Marvel Universe vs Marvel Infinite
Before continuing this Review, I just wanted to take a moment to explain that the figures featured here were originally released as part of the Marvel Universe 2011 line-up (alongside the soon-to-be-reissued Star-Lord and Drax.) However, it's our understanding that this pairing of Rocket and Groot is identical to the upcoming Marvel Infinite re-release and, as such, this Review will be applicable to both.
It's also worth noting that these figures are based on the comicbook appearances of the characters, which is why they appear different to their cinematic counterparts. However, at this time it appears Hasbro has no plans to release 4'' scale figures of The Guardians of the Galaxy so if you're looking for movie versions of the characters you'll need to find them at a different scale.
Rocket Raccoon & Groot
Rocket Raccoon and Groot were, as mentioned above, released originally as part of a Marvel Universe four-figure pack but are to get a new lease of life later this year when they're reissued in a two-figure pack in the Marvel Infinite line-up. But don't get too excited about the prospect of a ''two for one'' deal here, as Rocket stands at around 2'' tall and Groot is, in effect, little more than an accessory. This isn't intended as a criticism or negative point but rather is mentioned now to simply avoid any confusion further down the line.
So with that cleared up, let's take a closer look at Rocket.
The sculpt, overall, is well realized, with Rocket sporting his comicbook uniform and all the appropriate detailing you'd expect, from his gauntlet-like gloves to double-breasted jacket and pouched belt, all of which are also present on the Star-Lord figure, too (which is a Review for another day...) and so help convey the ''team'' concept nicely.
I particularly like the ''MC Hammer Pants'' look, which really helps sell the idea of a genetically modified creature wearing clothing. And there's a sentence you don't get to type every day...
Speaking of matters ''animal,'' the head, tail and paw sculpting is also very cool and it really sells the idea of Rocket Raccoon's fur (the tail in particular) and the head sculpt is especially detailed. I like the expressive detailing on his face and the designers have done a great job of capturing his ''animal-ness'' whilst also giving him a lot of human-like expression.
The real stand-out for me, though, comes with the paint app. Maybe it's because we have expectations as to what a raccoon should look like (super-evolved or otherwise) but I'm impressed at just how well the paint design delivers on those expectations. From his striped face to ringed tail, the ''animal'' details are all very cleanly applied and cleverly designed, with his various fur shades being multi-layered to really convey the idea of color-flecked fur.
The uniform's app, whilst not as neat as the fur, works well enough, highlighting a few neat points of the sculpt well and doing a good job breaking up what otherwise would have been a large expanse of blue.
As you've probably gathered from the above images, articulation isn't Rocket Raccoon's strong point. Indeed, aside from his tail and right arm, the figure has absolutely no movement (and even then I'm not entirely convinced these ''joints'' aren't simply unsecured connection points for the various pieces used to create the figure.) Whilst the Marvel Universe line was never the most articulated of ranges, it's a little disappointing to see that there's so little pose-ability with this figure. Yes, I understand he's very much a ''one-off'' creation and adding joints would have added to the cost but at the same time, he's at least half the size of a regular figure in the line and even adding something like a head-twist of some creative single-cut joints (like those seen in the True Legends Heroes of Olympus figures) would have been most welcome.
Rocket Raccoon also comes with an oversize blaster rifle. The weapon fits neatly into his right hand (the only hand sculpted to hold any such accessories) and has the kind of quirky, retro-styling that looks as if it would be exactly the kind of weapon a genetically-enhanced space raccoon would carry. And yes, it's cast from a single color plastic with no paint but the silver/gun metal hue works just fine so I'm not going to get too upset about that.
Groot is a sentient tree being and so, as such, can ''grow'' in a variety of forms. So sadly this isn't the giant, bad-guy bashing version of the character but is, instead, the ''sapling Groot'' form, growing in a plant pot.
The sculpt is a neat amalgamation of plant and humanoid, which I find reminiscent of the medieval renderings of the mandrake root. It's a neat bit of sculpting (considering the scale) but there's not much in the way of detail (sculpt- or paint-wise) to discover on closer inspection. What's here is nice, it's just there's not much here.
And speaking of the paint app, my Groot's ''greenery'' is applied somewhat sloppily. You may find a better app on your figure and I have seen some neater apps (such as the one used on the promo image here) so I'm not sure if they've simply picked out a really clean app there or whether he's had a paint overhaul for the Infinite release.
But beyond that, there's very little I can really add to the Review, so let's jump to the Final Thoughts.
The Marvel Universe (and soon-to-be Marvel Infinite) Rocket Raccoon and Groot figures are, like the characters themselves, something of an oddity. Just as fans of spandex-clad, roof-swinging superheroes may find a genetically-enhanced furry critter and a sentient tree a little hard to handle, so too fans of pose-able, super-detailed superhero figures may not really warm to this pair.
It's too easy to look at them and see what's missing, rather than what's actually here though and that's a shame, as once you get past the lack of articulation and diminutive size (which is actually to-scale with the other figures and so isn't something you really should get hung up on) you'll see that there's a lot to like. The sculpting is really quite excellent, with Rocket Raccoon's facial detail and ''animal parts'' having a great, ''natural world'' look to them and the uniform sports enough in the way of folds and accessories to really sell the idea of it being a costume (rather than part of the character himself.) Even Groot, for all his diminutive scale, has some cool little touches and although it would have been great to have a humanoid-scale ''big'' Groot, this version is a neat little addition to the line.
What I like is that there's a charm to both figures. They have personality and character. Whether that's because they're just so strange-looking or whether it's because very single piece used is bespoke I don't know. All I do know is that they look great, especially when placed beside other Marvel Universe/Infinite figures, as at that point it becomes clear that whilst they're definitely of the same line they're so odd and off-the-wall that they highlight just how ''flat'' Hasbro's offerings can be at times (I mean, how many figures in the line-up are simply the same buck repainted? Too many if you ask me...)
My only reservation - complete lack of articulation aside - is that this pairing carries a pretty hefty price tag. I'm really not sure how Hasbro can justify charging almost $12 for these figures (although with that said, I don't know how they justify that price for a single ''regular'' figure either), especially considering that the original four-figure pack retailed at $20 and included Star-Lord and Drax to boot...
Here's the thing though: if you love Rocket Raccoon (and to a lesser degree, Groot) then this figure set will make you happy. And sure, you'd be even happier if it were cheaper or the figures had some actual, working articulation but if you're a fan of the pair (or indeed the Guardians in general) or you want something a little different from the hundreds of Iron Fishing Super Spider-Man or Electro-Power Math Class Wolverine figures that come with every other movie release then I think you'll find these two are just what you're looking for.
Great-looking figures, let down by non-existent articulation and a high price point.
Pre-Order your Rocket Raccoon & Groot (along with Star-Lord, Drax or the entire Infinite Wave 4 Set) at Entertainment Earth.