Review : Ultimate Gizmo NECA, Gremlins Wave/Series : Ultimate Series Released : May 2017
Pros : very expressive figure with the articulated ears, swap out faces and those trackball eyes
Cons : paint is perhaps missing a wash to help bring out the depth of the fur?
Like a lot of kids of the 1980's, I am a huge fan of the movie Gremlins. And yet up until very recently I did not have any Gremlin figures at all in my collection. The early Gremlins figures from NECA are now difficult to obtain, particularly the key characters like Gizmo and Stripe. But NECA have given collectors like me a second opportunity by taking their Gizmo figure and packing it in their Ultimate series.
The packaging is a fully enclosed box that uses the white "Mogwai warning" movie poster design. The white is broken by a large red Gremlins movie logo on top and an image of Gizmo from the movie at the bottom. Gizmo's shadow is raised up behind him and is actually a Gremlin and the words are very apt in "what you see.... isn't always what you get".
The two side panels are plain white with the Gremlins logo down the spine and a NECA & Reel Toys logo at the base.
Round the back of the box and we move from white to black and get our first look at what the contents have in store. There is another Gremlins logo top left and under this in white a synopsis of the movie. To the side and below this text are four image panels, each framed in a wood effect design reminiscent of the ornate box in which Gizmo arrives. Each panel holds an image of the figure in it's different guises taken against the NECA atmospheric dioramas. There is a final image of the figure popping out of the box at the very bottom.
Under this final image and in very small text are a list of contents.
Rather than open the box to see the figure, the front panel actually opens like the cover of a book - it is held in place by a piece of cicular Velcro. Behind the panel we see the figure via a window. Gizmo sits at the top and is then surrounded by the accessories. Below these sit the three alternative faces.
The inner part of this cover has a full colour image of the figure in his Rambo gear with bow and arrow.
While there are no instructions in the box, check out the bottom of the outer box which confirms the operation of the trackball to move the eyes.
With the box open we have an inner tray that sits into a fully enclosed cardboard backing piece. This backing piece is not instantly visible, but remove the tray and you will see this is an image of Billy's bedroom - a nice touch and something collectors can adapt to have a backdrop to the figure on display.
There are no twist ties of any kind, the figure and all the parts are held in by means of an outer cover to the tray that means they are fully enclosed in clear plastic.
Let's start with Gizmo as he comes out of the box. The team at NECA have certainly captured the look of the original Gizmo from the film with sculpted fur detail and those big wide eyes and expressive mouth.
Turning him round you will find a plastic tag inserted into his head. This is holding the trackball secure in transit, and needs pulling out to use the figures eye articulation.
Gizmo stands 3.5" high (feet to top of his head) and a touch higher with his ears in the upward position. The proportions are well done and the fur detailing continues down the body and out into the limbs. Te painting is quite basic with a single tone brown on the brown sections, and the same single tone white on the white fur. The "flesh" ares are skin toned, but again are a single tone with just the hands and feet having an additional paint app with the finger and toe nails painted in a darker shade.
The belt is real string, and is tied in place and can be moved up and around the waist and be removed if needed.
The usual approach with the Ultimate Series is to provide collectors with swap out heads and body parts to give the figure a number of different looks within a single release. That approach was impractical for Gizmo considering the size of his head, and NECA have therefore taken an innovative approach to provide swap out fascial pieces.
The joint is virtually invisible when viewed, but with a touch of pressure the face area will fall away and leaves behind a very disturbing action figure "skull" with the eyes rolling around. These eyes are controlled via a track ball at the back of the head. This is initially counter intuitive and you have to roll the ball the same way you want the eyes to go (initially you will be rolling it opposite). The eyes are not as stiff as perhaps I would have liked and while they move well enough they can be dislodged from their pose by moving the figure.
The Gizmo is packed with a neutral face, but there are three more options to play with.
First we have the sad Gizmo, this is really well done and you for fans of the movie it takes you straight to those scenes when Gizmo pulls his sad face.
There is then an opposite happy version and here we now have an open mouth and some teeth visible, the eyes are now partially closed and the eyelids more visible.
We then have what I will call the Rambo version. This is more a stern look and the mouth is turned down and the eyes closed even more with the eyelids leaving just thin slits through which the eyes can be seen. This head comes with the head band in a red soft plastic. The head band is attached at the front of the face and the back piece is sat loose. When the face is added to the figure this strap does crown the head pretty well, but it will take some training to have it sit flat to the head - it can look a little like it is floating.
To complete the Rambo look, the set includes Gizmo's bow and arrow. The bow is a very soft plastic, but is designed to look like the paper fastener that Gizmo used in the movie to fashion his weapon. While the bow looks "ok" it is a bit too thick and the string is simply the same plastic but painted a bit darker. On the other hand the explosive arrow is really detailed. You can see the eraser on the pencil and the fuse coming out of the adhesives bottle. The only thing missing really is the text and decoration on the bottle of adhesive.
Gizmo's hands are not designed for gripping or holding any of the accessories. There is some gaps between the fingers and the best bet is to use these to prop the accessories on the hands as seen above.
If you want a more jolly Gizmo, then the Trumpet may be a better accessory for you. This is cast in a soft bronze plastic and is very nicely designed and you can see the individual tubes bending round to the finger buttons.
Again, Gizmo cannot hold this in a traditional sense, but again prop the Trumpet next to Gizmo and it looks very nice.
Gizmo is also a very festive release, again reflective of the movie and it taking place over the Christmas period. The final accessory is a candy cane which is simply painted in red and white stripes.
Thanks to the hook this can be hooked over Gizmo's arms.
And of course we have the Santa hat. This is a hefty piece and is scupted to fit perfectly over the head. It doesn't clip or slot anywhere, the weight of it will keep it in place as will the ears. The hat can be worn on any of the three expressive faces - but of course not with the Rambo face as it clashes with the head band.
The hat is cast in red plastic with the white fur trim and bobble painted. There is some red showing through on patches of mine which is a shame.
I haven't covered articulation yet, so let's just say it is very very limited considering the build of the figure. I count 12 points of articulation, and that is including the eye trackball we've already covered. The stubby legs are jointed at the hip and while they do move slightly if you take them any where past the neutral stance you will find Gizmo gets very overbalanced due to the large head.
The arms are more maneuverable and these do raise up and down as well as swivel. There is a further swivel at the elbow that gives some more twisting movement. The hands are similarly jointed and these rotate as well as pivoting slightly.
The head can be rotated and being on a ball joint it can look up and down at any point of rotation. The final joints are the ears and these rotate and flex back and forth - adding even more emotion to the expressive faces.
For fans of Gremlins, this is the definitive Gizmo figure. While it lacks the articulation of more traditional human figures, it is very expressive thanks to the articulation that has been put into the eyes, ears and supported by those swap out faces. The accessories are nice, my favourite being the Santa Hat and Candy Cane. The paint might have benefited from some washing on the fur and the flesh areas, its unusual for NECA not to add this.
Overall if you want a Gizmo figure, then this is the release for you - and at sub £25 it gives you a number of different options for display. I score Ultimate Gizmo a solid 4 out of 5 and hope we can get a similar scaled Stripe in the future.