Tomopop Review: NECA's Lightning Gremlin
4:00 PM on 07.25.2012
While probably the most implausible Gremlin design in Gremlins 2, the Lightning Gremlin (or Electric Gremlin) is easily among the most memorable. Basically he's a normal Gremlin turned into living electricity through the power of science. However, the character design may have presented NECA with a problem in that he was portrayed as being two-dimensional in the film while the rest of the line is a little less... flat. The solution? Make him a Toys "R" Us exclusive!
Given that the Lightning Gremlin wasn't the only oddity in the proposed line-up, I'm not sure why NECA didn't include things like him and the cocoon in a box-set of some sort rather than trying to sell them individually. I'm also unsure of how well this figure will perform at retail, which concerns me because NECA is apparently already having problems with low sales numbers and thinking of canceling the line.
Basic configuration complaints aside, the Lightning Gremlin is a wonderful display piece with some surprising display options. Flip the jump switch to charge up the rest of the review.
Toy Name: Lightning Gremlin (Gremlins line)
Toy Maker: NECA
Retail/List Price: US$11.99
Available at: Toys "R" Us
The Lightning Gremlin features the same sort of packaging seen with other figures in the Gremlins line(s). The face on the insert is curious in that it features a darker portion for eyes and mouth as well as additional lines in the head. The image reflects neither the film nor the figure, instead appearing to be an illustration. It does, however, remind me that the film version was depicted as just having an empty space for his eyes and mouth, something they chose to not do with this figure. I imagine that may tie into stability issues or ease of production.
The back of the card features selections from the normal line. The figures to the left have already been released while the ones on the right will be coming out in the near future.
It's worth pointing out that the packaging differs from the rest of the line in one significant aspect as the clamshell packaging is incredibly thin. This is quite possibly the thinnest toy packaging I've ever seen and resembles the girth afforded to comics (when packaged in a clamshell). There's a certain amount of novelty to the figure just for its container.
The Lightning Gremlin can be removed from his stand, which would allow you to tape him on a window or something similar as an alternate display method. You could possibly also display him sticking out of an electric socket (something I myself wasn't daring enough to risk) although his arm position would require him to be at a fairly sharp angle.
The stand itself seems designed to split apart into two pieces. I have yet to ascertain any possible reason for this function, although I suspect it has something to do with the shallow pegholes on the Lightning Gremlin. The stand is held together by pegs/pegholes.
The stand by itself looks lousy because you can make out the patterning on the other side due to the transparent plastic. This effect is less noticeable at overhead angles and when the figure is in place.
I had originally assumed that the figure was made by layering sheets of thin plastic. However, it seems that the plastic is just contoured instead. The upraised portions vary in depth, with the outermost layer generally being a bit more shallow which gives the figure a more uneven feel that keeps in theme with the figure's jagged, uneven look (he is lightning, after all).
The difference in depth for the upraised portion seem to give color to the figure, as the thickness makes those areas a darker blue. If you look closely at the hands you'll notice some of those mysterious pegholes. The hole itself is on the opposite side of the figure but remains visible courtesy of the transparent plastic.
Speaking of, you can choose to just flip the figure around should you prefer the reversed orientation. While the contours display differently (sinking in rather than going out), the effect isn't noticeable from a distance although it may look weird close up (almost giving it a radically different appearance which I personally dislike).
The look and quality of the plastic is reminiscent of cheap protractors that I owned and used while in school. Between this and a lack of paint I would imagine that the costs associated with this figure must be relatively low as a result, which makes his price point a little baffling. Something like US$8.99 seems more reasonable.
Despite the Lightning Gremlin's general appearance, he actually does scale reasonably well with NECA's other Gremlins figures (unfortunately I couldn't find my George Gremlin, but the Mohawk from the previous line is roughly the same height).
Of course, you probably wouldn't leave him with your other figures anyway. They would need shade to protect them from melting and/or paint fade while the Lightning Gremlin looks his best with a light source like a window behind him.
From the side, the Lightning Gremlin can look like something of a leaner. However, even if he were to lean slightly, the effect wouldn't really be visible from the front. The side-view is a little disappointing since something juvenile in myself (and others) would really love to turn the figure sideways and just have him be nearly invisible. I mean, how fun would that be?
Of course, the other display option that really ramps up the fun factor is to just shine a bright light through the figure and check out his shadow on the wall. The figure's limited opaqueness gives a nice, textured (often color) shadow.
My light source was inches away from my figure which, in turn, was no more than a foot from the wall for these photos. This effect will vary depending on the power of your light source and the distances concerned. Interesting, the the shadow almost has a sort of skin texture some of the time. I'm not sure if this was due to minute imperfections within the plastic, some kind or smudging, or an intentional design choice.
You can experiment for all sorts of cool effects. This example makes use of a (ultra-violet?) light-up ring from one of that came with a 3.75-inch Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides figure.
All things considered, it's more than fair to call the Lightning Gremlin something of a rip-off. The figure (well, statue really) uses very little material, it's composed of a cheap-feeling plastic, and there's no paint meaning that figures (statues) must have relatively low production costs. At the same time, I guess it is a fringe item (meaning a smaller production run) and there would be additional development costs given that it uses a completely new, non-reusable sculpt. Plus US$11.99 really is a trifling sum and, as a one-of-a-kind, the value certainly is there.
For Gremlins fans, this should be an automatic must-own. The Lightning Gremlin (still not sure why it isn't just called the Electric Gremlin) is a fan-favorite and was one of the few Gremlins to be featured as a boss in the original games (along with Mohawk and the Bat Gremlin). While the figure is limited in terms of posing options, you get an array of neat display options depending on the lighting. The Lightning Gremlin may be without a doubt one of the coolest figures in NECA's new Gremlins line; a line that I hope will continue for quite some time or at least long enough to actually release the Spider-Mohawk.
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