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by Monkey Boy

Believe it or not, there was a time when the Looney Tunes character Daffy Duck was actually crazy, rather than just the sourpuss nemesis of Bugs Bunny. As a youngster I used to wonder why such a dour and unpleasant character was named Daffy...was it supposed to be ironic? Earlier Daffy appearances, however, tell the tale. Daffy began as a kooky, off the wall (often literally) character, whose signature exit was to spring off into the distance shouting "woo hoo!" over and over again.

While the more well-known, grumpy Daffy Duck makes some cameo appearances in Gremlins 2, there's no mistaking that the Gremlin called Daffy is inspired by the cartoon duck's original, wacky disposition. Daffy starts out as a furry mogwai, and immediately after his "birth" he begins bouncing off the walls. He's later mistaken for Gizmo, and of course hijinx ensue until he eventually eats after midnight and becomes a Gremlin.

Throughout the film Daffy builds a reputation for being over the top and insane even among creatures who are primarily known to wreak havoc for no reason. He pops out of pots covered in pasta, causes elevators to plummet by messing with the controls (while dressed as a construction worker), and eventually re-enacts the dental torture scene from Marathon Man, which really creeped me out as a young'un even though I had no idea what movie they were parodying.

NECA's new ongoing Gremlins series of figures alternates between waves of mogwais and Gremlins, and Daffy is featured in the first wave of the latter. He shares the wave with the "Flasher" Gremlin and George, with whom he also shares a body sculpt. This raises a small issue, as the film's Daffy was a bit more svelte than George and lacks the substantial paunch featured on the figure's sculpt. Still, it's a small issue and Daffy is full of excellent detail.

The main attraction, however, is the head sculpt. It successfully captures Daffy's madcap demeanor with its big monkey grin and wide, mismatched eyes. Like George, Daffy was sculpted by Trevor Zammit, and you've got to give him credit for replicating Daffy's features so well, right down to the extra long floppy head spines.

The paint doesn't quite measure up to the sculpt, unfortunately. Like George, paint duty fell on the shoulders of Jon Wardell and Geoffrey Trapp, but unlike George, Daffy doesn't wow me with his paint apps. While most of the work is decent, it starts to get muddy around the shoulder areas, where the yellowish spikes mingle with the lime green scales and the large black blotches, and it just looks messy. There's also room for improvement in his face, where the sharp division between green and yellow above his mouth is jarring; it should evenly fade from one color to the other. It's also strange that there's no wash around his eyes. Considering the heavy use of wash all over the rest of the figure, the absence is conspicuous.

But that's focusing on the negatives. The paintwork as a whole has grown on me, and if you can find one with a fairly decent fade on the upper lip you should be satisfied.

Since he's got the same body as George, Daffy moves just as well: balljointed neck, wrists, hips and ankles, peg-and-hinge shoulders and elbows, and hinged knees. He's got quite a range of motion, and I'm glad this seems to be the new standard for NECA's Gremlins.

Daffy gets two accessories: a party noisemaker (which fits between his fingers or in his mouth) and some Groucho Marx gag spectacles (which can be successfully worn on his face, with some work). While these are movie-accurate accessories, there's much much more he could have come with. Daffy wore several costumes throughout the film, so it would have been nice to be able to dress him up as an elevator operator or a sadistic dentist. Still, he does get one more accessory than George, so it's not like he feels shorted. It's just fun to wonder what could have been.

Hopefully NECA continues the Gremlins series for a long time, as these are some really great figures. As of this writing, the next series of mogwai (featuring a cute, furry Daffy) is expected to hit shelves soon, while the next series of Gremlins will feature Lenny as well as the "Lightning" Gremlin and "Phantom of the Opera" Gremlin. I'm really hoping they don't stop there, and I've already voiced my desire for an updated Mohawk. Beyond that, the series just isn't complete without the Bat Gremlin, the Vegetable Gremlin, and Lady Gremlina! And then there's the giant Mohawk as Spider-Gremlin set NECA keeps showing off.

-- 11/12/11

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