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Ultimate Santa Gremlin

by yo go re

Remember the Holiday Edition Snowtrooper that didn't ship until January? Time to put my money where my mouth is and not get mad about a Giftsmas exclusive that didn't ship until several months later.

NECA is doing a whole series of Gremlins figures that are based not on the film, but on one of the unlikeliest sources we've ever encountered: newspaper ads. Despite being a Christmas movie, the original Gremlins came out in June. The film stayed in the Top 10 at the box office all the way through September, so WB's promotions department kept running ads for it. For instance, a Fourth of July ad had Gizmo waving a tiny American flag from inside his box; others referenced Coppertone sunscreen or the Summer Olympics; in September there was a "back-to-school" themed ad; and by December, we got an ad featuring a Gremlin dressed as Santa creeping into a chimney. NECA planned to do the Olympics one as an SDCC exclusive (before covid meant that there were neither Olympics nor an SDCC last year), the Back-to-School one in August/September (it eventually showed up in late October) and this one for Giftsmas. But delays pushed it back to the new year. Gremlins really do bring bad luck wherever they go!

While the "Summer Games" Gremlin was definitely Stripe (his mohawk was visible inside the diving mask), Santa Gremlin could have been any generic monster. Why did NECA opt to go with Stripe for this one? Eh, maybe they just wanted to get another use out of the mold, since the plain Gremmy face has already showed up four times. It's not like you can really tell who this is, thanks to the softgoods hat and beard that slide onto the head. Oh, maybe Stripe was chosen because there was already faux fur involved, so his hair wouldn't be hard to produce alongside it?

As always, Stripe uses the body from the Ultimate Gremlin, though you won't be seeing much of it beneath his velvet Santa suit. The coat is held on by the belt, which velcros in the back (the buckle is just for show). The pants also velcro in the back, and they have a little cut-out to let his tail poke through. Since the outfit is entirely softgoods, the articulation doesn't get limited too badly - at least, no more than yours would be when you were wearing a Santa suit. That's one advantage to reusing a body over and over: you get used to what the articulation is, so you'll know how it moves even when all the joints are hidden by clothing.

Santa Stripe doesn't have any alternate hands or anything, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have worthwhile accessories. Remember, the goal of these sets is to re-create the old newspaper ads, and in that old ad, Stripe had a sack slung over his back with Gizmo peeking out and holding a candy cane. So you want to guess what this set includes? A blue bag with golden stars and moons on it (and wires in the edges so you can actually pose it, same as the hat above), a yellow cord to tie the bag shut, and an in-scale Gizmo. An articulated in-scale Gizmo!

Getting a Gizmo in this set just highlights how wildly out-of-proportion the two halves of the Gremlins line are. The normal Mogwai are about 3½" tall; this one only breaks the 2" mark if you count the upper curves of his ears. We get why NECA can't sell figures at this size all the time, but now that they've got a body mold, we'd better see it reused. Imagine if they start a Gremlins 2 Ultimate line, and each of the Gremlins came with itself as a mogwai, as well.

The brown on Gizmo is a little light - more of a tan than the brown it should be. The sculpt is nicely detailed, and the figure has swivel/hinge shoulders, and balljointed wrists and neck. That's not a ton of movement, but it's definitely enough for what is a glorified accessory. And technically he comes with an accessory of his own: the candy cane he was seen holding in the art. And since NECA couldn't very well include a big chimney for Stripe to climb into, they printed on one the backdrop behind the toy in the tray. Neat!

The "Newspaper Ad" Gremlins are a weird subline. They're a great idea for exclusives, because the ads are only remembered by die-hard fans, but the designs may just be weird enough to appeal to a more casual interest. Well, maybe not the Olympic one, because that really hung around at Walmart, but the Back-to-School one isn't bad (not my personal favorite, but not awful), and Santa Stripe is really cool, even if he didn't make it out before Groundhog's Day.

-- 03/11/21

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