Hot Toys Rocky and Ivan Drago

I'm not a huge Rocky fan. The original film was one of the ultimate underdog sports films, but the rest of the films were just more of the same, including the fourth. But Ivan Drago brought something interesting to the franchise, and was a unique character in boxing films.

I was hesitant to pick up a Hot Toys Rocky until I saw Drago. Rocky looked good on his own, but I wasn't really interested in Clubber Lang or Apollo Creed, and having Rocky all by his little self didn't make much sense to me. But once I saw Drago at SDCC, I decided to get the pair.

These will run you around $85 - $100, depending on the retailers. In fact, I've seen a huge variance in these guys depending on the seller, although it appears that SRP is right around $100.

Packaging - ***1/2
If you're looking for collector friendly packaging, look no further. There wasn't a single piece of tape to cut on these guys. But there are some twisties on both figures, and that's a very bad choice with these rubber bodies. The twisties will leave impressions on the wrists particularly, and mine haven't completely disappeared yet.

The boxes are attractive enough, but once again, very short on text. With all this real estate, there's really no excuse for not including any film background.

Sculpting - ***1/2
If I were scoring this on head sculpts alone, these would both be four star figures. Hot Toys has come a long way with their human likenesses, and these two truly look fantastic from the neck up. The expressions work for lots of poses, and the hair on both figures has terrific realistic detail. It didn't matter what angle I looked at these, they always looked like miniature versions of their film counterparts.

Unfortunately, from the neck down there was some issues. Let's start with said neck - Drago's is just a little shorter than a giraffe's. This freakishly long neck ends up really hurting an otherwise terrific looking body. The head tends to ride up on the neck, making it look even longer (and it tends to pop off to).  You'll find yourself forcing it down regularly, but even pushed down as far as you can, it's still far too long.  Thankfully, the robe and/or the towel make for good ways to hid the freak neck.

The sculpt on the upper body suit looks great, but it adds lots of bulk to the chest, arms and legs, making him one of the heaviest sixth scale articulated action figures I've ever seen.

I'm not a huge fan of the rubber suits, but I can completely agree with their use on the upper bodies of both of these figures. They look extremely realistic, and add to the value of these figures.

From the waist down, it's another story. The rubber suit bags up around the knees on both figures with even the slightest bend in the joint, again hurting the realism of the figure just as much as a visible joint. In fact, I think the knees being visible would have been preferred here, at least for me. Of course, that would have meant new leg sculpts to give someone like Drago the bulk he needs in the thighs and calves.

Rocky has nipples...Drago does not. I'm not sure why he doesn't. It's not like they made Rocky's super obvious, but at least they are there. Ivan has huge, smooth pecs, which doesn't make much sense.

My final issue with the sculpt is the feet, at least for Drago. They are wearing slightly (very slightly) different boot sculpts, but they are almost identical in size. The feet are already a little small for Rocky (remember, these are supposed to be human feet INSIDE boots - they'd be much larger than this to be in proper proportion), but on Drago they look ridiculous, sort of like Mcfarlane Spider-man feet. Rocky has some trouble standing on his own, but I was able to get some poses out of him that would hold with some work. But keeping Drago upright for more than a minute or two is going to require the display stand, even a straight, flat footed pose. Humans can stand on their feet without extra help, so I don't think it's too much to expect an articulated figure that's supposed to be worth $100 to do the same.

The good news when it comes to scale though is that the hands don't have the same issues as the feet (they are better, although Rocky's taped hands are still a bit small), and the scale between these two figures is quite good. Rocky stands about 12 inches tall, while Drago towers over him at about 14 inches tall.

Paint - ***1/2
The other category where these had the potential for perfection and just missed is the paint.

Both figures have excellent quality. The hair, eyes, lips, and other facial features are extremely clean, and have a very life-like appearance. I even like the beard shadowing on Rocky, an effect that usually fails. Drago's eyes have a nice wet look, but Rocky's appear fairly realistic as well.

So where did they miss? Well, neither head actually matches the skin tone of the body. Drago is a bit closer, but is still off. This is because the heads are made from a hard plastic while the bodies are the soft rubber, and these materials absorb color differently. Matching with different types of polymers can be tricky, but I still expect them to do it on a figure at this price point. Hell, I expect them to do it on a $10 mass market toy, I sure as Hell expect it here.

My other big issue is with the color of Drago's hair. Ivan was a blonde, with dark roots. To try to match the actual color, they went with a bronze or brass color. It appears VERY metallic though, as though he's had his head bronzed like a baby bootie. It doesn't work for me, and much like the long neck, takes away the life-like appearance of the figure.

This isn't a complaint, but I did think it was interesting that the boxing gloves have 'Rocky' and 'Ivan' painted on them rather than the appropriate manufacturer's name (Everlast I'm betting). I suppose Hot Toys figured they didn't need to spend the bucks on licensing that kind of small detail.

Articulation - ***
If these guys weren't wearing rubber suits, they'd probably get four stars in this category. The Hot Toys body is one of the best on the market. But there's no doubt that the rubber suit ends up restricting a lot of the poseability.

There's a small document that comes with the figure that I recommend you read. It tells you what you should not do when it comes to posing these guys, to avoid damaging the suit. You can ignore it and probably be okay...but then again, you could also rip the suit.

The legs are where I have the most problems. The lower suit makes the knees and hips pretty difficult to work with, and the solid boots removes all ankle articulation. On top of that, the damn boots keep falling off the legs. It's not just one of the figures or one leg on each figure. All four boots kept dropping off on me repeatedly, especially those on Drago. That can get old pretty quick.

From the waist up, I found that I could still get some very good, natural poses even with the rubber suit. But from the waist down, all that great Hot Toys articulation is pretty much lost. You can still get some interesting boxing poses, but you'll need the display stands to make them work.

Outfit - ****
Now here's a category where I can really get behind these figures. I'm not going to be complaining about the boots here, because I already covered their issues in the sculpt and articulation section. Instead, I'm only talking about the soft goods pieces of outfit here.

These guys are boxers in the ring, so they aren't going to be wearing a ton of clothes. But what's here makes complete sense. Obviously, they both have they're trademark shorts, which both appear fairly screen accruate. They look terrific, and the fit is just about right for the fashion those days.

They also both have socks, which appear to be glued in place around the top. Maybe not - maybe they are just so tight and the rubber so sticky that they hold in place on their own. Either way, they stay up on the calves nicely and look terrific. Rocky had a couple loose threads that needed to be snipped, but nothing major.

They both come with very nice, silk robes as well. They are great quality, with excellent stitching and very nice material. Rocky's has his 'Balboa' name on the back, and real pockets in front. Ivan's short jacket has a velcro closure at the waist, and the hammer and sickle on the back.

Like I said, it's not the most complex outfit, but it's very high quality and very well executed.

Accessories - Rocky ***1/2; Drago ***
In a similar vein to the outfit, as boxers these guys aren't going to have a ton of accessories. But they gave them some imaginative items.

Both have their boxing glove hands as extras. The regular hands are fisted and wrapped (sculpted wraps), and of course the boxing gloves are also fisted. I would have liked some open hands to hold the towels or to gesture, especially at this price point.

Both figures come with a towel too, which is nicely done. It's hemmed, and even made from a very 'towel-like' material in this scale. Of course, it's the same towel between them, but at least it's something they can each pose with.

Rocky has a couple additional goodies. He has an American flag, which is quite large and can be draped around him. It's fairly thin, but it does have a hemmed edge.

He also has the coolest accessory of the line - the championship belt. The belt is made from material (and actually has straps and buckles if you want to try to put it on him), but the around the front are plastic 'frames' with the photos of various champions. It's a great looking accessory, and is excellent addition. They took their time with this one, making sure it looked as good as it could, and it shows.

I almost forgot, but both figures come with the usual Hot Toys stands. They have the little name plates on them too, which is a bit more annoying this time. You see, you'll need these stands to strike and hold any cool boxing poses, with the two figures (or figures like Clubber) facing off against each other. These black stands are obvious enough without a little display name sticking up. In this situation, the clear stands that Medicom uses are much preferred.

Fun Factor - ***
Nah, these aren't toys for kids, but they still have potential for fun. The limited articulation hurts a bit, but you can bet big fans will have some fun with these guys.

Value - **
If you pay $85 for this figure, add another half star. At that price, considering all the extra rubber in the suits, I can call it an average value. But I'm grading this closer to the $100 SRP that I'm seeing at a lot of retailers, and at that price there's some issues.

Things to Watch Out For - 
These figures actually come with instructions on what NOT to do with the figure to avoid damaging the rubber suits. I gotta tell you, that doesn't give me the warm fuzzies.

I managed to snap one of the wrist joints while popping the hands on and off.  Fortunately, these joints pop out of both the hands and the arms so they can be replaced.  Now the only trick is finding an extra - any ideas?

Overall - Rocky ***1/2; Drago ***
This was a pair of figures that was so close to fantastic, but just missed by a whisker.

Of the pair, Rocky was closer to perfection. The head sculpt is excellent, and the accessories are great. The small feet hurt a little, but not as much as with Drago, and his only real major issue is the difference in color between the face and body. Had they matched that paint, he would have gotten four stars fro me.

Drago had more issues. The fact he can't stand on his own for any period of time because of those tiny feet is bad news, and the gold hair is definitely not doing it for me. The long neck is also an issue, but if you stick with the short robe, it certainly reduces the problem.  Stand him up straight in the robe, using the display stand to keep him there, and he'll look fine on the shelf. But I expect more at this price point, and certainly fewer issues than what Ivan had.

For my complaints on Drago though, I still think I'm going to go back and pick up Apollo and Clubber. From the photos I've seen, the head sculpts on those two are just as outstanding, they have fewer paint issues, and the small feet won't be as problem with the smaller fighters.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - ***1/2
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - ***
Accessories - Rocky ***1/2; Drago ***
Outfit - ****
Fun Factor - ***
Value -  **
Overall - Rocky ***1/2; Drago ***

Where to Buy -
Online options include:

- Amazing Toyz has all four figures in stock at $85.

- Dark Shadow Collectibles has them at $85.

- Alter Ego has them both for $85.

- even though Sideshow has them at the full retail price, they've sold out Rocky () and Ivan ().

Related Links -
These aren't the only Rocky figures out there.  JAKKS is doing some as well, if you like your figures smaller:

- there's a guest review of Rocky and Adrian.

- and if you're looking for some other examples of the cool work Hot Toys is doing, check out their Endoskeleton, Robocop, Rambo or Jack Sparrow!


Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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