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Rocky (8-bit)

by yo go re

NECA keeps on rolling out the retro videogame figures. Their latest offerings are two Sylvesters Stallone: one for Rambo, and one for Rocky.

You're Rocky. A fighter with a dream, to be the best boxer the world has ever seen. The chances were one in a million, but you made it to the most exciting event in boxing: the World Class Heavyweight Championship. In the ring, your first fight is your most feared. And you'll have to master your uppercut to knock-out the never beaten brawn of Apollo, the reigning champion. Then, train diligently. Because once you're champion, the contenders will come forth like crazy. And they're hungry for your defeat. But you're a powerful fighter with a deadly straight-on and a heavy hook that connects with sheer force. So play for keeps. This is the only title you've got and every ruthless fighter wants it.

I've never seen a Rocky movie (well, maybe one, but I don't think that counts), but because I know NECA means quality, I wouldn't let that be an impediment to buying the figures. And then they never showed up at my TRU, so it became a moot point anyway. Anyway, when this figure was offered in Previews, I ordered it right away.

The likeness on this figure is amazing - at a glance, you'll recognize who it's supposed to be. This is based on the Series 3 Rocky, not the versions from Series 1 or 2. The easiest way to tell? The way his hair is styled. Whatever other similarities they share, all three Rockies have different bangs. Presumably this head was chosen for the 8-bit figure because it's the newest.

Are the bodies different between different series of Rockies? That I don't know. Well, the Series 1 version is clearly not the same as the others - it's smoother overall, with fewer minor details such as visible veins or muscle striation, but it did have a sculpted tuft of chest hair - but it appears that the Series 2 and Series 3 figures share the same mold below the neck. This sculpt. He's wearing Adidas boots and Tuf-Wear gloves, though neither have painted logos. You can tell the gloves come from the Series 3 figure, because that was the only one that didn't have a large seam around the base of the thumb.

The articulation is plentiful and useful. Rocky has a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders and elbows, balljointed wrists, balljointed torso, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, swivel/hinge knees and ankles, and hinged toes. It's enough to get him into pretty much any boxing pose you'd want, and if I knew anything about boxing, I might put him in one. It's hard to get his hips moving, because you can't tell which direction they're facing under those rubber shorts. According to Rustin, the Series 1 figures only had plain swivel wrists, so the balljoints here are really nice.

And then there's the paint. The Rocky figures were famous for NECA using minorly translucent plastic for all the exposed skin, giving them a more realistic look than any other figures before. Well, since this is based on an 8-bit videogame, "realistic" is not the goal - the skin is painted with a fairly normal, tannish color, and then the shadows on his body are painted in a solid brown with hard edges. Looking at the actual sprites from the game, he should also have some yellow highlights, but this is nice. And at a glance, looks much more "normal" than Batman did. If we're going to be really picky, the blue stripes on his trunks should have red stripes next to them, not white, and NECA could have put the tiny white stars down the sides (they're visible in the training levels), but that's not to say he looks bad the way he is.

Rocky also bucks the trend of these 8-bit figures by coming with an accessory the normal figures didn't: in honor of the videogame's start screen (a digitized version of the Rocky IV poster), he comes with a plastic American flag to drape over his shoulders! Being plastic (flexible plastic, but plastic nonetheless), it only fits in one pose, but it's still a cool piece. To prevent any unwanted paint rub in the package, Rocky's wearing a clear plastic cape - it looks like he just came from getting a haircut.

The box Rocky's sold in is an homage to the old videogame packaging. What the Sega Master System game designers lacked in graphic design skills, they made up for in branding: every game had the same "we laid this out on graph paper then didn't bother to change it" white grid as a backdrop, making it easy to imitate. The corners have faux-weathering, but it's a little inaccurate; SMS games weren't sold in cardboard boxes, but plastic clamshells, like VHS tapes used to come in. So yes, those would show shelfwear, but not the "worn cardboard" kind seen here. The tray behind the figure is the only background the game has: a crowd watching a boxing match.

The Sega Master System Rocky game is kind of a piece of crap - there are only three levels and three minigames, which barely qualifies as a full game. But who cares? NECA's Rocky toys are good, and this game-inspired paint job is fun. Yes, there are a few minor quibbles, but nothing that detracts from the final product. Hell, I'd buy an 8-bit Clubber Lang and Ivan Drago, too, to give Rocky someone to fight against.

-- 04/26/15

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