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Spider Gremlin

by Monkey Boy

I have been waiting for this moment for more than 20 years.

I wanted to see Gremlins 2 so badly when I was a pup, but it was PG13 and I wasn't 13. I was also scared of it, because the trailers were suspenseful (for a child) even though the actual film is mostly slapstick cartoon violence. Mainly, I was just in love with the creatures.

I wanted good action figures, but the only things available when the film was released were Applause PVC figurines. I had them all, but they were certainly lacking. NECA finally made some Gremlins figures, among them a Mohawk, and while it was a nicely detailed figure and I still have it on display, it was a product of its time and today the articulation and paint are sorely lacking.

NECA has continued to pump out Gremlins figures, mostly based on the sequel since it had more varied designs than the original, and I have eagerly been snapping them up. But they've made no secret that they aren't great sellers, and it's unknown if we'll ever see the prototypes NECA has shown off at cons.

click to embiggen

One of those prototypes that is finally seeing the light of day is the Spider Gremlin. NECA first revealed this deluxe monster years ago, but could never find a way to release it, until now. I'm super jazzed about this not only because it's a big awesome deluxe figure, but also because it's an updated version of Mohawk, who was sorely in need of one. And while NECA has shown a proto of Mohawk with an uzi, based on this figure's upper body, they aren't optimistic that we'll get it. So this may be it.

I'll say this: if this is to be the last Gremlins release, they're going out on a high note. It's a very ambitious piece, though you wouldn't know it from the packaging. It's sold in a relatively small box, with no plastic windows to let you see the figure. The lower leg segments aren't attached, which allows it to be compacted for sale, but once you get him assembled, he's pretty awe-inspiring.

Getting him assembled is no easy task, at least not until you know the secret. There aren't any instructions, and the leg pieces are very stiff and hard, not to mention covered in sculpted spikes, which makes it extremely difficult to get the balljoint into the socket in the upper legs. Thanks to OAFE reader Ridereyu, I knew to dip the upper legs in hot water to soften them up a bit, and once I did that, the legs popped together painlessly.

He's a sight to behold when he's all put together. He's 10" high at the top of his spiny dorsal ridge (or "mohawk" if you like") and his leg span is about 18". The text on the box says 15", but that's a conservative estimate. His sculpt is wonderful, which is no surprise, and he's almost all new. The only thing that appears to be reused from the old Mohawk is the mohawk itself, which is divided into two pieces so as not to inhibit the neck articulation. Unlike the old figure's spines, which popped out far too easily, this time they're permanently attached.

The previous 'hawk had a serene, closed-mouth headsculpt that seemed far too calm for the maniacal monster (who, the creators have stated, is the reincarnation of the original film's Stripe). This figure fixes that, by giving him an exaggerated sneer: his lips are curled into a rictus that shows his gums and Gollum-like teeth.

The detail doesn't stop at the head. The figure is covered with scales, spines, and wrinkles, and Jason Frailey just really knocked it right out of the park. He even has the double row of spikes on his ventral side, which got a nice close-up in the film, and some gruesome detail on the spinnerets of his abdomen.

The figure also crushes its predecessor in the paint department. There are a lot of intricate patterns on the character, and the last figure only established them in blurry, broad strokes. This figure more than makes up for it, with sharp, crisp detail (seriously, check out the insides of his ears). I was worried about the paint, since you can't inspect the figure before you buy it, but mine looks great. The spots on his arms and legs, the stripes on his abdomen... it all looks awesome. If I had one complaint, it's that he's a bit too glossy, but he's a Gremlin, and he's a spider monster, so he's likely to be a bit slick and slimy.

This release also brings Mohawk into the new articulation set-up we've seen on the latest Gremlins figures, and actually improves on it a bit. He has a double balljointed neck, with a joint at the top and bottom, peg and hinge joints in the shoulders, elbows and wrists, a hinged waist, a balljointed abdomen, and balljoints in all the legs. The front legs get two balljoints, due to them being slightly smaller, and the rest get three. Oh! And I almost forgot, he's got a hinged jaw! It was a bit lopsided when I opened the figure, but it was easy to reposition correctly, with the upper jaw slightly overlapping the lower at the corners. He looks awesome with his mouth open or closed, and this is an absolute necessity that every Mohawk figure should have.

His legs end in curved, pointed claws, which aren't the greatest for supporting his heft, even though his abdomen is hollow. To help keep him from slumping, the figure includes a clear plastic dowel that plugs into his underside at one end and into a black rectangle at the other. The figure will stand without it, but would eventually wilt under its own weight, so the extra support is much appreciated.

He also gets the same spider serum beaker that transformed him into his arachnid state. It's been included with every Mohawk release so far, but this time his claws are actually shaped to hold it. It's nice that he includes it, but he wouldn't really feel lacking without it.

There's no better way to describe this piece than "impressive." It looks awesome, and is an excellent centerpiece for any Gremlins display. NECA essentially the exact figure I hoped for after seeing the movie all those years ago, and I absolutely love it. Now, if they could only release the rest of the Gremlins figures they've shown, my 10-year-old self might just be ready to grow up a little.

-- 12/21/13

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