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NECA Ultimate Gizmo

In 1984 a little film called Gremlins came along and made a splash in American pop culture. The film largely starred little puppets, and while many did take to the villainous, evil, gremlins like Stripe, many also walked away from that film wanting more of Gizmo. Gizmo is an adorable little creature of mostly white and brown fuzz with big, giant, ears. I had a Gizmo doll when I was a little kid, well before I even saw the film since it was pretty intense for wee ones. Try as the humans of the cast did, Gizmo was the star and he still is today.

Back in the 80s, Gizmo attracted quite a bit of attention for himself at retail in the style of the plush. He was a natural for that, which may be why no one really thought to do proper action figures based on Gremlins. Toy company NECA has once again stepped in to fill a void in the fandom of another feature. NECA has been producing Gremlins related action figures for a few years now, and the company has finally roped me in with its Ultimate Gizmo action figure.

Now, I like Gremlins just fine. It’s a great Christmas movie for adults and older kids, not so much for younger kids. And not because of the violence and frightful scenes, but because it does feature a character confess that there is no Santa Claus. And as you may be aware, I am a bit of a Christmas junkie so whenever I see a toy or knick-knack that I can work into my Christmas decorating I often jump in. And that’s what sucked me into this Gizmo since he comes with some festive attire. I should say, it’s what sealed the deal as I was already smitten with the adorable little guy and even tried to talk my kids into wanting the plush version NECA released, but I have not had any luck on that front yet.

Gizmo comes in a larger outer box that looks just the like the VHS release of Gremlins. The rear features photography of the toy in action while the front flap opens to reveal the figure inside along with some more images. This is the standard Ultimates packaging NECA goes for and it really is a nice display piece for mint-in-box collectors, but no disrespect to NECA’s packaging designers, I am opening this sucker!

Gizmo stands at about 3.5″ tall. He’s a little guy. I assume he’s in-scale with the evil gremlins NECA has released, but sadly I don’t have any to compare him to. He’s sculpted all in plastic and looks rather cute out of the box. There’s a nice wash applied to his face and hands to bring out the details of the sculpt and there’s lots of sculpting done to make the fur look like fur. From a distance, one might even think he is covered in actual fur. I’m curious if NECA toyed with the idea of doing actual fur with this figure as that might have made him look really neat, but it probably would have added considerable cost. The paint is clean, though if you go over it really close you’ll notice some overlap here and there where the brown meets the white. The ears are thin and feature sculpt work such as veins. The paint is a bit muted in that respect as they didn’t try to bring out those veins, which is probably good from an aesthetic point of view as if one were to make Gizmo appear too realistic he may loose some of that cuteness.

For articulation, we don’t have a lot to talk about. Gizmo’s head is on a ball joint and rotates just fine, but he has little to no up and down movement because of the shape of his rather large melon. The ears are on ball joints which is a nice touch as it affords him more expression. Turn them down and he looks sad or tired while rotating just one can make him look almost inquisitive. The arms can forward a bit, but they can’t really go back or out. There’s another cut joint past the brown fur of the shoulder that may actually be a ball-joint, but it only can rotate so functionally it’s more like a bicep swivel. The hands are in the same boat as they only really are able to swivel. There’s no waist articulation, and while the legs are on pegs they really can’t do anything. He’s pretty much a statue once you move past the arms.

The eyes see everything.

Gizmo, being a puppet in the films, didn’t really move much and is not a figure crying out for a ton of articulation. It’s clear NECA’s goal was to make something aesthetically pleasing and true to the films as opposed to something ultra-poseable. As such, it’s more important for Gizmo to be expressive which is why he has some unusual eye articulation. A trackball on the back of Gizmo’s head can actually rotate the eyes in his skull. It’s a bit finicky as the mechanism is really loose. Patience is needed to get the eyes just the way you want them, but sometimes you’ll probably have to just pop his face off to work them with your thumbs. The eyes have a tendency to sometimes go crooked giving the impression that Gizmo has a lazy eye. They also kind of float in there so there’s some play in the eye depth, and when one eye moves forward the other will sink in which can look kind of silly. They easiest way to remedy that is to just push the other eye in with the face removed to get them balanced. It’s a system that works, but given that Gizmo does have a removable face it probably would have made more sense to just ditch the trackball and have the eyes be adjusted manually.

To make those eyes offer as much expression as possible, Gizmo does come with four interchangeable face-plates. The default, in-package, face is Gizmo with a subtle smile. A good neutral expression for the little guy. He has one with a bigger, toothy, smile to go along with a sad or frown face and, what I assume will be the favorite face for many consumers, a Rambo face. The Rambo face is a callback to Gremlins 2 and even has the bandanna included. It’s glued to Gizmo’s left eye and half of it just kind of lays flat on Gizmo’s head. I wish it were an actual fabric material as the soft plastic NECA used never wants to lay flat on my figure’s head. The face itself through is great and he has a narrow eyed glare for maximum intimidation. The faces pop off and on really easily, but not so effortlessly that they’ll fall off.

Gizmo also comes with a few additional accessories to complete a display. He has a trumpet like the one he was playing with in the first film and he also has a Santa Claus hat and candy cane. And since he has the Rambo face, he also has his makeshift bow and arrow, which is a pencil crammed into a bottle with a feather sticking out. He also has his rope belt to complete that ensemble which is knotted and can easily slide off and on. The Santa hat basically just rests on his head as there are no pegs or magnets to hold it in place. The sculpt and paint looks great on most of the accessories, though the candy cane is a little sloppy in places.

You can kind of jam the arrow in between his fingers, but he’s not really able to grip anything.

The drawback to the accessories for Gizmo has little to do with the accessories themselves, but actually Gizmo. Unlike many of NECA’s Ultimates, Gizmo comes with just one set of hands. They’re both open palms, kind of neutral, hands and they’re not fit for holding much of anything. Basically, the only way to get him to hold anything is to turn his palms up and try to balance them on his hand that way. It’s odd that he doesn’t have a gripping hand or two to properly grasp anything. I’m not surprised he can’t properly draw his bow, but I would have expected him to be able to hold the trumpet. As a result, I suspect most will just position items at Gizmo’s feet or leaning on him. You can sling the bow over his shoulder at least since it’s a very rubbery plastic, but he can’t hold it or even act like he’s about to draw it.

NECA’s Ultimate Gizmo is a fine looking figure, though it doesn’t quite feel “ultimate” due to the lack of extra hands and positioning power. And even though he’s a mere 3.5″ tall, Gizmo still retails for the standard Ultimates price point of $30. He’s a bit of a tough recommend at that price, but I’m also not regretting my purchase either. He’s a fun addition to my knick-knacks shelf and I look forward to dressing him up for the holidays when the time comes. Worse, I’m also tempted to add some more Gremlins, especially the holiday two-pack of carolers, and I really don’t need to get sucked into another line. We’ll see what comes of that. Gizmo does at least look the part, even if he doesn’t exactly put the “action” in action figure.


S.H. Figuarts Piccolo Daimaoh (King Piccolo)

Before there was the noble Piccolo, trainer of Gohan and ally of Goku, there was the evil King Piccolo. Known as Piccolo Daimaoh outside of the US, King Piccolo was the evil purged from the namekian Kame, who would assume the role of guardian of Earth in the world of Dragon Ball. Piccolo was the usual villian bent on world domination who was imprisoned in a magic rice cooker long ago, but like all ancient evils, he escaped to make life miserable for Goku and his friends.

King Piccolo is one of the more recent releases in the line of Dragon Ball action figures released by Bandai and Tamashii Nations under the S.H. Figuarts banner and he’s a big boy. He’s the main villain of the penultimate arc of Dragon Ball as he escapes from his imprisonment and is able to assemble the dragon balls and wish for his youth to be restored. He is depicted here following that wish in his navy blue gi and cocky smirk. In many ways, he’s the ultimate villain from the original Dragon Ball and, once defeated, it’s his son/clone who would continue on to Dragon Ball Z and become the more popular Piccolo.

King Piccolo stands a tick under 8 inches, so he towers over his adversary, Kid Goku. I do not own a Piccolo from DBZ, but I’ve noticed from looking around online that he’s much taller than his successor. The only visual difference between the two is in the face with King Piccolo having higher cheek bones and an overall narrower face. The figure is colored after his anime appearance so he has patches of pink flesh on his arms and ankles as opposed to yellow. He’s a sturdy figure, with tight joints that aren’t too tight. He stands well and is surprisingly light given his size. The plastic is firm and the paint clean while the upper area of his gi is soft and pliable.

Since he’s from the Figuarts line, King Piccolo has plenty of articulation. His head is on a ball-joint and free to move around. He can look up a bit, and look down as far as any human needs to. His antennae are articulated and can be removed easily, if you wish. Careful though, they’re small and I spent over half an hour trying to find one I popped off by accident. He has a joint at the base of his neck which adds a bit to his range of motion. His shoulders are on ball-joints with a butterfly joint to back them up too so he can reach forward and across his chest. There’s a bicep swivel, single-hinge at the elbow, and wrist swivel with a hinge in the peg. When popping on a hand, you have to pay attention to which way that hinge is oriented to make sure you can get the desired motion you want. The elbow can bend 90 degrees, but the lack of a double-joint means it can’t go any further. There’s a mid-torso ball joint that’s nice and firm as well as a waist swivel. There’s ball joints at the hips, thigh swivel, double-jointed knees, and the feet are on ball joints. The feet can really move all over the place and there’s a toe hinge for good measure.

The articulation is quite expressive and does a good job of not interfering much with the overall look of the figure. There’s a lot going on in the crotch area in terms of trying to maintain the folds of Piccolo’s pants, but the dark color helps keep it a bit neat as opposed to Goku and his orange gi. I love the little sculpted details like the folds in the gi, the texture of the sash, and even the little piece of visible ankles above the shoes. The paint is very clean and also minimalist, as seems to be the case for Figuarts. There’s a hint of a wash on the face, especially the more expressive ones, and what is here looks terrific. It’s hard to imagine someone making a better looking version of King Piccolo.

Piccolo comes with an array of different hands and heads as well as a few other accessories. As is the tradition with the Dragon Ball figures, he comes with a dragon ball of his own. In this case, the one star ball. It looks so tiny in his giant hands. He comes packaged with a pair of fists and a smirk on his face. He has a pair of open, clawing, hands and a pair of fully open hands like he’s firing off his energy blast. He also has a right hand in a karate chop position and a pointing right hand. On the head front, he’s incredibly expressive as in addition to the smirk he has a teeth gritting expression, a yelling expression in which his veins are popping out and his eyes bloodshot, and a “puking” head from when he regurgitates the egg that contains Piccolo Jr. Speaking of which, he also has that egg which has some septum at the end of it to make it look like it’s being fired through the air. There’s also a piece of mucus that it can sit in like a football tee. Lastly, there’s the electronic rice cooker which once held him prisoner. It can open and close and is a cute little accessory.

As you can see, he rightly towers over Bulma and Goku.

The different heads and choice of hands makes Piccolo a truly fun toy to pose. I’m torn on what my favorite head is because they’re all so well done. I love the smugness of the default head, while the other two are great for action shots. The egg puking head is definitely more specific, but again, it’s so well-sculpted that there’s a desire to pose him with that head as well. It also doubles as a good reaction head for when Goku slugs him in the stomach. The egg even has a hole in the bottom of it so it can take advantage of the stands Bandai sells for fireballs and other effects. I do wish Piccolo had a hole in his back for stands as I don’t trust the grabbing stands Bandai uses to hold up with such a big figure. He is pretty light for his size, but I wouldn’t leave him on a shelf suspended in the air by one of those things. I know some people wish Bandai added shading to these figures, but I think natural light works well on the folds in the uniform, especially on darker colors like this one. The rear of the knees is the only part of the sculpt I’m not keen on because they’re so shiny, but they’re also on the back of the figure so it’s not something that will be displaying. Lastly, it’s the little things that bring this one together. The veins on the various heads or the way the antennae can be manipulating on all of the heads is a great touch. You can make them flailing back if he’s in a rushing pose, for instance, which is just great attention to detail.

King Piccolo is an awesome action figure from Bandai/Tamashii Nations. He’s a great and necessary addition to the Dragon Ball line as he has a terrific look and his action figure covers all of the bases. Maybe some have a desire to add an elder King Piccolo to their display, but I’m all set with this one. I’m curious if Bandai will do a proper Piccolo Jr. in the near future that’s distinct from the Dragon Ball Z figure. When he first showed up, Piccolo Jr. had a rather skinny appearance so it would make sense for Bandai to do a new sculpt. We’ll see. For now, I’m just pleased there’s a lot to collect for Dragon Ball fans and I hope Bandai keeps them coming!


Nothing Off Limits

This blog is about nothing.  It’s just my thoughts and whatever is compelling me to write in a given moment.  I often have subjects on my mind that just don’t lend themselves to conversation.  Or that is, they would in the right company but really how many people care about the merits of the Bucky O’Hare cartoon and how it relates to the comic form?

I am blessed, or cursed, with an affinity for things from my childhood.  Not blindly, but I’m the kind of guy that can wander around a gimmicky store like Newbury Comics and be delighted by the novelty items.  A lego-styled representation of Marvel’s The Beast from 1990 – awesome!  As a result, my home is full of things most would label as junk.  DVD’s of the Super Mario Bros. cartoon, a Batman doll beside my TV, Optimus Prime guarding my laptop.  I’m rational about my compulsions, more so now than in my youth, but am prone to the occasional impulse buy.  I once sought an action figure simply because as a kid I could never find it in stores and always wanted it (Marvel Super Heroes Venom II, if anyone is wondering), so I bought it as a 20 year old just because I could.

That’s not all that fuels me.  I have a lot to say about music, specifically metal, and I never seem to tire of a good baseball debate.  It’s just sometimes I find that my best conversation partner for the more obscure or fanatical things is myself, which makes a blog a pretty natural thing for me.


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