Written/Created by: Matt
Posted on 9.16.03.

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Well, it finally came. During my youth, I collected virtually anything having to do "Gremlins," from pencil toppers to holographic stickers, action figures, and even this strange Gizmo doll that had a pouch containing small balls of fur meant to represent newborn evil mogwais -- yep, a Gizmo doll that came pregnant and gave birth. I had everything, or pretty close to it. There was one item of particular interest that always managed to escape my soiled, grabby hands, and only through the magic of time and a genie lamp was I able to make good on vows set so long ago. To be honest, though, I didn't continue on with the mission to fufill any old promises to myself. I just really, really wanted to make a tiny "Stripe" figurine grow 500% larger in a cup of water. Check out the official "Gremlins Water Hatchers" kit, made by LJN in 1984. (Year of the Sea Cow)

There's some toys, for whatever reason, that I always envision being accompanied by a series of promoting drumbeats and blaring trumpet noises upon the first glance. This isn't really one of them, but it's sooo so close. Knowing full well that I planned to review it helped matters even further -- if I wasn't, I might've been more hesitant to rip the toy out of the pretty blue package it came in. I do so love my packaging, and let's face it, you can't just go out and "buy another" of these things without first stealing a time machine and an early 80s map to the nearest Woolworth's. I'm not saying it isn't possible, but you'd probably forget all about Gremlins once you took control of a time machine. The point is, this was and is the last "Gremlins Water Hatchers" package I'll ever hold in its sealed glory. I think I've just given September its second national moment of silence. Farewell, sweet translucent bubble. Take care, perfectly intact sheet of screenprinted mogwai fun. You've lived long. You ate well.

Today, we present the Internet's one and only in-depth down n' dirty FILTHY look at the Gremlins Water Hatchers. With this kit, tiny Gizmo becomes giant Gizmo with the addition of water in mere hours. With this kit, tiny Stripe does the exact same thing. There's a whole lotta growin' goin' on, so let's hop to it and pray Rand Peltzer's sword doesn't fall on Barney the next time Lynn slams the front door. Whole lotta growin' goin' on.

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Right from the start, I have to admit that I made a critical mistake. I forgot to stick a penny next to the figures for the before and after shots as a size comparison. You'll just have to trust me when I claim that the water-dipped Gizmo grew seven feet tall. The figures are absolutely tiny -- Gizmo not much taller than a dime. Both he and Stripe seem totally devoid of any facial features and whatnot, and I was concerned that this would only become more emphasized as they enlarged. We'll see. Just you wait there you.

Sadly, they're both single-colored. Stripe in the hue of shit, Gizmo molded in something terribly orange. You've all seen, and many of you have probably owned several of those "growing animals in water" novelties -- Hell, I'm pretty sure our local 7-11 stocks them right near the cashier as an impulse item along with all the assorted Slim Jims and packs from the apparently still current "Spice World" trading card craze. Not that I begrudge anyone their Posh Spice limited holographic chaser card variant #1-C, but how could I buy one of those mysteriously pre-made subs when they haven't even updated what's right under their noses in five years? I don't know how we got from Gizmo to 7-11, but it's been a marvelous little trip. With these two figures, I will spew wizardry like none before.

The kit comes with this bitchin' storage pod -- ostensibly Gremlin-shaped, but it reminds me more of that alien clusterball from Critters 2. Either way, it's the greatest thing in the world. This is where you keep your dry, tiny figures when you're not quite ready to pull a Rita Repulsa on 'em. My Stripe figure didn't really fit -- he could sit in there, but sealing the demon-shaped lid would've chopped his head off faster than Billy Peltzaaa with a machete.

The really nice thing? With these sorts of watery growy toys, they're ultimately going to be temporary fixes no matter how hard you try to maintain them. Kids were never going to hold onto these things for any longer than a few weeks. The storage pod is something you can keep with you forever, remembering those more complete times when life was filled with bloated rubber Gizmo figurines. Alternatively, shit makes for a great change purse. Luck be a lady, Frantic City here I come.

If there's nothing I hate more, it's a stern warning. Actually, I hate crabmeat more than stern warnings. Sorry guys, it's like eating a big spider. Crabs are the only animals in the world who look eighty times more menacing when they're dead and steamed. I keep away; that's why recipes that use crabmeat always come with an asterix explaining that imitation crabmeat is acceptable too. Eating fake spiders is OK good time. Mr. Wing very sorry. Mogwai not for sale any price.

The first part of the instructions are basic and typical enough, and then it just falls into this swamp of lunacy that I've yet to recover from. Figures that the first time I ever read the instructions for something would bring on lifelong insanity. Okay -- I've always been of the mind that once these kinds of toys were soaked and cah-biggened, that was it. They were staying that way till you threw 'em out. Evidently, I've been very wrong. The instructions claim that lying the giant-sized, soaking figurines out on a sheet of margarine-smothered wax paper will let them achieve their normal state with zero fuss. And they say God created all. No way God thought to make a built-in defense like that for Gremlins toys. We a body of evolution baby, uh huh. In 300 million years or so, we'll be so evolved and advanced that the toys from Gremlins XXXXXVIII arrive capable of washing dishes and explaining how those VHS head cleaner cassettes really work. I'm having myself frozen at 45, and will refuse to thaw till such time. So. You know. I hope that really happens!

Then there's some warnings about how kids should never, ever eat the figurines. They claim they're nontoxic, but with the way they're talking up this "no chew" clause, I can only assume that the miniature Gizmo figure will still enlarge by 500% even when wallowing around in your digestive juices. A liquid is a liquid, and trust me -- you're not gonna want to shit out the full-grown versions of these things. Partly because it'll hurt, but mostly because of that whole postpartum depression thing. :( Oh yeah -- DON'T EVER FLUSH GIZMO DOWN THE TOILET NEITHAH, OK??? Was that one of the rules in the movie? Water Hatchers are so confusing. And so tasty.

Usually, you'd put the figures inside soda bottles or jugs for the water treatment. The package actually suggests the 2-liter soda jug, citing that your friends won't know how that giant Gremlins got in there. Think "Ship in a Bottle," only so much more stupid. Anyway, I decided on using a big ol' tank so Gizmo and Stripe could be together forever and never to part. Together forever with you.

Oh man, this was the tough part. Despite all the claims about margarine-laced wax paper, I knew this was going to be the last time I saw Giz and Stripe in their natural state. Should I do it? Would I be just and fair? I've not been a model citizen in all walks of life, but certainly, I've never wronged anything having to do with Gremlins. By doing this, would I be starting now? Even the lifeless, inanimate figures seemed hesitant to make the dive, and who could blame 'em? Growing 500% larger overnight is a serious thing. It's a massive change in lifestyle. My inner Peltzer confirmed that the duo would be better off bigger, so in they went. Wazoo!!

Well, watched pots never boil, and watched mogwais never grow. These things take a long time to get big -- the package insists on a full 24 hours, but mine took even longer. I watched the tank and various clocks like a hawk, and it wasn't until a considerable amount of time had passed that even the slightest change in appearance became visible. And even then, they just looked slimier.

The next day, something magical happened. My Gizmo! My Stripe! They were different! They were bigger! It wasn't a reason to send announcement cards to my family, but to be honest, it's the closest I'll ever get to such an occasion, so I did it anyway. Mom, keep an eye out. The envelope is flamingo pink with a green wax seal. When Gremmies grow, expenses can't be spared.

Ready??? Ready???

Hmmm. The photo shown up above was taken at about the 40-hour mark. Had I only waited the requisite twenty-four hours, the monsters would've looked more like cancerous tumors. Even now, they didn't look quite right. The package kept insisting that they'd be realistic, so unless you think Gizmo looked like a pile of stewed tangerines in the film, something was terrible wrong. Stripe looked more himself, but still appeared to have had his legs run over by Futterman's truck. If "taking things further" entailed anything more effortful than just letting the creatures sit in their tank for a few more hours, our story would end here, on an unsatisfactory note. Fortunately, with time, Gizmo and Stripe reached their full potential.

Remembering that the figures were smaller than a walnut in their original state, here's the end results...

Holy crap! Huge! Okay, so they're not on par with some of the more glorious "growing animal" toys out there, but come on, this totally justifies those announcement cards. I put in a little bottle of airplane Tabasco sauce both for a size comparison and because it just seemed like something I wanted to show off. The coups don't end with the figures' sheer size, though. They've both been afforded an extra "skin" made entirely of gooey sludge, making them some of the most fun things in the universe to handle. They're semi-stretchy, too, so you can puppet Stripe to do all sorts of neat tricks. I haven't figured out what those tricks are just yet, but they've gotta exist.

A+ for the "Gremlins Watcher Hatchers" kit. With the whole retro revival that's going on, who knows -- maybe they'll re-release these guys soon in a more modern package featuring neon-colored fonts with taped-on bobblehead coupons. Until such time, you can just live vicariously through my set. Isn't it fun?



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