At Toy Fair 2011 NECA unveiled one of the greatest things I’ve in a very long time – plans for a minimum of four waves or four figures from Gremlins 2: The New Batch, one of my very favorite movies ever! The first two waves were revealed to consist entirely of the different Mogwai, will balljointed articulation just about everywhere they could get it and even articulation eyes! While the line is slated to hit stores in late summer/early fall, it was launched with a sort of “preview” figure of Gizmo exclusive to the San Diego Comic Convention.
NECA has evolved into a pretty great company in the last couple years. They’ve always been known for very good sculpting but have only recently discovered the Chosen Path of Articulation. In addition, they’ve taken on a model utilizing a high level of body reuse across a line which lowers productions costs and opens the opportunities for more figures to be make. While this may seem like a move to fleece buyers, it’s actually a way to offer a very wide variety of product from licenses that no longer have the market appeal they once did. And let’s face it – filmmakers used the same core puppets and molds for the Mogwai and Gremlins, so the reuse is film accurate!
Gizmo is our introduction to the line and features both the core body to be shared on all Mogwai as well as the new cranial features to used on each of the unique heads. It’s the heads that have garnered the most attention and rightfully so – NECA is the first company to bring articulated eyes to the American retail environment. Gizmo’s eyes are perfectly smooth orbs with simple brown paint for the irises and black for the pupils. On the back of his head is another ball, this one is sculpted to have a texture similiar to the rest of the body’s fur.
All three orbs seem to be free-floating in their recesses but by turning the ‘hairy’ ball on the head, the eyes shift and “look” around to different places. It’s a cool feature and works quite well about half the time, and only okay the other half. It seems like I have better luck with any look to Gizmo’s left, or any look down. The right eye in particular seems loose in its socket and thus can shift itself once pressure is withdrawn from the ‘hairy’ ball. Getting him to look straight forward is, unfortunately, the hardest, but overall it can be a fun feature. I would also be remiss to not mention that the eyes don’t always turn to the same degree, allowing for a lot of fun with wall-eye-ing the poor little guy.
The rest of the head and face are solid and static in expression, but the Mogwai mouth is so small and the eyes so big that emotion is easily conveyed through the pupil’s position. To help augment this, both ears are connected to the head by a balljoint allowing them to be posed as well. It’s a really cool idea and it works okay, though the ear joints are restricted enough that one can’t make the more extreme “up” or “down” they would prefer.
Gizmo has 13 points of articulation (including both eyes) and they’re all ball-joints! Hips, shoulders, elbows, wrists and ears! However, none of them, except for the shoulders and wrists, really have much of a range of motion. I always prefer ball-joints over anything else, and am very pleased NECA went this route. It’s just a byproduct of the Mogwai’s stout, short bodies that sculpturally there isn’t much more they could do.
But what this figure lacks in range of motion he makes up for in sculpt and paint. This is is exactly of the quality we’ve come to expect from NECA and they certainly deliver. It’s almost unfathomably awesome to be getting a complete set of Mogwais in this highly detailed sculpt and paint!
To help make this an exclusive, Gizmo comes with three accessories, a lanyard with badge, sunglasses, and bag. This is a Comic Con exclusive figure of Comic Con Attendee Gizmo – how meta is that? It’s a really fun idea, but doesn’t quite have the spark of awesomeness that I want it to have. The sunglasses are pretty standard issue and fit on Giz well enough. the frames are done in flat black and the lenses in glossy black so that while they’re not translucent they do have the look of actual shades. Rather than being regular glasses that reach over the ears, the “stalks” each terminate in horizontal hooks, sculpted and painted to look like Gizmo’s fur. They thus clip onto the edge-fur around the ear-sockets for a more seemless look. The downside is that I can’t really find a good attachment point for the left side so the glasses tend to be a little off-center. Regardless, it’s good enough and still kind of clever.
The badge and bag are what really make this a Con Attendee Gizmo. The badge reaches around Gizmo’s neck and isn’t removable. Impressively they created a full on badge graphic for Gizmo, that is pretty accurate to the actual SDCC badge layout, and printed it on the badge. The downside though is the lanyard clips separately onto each end of the badge. I’m sure this was a result of production needs, but never in my 14 years of attending has Comic Con never had a lanyard like that, so it’s a bummer in that is very notably inaccurate.
The third accessory is a cloth bag that alludes to all of the inevitable shopping that SDCC entails. It’s unclear if it is meant to be a shopping bag for Gizmo or a tote bag to hold him, though the latter seems most likely. A really cool touch is that it’s made from the same semi-spongey material that is used on the actual gigantic bags that are now given away. On one side is the SDCC logo and on the other is the Warner Brothers shield, which is an incredibly awesome touch of accuracy. WB started the “gigantic free bag giveaway craze” (at least of the cloth variety) and in fact now provides the giant bag to each attendee with the Con registration. Since WB owns Gremlins NECA was able to swing this easily, and in a way it’s cooler than the actual figure. The bag is 3″ wide and 2 & 7/8″ tall with an opening 1 & 11/16″ wide. Since Gizmo is about 3 ¼” tall, these means that he fits almost entirely in the bag with just his forehead and ears sticking out. Fortunately the bag is sturdy enough you can use his arms to make him stick out nicely.
There are definitely some negatives to this figure, but overall I like it a lot. It’s successfully gotten me excited for the proper Gremlins 2 line, which has started hitting stores. The accessories are neat, but you won’t really miss them in your collection. While this technically fits well within our definition of a “Perfect Convention Exclusive” I must confess that as a variant it’s a bit lackluster and it’s absence won’t really be felt by anything but the hardest-core completists. As an SDCC and Gremlins fan I’m quite happy to have this figure, but you, dear reader, are safe without this minor variation.