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by yo go re

In general, movie sequels manage to take all the plot points and special effects of their progenitors to a higher level while still coming off as little more than pale imitations. Gremlins 2: The New Batch certainly did things bigger than the original, but it also managed to give us a fun story along with all the sound and fury.

Not only was the story better than the first - the Gremlins run rampant in a computer-controlled office building - but the creature designs were improved. Sure, there were the ultra-cool oddities like the Spider-Gremlin or the Veggie-Gremlin, but even the un-modified, plain Gremlins were better this time. All the sadder, then, that NECA has only seen fit to give us one Gremlins 2 figure: the Brain Gremlin.

Voiced by fussy demigod Tony Randall, Brain was just an average monster until drinking Dr. Catheter's brain formula. Now he's the ultimate leader of the Gremlins, and just wants what everyone wants: diplomacy, compassion, manners, tradition, chamber music, Susan Sontag and convenient credit, even though they've been turned down in the past; in short, civilization.

Wearing a blue shirt and a dark green jacket, Brain is looking quite dapper. His glasses are removable, though they're fairly thin and flimsy. Thin, that is, everywhere but the lenses - Brain must have some terrible myopia. He comes with a beaker of brain formula and a big green book, The History of Civilization, VI Edition.

The sculpting on all these Gremlin figures puts McFarlane Toys to shame - not only are Brain's clothes appropriately wrinkled, but every scale on his brown and yellow body is captured perfectly. His ears look thin and veiny, and the various horns poking through his face give him a wonderfully menacing visage.

Brain's big feet (just one of the things that sets the sequel Gremlins apart from their older brothers) keep him standing safely, and he has nine points of articulation. You can manage a fine variety of poses, though some more movement in the legs would have been nice. NECA's choice of a balljointed head was smart, and something that other companies might have overlooked.

Brain's hands are a soft rubber, probably a concession to safety: don't want anyone jabbing their eyes out with tiny claws, after all. This prevents him from holding either of his accessories with much success, sadly. The paintjob, however, is top-notch: from the shadows and highlights on his clothes to the coloration of his skin, everything is very exacting.

At 6¼" tall, Brain is the tallest of this set. The Gremlins don't really fit into any existing scale: they're more in a class of their own. Of course, judging by all the cool toys NECA is delivering, so are they.

-- 10/14/03

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