Reel Toys: Rocky
Rocky Balboa
7-inch scale
By: NECA
$14.99+ Retail

NECA’s variants are often pretty obvious fare. If a character can turn invisible, offer a clear version of the same figure. The same goes for characters who wear different outfits in movies. Remold a piece here or there and boom, new toy. It’s a great way to re-use molds and stretch that molding dollar the best they can, thus keeping their figures in the generally unbelievable 15-dollar department.

Today’s review focuses on another variant scheme they’ve cooked up, though one that has a certain amount of appeal to me. I tend to look for figures that will look unique on my shelves, for only the truly unique can survive the quarterly culling that is complainy wife/girlfriend.

Enter “Beat-up Rocky Balboa,” with his “Dillon from Predator just handed me my ASS” alternate headsculpt. The concept of a bunch of beat-up boxers is a fun one, and one that appeals to that unique quality I look for in my collection.

Let’s take a look.

Packaging:

Of course, the box is the standard clamshell you see with most every NECA product anymore. It’s got a nicely designed insert with a picture of the Italian Stallion himself (oddly with hair much longer than in the flick) on the front and some nice art design that shows off one of the most iconic silhouettes in film history. There are also cross-sells on the back, but it’s interesting to note that instead of showing his wave mate Apollo Creed, they chose to display series 2 with Ivan Drago and Rocky from the fourth flick.

And for those who wish to know who work so hard on their toys, NECA once again adds credits to the bottom of the insert. Woot.

Aesthetics:
“You stop this fight, I’ll kill ya!” – Rocky Balboa, Rocky


What’s not to love? Rocky here looks incredible! He’s presented in a much younger and more athletic form than you may associate with Stallone, and I love it. It looks accurate to me, and I totally dig the slight gloss they put on the skin. It captures and reflects light beautifully, pulling off a very sweaty, worn-out boxer. Very cool.


While the prototype showed the much more accurate bruising from the film, the painted damage is actually still very well done. I admit in package I went through several and sort of just settled for fear I’d never find good bruising. After getting him open, while not perfectly 100% accurate, I think it all looks very nice. The gloves and trunks are very nicely detailed, with well-rendered tampos featuring the Casanova and Everlast brands. The faded pink bloodstains add to the overall brutal look of the figure and capture so well those final minutes of the movie.


The face sculpt is just the bee’s knees, capturing Stallone’s trademark strokeface snarl thing and jawline. The rest of the face is such a gnarled mash of dude I can’t tell eye from ass, but it all looks lovely. The hair on mine is not painted particularly well, missing some of the strands on the forehead. It’s not awful by any means and I noticed it a lot more in the box than out, but it’s worth noting. And yes, he does have a few curlies sculpted on his chest.

The lower legs are a sculpting wonder unto themselves. The individual laces and eyelets on the boots combined with the vertical ridges of the socks work with the various wrinkles to the point that they ooze realism. Of all the gorgeous sculpting on this figure, the socks and boots are the crowning achievement.

The overall look of the figure is one that understands the violence and endurance of the sport and encapsulates it perfectly. They set out to sculpt and paint a beat-up boxer and that is exactly what they did.

Articulation:

“I’ll tell ya, you can see I ain’t too graceful. I don’t move well.” – Rocky

Bullshit.


Italian Stallion, indeed! Such charisma!


If you’ve been following this figure series at all, you’ll hear a lot of the same things over and over. The thing you’ll hear the most is that the articulation is incredibly useful. I couldn’t agree more.


This guy sports a ball and socket head, swivel hinged shoulders and elbows, ball and socket hands/gloves, ball torso, 45-degree angled swivel-hinged swivel hips (a la poopy Marvel Legends), swivel hinged knees, ball and socket ankles, and hinged toes.


The ball joints all have great mobility, and the midsection is similar in range to the Freddy Krueger we reviewed before. I’m curious why they didn’t go with a lower waist ball in addition to the torso, but I’d bet we could chalk it up to lack of re-use, seeing as Freddy can be used again and again until every movie is done and Rocky will likely have a different body for each film.


The articulation serves the design very well, with the only visible pins being on the inside of the toe hinge. This allows Rocky to be posed in all sorts of pugilistic maneuvers, from wild haymakers to subtle changes in balance and step.


Okay, I know everyone wants to know about the soft rubber shorts. Do they interfere with articulation? Well, yes and no. Yes, you clearly won’t be able to get the maximum range out of the hinges under there. But no, it won’t impede the articulation in any significant way for a boxer. The idea is great and works really well in this rare case of a character who doesn’t ever really need very wide stances. Maybe if you wanted to show him trying to bend his knees to get up on the ropes or something, but for the most part I’d say it was well thought out and implemented. The feet are also very long and flat, so balance and stability are never an issue during posing.

I think a more standard ball joint and swivel or even forward and back swivel hinge might have worked better since you can’t see the joint moving under the shorts, but I will say that the joint feels very sturdy and as far as I can tell will not be prone to breakage.


Basically, posing this figure is great fun and very smooth in execution. I’d like slightly better range on the neck ball and maybe a little more bend to the elbows, but overall he’s just a really well designed figure.


Value:

Let’s take it to the judges.


If ya haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a total NECA fanboy. I’m not the type to blindly say that their products have no issues, but they do tend to make products that appeal to me as a video game, movie, and action figure fan. Rocky doesn’t fail to impress me on any level. He looks great, poses great, and most of all I think he’s a fun toy. Honestly, taking photos of some toys is a bit of a chore, but I had a blast photographing this guy.


He includes no accessories, which for some may be a bummer, but for me is perfectly fine. Maybe if they make a Mickey figure, I could go for a water bottle or something, but Rocky is pretty autonomous. I’d have loved a build-a-ring, but the price would have gone up considerably and then of course there’s the question of which ring to choose since you’d need at least four boxers to make it anywhere near the correct size.

For 15 bucks, you get a very solid action figure that gives me no fear of breakage despite being incredibly well-articulated and detailed. It’s still cheaper than DCUC and at this point a helluva lot more unique.

Score Recap:
Aesthetics: 9
Articulation: 9
Value: 10
Overall: 9.3

One thing I love about NECA toys is how their figures get me enthused about their respective properties. When you’ve got all these movies on your shelf or readily available to watch, a lot of times you end up sort of taking them for granted. When NECA makes a toy as great as this, it reminds me to pull that bitch off the shelf and sit back and enjoy the movies I loved growing up. The thing killing me now is that NECA has the rights to the likenesses of both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers and we are still sans Predator figures.

If they made a Dutch or a Dillon with this same level of detail and articulation, it might be my favorite toy of all time. Dutch in jacket, Dutch in vest, deluxe Muddy Superbadass Dutch with light up torch and a log base that plays the famous scream. Re-use that shit, NECA! I needs me a team of dudes so big and bad they told Jean-Claude Van-Damme he couldn’t play the bad guy because he just posed no physical threat!

I still haven’t been able to find a beat-up Apollo Creed, but I can’t wait. If Rocky is any indication of how good Apollo will look and maneuver out of package, I’m in whole hog for the line. Another great job by NECA and solid buy for film and toy fans alike.

Thanks for reading and as always, it’s just a toy. Open the darned thing.

If you’re into the classic Rocky films, make sure you check out Newt’s review of Jakks Pacific’s Thunderlips.

If you want to see another classic movie hero, go take a look at Jon’s review of Robocop, also by NECA.

4 Responses to NECA Reel Toys Rocky Balboa Review

  • The articulation here looks pretty damn impressive, I must say. A lot more intuitive than it looks in the package. Unfortunately, I can't get behind these figures. Every one I see looks like some sort of mongoloid version of the characters to me. Maybe I'm just too in love with Jakks softer real scan stuff, but I just don't like the heads on these. Still you definitely have me taking a second look and at $15, it's not to bad to try one out.

    I wonder if you could pop a Jakks head onto one of these.

  • Bill White says:

    Excellent review!

    NECA is really doing some nice work of late. They remind me of Palisades, in a way. I hope they don't meet their fate!

  • Zach S. says:

    I have yet to see any sign of these, but I can't wait. NECA is my favorite company around and it's not even close. And I'm with you on Dutch and Dillon. We're getting Colonial Marines finally, now we seriously need some Predator humans.

  • wesitron says:

    I could try with Ludmilla, but that's some straight nightmare shit.

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