Review > John J. Rambo (First Blood, NECA)


When most people think of Rambo, they think of Sylvester Stallone, naked from the waist up, covered in sweat, and gunning down hundreds of foreigners bad guys while not getting a single scratch himself. (Right? That’s what people think of? Naked, sweaty Sylvester Stallone? Eh, maybe it’s just me.) But that’s the Rambo of Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rambo III, which were basically straight action films with a side of jingoistic political content that has aged a bit poorly (especially Rambo III).

But the original 1982 film, First Blood, is quite different from the sequels. It’s a taut thriller about a Vietnam vet with post-traumatic stress disorder who gets pushed a bit too far by a small-town sheriff and goes crazy, waging a one-man war on a small town in Washington.

Despite Rambo carrying a gigantic machine gun for half the film, there’s only one death, and it’s accidental!* The body count went up with each sequel:

  • Rambo: First Blood Part II: 67
  • Rambo III: 127
  • Rambo: 247 (mostly in the last ten minutes)

While I find the sequels a bit tedious to watch these days, I still like the first film, which has an interesting plot, strong pacing, good acting, and plenty of action without tons of gore and death. That said, it’s not the most successful or popular of the films (that’s probably Rambo: First Blood Part II), so I was pleasantly surprised when NECA’s first Rambo action figure hailed from First Blood.

Packaging: Packaged within NECA’s standard clamshell, the graphics evoke the Pacific Northwest setting of First Blood. You get a good look at the figure for you MOC collectors (are you really still out there?).

Design & Sculpt: Due to birth complications, the lower left side of Stallone’s face is partially paralyzed, which is part of what gives him his trademark sneer and mumble. That paralysis is evident on this figure’s head sculpt. Anyone could look at this and recognize it as Sylvester Stallone, which is the mark of a good likeness.

Rambo is dressed in the tank top and jeans he wore of most of the film. The clothes are well-detailed, especially the shirt.

While I think the sculpt is very good, I do have one criticism: the pelvis looks a little too large or wide. It might be a consequence of how the pelvis was constructed to work with the articulation – the hip joints are a big low, giving the pelvis a bit of a “diaper” effect. However, that’s not really a fault of the sculpt, but rather the way the articulation was executed.

Plastic & Paint: There was a time when NECA’s plastic and paint work, while amazing on prototypes, was consistently less impressive in person. They’ve improved to “hit and miss” over the last few years, with more hits than misses.

Rambo is closer to a hit. The paint on the jeans is quite good, with a slight wash to give it a dusty look. The same goes for the shirt, where they even managed to give it a bit of texture.

Where the figure stumbles a bit are the fleshy bits. The arms and head are molded in flesh-colored plastic. The hue is good, but the type of plastic NECA used for production looks a little translucent, especially on the face and narrow parts like the nose.

The paint applications on the face are good; even the five-o’clock shadow is fairly well done, and that tends to look bad on many action figures. But the blood on the right arm looks odd; the shade of red looks a little too dark, and the way it’s applied looks less like streaks of blood and more like Rambo went to a tattoo parlor at 3am, went upstairs and dragged the proprietor out of an alcohol-induced slumber and said, “give me one of them, what do you call ’em, tribal tattoos before I skin your face with this Crocodile Dundee-certified knife.” I suspect this has more to do with the factory than the paint design.

Articulation: Rambo has a ball-jointed neck, ball-jointed shoulders, ball-jointed elbows, ball-jointed wrists, a ball-jointed abdomen, ball-jointed hips, ball-jointed knees, and ball-jointed feet. Some of them are more hinge than ball, but they all feature a larger range of motion than a swivel.

Unlike some other toy companies, NECA is very interested in retaining the integrity of the sculpt when engineering articulation. That’s why we get the ball-and-hinge elbows and knees instead of swivels at the biceps and thighs. You also save a joint that way – instead of a biceps swivel and an elbow hinge, you just have the ball-jointed elbow. Personally I prefer the swivel-biceps-and-hinged-elbows combination – the ball elbows end up with poses that look a bit unnatural – but it’s a decent compromise, and probably the most NECA could provide when you’re dealing with a $20 price point with this level of sculpting.

It’s still a great amount of articulation.

Accessories: Rambo has three bandoliers, an M60, and a knife with a sheath on his belt. They’re all well-fabricated and detailed. The bandoliers could be removable, but I’m not going to try and unlatch them in case they’re glued together.

Quality Control: I’ve had no problems with my figure.

Overall: Rambo comes very close to being as good as Jungle Patrol Dutch. His main weakness is his head sculpt, which is good but not quite as good as Dutch’s, and the way the plastic looks slightly translucent on his face. Plus there’s that odd diaper effect on the pelvis (which isn’t as noticeable on a figure like Dutch thanks to the camo deco).

[raven 4.5]

BONUS! Here’s a deeply weird review of this figure on Amazon.

Where to Buy:

*In the novel by David Morrell, Rambo kills at least a dozen people. It’s a much darker story.

NECA Credits

Product Development: Randy Falk

Sculpt: Kyle Windrix, Trevor Zammit, Jason Frailey

Fabrication: Brad Haskins, Anthony Minichino

Paint: Jon Wardell, Geoffrey Trapp

Prototypes: Adam Smith

Packaging Design: Chris Longo


Pic of the Day > S.H. Figuarts War Machine by thedaytimeninja


SHMA AVP (update: confirmed)


  1. Bigbot

    I had to take one of the bandoliers off (the belt) so I could use it with the gun. I see no point in posing him with the gun when he has no bullet feed for it.

  2. clark

    I went to the store with the intent of purchasing this figure. However, that diaper looking pelvis, and the fact that they had a xenomorph on the pegs as well, made me leave him behind. First Blood is my favorite film out of all the Rambo movies, so I'm glad we have this version. I do wish he had a bit of a neutral face though.
    I'll get him eventually, but I can wait because unlike Dutch, it looks like I won't have a problem finding this guy later.
    As far as that weird amazon review, that guy does reviews like that all the time. He loves to give figures 1 star and write a weird story to go with it that has nothing to do with the figure. He also has a habit of injecting politics into his toy reviews. He obviously finds himself hilarious, I guess I just don't understand his humor. One or two reviews like that can be funny, but he has well over 100 now on amazon, all doing the same schtick.

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