shorts. Rocky will never sit down or be kneeling in the ring. The knees are a single joint (NECA usually do double) and they also rotate. You won't do much with this joint other than getting a solid stance on your shelf. The ankles have a rocker and there is a toe joint to allow the toes to be bent upwards to help with a stepping forward pose - you may need a stand to help you with this.
As we mentioned at the start of the review, NECA have thrown in an alternative head with this Rocky - the "blood spit" head from one of their original Rocky IV figures. There is a relief here that they didn't chose to make this a separate figure.
This second head is much more expressive than the one that comes with the figure, but is very specific in terms of it would need to be displayed in a boxing action pose. Like the first head it is cast in skin coloured plastic with some paint shading. The eyes are sculpted closed on this figure with blood round each eyes. The most impressive bit is that blood spit shooting from the mouth. This is a slightly rubbery plastic, but I would be careful handling the head as this is probably going to be a weak element.
Sadly the head swap operation is not as smooth as I'd like it. Removing the first head took a lot of force, and getting the second head on was virtually impossible to slot into place without adding some heat. NECA have been hit and miss on swap out heads and this one seems to be a miss and could have done with better design and engineering.
The Stars & Stripes flag is a well engineered piece of flexible plastic. It is moulded to fit onto Rocky while in one pose with the right arm up and out and the left bent and down. The painting on the flag is neat and also realistic so that the red stripes follow the fold and creasing of the flag. Some of the stars on mine had some white paint missing - and I suspect over time the flag will suffer from paint wear if it is moved on and off the figure.
In summing up, for a circa £23 figure you do get a lot of value for money in this release. It is finally great to get that iconic pose with the American flag, and under this is a well articulated figure with some good upper poseability and a variant head for display.
There are some issues though. Knowing a better head sculpt is out there feels disappointing it wasn't included. The paint on the head included is also too heavy handed and does not look like a black eye. The alternative head is brilliant. And the flag design also works well, although there was some paint rub / damage. I score Rocky IV a 4 out of 5.
Checkout the Rocky figures available at Kapow Toys