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by Monkey Boy

I've already partially explained my odd youthful fascination with Gremlins 2, the satirical sequel that was way more over the top than its already-satiricial predecessor. The strange part is that I was too young to actually see it when I first became aware of it, so I had to satisfy my obsession initially with the trading cards, NES video game, and official movie novelization. By the time I did actually see the movie I was already well acquainted with the antics of Daffy, George, Lenny (called "Lemmy" in the trading card series), Mohawk, and Brain (called "Mr. Glasses" in the novelization). I was also familiar with all of their unique designs, which I think was what really drew me to the movie.

Unlike the critters in the first movie, the "new batch" of Gremlins had some diversity among their ranks. There were two or three styles of "generic" gremlins, and then there were the unique Gremlins that had begun as mogwais (as opposed to sprouting from another Gremlin's back): Mohawk, Daffy, Lenny and George.

We got mogwai versions of George and Lenny in the previous series of figures in addition to a new Gizmo, so the follow-up sets its focus solely on the reptilian phase of their development, giving us the Gremlin versions of Daffy and George, as well as a "Flasher" Gremlin in a trenchoat, which was a gag used in both films.

George and Daffy share the same sculpt from the neck down, handled by Trevor Zammit. It's a nice generic Gremlin body, with lots of texture and detail in the scales and spikes. There's a little bit more paunch in the torso than I remember, but after doing some internet research that actually does seem to be screen accurate.

George's head sculpt is pretty superb. NECA's packaging usually includes a screen shot of the character from the film in addition to photos of the actual figures, which is always risky, but admirable in that it allows you to compare the two directly. In this case, NECA has nothing to worry about as George's sculpt captures his wrinkly scowl perfectly, and features the same great detail as the rest of his body. The mouth is particularly nice. The teeth are set far back inside the mouth, behind the heavy lips, but are still fully detailed and visible underneath his scowl.

On a sculpt as complex and filled with detail as this one, paint can be an issue. The paint is attributed to Jon Wardell and Geoffrey Trapp, but we all know it's the factory that determines whether or not the paint will suck. Fortunately George fares well in this category, with a nice clean paint job and a decent use of wash and drybrushing. The main body is a light green with a yellowish underbelly, and the figure is covered with cleanly applied black spots and stripes. The eyes are red with yellow irises and black slit pupils, and they look great.

One area that's quite refreshing on this new Gremlin body is the articulation. It's nice to see that NECA continues to distance itself from its McFarlanesque roots by adding useful, plentiful and well-hidden articulation to its figures (as opposed to whatever that mess is that McF is putting out these days... COUGH*Walking Dead*COUGH). George is articulated with balljoints at the neck, wrists, hips, and ankles, with pegged and hinged joints at the shoulders and elbows, and hinges at the knees. That's right, all the joints except for the knees are either balljoints or pegged and hinged. Compare that to Mohawk's articulation, which was a peg neck joint, balljointed shoulders, and peg elbows, wrists, and hips. We've come a long way, baby. All the joints work great, with none of the sticking or snapping that's unfortunately been the case with some previous NECA offerings. Hopefully they got their reported factory issues worked out, as seems to be the case here.

The downfall of the mogwai figures was their lack of accessories, and sadly George doesn't fare much better. He gets a tiny cigar that fits into his mouth, and it's just begging to be lost in the carpet. The cigar was absolutely necessary, since in the film George is rarely without it after pulling it seemingly from nowhere once his mogwai-to-gremlin metamorphosis is complete, so it's good that we get that much (especially for a figure sold at Toys Я Us... remember, smoking is bad kids!). But it feels like more could be included, like the various kitchen appliances the Gremlins used to wreak havoc on Microwave Marge's cooking show. Still, since these figures are much larger than their mogwai brethren and actually do include some character specific accessories, the price point is a little more palatable. I will be pretty peeved if Lenny is lacking a chef's hat, however.

I was actually on the fence about continuing with my Gremlins purchases, but after seeing this wave in stores I was won over...plus I'd already bought the mogwais, so I couldn't just stop, could I? The main attraction here, in addition to owning Gremlin characters that have never been made before, is the newly articulated Gremlins body, which blows the previous versions away. It makes me really hope that an updated Mohawk is on the way, with this new body style, a hinged jaw (or at least an open mouth) and an Uzi accessory. Pretty please?

-- 11/06/11

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