Gremlins 2: Hero Animatronic Gizmo
One of the most iconic props in Gremlins 2: The New Batch, you've probably seen this animatronic Gizmo many times without even knowing it.
THE GREMLINS MUSEUM
Hero Animatronic Gizmo Movie Prop
screen used in almost all close up Gizmo shots
In the 1990 film Gremlins 2, Gizmo is a lovable and adorable creature that captures the hearts of audiences. Although he is a Mogwai, a species known for their tendency to turn into destructive gremlins if fed after midnight, Gizmo is different. He is gentle, kind, and intelligent, with a mischievous streak that endears him to viewers.
To capture this lovable personality, Rick Baker's Cinovation Studios needed to create a number of different Gizmo puppets to fit the many needs of the movie. Whether Gizmo needed to crawl around the air ducts, escape the Splice o Life lab, or fight the Spider Gremlin, there was a puppet created to fit each need.
One problem with our furry little friend however, was his size. In 1989 when the puppets were being created, the technology simply didn't exist for all the servos and animatronics to fit inside Gizmo's tiny little face. To capture the audience's affection, Gizmo needed to be extremely expressive and the technology simply didn't exist at the time to accomplish this. Enter the x2 animatronic Gizmo.
The x2 Gizmo is a large, heavy, oversized beast of a puppet. For scenes when Gizmo needed his closeup and had to really act, this was the puppet Rick Baker would pull from the shop. This computer and puppeteer controlled robot could really make you feel like Gizmo was scared in the Clamp lab or joyful when he sees Billy for the first time.
This Gizmo puppet is incredibly important to the movie and thus a rather fantastic find. It was originally sold via a UK auction and had been displayed around London to advertise the coming event. All this extra movement ended up causing some decent damage to the extremely fragile foam latex skin of the prop and by the time it arrived to us in Seattle it was clear some restoration needed to happen.
Once we were able to assess the damage, we ended up sending it to our friends at Tom Spina Designs who were able to work their usual magic. Gizmo's crate (with contained electronics) was strengthened, damage on his hands and head were patched, his expression was able to be adjusted, and finally his cables were locked into place to prevent further damage.
While Gizmo's expression straight from the set was endearing, it was a touch "deer in headlights". Tom's team was able to adjust the angle of Gizmo's eyes and bring some of the top eyelid down. He face now looks a whole lot more lovable as one would expect.
Lastly, Tom's team was also able to add a slight wooden lip to the top of Gizmo's box, so it could be fitted with a protective acrylic case.
Many people are surprised how much this Gizmo puppet was used throughout Gremlins 2 as filmmakers were able to hide that it's a considerably bigger prop very well. This puppet was used in some of the more memorable shots in the entire movie. Here are a few screenshots from his scenes.
A very cool part of the x2 Gizmo is that it's use was planned from the start. As you can see from the following John Hora storyboard binder pages, the "Scale: 2x Gizmo" calls out this specific puppet.