This review is part of the Toy Review Advent Calendar. Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Whichever!
I used to be severely arachnophobic. And then a neighbor’s house got fumigated, and an army of spiders fled to mine. They were dropping on my head, dangling in front of my face, webbing up the toilet, crawling all over me… you know, I think there’s some phobia therapy like that. Then I moved to Tennessee for a few years, and met the wonderfully friendly little cute creatures known as Jumping Spiders. Now, I love spiders. They’re fascinating, beautiful creatures. But even when spiders still terrified me, there were things I’ve always liked about them. Back when Gremlins 2 came out, I remember seeing the big mutant spider gremlin at the end, and saying, “I want a toy of that!” And now, twenty-three years later, I’ve got one. Excuse my maniacal laughter: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
“Mohawk” in Gremlins 2 looked like he would be the main villain – he was clearly modeled after Stripe from the first movie, after all. But the Brain Gremlin really took that role, while Mohawk kept to hiself. This is not to say that he was superfluous – he certainly showed an extra-malicious streak when he got that machine gun. About midway through the movie, Mohawk grabbed a flask of spider DNA, and then wandered off for a little while. Can you guess what happened?
NECA Toys has been planning the release of this figure for quite a while, but honestly it never looked like it was going to happen. Things like this are just too big and expensive. However, since 2013 seems to be the year that NECA released impossible things (see also: Big Red, Trophy Wall, Predators Kenner Wave, NES Jason, etc.), we finally got our Spider Gremlin!
The Spider-Gremlin comes in a sturdy cardboard box. The package is surprisingly small, considering what’s inside, which is good for storage and shelf space. The blurb on the back brags about how this is the biggest Gremlins figure ever produced, which is true unless you count massive plush toys. It’s the biggest action figure, though.
Inside, the Spider Gremlin’s main body is securely lashed inside a plastic tray, with the base and legs stored in the side. NECA really did a good job securing the figure against most possible damage.
A word about assembly: At first, it seems impossible to fit the spider legs into their appropriate sockets. However, ten seconds of hot (not boiling) water will soften those sockets up enough to pop them in with ease. They aren’t labelled, but it’s easy enough to figure out: The small legs go in front, and are bent slightly to show which is which. For the others, look at which way the clas face – his legs should point “back,” slightly. Then pop them in and you’re golden! As an aside, when the legs are unattached you can make the LEAST ROMANTIC BOUQUET EVER. I know what I’m doing this Valentine’s Day!
Here we go with yet another Toy of the Year contender (there will be a contest soon. bear with me)! The best way to describe this is, it looks like a high-end collectible, not a mass-market toy. The Spider Gremlin seems like the kind of figure that would cost upwards of $100. Also, it’s huge. Really, really huge. Roughly the size of my cat.
The Spider Gremlin is about 12″ tall, with a leg span that will reach roughly 15″ wide and deep. It takes shelf space to store this dude. I actually don’t collect much in the 12″-18″ range, so to me this thing is gigantic (I used to own the 36″ Balrog figure, but that’s cheating). Gremlins toys are kind of in their own scale, but this one towers over all of them, as well as anything else in the 6″-8″ range. I actually don’t have any other Gremlins to hold up for comparison’s sake, you will have to take my word for this. In the movie, he actually wasn’t all that big – he towered over Gizmo, but was clearly much smaller than any of the human characters.
The Spider Gremlin’s hide transitions between reptilian scales and spikes and arachnid carapace so smoothly that you almost cannot tell where one starts and the other stops. It’s a good feature of the original design, and has been replicated well in the action figure. Again, this toy looks like a movie prop, not a toy. His legs are long and spindly, each ending in a curved tip. His abdomen is bulbous and has the appropriate spinnerets in the back, as well as some… teeth? Udders? More spinnerets? underneath. He’s also got his red dorsal fin.
Despite this being the third Mohawk figure NECA has released, Spider Gremlin does not share any parts with the others. You can even tell this from a quick photo – and considering the levels of re-use shown in the rest of this line, that is incredible. It is also interesting to note that he has lost most of his teeth. You would think that spider DNA would have given Mohawk fangs, but apparently not.
Sculpt notwithstanding, paint is where this figure really shines. What I said before about it looking far more high-end than it is holds true here. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought that Hot Toys made this thing. The lines are all crisp and clean, which is incredible considering all the complex patterns Mohawk has covering his body.
Note the spots on his torso. A couple of years ago, something like this was deemed impossible, and we got a sloppy Berserker Predator. Now, you can see paint on his individual scales and plates! The Spider Gremlin’s abdomen has a complex color pattern, and the toy does not just recreate that, it also has paint for the leathery texture of the part! His normal flesh tones transition between shades of green and tan, and none of it looks sudden or unnatural.
Mohawk’s face is another huge selling point. The level of detail represented here is astounding, as the paint shows off all of Mohawk’s stripes, ridges, and rills. Mine came without any slop, though it got a tiny paint scuff on the lip after taking a face-dive off the couch (nothing was broken, so that’s all right). The paint on his ears are incredible, as well. I wonder why Mohawk’s color scheme is so complex when compared to other Gremlins. Is it a leadership thing? A mating display? Wait, they don’t have genders. Except for that one mutant.
The Spider Gremlin has a ball-jointed head, neck, legs, abdomen, and full sets of knees (his legs have more than one joint). He has a hinged jaw and torso, and ball-and-socket shoulders, elbows, and wrists. All told, it’s a lot of joints. His legs are great, and can spread out or bunch together realistically. They can also support his weight, though likely not for too long – but he comes with a stand for just this purpose. More on this in the accessories section.
The Spider Gremlin’s arms and head all have decent ranges of motion, so you can pose his upper body in a few different ways. The head, in fact, is on a double ball joint – one up by the head, and the other down near the base of the neck! The jaw on mine seems a little loose, and looks best either closed or open a little, but there is variety there. he hinged torso and swivel abdomen are almost non-factors, but it’s nice to have them – and really, it’s all about the spider legs! Six of his eight legs have three ball joints each, while the front pair have only two apiece. You can really get a lot of posing out of those legs, even if you’re just searching for a stance that can support his weight. The best way to do that is to let some of his legs curl a little more beneath his body, so his weight is evenly-distributed and not entirely centered underneath him. Or you could use that stand I mentioned.
I’ll be honest. With a figure this huge and complex and this cheap (comparatively), you would be forgiven for not expecting any accessories. But the Spider Gremlin gets two! He has his flask of spider juice (reused from the standard Mohawk), which fits nicely into his left hand. He also has a stand – a black base with a clear plastic pole. The pole plugs into Mohawk’s underbelly, and it is very sturdy. My only complaint is that the post seems to have trouble fitting into the hole in his underbelly, so mine usually rests on it rather than plugging in securely. Still, the base is fairly unobtrusive, and supports his wait so completely that you can do whatever you want with those spider legs without any fear!
At $55, any toy feels painful. But, for $55, you are getting a figure that from any other company would cost about $100 or more. Seriously.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
The Spider Gremlin’s weight might warp his legs if you pose him the wrong way without his stand, and his abdomen is hollow, solid plastic – potentially brittle, since it has no give. Aside from those, this toy is really solid.
WHERE TO BUY:
I doubt that Toys R Us will have this figure (if it does, yay!), so check your local comic shops, or order straight from the web. Lots of places are going to be selling this dude.
This is my first Gremlins figure, and possibly my only one, but wow! What a toy! The Spider Gremlin is like a dream come true, and I mean that in a literal sense – Li’l Rid saw the movie, and said, “I wanna toy!” and this was what he meant. NECA has really outdone themselves with this figure, and their sculptors and painters need to pat themselves on the back for the design work. The people behind logistics also need a medal for producing it in such a (relatively) affordable price point. I don’t know how they did it, but it might have involved voodoo.
The Spider-Gremlin really shows why 2013 has been NECA’s year. They have produced “impossible” toys like this and the Predator Trophy Wall, appealed directly to fan nostalgia with the Kenner Predators and NES Jason and Freddy, have opened the gateway to fan-designed toys with the Dead End Predators, genuinely improved series 2 of Pacific Rim after hearing fan feedback, have snagged lots of awesome but unlikely licenses, and just overall have ben an incredible company. The Spider-Gremlin is a perfect example of this.