Remember when Rocky ALMOST joined G.I. Joe?

The 1980s were a magical time, but for a brief month in early 1987, it was even more awesome. That was when issue #2 of the "G.I. Joe: The Order of Battle" comic book was released. Published to capitalize on the Joe craze, "The Order of Battle" was a "roll call" of all the major characters and vehicles in the series.

To the surprise of many fans, the comic book included a new Joe member: Rocky Balboa, the same character played by Sylvester Stallone in the Oscar-winning movie series. As a kid in 1987, I was not only a G.I.. Joe fanatic, but a Rocky and Rambo fan as well. Imagine my surprise, then, when I picked up the second issue of "The Order of Battle" and I saw this.
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The idea of Rocky joining G.I. Joe was fantastic for a fan like me, because I knew it meant one thing: A ROCKY ACTION FIGURE! Wrestling star Sgt. Slaughter had already joined the team and become a fan favorite, so why not Rocky? Alas, my hopes were dashed just a month later, when issue #3 of "The Order of Battle" was released and this disclaimer was printed on the back page.

So what happened? The lack of internet at the time made finding out any inside information nearly impossible. Now, however, we know the truth. The inclusion of Rocky at the time was no mistake. It was purposely planned, until a hitch ruined the deal. fills in the details.
Establishing Rocky’s place in the mythology of the G.I. Joe universe fell on Larry Hama, writer of Marvel’s G.I. Joe comic and a frequent source for hammering out narrative points across the franchise’s many outlets. In a Marvel collection of character biographies titled G.I. Joe: Order of Battle #2, released in late 1986, Hama scripted a brief rundown (above) that presented Balboa as a combat trainer, filling obligations for his "Reserve time" by turning their hands into semi-deadly weapons.

Over at Hasbro, sculptor Bill Merklein was tasked with creating a wax prototype of the character’s action figure:

How did this awkward partnership between fictional boxer and fictional military force dissolve? According to former Hasbro product manager Kirk Bozigian, Stallone’s representatives knocked him out of contention. “The reason Rocky was dropped from the G.I. Joe line is because his agents got greedy,” Bozigian tells mental_floss. “While we were designing and sculpting Rocky Balboa, a competing toy company, Coleco, was introducing Rambo action figures and vehicles to compete with us. The decision to drop Rocky was an easy one.”
Hasbro apparently got REALLY close to actually making a Rocky figure. There are even pics of the figure design and a prototype! The prototype picture was posted at

We're likely to never see Rocky join G.I. Joe, but now, at least we can see what might have been.

Victor Medina is a freelance writer based in Dallas. He is the editor of several websites, and his writing credits include The Dallas Morning News, Yahoo News, and He has served as a Dallas County election judge and on the Board of Directors of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas. You can follow him on his blog, or on Twitter at @mrvictormedina. He can be reached by email at

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