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Punk Mogwai

by yo go re

So it's come to this: toys based solely on a commercial.

Every few years there's some discussion about there finally being a third Gremlins movie. I don't know why, since everybody knows cinema achieved perfection with 1990's Gremlins 2, but that's Hollywood for you. Anyway, the closest we've gotten so far was on February 15, 2021, when a commercial for Mountain Dew reunited Zack Galligan and Howie Mandell as Billy Peltzer and Gizmo.

The ad (which somehow wasn't for the Super Bowl?) was set in the modern day, suggesting that mogwais have a surprisingly long lifespan, yet don't grow any larger. The end of the spot engages in some exciting world-building, as a gothy girl walks into the room and, before she's interrupted, calls him "dad." Billy has a family! And more than that, she has her own mogwai sitting on her shoulder.

With NECA already proving they were willing to make mogwais that never existed, fans of course began clamoring for the first new Gremlin there'd been in 31 years. Sure enough, that October, NECA solicited a series of re-releases of their existing movie mogwais... and the new one from the commercial! The packaging on the others is inspired by the old Gremlins trading cards, but this one (now named Punk Mogwai) gets a darker, wilder card. It's pink and black and yellow, there are studded belts, patches and zine-style prints that look like they're safety-pinned in place... basically, it looks like a Hot Topic exploded in 2002. Sure makes it easy to spot this one among all the others on the peg, though.

The Punk Mogwai got its name because Matt from X-E called it that because it has a little bifurcated mohawk on top of its head. Now, usually mogwais with tall hair are bad news, but this one has a fairly friendly face, and Billy probably wouldn't let it hang around with his daughter if it was dangerous.

Comparing the toy to the commercial, the paint isn't quite accurate: the white tufts on the scalp should meet in the middle, rather than being separated by a brown stripe, the spots around the eyes should come out farther to the sides, and the yellow stripes on the cheeks should dip down with a sharper angle. So this isn't perfect, but it's definitely close enough. You won't notice anything amiss unless you're weird enough to find a screenshot of the ad and compare the toy directly to it, but what kind of madperson would do that?

All the mogwai figures have used the same body, and Punk isn't about to change that now. Mogwais are about a foot tall, and this toy is right about 3½" (not counting the mohawks), meaning this is something like a ⅓ scale toy? Weird size. But that's what they've been doing since the start, so there's no fixing it now. The body is entirely furry, with the only skin visible being the hands and feet. Mogwais only have two fingers and a thumb, like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but Turtles only have two toes. One other thing that makes Punk punk? It's easy to miss, but they're sculpted with a silver nose ring. Who gets their pet a piercing! That's weird!

Punkie shares the same "movable eyes" feature NECA's given all their mogwais since 2011, which is especially good here: the commercial ends with Billy's daughter dramatically rolling her eyes (because teenager), and her mogwai doing the same. Pull out the plastic tab that's keeping the eyes from looking weird in the package, and you can roll the ball on the back of the toy's head to make the eyes look different directions. Sadly, you can't make the eyes go quite as high here as in the ad, but you can pretend. Other than those, Punk moves at the head, shoulders, elbows, wrists, and hips, all balljoints. Oh, and the ears! Nearly forgot the ears.

The new series of mogwais were projected for release in May of 2022; they may be almost a full year late, but they at last exist. The fans wanted the Punk Mogwai, and NECA delivered. And if a Gremlins 3 ever does happen, Billy's daughter and her little friend had better be part of it!

-- 01/22/23

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