A majority of NECA’s current Rocky toy line has focused on re-releases of the great cinematic boxing figures which have been long out of production, a great opportunity for those who missed the boat back then to get their hands on excellent toy versions of Rocky, Clubber Lang, and the other iconic fighters from the film series. The latest wave, based on Rocky IV, delivers one figure who sports so much tooling it’s hard not to consider him an all new addition– Apollo Creed.
While NECA previously released a great Rocky I era Apollo, this new figure captures Creed in his gaudy, over-the-top ring entrance outfit from his fateful final fight with Ivan Drago. It’s a critical moment in IV, an elaborate celebration of vanity and cartoonish patriotism, which sets up the tragic end of the fight, as Creed’s Russian opponent shockingly kills him in the ring.
If I were to pick a second most iconic look for Apollo– after his fight with the Itallion Stallion in the first movie– it would be this look, and NECA nails it. Creed’s body is reused from the previous figure, but he sports new boots adorned with large tassels, a removable flag-themed ring jacket, and Creed’s Uncle Sam style red white and blue top hat. The figure also gets two all new headsculpts, both excellent portraits of the slightly older Carl Weathers seen in this 1987 film. One sports a serious, focused expression, which blends in well with the other Rocky figures’ serious visages… but the real winner for me is the second head, complete with shit eating grin, an expression that matches the hubris and absurdity of the figure’s garish outfit.
The heads can swap on and off the neck with ease, and the rubber top hat fits snugly on either version. I was very happy that NECA went the extra mile, allowing the jacket to be removable, as well. Apollo’s arms can pop off at the shoulder, so simply remove his arms, slide off the jacket, then plug the shoulder sockets back together and you get a fight-ready IV era Apollo in the very same package.
The new Creed is impacted similarly by the jacket, also made of fully sculpted rubber, which prevents him from lifting his arms over his head with the piece in place. It”s a trade off in terms of style… a soft goods jacket would have looked out of place opposite the rubber trunks, but would have allowed more upper body mobility, the most effective area for articulation on all the Rocky toys to date. But the visually consistent rubber jacket definitely does feel restrictive. I think NECA’s compromise of allowing the jacket to come off serves as a happy medium between overall aesthetics and usefulness of the figure’s considerable amount of articulation.
With a great sculpt capturing the details of one of the character’s most iconic on screen moments, NECA’s new Apollo was a must-own for me. He fits in perfectly with the previous Rocky releases, and rounds out the main fighters from the fourth film alongside the IV Rocky and Drago figures. Will we see more Rocky toys from NECA? It’s unclear right now… but if Apollo winds up being the final new figure released in this fantastic toy line, it’s hard to not consider this NECA going out on top.