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Street Fighter Round 3
BALROG

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 brains.

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 for these.

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 down.

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 impressive sculpt.

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.

Yellow Balrog - Exclusive to various online retailers.

Black  Balrog - Exclusive to various online retailers.

Red Balrog - Exclusive to various online retailers.

Green Balrog (see main page)- Exclusive to Japan.

Coming up next: The individual reviews! Click on the links to read em!

Adon
Gen
Guile
Sakura
Balrog


Back to Street Fighter Round 3!


Got a question or feedback? Think I suck at this? Do let me know... -Dare


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All text and commentary are the opinions of the authors solely, and not to be attributed to any other parties.
All images, format, content, and design are copyright © 1999-2008 D. ”Julius Marx” Pickett unless otherwise noted. No part of these pages may be reproduced without express written consent of D. Pickett. Licensed character names and images are copyright © their respective companies. But hey, ask me; you just never know what I'll say. - Logo Design by Matt Cauley. Web Design by Jason Geyer.