This is actually a true story and one that confused me as a kid. I had the comic book with Rocky Balboa’s origin but never knew why we didn’t see him in stories or his action figure. But fortunately CBR.com go to the bottom of it.
In 1985, Sly Stallone was on top of the world. Rocky had just beaten the best boxer in the USSR (and the world’s worst He-Man) Dolph Lundgren. In those USA boxing shorts and with a James Brown theme song, this dude was the ultimate patriot!
So much so that Hasbro approached Stallone about having Rocky enlist in the G.I. Joe toy line as a follow up to the success they experienced with World Wrestling Federation’s Sgt. Slaughter. With Hasbro thinking the deal was a slam dunk, they gave the go ahead for G.I. Joe writer Larry Hama and artist Herb Trimpe to create a bio for the character for the 1987 Marvel comic book mini-series G.I. Joe: Order of Battle.
Here is the bio from issue #2 of the mini-series.
Hasbro even created a villain specifically for Rocky, Cobra Trainer Big Boa
However, before the paperwork had been signed with Hasbro, rival toy manufacturer Coleco stepped in with a more lucrative offer for Stallone to launch a whole Rambo toy line. Apparently the deal with Coleco (or possibly the Hasbro one) had a non compete clause so Stallone was unable to do both.
Stallone’s new deal even had a poorly developed cartoon!
On the Marvel comic book end, this meant they needed to find a way to retcon the Rocky balboa bio that had just been published in the 2nd issue of G.I. Joe Order of Battle. So in the very next issue of the series, Marvel printed this on the first page of the comic:
So, when Stallone is unavailable, who is your backup? William Refrigerator Perry of course!
Moral of the story: Always make sure legal has signed paperwork first!