Review > Gizmo (Gremlins, LJN)

Just a quick review today, of an oldie but goodie.

Frequently I find myself reminiscing about my childhood toys and remembering a specific toy. Within five minutes, I’ve searched for it on eBay, found it, and bought it. Such was the case recently with this Gizmo figure. Created by LJN, who created many an awesome 1980s toy, the figure was one of several tie-ins to 1984’s Gremlins.

To my surprise, I found the toy mint-on-card for a mere $20 including shipping. A bit more expensive than if I ran across it at a yard sale, but saves me the trouble of actually going to yard sales/toy shows/etc.

Packaging: First off, I can’t describe to you the odd nostalgic feelings that arose when I saw that art of Billy with Gizmo in his backpack. It’s very strange to get a sense of déjà vu from something nearly thirty years in your past.

Oddly enough, this is what you could call “collector friendly packaging” a good twenty years before the concept existed at all. I was able to cut the single piece of tape at the bottom and remove the bubble without damaging the cardboard, and I could easily replace the figure in the box and tape it shut again. LJN put a surprising amount of effort into a fairly simple little figure.

Design & Sculpt: Even as a kid, I recognized that this figure wasn’t sculpted all that accurately, compared to the movie Gizmo. The major problem is the eyes–they’re too big and too wide. They almost look like an anime version of Gizmo.

However, the rest of the sculpt is pretty good, with a nice amount of texturing on the fur. He stands about 3½” tall. As you can see from the back of the package, there was also a much larger Gizmo figure, but I never owned that.

Plastic & Paint: Gizmo is made from a rubbery plastic that’s quite squishy. He’s survived the twenty-seven years between 1984 and now relatively intact, except for a small bit of tackiness from a slight degradation of the plastic.

The paint work isn’t too intricate, and by today’s standards it would probably be called thick and perhaps a bit sloppy. Again, however, it’s not bad for the time it was made.

One thing I remember about my childhood version of this toy was that the white on the figure got dirty very easily, and fairly permanently. This one, being “brand new,” obviously doesn’t have that problem yet.

Articulation: Gizmo has cut joints at the neck and shoulders. NECA has upped that ante with their own Gizmo (one upcoming version has movable eyes), but for 1984 this was pretty standard.

Accessories: None.

Quality Control: He’s a rubber figure with three points of articulation. There’s nothing much to mess up here.

Overall: I bought Gizmo primarily to add him to my so-called Toy Shrine–my collection of vintage childhood toys. However, he’s a lovable little guy, and I think I’m going to keep him on my desk for a bit.

He may seem quaint by modern standards, but to a five-year-old boy in 1984 who wasn’t fond of plush toys, this (along with a bendie Stripe figure) was the Gremlins toy I wanted.

[raven 3]

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  1. Mark

    Ljn was a great company.

    In a way I woul like another Gremlins movie, it would have to be nearer to the first as I wasn't so keen on the second, oddly enough I had a Gremlins t-shirt in my hand the other day, I was going to buy it but it lost in thechoic between it and a Thundercats t-shirt…..might go back and get it aswell.

  2. FakeEyes22

    Loved this toy! I think it still holds up pretty well. Still have it and the larger version, in rather used shape of course. And maybe a PVC sized one. And once, a grow in water Gizmo that did not obey the rules of the film whatsoever.

    I'm pretty excited about the new NECA stuff. I wasn't too fond of the first Gizmo's uni-leg, especially now that we're seeing how nicely done the Gremlins 2 Mogwai are.

  3. dayraven

    i'd love more gremlins movies… kind of.

    the trends today being what they are, i'm certain we'll get more movies sooner rather than later, but they'll be all CGI, they'll muddle the story sufficiently (wait, i fed them at 9pm EST, but the mogwai was born in germany, so he's 7 hours ahead… CRAP!) and completely miss what made the first movies so damned much fun, much like TCM, NoES, Ft13th, karate kid, and most of the other 80's movie rehashes have. somehow the studio system just seems to crap all over the geeky fan love of these timeless classics.

    so in a way, i kind of don't want new gremlins movies. they're fine as they are, a little dated, but fun, and full of a character a newer, shinier version would dump on. we just showed the boys the first movie this past christmas, and intend for grem 2 later this year… and my kids, wholy products of the new millenium, playing video games, using cell phones, etc… loved the first movie. LOVED it. can't wait till they see 2.

    that said, the toys are a fun reminder of those great films, and i'm much looking forward to NECA raping my wallet later this year for some gremlins merch.

  4. Mecha-Shiva

    Now if only they made a gizmo toy with furby technology he can sing that cute song of his.Wanted a gizmo toy when the movie came out but yeah the gremlins scared the crap out of me!Cool find,man!

  5. I used to have this guy. Actually, I believe I still do. In pretty good shape for his age as well. I remember having the plush as a kid and thinking it was really accurate (it wasn't) and I even made a bunch of Rambo-like weapons for him after seeing Gremlins 2.

  6. misterbigbo wrote:

    I’m glad you had that nostalgic attack; that’s the point of MOC collectiing for me.

    I'm not an MOC collector by any means, but occasionally I do pick something up for those purposes. For instance I bought a MOC Kenner Tec-Shield Batman off ebay on the cheap. I still have the actual figure I had as a kid, but there’s something about a toy in the package!

  7. Awesome! I've been going through something of a vintage toy phase myself. I took down couple rubbermaid bins from the attic my parents' house and have been going through them. A lot of it is junk I'm not really sure to do with, but I've found a few diamonds in the rough.

    Despite some of the fantastic figures being released today, there's nothing quite like the feeling of nostalgia you get when looking at an old figure or toy of some sorts.

    I've always loved Gizmo, he's adorable. But then again usually anything small, furry, and bug-eyed is. Me thinks I will have to bite and find myself a NECA Gizmo.

  8. Monkey boy

    Oh man I had that toy! One of my first toys ever.

  9. ero

    I love this. Thanks for the review, Poe. I too had this one as a kid, and in that magical time that was the '80s, I was convinced that if I got him wet, I'd have a cadre of Mogwai on my hands.

  10. misterbigbo

    Being an occassional vintage MOC collector, I had a minor myocardial infarction when I saw you opened him, but when I read the review I felt a little better. I would have left him in that little plastic prison.

    I'm glad you had that nostalgic attack; that's the point of MOC collectiing for me.

  11. Ben

    Yes, but mine was loose and the arm had popped out. Even with the fix, it's still very fragile. Your example is like a newborn baby. Mine is like an old lady whose gone through plastic surgery. 🙂

  12. Poe

    @ Ben: $1.99?!? Great, now the $20 I spent on this seems like I took a lighter to my cash. 🙂

  13. Ben

    The world needs another Gremlins movie!

    Great review. While I tend to collect loose vintage toys, I'm really impressed with LJN's packaging efforts here. Wish they would have applied them to Thundercats!

    Ironically, about a week and a half ago, I found the 16" tall Stripe that LJN made at a Goodwill for $1.99. The arm had popped out, but we fixed it when I got home with it. NECA's done some great work with the line since then, but honestly, I think these hold up much better than a lot of movie tie-in toys from the 1980s!

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