Written/Created by: Matt
Posted on 4.03.03.

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Well, it's sort of like Gremlins...

Colorforms were and still remain a childhood staple, and if you never had 'em as a kid, it probably explains why you're so cranky. The playsets are so basic and seemingly boring compared to all the other available toys, but there's just some intangible quality they have that makes the world hold hands and shout happy limericks in unison. Okay, nobody was going to choose a Colorforms playset over a radio-controlled car or one of those Lego kits that let you build plastic goats with AI, but these things -- these things inspired imagination.


Essentially just a colorful cardboard backdrop with various paper-thin plastic figurines, Colorforms let you control the action and dictate the adventure path for virtually every kiddy icon you could think of. While some of the things we've recently reviewed (Presto Magix kits, Play-Doh sets) hit a broad base, Colorforms spared no expense in making sure that every cartoon character, every comic book hero, and every movie star that could possibly be considered a child idol became represented in their immense series of playsets. Make no mistake about it: if kids liked something, that 'something' came in the Colorforms variety. Warming the hearts of boys and girls alike, Colorforms are still alive and kickin' these days with more and more two-dimensional clingy superstars and a legion of prepubescent supporters. Even though I'm well past the point of having smooth skin in my pelvic region, I've remained a huge fan.

Since there's surely a few of you out there who've never delighted in these kits, and even more who can only remember 'em on a vague level, I'm making it my personal duty to get these things back in the spotlight. (read: couldn't find anything better to write about) Today's article provides a closer look at these relics of the Thinking Child, and my hope is that the Colorforms Corporation will be grateful enough for the exposure that they send me a thank-you letter with four 50 dollar bills taped to the back. First, I had to decide which kit to show off. That's no easy task - there's zillions to choose from. In respect to any movie that features a scene where Phoebe Cates serves demons from Hell pints of Guinness, I made my decision.

Here's the Gremlins Colorforms Playset...


Even if I didn't love the Gremlins flicks so much, how could I resist that cute mogwai on the box? I'd buy bottles of toilet water if they put Gizmo on the label. Someone really needs to do that. Maybe not with toilet water per say, but just something with Gizmo's marketable head in a prominent spot. Just because the movies are old hat doesn't mean that the guy lost his promotional edge. I'm sure he'd voice his agreement if he could string together more than three words that aren't pronouns. Here we go...

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The set comes with a bounty of Colorforms, running the gamut from the movie characters to odd side props like soda cans and Casio keyboards. All of this shit was actually in the movie at some point, so at least they nailed the realism factor down. If you've never touched a Colorform, they feel sort of like glossy paper. Only stretchier. They're pretty durable in general, but the devoted could easily ruin their kit by pulling on the figures too hard. Gentility is a must. That's why I didn't pick the Armageddon set.

I'm a little disappointed that they didn't include Billy's parents, but putting myself in their shoes, I know that it's probably not too cost-effective to make a Colorform based on someone the size of Rand Peltzer. There's no excuse for discluding Rand's homemade coffee maker that spits diarrhea, though. On the plus side, we've got a horde of mogwai creatures, including one where Gizmo dons 3-D glasses. That's worth 50% of what I paid, easy. Best of all, there's a Corey Feldman Colorform, making this playset the only anomaly in the whole universe one could purchase for under fifteen bucks. While this is a minor gripe, I must mention that the 'Billy' Colorform seems a tad out of scale. Compared to everything else they've included, he'd be approximately eleven feet tall. I know Zach Galligan has a substantial frame, but he ain't no Globetrotter.


Up above is the cardboard backdrop. For this set, they've used Billy's bedroom. That makes sense - it's where Gizmo and Billy fine-tuned their relationship, it's where the Gremlins were born, and besides all that, there's a curiosity piquing window off to the upper right with the word 'ZAP!' penciled in. I have no idea what it means, but I don't think any of the other rooms in the house had 'ZAP!' windows. Kinda makes it feel like a special place, and certainly a great setting to stage a story for the ages.

The gimmick with Colorforms kits lies in your ability to set up the characters and props in any way you see fit. If you want all the mogwais to sit on Billy's head, go for it. If you want to pretend that Corey Feldman wears an antigravity belt by making him float over the bed, you could totally pull it off. With Colorforms, you are the master of the provided domain. The possibilities aren't endless, but I'm sure you'll get bored with the playset long before you come close to running out of 'em. The plastic doodads stick perfectly to the backdrop, but not so perfectly that you can't easily remove them. While most kits of this type give kids fun of the one-time-only variety, Colorforms is the sort of thing you can use over and over again. Like an S.O.S. pad.

When I was young, and I swear, if I have to type 'when I was young' for one more article, I'm gonna do it in acronym form -- when I was young, my favorite thing to do with these Colorforms kits was creating scenes and conflicts that had little to do with the given topic. They're affording you the chance to rewrite the movie script with these things, folks. I couldn't resist the temptation to relive that glory, so we're going to try something a little different with this article. Something that will most likely prove to be a total failure, but what the Hell - you let me get away with the Alf cake article already this week. What's one more exercise in stupidity? Besides, if you wanted to read something intelligent or thought-provoking, you'd be better off going to a site penned by someone who knows more about the current war and less about the names of Rose Nylund's ex-boyfriends. I'm not well learnendeded, but I think I could pull off a short story using the Gremlins Colorforms kit. Brace yourselves...



Billy Peltzer and Corey Feldman had enjoyed each other's friendship for years, but ever since trying to climb the gym rope simultaneously, some worried that they were becoming too close. Mrs. Peltzer, victim of the transgressed beliefs of a traditionalist father, tried to steer her son away from the perils of Feldmanville by repeatedly buying Billy back issues of Playboy and a telephone shaped like a football. It didn't work. Billy and Corey marched on - Billy holding his head high, Corey holding Billy's other head low. As the romance bloomed, the boys hit a stumbling block: Mr. Peltzer gave Billy an early Christmas present in the form of a spirited mogwai named 'Gizmo.'

Now a pet's a pet, but Gizmo was no mere a 'pet.' He was intelligent and witty, but also demanding of Billy's attention. Soon, Corey grew jealous of the time split between a mogwai and himself. Billy thought nothing of it, but the man he'd once baked a robin egg quiche for believed he was being neglected. Just before Corey was ready to swallow his pride and issue an ultimatum, Billy offered up a gem of a solution with four simple syllables:

'Menage a Trois?'


The night after that, things were great again! Best of all, Gizmo was quickly becoming more independent, seeming more than content to spend most of the evenings by his lonesome. Billy always made sure to leave Gizmo plenty of ways to entertain himself, and it wasn't uncommon for the koala-like ball of living pelican ass to seat himself up on the recliner, drink some soda pop, and try to figure out how people could be so stupid as to actually believe that those gimmicked 3-D glasses actually worked on anything. Gizmo, deciding he was rather clever, began wearing an equally clever hat.


For two whole weeks, everyone's lives were peaches and cream. But like of box of Fruit Roll-Ups or the episode of Six Feet Under where Kathy Bates steals lipstick, all good things must come to an end. Corey, clumsy and often befuddled Corey, accidentally spilled a glass of milk on Billy's cuddly pet. He was remorseful, but didn't quite understand why Billy was so gosh darned upset about it. Billy explained that mogwais are never supposed to get wet. Never, ever never, never ever ever. Nobody really knew what happened to a mogwai when it became 'wet,' but the friendly Oriental chap down in the bay told Mr. Peltzer specifically to keep all liquids away from the mogwai. After explaining some of the other rules, the friendly Oriental chap from the bay told Mr. Peltzer that Gizmo wasn't for sale. Spiteful, misleading bitch. Fortunately, Billy's father was able to work out a quick deal with the old man's grandson, and the rest is history.

Still, what the Poor Man's Miyagi said was correct. You're never supposed to get a mogwai wet. What happens may seem magical at the time, but it also leads you down a road to trouble. Once that milk hit Gizmo's bony back, he did something rather peculiar. Gizmo multiplied.


The 'new' mogwais, more like Gizmo's similar brothers than actual clones, appeared to be a little meaner than the original. These mogwais liked to break stuff, liked to tie up the family dog with Christmas lights, and worst of all - they really liked beating up poor little Gizmo. Billy was concerned.

Everyone tried to coexist with the new mogwais, but the creatures were becoming progressively more difficult. If you approached them without a treat, they'd assume that you were the treat. They didn't seem happy unless they were causing some form of mischief, but what could the Peltzers do? It's not like it was perfectly legal to own a mogwai, and they certainly couldn't just dump off the new ones at a pet shop or something. Unless they were prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice - mogwais in a pillowcase, smacks with a hammer - they were just going to have to tough it out.

Meanwhile, Corey found relief from his ongoing romantic woes by telling everyone that he coined the phrase 'holy guacamole.' Much like Mrs. Peltzer's earlier attempts to keep the two boys apart and star-crossed, it didn't work.


Then one night, the mogwais began chirping away, as they usually did whenever they wanted cookies. Before Billy served up a chocolatey plate of aromatic goodness, he made sure it was still before midnight. See, that's one of the other rules about mogwais. You're never supposed to feed them after midnight. Given all the trouble caused by breaking the first rule, Billy wasn't about to repeat the mistake. He glanced over at his trusty alarm clock, the same one that had gotten him up bright and early the day Lark Voorhies was going to be on The Today Show, and was happy to see that it was only 11:30. On with the cookies!

There was one problem, though. It wasn't 11:30. Those dastardly freak clone mogwais had secretly chewed the cord when Billy was at school. In reality, it was well after midnight, and once those mogwais started chomping on those cookies, something really strange began to take place.

Six days later, they came out of their gooey cocoons as three-foot Gremlins with talon-like claws and a thirst for human blood.


If Billy thought the mogwais were bad, he hadn't seen anything yet! These 'Gremlins' were evil personified. Killing half his family and attempting to eat Billy on more than one occasion, the Gremlins soon took over the house. Everything was a mess - the food from the refrigerator was smeared all over the walls, all of Mrs. Peltzer's antiques now laid crushed on the floor like the entranceway to a shoreside lobster restaurant, and to be quite frank, the monsters just had the worst-smelling shit in the whole entire animal kingdom.

Most importantly, Gizmo was in serious danger. Even in their previous form, the Gremlins never liked him. Now that they were sadistic killers, Billy feared that the time spent with his new pet might be coming to an end. Corey tried to console Billy, but considering all that had been going on, Billy hoped his beloved wouldn't be offended when he said that he 'wasn't in the mood.' Eventually growing bored with torturing Gizmo, the Gremlins moved on to new plateaus - namely mauling their surrogate daddy.


'This is just like the time we met that couple in Vegas!' Billy shouted to Corey. Yet, underneath that carefree exterior was some serious fear. Billy knew that the Gremlins were getting out of control, and that it was just a matter of time before one of them bit his foot off. Then, he got an idea. What if these Gremlins just never knew what it was like to be loved? Maybe, with patience and care, the creatures would learn to treat people the way they themselves wanted to be treated.

After putting bacitracin on all of the bite marks, Billy explained to the Gremlins that he only wanted to live with them peacefully. All the threats of 'getting the shotgun' and 'calling the place that sells big lions that eat Gremlins' were words of frustration, not of truth or malice. The Gremlins began to wonder - was Billy being honest? Did he really care, or was this just a trap to get them to lower their guard so he could put a spike through their skulls? The jury was split at first, but the twinkle in Billy's crystal blue eyes soon swayed them to an unanimous decision: they'd give this whole 'friendship' thing a shot.


And you know what? It worked fantastically! The Gremlins calmed down and stopped trying to maim everyone, and the boys were once again free to explore their innermost fantasies over a feast of oysters and satin sheets. Gizmo even managed to teach the Gremlins how to do some of the chores!

Billy wished they could've reached such a point in their relationship with the creatures before they killed his parents, but the spirit of Christmas was all about forgiving.


The Gremlins, who used to pass the time playing extended games of 'Toss The Mogwai,' now found joy in the less-threatening game of 'Shake Bags Of Chocolate and Bottles of Milk While Dancing In A Circular Pattern.' They became pretty good at it, too!


Corey began teaching the Gremlins how to play the piano. He used to teach his little sister, but the Gremlins were much better students since they didn't have the vocal capacity to retort with smarmy remarks like 'that stupid thing doesn't have 88-keys!' For some reason, the Gremlins had an especially vested interest in learning how to play showtunes. Billy joked that he 'must've rubbed off on them.' Everyone laughed, and Gizmo even applauded. Billy always loved it when his wit garnered an ovation.


Soon, the Gremlins even began exploring the outside world, readying themselves for that fateful day where they'll finally have to leave the nest. To disguise themselves, the Gremlins wore a red scarf Billy had received for Christmas from his Aunt Shelly, the worst gift-giver in the land. Amazingly, the disguise worked. As the legend goes, he good people of Kingston Falls were duped years back by a traveling evangelist who told them that the only way to get into Heaven was by perpetually looking up to the skies for it. Since the Gremlins were a mere three feet in height, nobody ever saw them.


At one point, Billy caught a rare virus that caused him to mutate into a mossy green creature, not unlike Swamp Thing. Luckily, the effects were only temporary.


They all lived happily ever after, always pleased-as-punch and forever joyful. Except for Mr. Peltzer because the Gremlins ate him. Everyone else was on Cloud 9, though.

THE END???



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