Fighter Round 3
Everyone knows Balrog from Street Fighter II. He
was the first of 4 "Grand Masters" that you had to fight in
order to complete the game. Originally a champion boxer, he was
banned from the boxing circuit when he killed one of his
opponents. He signed up with M Bison's Shadowloo empire hoping
that it would bring him fame and fortune. Balrog is pretty much
the muscled goon of Shadowloo, using his brawn more than his
In the original Japanese version, his name was
M.Bison. In the English versions, M. Bison became the
military-themed final boss instead. Why did that happen? Well,
"M" really stood for Mike, as in Mike Bison. The name was a
parody of real life boxer Mike Tyson, in the same way that the
subsequent addition Feilong is a parody of Bruce Lee, whose
Chinese name was Xiaolong. Capcom USA probably thought it unsafe
to use that name, so the 3 new characters who were Grand Masters
(Bison, Vega and Balrog) had their names reshuffled for the US
release of Street Fighter II.
Early character portrait of Balrog emphasised
the Tyson element with an almost exact rendering of Tyson's
face. Balrog took a long time to develop his own look, and it
only came with the Street Fighter II animated movie in Japan. He
was redesigned to be a hulking bruiser, and finally given his
now-trademark Marty Feldman eyes.
SOTA's Balrog is definitely inspired by the
latter, and resembles the cross-eyed juggernaut found in the
Alpha games more than the moderately beefy Tyson wannabe that he
was in Street Figter II. Balrog fills the "big guy" slot in
Round 3. While he's not as gargantuan as Sagat or T. Hawk,
Balrog is still a massive figure, with a very impressive visual
as well as physical heft.
I think the best feature on this figure has got
to be the sculpts for his two interchangeable heads. You've got
the default head. The funny thing is, it doesn't look like any
actual Balrog artwork, but you get a sense of the character. The
sculpt captures a lot of things at once; power,
bloodthirstiness, goofiness, and stupidity. On top of all that,
they actually managed to make him rather good-looking, missing
tooth and all. The real fun comes with the alternate head. It's
the beady-eyed, angry faced version inspired by Alpha artwork.
It's not a perfect translation of that expression, but more of
an amalgamation of that with the default head's features. I
think it works quite well, without being over-the-top.
His only other accessories also consist of
interchangeable parts. This time, he's been given a pair of
ungloved hands, wrapped in gauze, much like Adon's
hands. They're nicely done, and work very well, but since Balrog
is usually seen with his gloves on, you may not find much use
His body sculpt does something I have not seen
on a highly-articulated figure before. They've managed to make
him look stout, yet muscular and beefy at the same time, which
gives him a very powerful presence, visually. I find that on
most hulking figures, the sculpt tends to just be over-muscular,
with the emphasis on bigger muscles rather than bigger body
girth. Balrog's sculpt does the opposite of that.He doesn't have
gigantic lats or pecs, but he still looks like he could kill an
elephant with one punch (which he actually did. Poor Dhalsim).
There's a lot of personality in the sculpt!
And once again, the figure is choke full of
details, even in places you wouldn't think about, like the
subtle fuzz of his hair, and the elastic wrinkle lines across
much of his clothes. The paint application is also impressively
close to flawless, even on the meticulously painted shoelaces.
Truly, this is a precedence that really justifies the title of
"collectible" (read = not a kid's toy).
Unfortunately, as with all "big guys" in this
series, his girth does translate to some restrictions in
articulated range for the joints. If you've been with this line,
you'll know what to expect by now. His arms won't be able to
move inwards very much (so he won't be punching his fists
together anytime soon), nor will they be able to hand straight
The parts that offer the least useful
articulation are once again the legs. The usual moderate
allowance for the ball jointed hips is present, so you're
looking at only about 45 degrees of range. His huge meaty thighs
and calves are also unsettling as they fold themselves over when
you use the double jointed knees. Whether it is a necessary evil
for larger-built characters to have unaesthetic joints remains
to be seen, but for now, this is one figure you will not want to
pose in a kneeling stance.
Well... not that he can. As you can see, in the
shot above I've "cheated", and his lower abdomen is actually 90
degrees to the side.
Well, poo, I still like this figure. In fact, I
think it's my favourite from Round 3 (until Sakura gets a new
head)! It's a great looking figure with moderate articulation,
and Balrog's design is actually pretty unique as a toy figure.
This one will stand out on the shelf! I love how SOTA managed to
take a bland, uninteresting character and turn it into an
Sure, he isn't a gymnast, but then, he isn't
supposed to be one! He can do most of his standing punch poses
just fine. And if you're a classic Street Fighter II fan, you're
going to need this one to complete your World Warrior AND Grand
Masters collection! To top it all off, SOTA packed him at 2 per
case, half that of Guile. which means that SFII fans who don't
want the Alpha characters are going to be keeping their eyes
peeled for this one!
Balrog will be available in 4 colours. One regular, and 3
variants based on his palette swaps.
Blue Balrog - Regular mass retail version, packed 2 per case.
Balrog - Exclusive to various online retailers.
Black Balrog - Exclusive to various online retailers.
Red Balrog - Exclusive to
various online retailers.
Balrog (see main page)- Exclusive to Japan.
Coming up next: The individual reviews! Click on
the links to read em!
Back to Street Fighter Round 3!
Got a question or feedback? Think I suck at this? Do let me know... -Dare