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Clubber Lang

Rocky III
by yo go re

Want to know a secret? All those "facts" about Chuck Norris? They're actually about Mr. T; he just didn't want all the extra attention.

Having risen to be the Number One Contender, brutal fighter Clubber Lang seethes with a desire to prove himself worthy of the championship belt. Emerging from the crowd at an event honoring Rocky, Clubber calls Rocky a coward. And when he insults Adrian, Rocky is ready to fight then and there.

After The Meat, the one Rocky figure everyone wanted was Clubber Lang. Not because anybody cares about "Clubber Lang," but because he's Mr. T! Everybody loves Mr. T. First name: "Mister"; middle name: "period"; last name "T"! Unfortunately, since the first two series of Rocky toys had such slow sales, finding T's series (based on Rocky III, obviously) was damn near impossible. I had to resort to buying online, which is always a sign of failure.

There are actually two Clubbers in the Rocky line: one ready to box, the other in his street clothes, and that's what this one is. He's wearing black pants, cowboy boots, a black turtleneck and a suede jacket. Pimpin'! The jacket and shirt are both softgoods, allowing you to remove them; once you get the coat off, you'll see the shirt is more of a dickie; it velcros around his neck and waist, but has no sleeves or back. Obviously a choice made to prevent the clothes from looking too "poofy" on the character.

Jakks used the same bodies for their Rocky toys that they used for their wrestling toys, so T is mostly reused pieces. Take off the shirt, for instance, and he is absolutely ripped. This body must have come from Batista or something. He looks like a superhero. We get one "clutching" hand and one open hand, though no accessories to deal with. The budget must've all gone into his clothes.

The only new part of the body is the head, but it's classic T. He's got a sour look on his face and his trademark mohawk haircut - which was inspired by Mandinka warriors of Mali. Interestingly, the hair is clearly based more on Mr. T than Clubber Lang. If you look at the side, the hair comes back over his ears, drops down to the base of his neck and connects with the mohawk in the center. However, in the film, his hair stopped right above the ears, with the mohawk standing alone. He's wearing earrings, but doesn't have the large feathers seen in this particular scene in the film (and often in real life as well). Still, that's probably for the best, because I can't imagine a way in which they'd turn out well. Look at what happened the last time they tried!

The one thing missing from this figure that would have made it perfect is some representation of Mr. T's chains. No, Clubber didn't wear them, but again, I didn't spend money on a Clubber Lang toy. The chains actually came from Mr. T's days as a bouncer: when someone would leave jewelry behind at the bar (say, they got ejected for fighting), T'd wear it the next night at the door. If the guy came back, he didn't have to go into the bar to get the necklace or bracelet or whatever. Most people never came back, so eventually T had a huge collection and a reputation for wearing lots of gold. So yeah, I admit, I wish this figure had chains. Or that I knew another toy I could steal them from for him.

Mr. T is an icon of the '80s, probably even more than Hulk Hogan was. Seriously, he was right up there with Pac-Man and the Ghostbusters logo. To get a modern Mr. T toy is incredibly welcome, unfortunately Jakks overestimated the appeal of Rocky, even with a new movie coming out, so if you want to own this one you'll have to put some work into it.

-- 02/13/10

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