Jun Planning Gizmo and Bandit Exclusive Gangster Gremlin

   Jun Planning Gremlins vinyl action figures

"The following is a guest review.  The review and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the guest author."

Nathan DeWitt is back tonight with a look at some very cool new Gremlins items...take it away Nathan!

It’s been some time since I posted a review here and after I look at all the great reviews Michael and others have posted since—I realize why this is—I’m too busy buying great toys!  I’ve been collecting figures since 1991 and it is interesting how one’s collection goes through many cycles over time; my recent focus has been heavily 1/6 scale—more specifically film-based figures from Hot Toys and Sideshow and those reviews are expertly handled here by Michael and Jeff Parker, so almost all the figures that they review usually end up on my shelf.  But I recently found some great toys outside of the buying-grip Hot Toys has me in and they are really becoming two of my favorites.  They’re two characters from one of my favorite movies as a child—and since I am an 80’s baby and I love all the toys and movies from that decade, one of my favorite films is Gremlins.
Jun Planning Gremlins vinyl action figures

Jun Planning Gremlins vinyl action figures
Jun Planning Gremlins vinyl action figures
Jun Planning Gremlins vinyl action figures
Jun Planning Gremlins vinyl action figures
Jun Planning Gremlins vinyl action figures
Jun Planning Gremlins vinyl action figures
Jun Planning Gremlins vinyl action figures
Jun Planning Gremlins vinyl action figures
Jun Planning Gremlins vinyl action figures

We’ve seen many Gremlins toys over the years.  LJN handled the toys in the 1980’s—making everything from small, rubber toys to plush Gizmos and Stripes.  NECA recently did some figures in different sizes too—smaller, true to their style plastic figures and also a nice 7-inch plush Gizmo.  Many Japanese companies have done Gremlin figures also and my favorites are from a company called JUN Planning Inc.

The first note I need to mention is that these figures are essentially vinyl toys.  The lack of articulation anywhere but in the shoulders, hips, and head is a trademark vinyl toy characteristic.  Plus the figures are made of very hard plastic and lack minor details in sculpt and paint—another big sign that the intent of the figure maker was to keep these figures movie accurate in size and look, but also to keep them on the inexpensive side.

Packaging - Gizmo ***1/2, GG ***
The packaging for these figures is quite similar in the front, which takes directly from the movie poster and wraps the design around the window. The art is vibrant and recognizable right down to the red font style.  I think the package works great for Gizmo, which is why I gave him a half star more.  He fits in the box snugly and the box itself doesn’t take up much room if you would prefer to keep him MIP.  Both figures are very visible inside and would sit nicely boxed on a shelf, but Gangster Gremlin would take up a lot of room.  Once you get inside the boxes, there are only a few twisty-ties, but for the most part the boxes are collector friendly.  The Gremlin’s box is only a little different due to his large size.  The Gremlin’s all clock-in around 19-inches, so that’s a lot of box coming through the mail and a lot of space to store something of it’s size.  I’m keeping my boxes for now, mostly because of the Gangster Gremlin being limited to 200, so now I have the tough job of finding storage for it.

Sculpting- Gizmo ***1/2, GG ***1/2
The sculpting on both these figures is very good—although a bit soft, but that is expected for a vinyl figure.  Things like texture around Gizmo’s mouth and a higher quality, glassier eye are lacking here, but the figure does shine in this category.  Gizmo is proportioned very well; the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth are all in proper distant from each other and his body is sized correctly.  Gizmo’s slight paunch gives him great stature.  His size is very close to what we see in the movie, but I want to say that this Mogwai is a little too big—and only slightly.  The faux hair covering Gizmo is attached very close to the vinyl underbody, so there are no “soft spots” on the figure and the underbody gives Gizmo a little bit of girth.  The legs and torso are one piece and the head and two arms are separate.  The head sculpt is a very excellent likeness and capture a nice visage of Gizmo.  I was a little bummed by the decision to sculpt and paint Gizmo’s eyes looking to his left the entire time, but when you turn the head slightly, it’s not as noticeable and gives him a look of wonder.  This is due to the fact that the right side of Gizmo’s head is slightly higher than on the left, which when combined with the look in his eyes, it gives him some added realism.  The sculpt of the retina, cornea, and iris are all separated and they have their own roundness to them, so they have more depth when painted.  The closed mouth has a slight grin to it and looks a tad mischievous.  The ears are very nicely textured and really draw you to the figure at first glance.  They are unpainted, but they do have a slight glossier appearance to them—and the texturing and the thinness of plastic gives them a very realistic glow in direct light.  Gizmo’s hands are also proportioned properly and do have some lighter paint on the nails.  I would have liked a little bit more life in the hands—one of them sculpted to hold something would have been nice—or at least one that was a bit more open.  His three little figures are pretty stiff and he really can’t hold anything larger than 2 quarters in thickness.  This was one factor that hurts the larger Gremlin figures in my opinion because their hands are so big and unarticulated.

The Gangster Gremlin’s sculpting is much more exposed than Gizmo’s—mostly because of Gizmo’s fur, which I’ll cover in the Outfit section.  The Gremlin sculpt is 1/1 at 19-inches.  He’s a very big, dense plastic toy.  The skin’s texture is the first thing I noticed that was a tad soft.  The Gremlins always looked very reptilian to me, very scaly and almost wet looking.  GG’s texturing is a little softer here, even when compared to the texture of the rubber LJN Stripe from 1984.  The layered skin is a bit more prominent on the legs and torso and less so on the two arms.  Like with Gizmo, some more interesting sculpting would have been nice for the hands—mostly because there is such a missed opportunity here with fingers of this size.  It looks as though that the first 3 Gremlins from JUN Planning are the same head sculpt and body type.  The Stripe head sculpt is a very accurate likeness of the creature—so I imagine that it’s the same sculpt under the mask here, minus the hair and ears.  The sculpting of the eyes, jaw, and mouth are what really draw you into these figures.  The sculpt around both eyes is very menacing and the open mouth jutting out of the ski mask is amazingly scary—and when combined with the red and yellow eyes, the toy ends up looking like a movie prop from a distance.  It really is what sells the figure and when combined with his size—Gangster Gremlin looks like the real thing.

Paint - Gizmo ***1/2, GG ***1/2
Gizmo doesn’t have much in this department, but what he does have is solid.  Like I said before, his nails at painted a lighter color than his skin tone and they are very clean.  There is a light semi-gloss added to the inside of his ears to give the texture a nice gleam.  A little highlight paint would have been nice here to pull out the detail of the inner ear, but the little bit of gloss is effective.  The eyes are also cleanly painted with no slop and the white, brown, and black are all separated nicely and give the figure a bit of life.  His nose also has a more reddish-brown paint added to the top of Gizmo’s snout.

Gangster Gremlin by contrast is all painted detail and is also done very well.  The stripes on the arms and hands are very clear and clean.  There is some airbrush on the chest area around the yellow paint of his mid-section.  It blends the color into his green skin very nicely.  The paint on his upper legs seems to have been lightened by a quick wipe-off technique and adds some texture to lighten the yellow colored paint.  There’s no slop to be found on him and the paint is applied very realistically for lizard-like creature.  The best paint is in the eyes; the red, black, yellow, and brown really set this figure off.  Combined with the sculpt, the paint on the eyes make this figure frightening.  The big, white pointed teeth help this also—on the backdrop of a red mouth and pink gums.  A little more paint around the jaw below the mouth might have helped bring out the sculpt more and been more accurate, but I don’t think it’s truly necessary—especially since the mouth is open to show the teeth.  From a distance, I really think Gangster Gremlin and Gizmo look like they’re right from the movie—a real testament to the design of these figures.

Articulation - Gizmo **, GG **

This is really where the figures suffer, but I couldn’t be any harsher than two stars because these again are vinyl-style figures.  I think articulation would have caused some bigger engineering problems, which would have certainly raised the sticker price on both of these toys.

Gizmo is articulated at the neck and shoulders, which limits pose-ability, but the problem is that to make his legs more pose-able, you’d have to cut the fur around them separate and attach the legs to the torso WITHOUT making the new joint look like there isn’t a seam in his fur.  They accomplished that with the arms very well, but the legs would be slightly more obvious because the fur on the head covers the top of the seam on the shoulders.  Plus you’d still be getting very limited articulation of the legs anyway—Gizmo’s legs would just bow out like a baby doll and all he’d be able to do is sit spread eagle.  And, again, forgoing this type of engineering is what kept this figure at such a low price.

Gangster Gremlin has articulation at his neck, shoulders, and hips.  The hip articulation is rather pointless because GG’s knees are bent almost at 45 degrees and he is hunched over slightly; so any movement at the hips is going to either stand him on his heels or on his toes.  The arms and head are pretty standard cut joints and again my biggest gripe is with his fingers.  The gun still fits in his hand with some futzing, but some sort of articulation here would have knocked him up a notch or two, even if it just were just bendy fingers on a rubber hand.  There is a seam where the hand meets the wrist and it is glued in place.  An interchangeable gun hand or flexible hands would have been nice, but that’s not really how they make vinyl toys, so again, what we’re given is slightly more acceptable when we look at what the vinyl market produces.

Accessories- Gizmo ***1/2, GG ***1/2
Both of these figures come with one accessory.  Gizmo’s is a small ball of his asexually reproduced self—basically some stitched up fur with the trademark tag on it.  It’s a nice addition, especially if you plan for more Mogwai figures on the horizon.  And beyond the 3D glasses, I really couldn’t picture him with anything else, though the headband and bow & arrow from the end would have been cool, as would have been the pink convertible, but the little ball of fur is nice enough.

Gangster Gremlin’s one accessory is slightly cooler—a black Detective Special .38.  Anyone in the toy-collecting world knows that real looking guns are a no-no in this country.  As a “just in case” measure, modern looking toy guns tend to be colored bright, fluorescent colors or have an orange tip in the barrel signifying that it’s not real.  This Gremlin comes with a toy .38 Special without a barrel plug, which in no means is anything outside of $2 drug store toy, but it’s nice that it’s included and it needs no modification.  It does fit in both hands, but again some flexible fingers or even a cut wrist joint would have helped make his grip a little more realistic.  The Gangster Gremlin also comes with a very nice certificate of authenticity that verifies that this version is only one of 200 made.  This one is 175/200. The certificate is nice to have considering that small number limited editions always seem to just be rumored to be small, unless there is some way of verifying it.  I used to think 5,000 editions of any collectable was small, but in the shrinking world collectables market, under 500 seems to be the new rate for a limited edition. 

Outfit- Gizmo ***1/2, GG ****   
Gizmo’s outfit is a fur suit attached to the vinyl base figure, but it definitely the best furry Gizmo I’ve seen yet.  The faux fur is stitched nicely into the figure and the lay and cut of the fur is superb.  The hairs are shaggy where they’re supposed to be—around the base of the ears and eyes and at the bottom of the leg—and cropped slightly on top of the head and chest area.  Like I said before, the fabric fits very well on the figure, with no loose areas to speak off.  The fur is very soft and you have the urge to pet him a few times when you first pick him up.  The hairs lay nice on the body, especially from the upper chest to Gizmo’s feet—they run vertically and are not sticking up in all directions.  After further inspection I realized that a cut joint at the hip probably would have been possible because of how nice the fabric fits the figure and how nicely the fur could have hidden the joint.  My only nit was that at close inspection you could see some of the stitching around the eyes and mouth—but this was only after futzing and pulling on it.

Gangster Gremlin’s outfit is one piece—a brown and tan 3-holed ski mask, which essentially is the major feature of this character.  The likeness with the mask from the film is dean-on and it really flashes you back to that memorable scene with Gremlins in the bar.  I’ve always wondered why Phoebe Cates stayed there and kept serving them—were the Gremlins holding her there at gunpoint?  Well, if anyone was, it was this guy!  The mask is not meant to be removed and when I began to remove it, the first thing I noticed was the dried glue on the back of the mask near his snout, so I stopped right there.  It also feels as though that there is glue around the eyes to keep the mask in place. 

Fun factor- Gizmo ****, GG ****
The fun factor is another characteristic that really adds some value to these figures.  The Gizmo figure just screams, “Pick me up and pet me!”  He’s certainly quite cuddly and looks right at home wherever you put him.  I can’t keep him off my desk.  He’s one of those toys that easily induces a “WOW” when you see him for the first time.  Just never, ever feed him after midnight…
The Gangster Gremlin’s fun is in his large stature—you really can’t believe that a full-scale Gremlin toy has been made.  He looks like pure evil and balances out Gizmo’s cuteness quite nicely.  Both figures would be slightly more interesting if they had better articulation, but I can accept the decision to keep these toys simpler from both an engineering and price standpoint.  And now I’m realizing that I definitely need at least a Stripe, if not another Gremlin also, so it would be really fun to have a bunch of these things around the house.

Value for money - Gizmo ****, GG ***1/2
The Gizmo is a $50-$75 figure retail, but you still need to have him imported from Japan—so that can make him slightly more expensive.  I was lucky to grab mine off eBay for $62 shipped from Canada to Florida, but I have seen him mostly at or around $49.99 plus S&H.  I think he’s very worth it.  What you essentially have is a fully licensed hybrid vinyl-style figure with way better than average plush fur and a great likeness, but a typical lack of articulation.  I could see a figure of this quality with slightly better articulation andsculpting being twice as much from someone like Sideshow or even NECA.

The Gangster Gremlin scores slightly lower here.  Due to their much larger size, all the Gremlins from JUN Planning are at least $99.99 retail and, again, they are from Japan, so shipping costs are substantially more for such a large box.  There have been 2 Bandit Selected Toy Limited Editions and they run slightly higher around $124.99.  The first was a lighter, greener version of Stripe at 1000 pieces.  The second was the Bandit Selected Toys Gangster Gremlin at 200 pieces.  Shipping for such a large figure from Japan is around $75, but the good news is that global express is the only choice for a box this big, so you’ll have it in under a week.  When you factor out the shipping cost, $125 for this figure is a little high when considering what you get.  This figure is essentially a repainted large vinyl toy.  If you hack off the ears and add a ski mask and a $2 toy gun, you have a Gangster Gremlin, but for something this size to be at the $100 marker is still a pretty good deal when you factor in things like licensing, production, and the quality craftsmanship.  Then if you go one step further and factor-in the decision to produce a few smaller run, limited versions—the collector can see the money spent become a little more worthwhile.

Another thing that I think keeps their price down and their value high is that they’re “toys first” in all their hard plastic glory.  These Gremlin figures are most certainly a toy that could survive some tumbles of the shelf or rough play.  I wouldn’t recommend these for someone really young because of some sharp parts, but these things could hold up for a few years of abuse.

Things to Watch Out For -
Your Gizmo might need some trimming of the fur around his mouth or eyelids where as few strands look out of place.  It’s nothing excessive, but something I noticed while photographing him.

Gangster Gremlin is a big cost shipping item, so that is a big chunk of the figure’s cost and something you need to consider before you buy.  When you are buying something this big from overseas, you really don’t want to return it, so make sure you talk to the seller beforehand hand to get an exact shipping quote and pictures of your figure.  Good communication can help justify paying such expensive shipping.  As for quality control issues with the Gangster Gremlin, I’d say just to be careful with the .38 Special when weaving his fingers through the trigger guard—forcing it into his hand could break the gun because it’s plastic is quite thin.

Overall - Gizmo ***1/2, Gangster Gremlin ***1/2
These are two really great figures.  I think in the end you are getting a set of very high quality licensed Gremlin toys that are both movie accurate enough in size and design to be very satisfying representations of the characters.  They look great on the shelf and you get a good-sized figure for the price.  They also are just fun toys.  One of the things I noticed was right out of the box they just sprang to life.  I couldn’t even get out of my kitchen with them before I started taking pictures.  There were no tiny parts that needed to be put together or things that needed transformed or repainted—they were just two great toys right from the start.

There were many different Gremlins in the first and second film and I’m hoping JUN Planning has some other versions on the horizon.  They’ve made a few Gremlins from Gremlins 2 already and more look to be made—including the Flasher Gremlin and Vegetable Gremlin.  I would really like to see a little more articulation in the future, but only if it doesn’t dumb-down the designs or raise the price exponentially.  Also, it would be nice if someone picked these up to import into the states so it would bring down their total cost.  Sideshow has imported JUN Planning stuff before, so let’s hope they decide to bring these in too. 

Where to buy -
Vendors on eBay seem to be the ones carrying these figures right now, but let’s keep our fingers crossed—with more versions of characters from the sequel being made, we may see someone import these to the states. You can use the sponsor MyAuctionLinks to search ebay.

Scoring Recap:
Packaging - Gizmo ***1/2, GG ***
Sculpting - Gizmo ***1/2, GG ***1/2
Paint - Gizmo ***1/2, GG ***1/2
Articulation - Gizmo **, GG **
Accessories - Gizmo ***1/2, GG ***1/2
Outfit - Gizmo ***1/2, GG ****
Fun Factor - Gizmo ****, GG ****
Value - Gizmo ****, GG ***1/2
Overall - Gizmo ***1/2, GG ***1/2

Jun Planning Gremlins vinyl action figures

Figure from the collection of Nathan DeWitt.

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