"Apollo Creed meets 'The Italian Stallion." - Apollo Creed (Rocky 1976)
When Sylvester Stallone first approached United Artists with the original script for Rocky, they were quick to see the potential in it, and began naming well established actors for the lead role. Stallone appealed to the producers, mainly through the means of a lower budget for the film, to hire him instead. Much like Rocky, Stallone was given his one shot at the big time, and much like the character, it paid off big time for him. Though with Stallone in place, executives grew fearful that with no big names to headline, the film would attract little attention. This lead to further casting issues as other actors were not eager to join the cast of a film being led by an unknown name. Fortunately everything came together in the end, and with the additional cast of Carl Weathers, Talia Shire, Burt Young and Burgess Meredith the main cast was all in line.
Stallone's inspiration for the film came from Rocky Marciano and the famous fight between Muhammad Ali and Chuck Wepner at Richfield Coliseum in Richfield, Ohio on March 24, 1975. Wepner had been TKO'd in the 15th round by Ali, but nobody ever expected him to last as long as he did.
Rocky became a sleeper hit in 1976 bringing in over $225 million in box office sales. Not bad for a film that was made for under $1 million. In the process, it spawned five equally suceesfull films, and as a series has grossed over $1 billion worldwide in ticket sales.
Since 1981 there have been several toy line tie-ins to the film franchise - Six to be exact. However, out of all the various companies that have tried their hand at a Rocky line, Jakks Pacific (JP) takes the prize for "Best" as far as we are concerned. Between 2006 to 2008 JP showed the world how it was done when it came to producing a thorough toy line in a limited amount of time.
Main characters, secondary characters, and even supporting characters such as the referees and announcers were produced for the line. It was an amazing series to say the least. Think about it, what other toy line can you buy that you'll get "The Meat" on card? That's right, JP even included the slab of meat that Rocky beat up on in the movie while training, and not only that, but as its own individually carded item. That's thorough!
Add on top of that unique packaging for each Rocky film, and fantastic detail in sculpting, and you've got a set destined to become a fan favorite.
While we would normally bundle our photos together based on a series by series basis, we've done something a little different with the Rocky line, and instead separated them (for the most part) by film. The reason for this is that a couple of the series featured characters from various films, and we wanted to ensure that these were all categorized together for easy reference. The exception to this is the "Best of" sub series which we compiled together by series (1 and 2), as well as the exclusives and collector sets.
We've also incorporated a small photo of the figures opened next to the mint on package ones. These figures represent those that were released in a case for a particular series.
The first series of Rocky figures comprised of only figures from the first film. However, Joe Frazier, who made a cameo appearance in the film, was released in the third series of figures along with the majority of the Rocky III based figures. Since he was released on the original "Rocky" card back to coincide with the film, we've incorporated him into this section of photos.
Though none of the figures have a "sub name" to the cards themselves, fans have given the various versions of a single figure nicknames that have stuck within the realm of collectors. For example one version of a Rocky Balboa figure could be called Rocky Balboa (First Fight), while another is called Rocky Balboa (Battle Damaged). You won't see the words "First Fight" or "Battle Damaged" on the card, but this is what collector's have come accustomed to calling them amongst each other.
Rocky was the ultimate underdog story. One guy out of millions finally gets his shot at proving himself - Not because he wanted to be number one, but rather because he wanted to show the world that he could go the distance.
The opened group of figures represent those as released in a case for series one. All carded figures shown with the exception of Joe Frazier were released in series one. Frazier was released in series three.
The second series of figures from JP comprised of mostly those from the film Rocky II. One figure was produced under the banner Rocky Balboa (AKA Rocky VI) The cards were changed to black from the initial red with yellow outlining for the letters, and background photos. What is worth noting is that with each set of figures produced, the card backs were changed to depict scenes from the film the characters were representing.
Rocky II continued directly after where the first one left off. Rather than be a slugfest sequel full of nothing more than a rematch, Stallone took the opportunity to expand on the characters, making them more relatable and likeable to the audience. Of course in the end the story leads up to that rematch where Rocky finally wins the title.
The opened group of figures represent those as released in a case for series two. The second figure from the right on the bottom row is the Rocky Balboa figure from the Rocky Balboa film (AKA Rocky VI). This figure can be found on card in that section below.
Out of the nine figures produced for series three, one was based on the film Rocky (Joe Fraizer as noted above). The rest were based on the film Rocky III. The card now sported a black and blue look to it, and once again the images in the background were updated to now represent characters and scenes from the third film.
The Rocky film franchise was already a major success in Hollywood, but with the third installment came the inclusion of actor Mr. T and wrestler Hulk Hogan as characters Clubber Lang and Thunderlips. This not only enticed and introduced new (younger) fans, but sent the franchise into orbit. The story centers around Rocky's ego becoming larger than his abilities, which leads to the loss of his title. Under the guidance of Apollo, Rocky is able to get "The Eye of the Tiger" back, and win back his title in the end.
The opened group of figures represent those as released in a case for series three. Joe Frazier was released in this particular series, but came on a series one Rocky card back and is included above in that section.
Series four was the smallest set produced for the line, and contained mostly figures from the fourth film, Rocky IV. Rather than pack the case with additional new figures, Jakks Pacific instead opted to pack in the Rocky III character Thunderlips - due to the high popularity of the figure not only among Rocky fans, but wrestling fans. The figure was packaged exactly the same as the original carded version (on a Rocky III card).
The packaging now incorporated a bright red logo, and scenes from the fourth film in the background.
It was an interesting decision on Stallone's part to incorporate a USA versus Russia theme into the film, especially considering the strained relations between the two Countries at the time. Of course the film brings a message of equality among people along with it in the end.
The opened group of figures represent those as released in a case for series four. Thunderlips was also re-released in this series due to the figure's popularity. The figure was packaged in the same Rocky III packaging that it was originally released in, and can be seen in that section above.
The fifth series of Rocky figures actually incorporated both Rocky V and Rocky Balboa (AKA Rocky VI) figures into one set. Disappointing to most fans was how few figures based on the fifth film were released. This however would be somewhat made up for in the "Best Of" series (as seen below) when the film was revisited for a couple more new figures.
Rocky V was deemed the worst Rocky film in the franchise (until the sixth installment came out several years later). It shows a now poor Rocky returning to the slums of Philadelphia due to poor financial management from his accountant of his hard earned money. Rocky now takes the role of manager/trainer as he attempts to lead his protégé, young Tommy Gunn down the path to victory he himself once travelled. Tommy is quickly filled with corruption, greed, and arrogance, by a new manager, and Rocky is forced to show the young fighter that experience in the ring is what wins fights in an incredible street fight, with no ref, and no ring.
The packaging for the fifth series toys, or rather the fifth film, are some of the most colorful and eye catching since the first. Doing away with the black background, the packaging now sports a nice shade of blue, with white lettering, and blue colored background images from the film.
The opened group of figures represent those as released in a case for series five. This includes the figures from the Rocky Balboa (AKA Rocky VI) film as shown below.
ROCKY BALBOA (AKA ROCKY VI)
Concluding the remaining portion of series five figures, which would also be the final line of basic figures for the series were those based on the film Rocky Balboa (AKA Rocky VI).
Sixteen years after Rocky V was released, Stallone returned to pen the sixth film, Rocky Balboa. While it was financially successful, critically it was a flop receiving mediocre (at best) reviews from professionals and fans alike. It seemed the world was done with the Rocky franchise, to and include Stallone who came off as old and tired in the film. However, when the majority of a cast won't return for a film franchise that has already run its course, this should be your first sign that the film isn't all that necessary.
The figures returned to the black background look, and incorporated a yellow logo for the top. The background was changed for a final time to depict characters and scenes from the last film.
The opened group of figures represent those as released in a case for series five. This includes the figures from the Rocky V film as shown above. The Rocky Balboa figure without the yellow towel on the Rocky Balboa card was actually realeased in series two as noted above.
BEST OF SERIES 1
With the majority of the figures released, Jakks Pacific chose to incorporate a new sub line into the series rather than continue on with the basic line. This allowed them to stray farther from individual movies for each series (again, for the most part), and instead gave them the opportunity to incorporate several figures from the various movies into one series.
To help distinguish the figures for each film, JP continued carding the characters on the card back respective to the film they were from. They also distinguished the "Best of" line from the basic line by adding a tagline at the top left of the card which read, "Best of Series 1" (or 2 depending on the series you were looking at).
Even better was that the series while entitled "Best of" didn't incorporate repacked figures as one would be lead to believe with such a title. Instead, all the figures were new to an extent as some were obviously repaints of older figures.
The opened group of figures represent those as released in a case for "Best of" series one. This series includes figures from the first and fourth films.
BEST OF SERIES 2
The final official series of figures released were the "Best of" series two figures. This line spread out the most between films, giving the series one last "hoorah". Each figure was once again carded on their respective film card.
The opened group of figures represent those as released in a case for "Best of" series two. This series includes figures from every Rocky film except the first one.
Jakks Pacific produced several "collector sets" for the line, most of which included multi packs of figures, and boxing rings. Several cosplay items were produced (such as gloves and title belts), but only the exclusive UK released title belt included figures with it.
While there were three ring playsets released, two of them are the same with the exception of the packaging. The first was released with the first series of figures based on the first film, and the second was released with the third series of figures based (for the most part) on the third film.
The most sought after ring is the third and final ring, the Collector Ring. What makes this particular ring special is that it is built to scale for incorporating the figures with it.
EXCLUSIVE AND LIMITED EDITION FIGURES
The limited edition figures from the series are incredibly difficult to come by, and certainly won't come cheap. Each figure sells for several hundreds of dollars, and in the case of the Apollo Creed figure can sell for as much as $600.00. This is mainly due to the incredibly low number of figures produced - But, then again, they wouldn't be limited editions if there were thousands of pieces available.
The Rocky III - Three Pack was available only at Rockyfigures.com. These days you won't find too many (if any at all) Rocky figures on the site as they mostly specialize in wrestling figures now, and have changed the name to Ringside Collectibles.
A set of two packs were also produced and released through the now defunct Rockyfigures.com. The Ivan Drago figure from the Rocky IV set is considered one of the worst figures in the line due to its clearly oversized clothing meant to fit over a poorly repacked figure.
As we said at the very beginning of this post, Jakks Pacific did an incredible job on this series, and deserves the respect for making one of the (if not the) most thorough Rocky toy line to date.
If you'll forgive us, we'd also like to say that cataloging this particular toy line was no easy task. We had to compile several lists, hunt down numerous figures, and cross reference between a lot of sources to compile what you see here. In all our searches, we have found no list as thorough as ours on this particular toy line, and to our knowledge, it is 100% complete.
With that, we say goodbye to the year 2012, and will see all of you again on January 3, 2013 where we'll start the year with an exciting look at another great toy line of yesterday. Happy holidays to all of you who celebrate this time of year, and to all the rest, Happy Monday!
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The Rocky III pack was available at Kay bee toys.ReplyDelete
Thanks for that additional info. We will update the article to reflect.Delete
Wow... what was your beef with the 6th Rocky film? It's notably odd that you misrepresented the critic's POV on the film.ReplyDelete
You're right. In re-reading the critical reviews, that isn't a very accurate depiction, is it. I'll work on changing that so it is correct.Delete
At the time of this write up, my beef with Rocky 6 was that I got tired of having ***Spoilers*** Adrian being dead shoved down my throat at every other scene. I didn't even make it through the movie before turning it off.
This review was written quite some time ago, and I have since sat through the entire film. It's by no means my favorite, but it's not bad.
NICE , I HAVE A VARIOUS FIGURES, ALSO DAYReplyDelete
This line also contained a championship belt sized for the action figures. No one can be entirely sure exactly how many of these were made, but my research suggests between 12 and 30 are in existence. Talk about rare and expensive ! A few examples did appear on ebay a decade ago, but have since been snatched up by serious collectors. Good luck finding one of these !ReplyDelete
Thanks for the info. The hunt is on!Delete
Did the figure sized Ring Magazine-type belt get released? I thought it was prototype only.Delete
Iemand nog deze poppen te koop?ReplyDelete
Ik ben al lang niet meer op zoek geweest naar deze. Op dit moment is uw beste optie een plaatselijke speelgoedconventie, speelgoedspeciaalzaak of online speelgoeddealers/ebay.Delete