It took me a very, very long time to get over my fear of Gremlins.
As a kid of the 1980s, I was inundated by product after product of all the various popular movies, television shows, and toys that a kid had to choose from in terms of entertainment. I didn’t have to see the movie Gremlins to know what Gizmo looked like. His adorable furry mug was plastered on a wide assortment of toys and plush dolls.
But Gizmo was a Mogwai. Those Gremlins (the creatures Mogwai transform into if they eat anything after midnight…I’m assuming Eastern Standard Time) terrified me. Ugly scales, sharp little teeth, evil red glaring eyes…to me, wet little monster puppets are far more realistic than anything anyone will ever be able to recreate with CGI these days. And because I was so exposed to entertainment as a kid, it was difficult for me to differentiate between reality and fantasy. So I knew that if I avoided watching either of the Gremlins movies, I wouldn’t have to fear them when the lights went out at night.
Here’s the thing: my fear of Gremlins is exactly what the filmmakers of the 1984 movie wanted me to experience. Not just anyone can create a piece of cinema where you can completely lose yourself in the moment even though you know that you’re watching puppets. As such, Gremlins holds up quite well today.
Several toy companies are churning out Gremlins collectibles in large quantities, and they’re all quite popular. In many cases, items that were released as collectibles in the last 15 years (as opposed to items contemporary to when the movies were released in 1984 and 1990) are quite a bit more valuable and desirable than their vintage counterparts.
However, my eyes have been focused on finding vintage Gremlins toys in the last couple of years, and there is some truly amazing merchandise that was made for the two movies. I would say a good 90-95% of the merchandise is based around Gizmo, and that makes a lot of sense, since he’s literally the cutest fictional character in a horror movie ever and easily marketable to children.
Today, I’m spotlighting a pair of plush toys that, as far as I can tell, were only available in the United Kingdom. It’s a set of plush dolls of Mohawk and Daffy, two of the evil Mogwai that were spawned when Gizmo gets wet in Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) and the first Gremlins movie (1984), respectively. Like I said, the vast majority of Gremlins merchandise was based around Gizmo with a couple of items based on Stripe from the first film, so it’s nice to see Gremlins toys based on other Mogwai. There are an awful lot of plush Gremlins out there, so it’s not as though these are standouts, right?
Wait. Bear with me. It gets a whole lot better.
See, according to the rules established in the movies, if you feed a Mogwai after midnight, that’s when they transform into the titular Gremlins. Even though these are plush toys, you can pretend that these little guys got out of hand by literally pulling them inside out and exposing their true, horrific nature.
Yes, these plush toys are reversible, which allows you to transform Mohawk and Daffy back and forth between Mogwai and Gremlins. These. Are. INCREDIBLE. I was simply doing a search for vintage Gremlins toys on eBay and these popped up. I had no idea they existed. The auctions for the two plush dolls were both were in the United Kingdom, and as far as I can tell, every other example of these that I’ve been able to find has only been for sale over there, leading me to believe they’re an overseas exclusive. Much like the Japanese JUN Planning toys from the late 1990s, it seems like the best merchandise is never available in the market where it makes the most sense.
Plush toys are a tough call in the collecting world, since they’re not something that can easily be displayed on a shelf. However, once I knew these existed, I knew I had to own them, proper display space be damned. To my knowledge, they are the only transforming Gremlins toys ever made, and in this case, it makes perfect sense. The “action feature” of these toys is built around what happens to Mogwai in the films.
To my UK readers, be thankful that you have a pretty easy shot of getting these. For everyone else, time to add a saved search to eBay!