Ghostbusters: Plasma Series Spengler’s Neutrona Wand by Hasbro

Today’s review comes with a bit of a disclaimer. I jumped on buying this Neutrona Wand as soon as I watched a few videos on it and saw it in action. The build looked good, the electronics looked good, and most of all, it came with an adapter to allow a hose to go into the handle. People speculated that this was to allow it to hook up to DIY Proton Packs, but I saw it as concrete fact that Hasbro would be releasing an official pack to go with it. Will they? Who knows? But it seemed like a worthy gamble. Anyway, the disclaimer in front of this review comes in the fact that my Wand does not work, so I’m really just going to be taking a quick look at this thing before shipping it back to the retailer. I was going to skip it altogether, but then I suppose pointing out the fact that it doesn’t work is an important part of a review. So, let’s do it!

The Wand comes in a fully enclosed box made to look like an old equipment locker. It has a cardboard band around it with the branding, and interestingly enough it’s just branded for Ghostbusters and not the new movie, while the Wand itself is most definitely depicted as it will appear in the new movie. Indeed, I’m assuming the box is supposed to be the Wand’s housing when they find it in Ghostbusters: Afterlife. It’s a nice presentation even if it is just a cardboard box. The Wand is held inside by corrugate filler and comes out of the box all assembled and ready for display. There is a display stand that requires assembly, and I won’t be showcasing that here, as I unfortunately never got that far with this piece. Instead, I’m using just an generic acrylic display stand to showcase it for the review.

Opening the box, the first thing I noticed was how cool the Wand looks. But upon actually taking it out, it struck me how light it was. And maybe that’s a testament to the great job they did on the aesthetics. It may not look like plastic, but it sure feels like it. I’m not saying that the build quality is cheap or insubstantial, but it feels even a bit lighter than a plastic Wand of this size with electronics in it should feel. If I was Hasbro making this, I probably would have put a couple of metal slugs in it to give it some heft. But maybe once the initial shock of the weight wore off quickly, and I began to appreciate how good it looks. I can honestly say that without picking it up or taking a really close look, I could believe that this is an actual prop. There are a few giveaways, but most of it really does look that good. It’s big, but it doesn’t feel oversized, and it definitely feels comfortable in the hand. The pictures depict the wand extended, but the front piece does telescope into the cylinder. I’m not sure if that’s something new seen in the new movie, but it does feel a tad gimmicky. It’s also kind of cheap that it extends with a push of a lever, but has to be retracted manually. I probably wouldn’t mind it so much if mine actually worked and I could see some of the light show on display in that part of the Wand.

The details on display here make this a real work of art. It does indeed look like it’s been cobbled together from old pieces of lab equipment. There are abrasions on the black paint, and some parts even have traces of the original manufacturers etched into them. In some areas the black paint looks like it’s bubbled up in from overheating, the edges are all rubbed down to what is supposed to be the bare metal, the knobs are textured for grip, intentionally sloppy weld marks can be seen where other pieces were joined together. The tubes and wires look convincing, there are warning labels, and best of all, the toggle switches feel great and feature a satisfying snap when you flick them. They feel as authentic as everything else looks. I can imagine it’s pretty damn satisfying to flick them and have this thing come alive as a result, but right now I can only dream.

Even the bottom of the Wand, which I expected to see littered with Hasbro’s licensing shit and legalese and an obvious battery cover, doesn’t break the fourth wall of this prop-toy. On the contrary, it has a metal guide for sliding it onto the Proton Pack, and a hook to hang it on the belt with a carabiner clip. The battery pack is actually a rod that slides into the handle and is completely hidden thanks to some clever design.

The fake gaffer tape that’s wrapped around the barrel is probably the biggest drawback to the piece, as it’s clearly molded plastic, although it does a fair job of trying to look convincing. I suppose if you wanted to you could wrap it in real tape. The forearm grip, on the other hand, is also plastic rather than real wood, but between the excellent sculpt, paint, and weathering, it sure looks real wood that has maybe been coated in lacquer. A couple of the orange buttons look a little cheap and out of place, but I’m really reaching for things to complain about.

And that’s as far as I can take this review. I tried two sets of brand new batteries and got absolutely nothing out of the toy either time. No lights, no sounds, it was just dead. I even watched some videos to see if I was doing something wrong, because the one small folded sheet of multi-lingual instructions that came with it are pretty piss-poor for such a pricey collectible. But nope. This thing was sadly dead on arrival. I was hoping to exchange it with the retailer, but they promptly informed me that they sold out. After a lot of bother, I was finally given the option of keeping it for a $30 credit (It cost $110) or returning it for a refund. I opted to return it. If it shows up again for sale at the same price, I may very well try my luck again. Hell, if they had offered me half off I might have kept it. It really does look that nice. But I feel like every time I looked at it, I would be annoyed at the fact that it doesn’t work. Hopefully, my problems were isolated ones. It would be a shame if Hasbro went through all the trouble to make this look so nice only to have widespread problems with the electronics.

Ghostbusters: Plasma Series (Part 2) by Hasbro

A couple of days ago I checked out the Ghostbusters from Hasbro’s new 6-inch Plasma Series figures, and as promised I’m back today to open up the last two figures, Gozer and Dana, and then put together the Terror Dog Build-A-Figure.

We saw the packaging last time, but here it is again. It’s strangely stylish and artsy, it’s collector friendly, and there’s a sentence about the character on the back panel along with some multi-lingual gibberish. I thought it kind of odd that Dana/Zuul’s box just has Barrett on the front for her name. Why not Zuul? Why not Dana? I don’t think her last name was played up all that much in the movie. Oh well. Each figure comes with one of six pieces needed to assemble The Terror Dog, or I should say A Terror Dog. Let’s go ahead and start with Gozer.

Surprisingly, we never got Gozer as part of Mattel’s line, but Diamond Select did one for theirs, although she was a bit chunky. NECA did release a really nice looking Gozer a while back, but she had very limited articulation and no actual Ghostbusters to go with her. I think Hasbro did a solid job on this one, especially since her costume isn’t the most interesting thing to work with. Her body is cast in a pink pearlescent plastic, which looks cool and seems pretty accurate to the screen grabs I’ve consulted. I like that they gave it some texture too. The only other sculpted detail are the weird clusters of bubbles scattered about here and there.

The head sculpt is passable, but I don’t think it’s great. It doesn’t feel like they were going for an actual likeness here, but more of a general similarity. I don’t dislike it, but the Ghostbusters’ portraits set a pretty high bar. Still, the hair sculpt looks fine, and the printed details on her face are good.

Her articulation is similar in many ways to Marvel Legends gals. The legs have ball joints at the hips, double-hinges in the knees, swivels in the thighs, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. Her arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows, and the wrists are on hinged pegs. Oddly, she has both a traditional ab-crunch hinge and a ball joint under the chest. The neck is ball jointed and hinged.

Gozer comes with two extra hands, each with effect parts attached to make it look like she’s shooting lightning out of her fingertips. The lightning is cast in a translucent purple plastic. It’s pretty standard stuff, but I dig it a lot. All in all a decent figure, but nothing terribly special. Let’s move on to Dana…

Well, technically, there is no Dana only Zuul. This is clearly possessed Dana and she’s looking pretty good. Both Mattel and Diamond Select gave us this version of Dana, although Mattel went a very different route with this figure, giving her swap out legs (and very little articulation) so she could stand or be posed on an included pedestal. I never picked up Mattel’s figure, I think it was an SDCC Exclusive, but I thought everything about it looked great, except for the likeness. Like Diamond, Hasbro went for a more traditional action figure with standard articulation in the arms and legs. On the downside, the sculpted dress kind of inhibits a lot of what you can do with her legs.

With that having been said, this figure’s early solicitation pictures did not impress me, but in hand I think she turned out fine. The dress has a billowy effect to it, although admittedly the sleeves are sculpted with the intend of the arms being down at her sides. The coloring here is pretty basic, but well executed.

The likeness isn’t at all bad either. NECA isn’t in any danger of losing their cred at sculpting Sigourney Weaver, but Hasbro’s is no slouch either. I know who this is supposed to be and it leans more toward realism than caricature. The printed facial features look great, I love the demonic red glare in her eyes, and the hair sculpt is particularly well done.

Dana doesn’t come with any accessories, which is a bummer since even though she isn’t missing anything I can think of, this would have been a prime opportunity to at least pack in one (or three!!!) more proton streams. So yeah, once again it’s the accessories (and lack thereof) that remains my biggest gripe with this series. But they did each come with a BAF part, and that leads me to our final stop on this assortment of figures is the Terror Dog BAF!

Once again, we didn’t get Terror Dogs from Mattel, but both NECA and Diamond Select tackled this doggo as packaged figures. Hasbro’s comes in six pieces (four legs, a body, and a head) and it all snaps together easily. It’s a decently sized figure and I think going the Build-A-Figure route on this guy was the right choice. Hasbro did a nice job with the sculpting here, as there’s detail over the entire body, giving him a rough, elephant-like look to his skin. The body still has a shiny finish and there’s some silver paintwork on his back, with each of the claws individually painted.

I think they did a fine job on the head sculpt, particularly inside the mouth where you can see his forked tongue and terrific rows of teeth. The jaw is hinged so you can display him with the mouth open or closed, but after Hasbro put all that work into his maw, it seems a shame to close it. I also have to say how much I dig the red metallic paint they used for his eyes. It looks great.

This guy has plenty of rotating hinges to offer up decent articulation. I think the only thing worth nit-picking is the upper joints in his back legs are just sculpted and not actually jointed, but I didn’t find that it mattered much when I was playing around with him. The only real downside to this beast is that if you want two for your display you have to buy the whole wave again, and I don’t know too many collectors who will be willing to do that. My guess is that Ebay will be full of this wave sans BAF parts. I know Hasbro has packaged some of their Marvel Legends BAFs as single figures as of late, and I’m hoping they will do it with this Terror Dog. I really do want another.

I think Gozer and Dana were fine picks to round out this wave, even if I don’t know that I enjoyed them as much as the actual Ghostbusters. Still, I’m happy Hasbro did these and I’m certainly glad to have them in my collection. They also make me very curious to see what the future plans are for the Plasma Series. Will we get another wave? Will we get ghosts? Are they going to go the Mattel route and give us a ton of variant Ghostbusters? Will this series eventually just tie into the new movie? Mysteries abound! But I know I’ll be waiting to see what comes next.

Ghostbusters: Plasma Series (Part 1) by Hasbro

It seems like everyone’s had a run at making Ghostbusters figures. Mattel had a pretty successful line on Matty Collector with their roughly 5-inch Movie Masters line and some 12-inch figures. Mezco’s done some, Diamond Select has done a bunch, Blitzway has done some higher end ones. Even LEGO and Playmobil had their turns at the ecto trough. Well, with a new movie on the way, Hasbro has snapped up the rights, but before the new film hits, we’ve got a wave of six 6-inch figures from the original film and with a Build-A-Figure too! Now, because the Ghostbusters themselves are rather similar, I’m going to tackle all four of them in today’s review, and then I’ll be back on Friday to have a look at Gozer, Dana, and the Terror Dog Build-A-Figure!

The packaging is fairly reminiscent of Hasbro’s Star Wars Black Series in that there’s a cardboard box with a clear plastic tray and a cover that forms the bubble. The deco is rather creative, and the collector friendly box shows off the figure inside quite well. The back has a single line about the character inside and lots of multi-lingual stuff. It also shows the six figures in the wave and that each one comes with a part to build the Terror Dog, Vince. There’s even a bit of stylish art on the spines that’s strangely quirky and feels totally out of place. I’m going to use Peter Venkman to look at the basics on these figures, and then I’ll check out the different particulars of the other three Ghostbusters.

Peter comes donning the familiar pale gray Ghostbusters jumpsuit, showing off all sorts of sculpted wrinkles and rumples. The various pockets and zippers are there too, but the jumpsuit sculpt strikes me as being rather soft. And as we’ll soon see, Peter also happens to be the only Ghostbuster with his pants not tucked into his boots, which I thought was a pretty nice detail. The boots and gloves are painted with a black high gloss finish, and I can just make out a bit of his black t-shirt peaking up under the jumpsuit’s collar. Peter’s suit features the Ghostbusters logo on his right shoulder and a sculpted name badge on his chest to the right. His utility belt features a non-removable walkie-talkie, some other bits and bobs, and he’s got that weird yellow tube that comes out the back of the belt and into the front of his left pants leg. I subscribe to the running gag that these are in some way related to catching urine if the Ghostbusters piss themselves with fear. From the back we can see that he has sculpted elbow pads, and a hole in the back to help secure the Proton Pack. Yup, Hasbro heeded one of Mattel’s early mistakes and decided to make the packs removable, which I am extremely happy about.

I really dig the articulation on these guys, which happens to be very similar to Hasbro’s Marvel Legends line. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double-hinges in the knees, swivels in the thighs, and hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, double-hinges in the elbows (Woo-Hoo!!!), and swivels in the biceps. There’s a ball joint in the waist and the necks are ball jointed and hinged. The jointing on these figures feel great, and they are tons of fun to play around with! Everything I said about Peter applies to the other three guys, except for the pants legs being tucked into the boots.

The head sculpts here are all very well done and they’re each instilled with some personality. Peter’s is an excellent Bill Murray likeness right down to his goofy smirk. The hair sculpt is particularly well done, and this figure uses Hasbro’s relatively new method of printing the facial details on instead of painting them. There’s a little mold flashing on my figure’s face, which I’ll need to shave off, but otherwise I couldn’t be happier with how this portrait turned out.

Next up is Winston and here we have another solid likeness, in this case to Ernie Hudson. The facial features are all very well defined, the printing looks good, especially his mustache, and his hairline is sharp. And as I understand it, if there’s a steady paycheck involved he’ll believe anything you want.

The heart of the Ghostbusters, Ray Stantz is a dead ringer for young Dan Ackroyd. You know, from before he lost his mind and started hawking skull vodka and gassing on about aliens and nine-eleven. I don’t think Ackroyd’s likeness is particularly easy to get down, so I have to give Hasbro some major props here for succeeding at it so well. Plus he has a great, almost blank expression as if he’s complimenting the third mortgage he just took out on his parent’s house. This is just great work for this scale.

And finally we have Egon, modeling the likeness of the late, great Harold Ramis. I think if I were to rank these likenesses from strongest on down, Egon might be at the bottom. But that’s not to say I think it’s a bad portrait at all. Hand me this head and I’ll know exactly who it’s supposed to be. I just think that Hasbro managed to capture the other three just a tiny bit better. To be fair, though, I don’t think there’s a bad noggin in the bunch. Sculpting the glasses as part of the head was definitely the way to go here, and I love how they sculpted his poufy hair.

With the jumpsuit bodies so similar to each other, Hasbro had to really nail the portraits on these guys and I’m so happy to say that they did it. The figures look great together and I’m excited to have a look at their equipment. As I mentioned earlier, I’m very pleased Hasbro decided to make the Proton Packs as separate accessories. If you collected Mattel’s line then you no doubt remember that the first releases had the packs permanently attached and only later did they release new versions of the team with detachable packs. Permanent packs became a problem when Mattel started eyeing up an Ecto-1 release for the figures to sit in. Could it be that Hasbro is planning something like that? I do hope so!

While the peg holes in the back could have been used as a cheap and lazy way to attach the packs, I’m happy to say that the pegs are just to secure the packs on the figure. They do each have shoulder straps and a waist strap all cast in soft green plastic. The straps can be unhooked on the lower left side to help get them onto the figure and pressing it into the back makes certain that it isn’t going anywhere. As a result, the packs fit so well it actually looks like they might be permanently attached. The sculpts for each pack appear to be identical to me, with all the crazy tubes and wires coming off of it. There’s some solid paintwork on these as well, there’s even a bit of variation on the red lights on the lower part of the pack. The only gripe I have is they didn’t get the warning stickers on them, but at this scale I guess that would be tough. Surprisingly, the packs don’t make the figures all that back-heavy and I was able to stand them just fine without having to lean them forward hardly at all.

The wands tab into the sides of the packs very securely and the hoses seem to be pretty durable. They can be pulled out of the bottom of the pack and pegged back in again, which is a nice alternative to having them tear out if stressed too much. The wands look good, but it’s worth noting that they lack a little detail that Mattel had on there’s, most notably the red wire loop on the end. The figure’s hands are pretty well designed to grab the wand in the back with the right hand and cradle it in the left and they look damn good with the wands at the ready. In addition to the Proton Packs, each figure came with one accessory, and here’s where Hasbro lost me just a little bit. But I’d better not get ahead of myself.

Venkman comes with a Ghost Trap and overall I think it’s a nice piece. There’s plenty of detail and the paint is very well done. On the downside, it doesn’t come with the foot pedal and cord like Mattel’s did. Also, Mattel’s was a solid chunk of plastic and Hasbro’s is hollow. Granted, that’s not a big deal, but still worth mentioning. Luckily with the scale being similar, I can swap out Mattel’s in place of Hasbro’s.

Ray comes with his Ecto Goggles, which can be worn up on his forehead or down over his eyes. This is a pretty simple accessory but it fits well and looks good on the figure. There’s a hook on Ray’s belt where you can hang these, but they don’t stay put very well.

Egon comes with his PKE Meter and I think Mattel did a much better job with this accessory than we got here. It had more detail and you even got a few different ones with the arms at different positions. I do, however, like that it can be pegged onto Egon’s belt when he’s not using it, even if it’s always on and detecting ghosts. Still, this is another case where I may swap in Mattel’s accessory for this one. And since it’s so damn small, I think Egon should have been bundled with as econd Ghost Trap. Hell, maybe all of them should have been.

And finally, we have the biggest slap to the face Hasbro could have done. Winston comes with a proton stream. And he’s the only one that comes with a proton stream. So you get four Ghostbusters and only one freaking stream. What the hell, Hasbro? How could you possibly have made such a terrible and disappointing decision? I realize Mattel didn’t include any with there’s in the beginning but they did eventually. It’s a real shame because the stream attaches to the wand perfectly and it looks great! My God… What a pisser! OK, let’s move on to some comparison shots with the old Mattel figures…

I think the sculpted details in the Mattel bodies hold up fairly well. Some of the details are even crisper, and I like some of the differences, like the folded gloves tucked into the belt. But boy those head sculpts have not aged well at all. I mean, they weren’t all that great to begin with, more like caricatures than actual likenesses. The Mattel Proton Packs have some sharp details, but they look skinny and demure compared to Hasbro’s big and beefy Packs.

I’m sure we will eventually get Slimer in the new line, and possibly even some of the more iconic ghosts, but until then the Mattel ghosts work great with the new figures. I pulled all of mine out of storage and I’ll be displaying them with Hasbro’s figures for sure.

And if you bought Mattel’s Walter Peck then you have a Containment Unit that displays great with these guys. It even works with the new Hasbro traps.

And finally, here are the boys with Diamond Select’s Mr. Stay-Puft bank.

And so, in the end we have some absolutely terrific figures, with some very good and some other ho-hum accessories. With the exception of the Proton Packs, nearly every accessory included with these guys feels in some way like a step down from the ones that came with Mattel’s line. And when I come down to it, it just makes Hasbro look kind of cheap. Could you really not afford to give each figure a proton stream? Could you not have tossed in an extra PKE Meter with the arms down? Maybe give us one opened trap with the closed one? Are you planning on selling an accessory set later on down the road? Or maybe there’s a plan to pack a proton stream in with ghosts? I can just imagine how many Winston figures I’m going to see on the pegs with the proton stream missing. ARGGGGHHH!!! But with all that having been said, I don’t want to end this review on a sour note. I really do dig these figures, and while I’ll concede that my older Mattel figures are now obsolete, I can at least repurpose some of their gear and their ghosts. Join me back here on Friday and I’ll have a look at Gozer, Dana, and the Build-A-Figure!

The Real Ghostbusters: Egon Spengler and Winston Zeddemore by Diamond Select

Welcome to the next stop on the “OMG, I gotta get through my backlog” Express! When Diamond Select launched their line of Ghostbusters figures, I didn’t bite. I was reasonably happy with my set from Matty Collector, and the reviews I was reading pointed out quite a few issues with the figures. Not to mention, I didn’t want to go through all that again. I was a little more tempted by their Ghostbusters 2 figures, but I still managed self control. When their Real Ghosbusters figures were announced, I decided I would be happy with my MEGO-style versions and sit those out as well. Then I saw the pictures and all bets were off. I just loved the look of these guys! They shipped in two waves, and today I’m going to check out Egon and Winston from the first wave. Nope, I didn’t get Slimer. Never been a big Slimer fan. I blame the cartoon’s unfortunate transition to Slimer and The Real Ghostbusters for that! He’s the goddamn Scrappy Doo of the Ghostbusters Universe.

These packages are so damn big, I only had space to shoot one of them. HA! Yeah, I normally sum up DST’s Select Series action figure packaging as “impressive but wasteful.” I mean, it’s impossible to hold this giant bubble and card in hand and not be impressed, by it’s sheer size and presence, but after you open this thing you’re left with a mammoth pile of cardboard and plastic. Now, in this case, wasteful might be a bit hasty, because between the figure, the accessories, and the huge diorama piece, packaging this size is mostly justified, although there’s still plenty of room to shrink it. Maybe if they could have made it collector friendly I would see the point, but even then I wouldn’t have room to save these big packages. Let me go grab a Lawn & Leaf-sized outdoor trash bag so I can open these and take out the trash, and then I’ll be back!

The genius of this line is that it recycles the bucks from DST’s regular movie line and as a result, these take the animated style and give them an injection of realism, sort of similar to what Hasbro did with the Star Wars: Rebels designs in their 6-inch Black Series. I realize that this is going to put off some collectors, others will call it a cheap cop out designed to recycle parts, but I firmly believe that this is the only way these figures were going to get made, and I love the results, so I’m not about to quibble. Suffice it to say from the neck down, Egon and Winston share the same body, with each repainted to reflect the color-coded jumpsuits from the cartoon. I don’t own the film-based figures, so a close comparison is out of the question, but the coloring looks nice and other touches include silver paint on the zippers, buckles, and boot eyelets, gray paint on the elbow pads, and some yellow and blue on the belt devices to give them that cartoony look. The paint quality is OK, but it does get sloppy in some areas, and there’s a lot of rubbing on the jumpsuits, particularly Winston’s, which makes them look dirty in some areas. Although, most of this is only subject to close inspection and doesn’t really effect them when displayed on the shelf. And don’t forget those fresh and sharp Ghostbusters logos on their left shoulders! They look fab!

I think the portraits are excellent, and this is where the line could easily have bottomed out. I can’t imagine it’s easy to take 2D cartoon models and make them look good in three dimensions of plastic. These character designs were never meant for that. And yet, DST did a wonderful job with both of them, by somehow taking all the personality and charm of the cartoon characters and inject that into a couple of plastic noggins. Egon especially, with his ridiculous hair and glasses probably posed the biggest challenge, but I have no complaints about how he turned out. I particularly love the eternally perplexed expression on his face. On the other hand, I’m not happy about the large paint chip on the left of Egon’s neck.

The proton packs are all new with a complete animated face-lift. I went back to a still from the cartoon to check it out and I’m happy to say it holds up to the scrutiny quite well. The components are chunkier and more colorful, and I dig the big gauge on the top. The wand also looks great, and follows the design from the cartoon to a tee. The pack is also actually held onto the figure by the shoulder straps and waist belt. It looks like it would be removable, but you would have to snip the waist belt to do it. Alas, the way the wand attaches to the pack is a huge fail. It clips on by the handle, and this doesn’t work at all. The clip is made of softer plastic to keep it from stressing and snapping off, but after attaching and removing the wand just a few times, the clip has stretched to the point where it doesn’t hold the wand securely any longer. Winston’s is a little better than Egon’s, but either one will pop off with normal handling of the figure. If you look closely, you can probably see the little gob of poster putty I’m using to hold Egon’s wand in place. I can’t even begin to articulate how frustrating and annoying this is when playing around with the figures, let alone taking photos of them. The choice of hose material they used is also very questionable. Winston’s made out OK so far, but Egon’s crimped in a few places right out of the package, and I’m sure that will continue to happen with all the figures through normal handling.

The articulation on these guys is overall decent, but DST makes some odd choices with their joint design, particularly in the hips. Instead of using a simple rotating ball joint, the legs are attached to a t-crotch with swivels and hinges. It works, but it just feels rather clunky. The rest of the legs feature double-hinges in the knees, swivels in the thighs, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and hinged pegs in the wrists. There’s a ball joint under the chest, but I can’t get much more than a swivel out of it, and finally the necks are ball jointed. All in all, it’s functional, but I would have preferred swivels in the biceps and double-hinges in the elbows. As it is, the range of motion in the elbows isn’t all that it could be. You also get three pairs of hands with each figure, two sets with gloves and one without. Two of these pairs are designed to work with the particle throwers and the third have tighter grips to hold the PKE Meters. I think the right hands designed for the throwers aren’t quite right to do the job. Also, I would have liked to have seen these jointed to hinge up and down instead of front and back.

Yup, each figure does indeed come with a PKE Meter and boy do I have mixed feelings about this thing. Like the packs, it does follow the design of the device from the cartoon splendidly, and it sports some excellent detail, but there had to be a better way to do the indicator arms at the top. Here they’re just made out of two spaghetti strands of plastic. They’re floppy and warped and always in the down state. Where’s the fun in that? Who wants their Ghostbusters to never be detecting any ghosts? Maybe articulated arms was too much to ask for given the design, but since they included the meter with both figures, they could have at least made one with the arms down and one with them up.

Each figure also comes with a Ghost Trap, and unfortunately I’m not really impressed with this piece either. The paint and sculpt are fine, but once again the hose they used is just terrible. Mine is crimped in three or four places and it’s already nearly pulled out of the trap itself. [Edit: It finally did pull out of the trap before I was finished shooting pictures for this review!] It is designed to attach to the Proton Pack with a tab, and while that sort of works, it means you’re going to have to coil up the hose to hang it somewhere and that’s just going to lead to more crimping. Also, wants it’s coiled up, it’s never going to lay flat again for when you want to deploy the trap. Why then use a plastic hose that can’t take being coiled and uncoiled. Hell, why not just use gray string? This was just a terrible idea. Also, the trap doesn’t even open. I might not be as picky about this if it weren’t for the fact that Mattel’s traps opened, and those were in scale with much smaller 5 1/2-inch figures. What the hell?

The final accessory in each box is the particle stream, which attaches to the tip of the particle thrower. Fun fact! The original wave of DST’s movie Ghostbusters didn’t come with the connection pieces for the streams, so there was no way to actually attach them to the wands. Holy shit, what an oversight! Thankfully, these figures do come with a tiny clear adapter to fit on the end of the wands and attach the streams to. I actually think these look pretty cool, and each one is colored differently.

DST is also including diorama pieces with these figures, so that you can build the Ghostbusters Firehouse. In this case, I got two floor pieces and a couple of pieces of sign. I doubt I’m going to invest in enough figures to complete this, since you have to buy movie figures as well. Still, it’s a cool idea and I remember seeing pictures of the rooftop of the Gozer Building, their last Build-A-Diorama, and I was suitably impressed. For now, I guess I can use these pieces as rubble!

I can’t say I’m sorry I bought these, but they do have enough issues for me to admit that I’m disappointed in them. The figures themselves look great, and I’m still excited to get them all set up and displayed on the shelf, but DST made some really poor choices in the accessories and the way they function. The crimping hoses, the wands that don’t stay connected, traps that don’t even open, and PKE Meters with warped and floppy detector arms. Ultimately these figures were a frustrating chore to play with and photograph. I actually had to take a break a few times and walk away because I was getting angry with them. And I’m pretty sure you aren’t supposed to get angry with toys. At least not when they’re well designed. I could nitpick the paint quality too, but I think I’ve made my point. Give me a couple of weeks to recoup and cleanse the palette with other things, and I’ll eventually come back to finish up looking at the team with Ray, Peter, and the Stay Puft Marshmallow man.

Playmobil Ghostbusters Firehouse (#9219)

Once again, folks, DC Friday is being preempted so that I can get to some Playmobil Ghostbusters goodness. Sorry about that, but rest assured, it will return next week when I get back into checking out some DC statues. And now… on with today’s content…

There’s something about getting a playset in a big box that still feels like something special. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of the magic of being a little kid at Christmas, or maybe it’s because so few of these things are made anymore that it’s become a rare occurrence. Either way, I knew after only a few moments after getting Playmobil’s Ecto-1 set up that I would need to get the Firehouse to house it in. Well, it arrived earlier this week and I’ve had some time to play around with it. If this set had come out anywhere near December, I probably would have held off opening it until Christmas, but that’s still a ways off, so I’m diving in right away!

In typical Playmobil fashion, the illustrations and photos on the box let’s the product do the talking. Sure there are some digital effects, but for the most part what you see on the box is what you’re actually getting inside. Also, the box is huge, although it’s not terribly deep, so right off the bat you just know there’s going to be a lot of assembly here. You can also tell that from rattling the box or by looking at where it proclaims that there are 228 pieces inside!

Open her up and you’re presented with more than ten bags of pieces, plus a bunch of loose bigger pieces, and a bag with instructions, some rubbery splotches of green slime, and a sticker sheet. I knew right away it was time to brew up a pot of coffee and tuck in for a fairly lengthy build. Granted, a fair number of those 228 pieces include the figures, equipment, and furnishings, but even putting together the structure itself was more involved than I was expecting, and I’m no stranger to Playmobil! I should throw out a warning, that while it’s probably possible to disassemble the Firehouse and get it back in the box, it’s not something I’m willing to risk, which means somehow I’m going to have to find the shelf space for this beast!

The instructions are pretty good, although the bags aren’t numbered like LEGO sets, so while you may be finding most of the pieces in a step in one bag, some might be in another. As a result, I played it fast and loose with the steps, and I still did OK. A lot of putting together the actual building involved these red square joining pieces and this Playmobil tool. I’ve had Playmobil sets ever since I was a kid, and I’ve never even seen one of these before! The worst thing about the entire build was putting together the two staircases. Each step had to be individually inserted (something like sixteen in all!) and it took a ridiculous amount of force to get them together. Also, the tool didn’t help with it and my thumbs were almost destroyed by the time I was done. Let’s start with a look at the figures that are included, then a look at the Firehouse itself, and then I’ll go floor-by-floor to look at the furnishings and accessories.

The set comes with a whopping five figures! These include Ray Stantz in a clean uniform, Janine Melnitz in her civvies, Louis Tulley with the brain scanner/kitchen colander on his head, Egon Spengler in his “doing science” outfit and forehead spotlight, and the Library Ghost from the beginning of the movie. I’d say all of these are excellent, except the Library Ghost just doesn’t do much for me. It’s neat to have another ghost, but this was probably a tough design to translate to the Playmobil aesthetic. The clean suited Ray comes with a Proton Pack, Ghost Trap, PKE Meter, and a weird looking device that I don’t recognize. The inclusion of this figure also means that Playmobil has to release at least one more set with a clean suited Peter Venkman… THEY HAVE TO!!! As for Janine, Louis, and Egon, they’re all very Firehouse specific, so it’s great that Playmobil included them here. Seeing as how the figure two-packs can range up to $10 at retail, I think these figures add a lot of value to this package.

Here’s the exterior of the Firehouse and I think it’s a damn fine approximation of the building from the film. All of those windows and all of the brickwork are part of the assembly process. I think the only thing here that’s a bit of a letdown is the door on the side is just a sticker and it’s scaled a little too small. Then again, this is a Playmobil set designed for kids, so I’m probably being way too critical! There’s a fire hydrant beside the building and you get the iconic Ghostbusters logo on the sign above the garage door.

The garage door opens and building those tracks for it to do that is fairly involved. Moving inside, you can see that there are three levels, each accessible by those damn stairs! Seriously, my poor thumbs are still hurting from snapping all of those together! I’m going to start at the top and work down. Keep in mind, you really are free to deck this thing out any way you want, I just followed (more or less) the suggestions on the box.

So the top floor is Janine’s office. She’s got a desk with a computer and keyboard, a second piece of furniture with a phone and a lamp, an office chair and a stool. The drawers on that other piece of furniture actually open and you can put little Playmobil stuff in them. The monitor shows a map of the city with a Ghostbusters emblem indicating ghost activity. She also comes with an issue of Playmobil Today featuring stories about the Ghostbusters and their equipment. You can also see the fire alarm just to the side of the banister. “WE GOT ONE!!!”

You also get a pizza in a box! What? No Chinese Take Out???

There’s a fire poll that connects all the floors and a sliding hand grip for the figures to slide down on.

The middle section is the lab area, which houses all the scientific equipment. You get the device that they hooked Louis up to with a screen that shows an image of a Terror Dog, indicating that he’s possessed. The equipment itself has all sorts of buttons and gauges and it’s even branded with the Ghostbusters logo. It includes a chair and the monitor sits on a cabinet with three opening drawers. Here you can also see a floor lamp, and a video camera on a tripod.

A closer look at the bookcase in the background shows it contains a couple of cooking pans, a test tube rack with three test tubes, a jar of green slime, and a copy of Tobin’s Spirit Guide!

You also get this rolling cart with a few scientific flasks, a microscope, and a stray test tube. SCIENCE!

And there’s a coffee decanter for Louis to hold. “YES HAVE SOME!” I’m really impressed with all the great stuff they packed into the science area and I’m already on the hunt for some other Playmobil sets that might allow me to expand it even more.

Moving into the garage level, there isn’t a whole lot going on down here, but you do get the containment system, which opens up and you can put a trap in there. If you’re like me and you have most of these sets then you’ve got a lot of Ghost Traps by now, which gives me a spare to keep in the unit. The detail on this thing is mostly stickers, but it looks great. It has a couple of handles, one to open the door and one to flush the machine. I really dig the hoses coming up out of the top.

Of course, the reason there isn’t a whole lot else going on in the garage is because they had to leave room for the Ecto-1 to fit, and it does indeed fit… granted just barely, but I’m not complaining, because it looks great in there and it’s one of the biggest selling points about this whole set.

Now, obviously all this playset don’t come cheap. I was able to get mine for regular retail price off of Amazon for $69.99. Right now it’s selling for a little more than that and without the free Prime shipping. When you break down everything that comes in this box, I think the asking price is fair, especially since it’s the exact same price that Playmobil charges for their largest Pirate Ship sets, which are obviously not licensed. My point is, you aren’t getting soaked just because it’s an official Ghostbusters product, and you get a lot of goodies in the box for your money. I’ll be honest, I probably would have ponied up more money if I had to, because I never in a million years would have guessed that we’d get an actual Ghostbusters Firehouse playset like this ever again. The fact that it’s from Playmobil is both bizarre and fantastic at the same time. I have only one set left to pick up, the Hot Dog Stand with Slimer, and I’m going to nab it as soon as I find it. I’m still going to hope we see some more sets out of the Playmobil-Ghostbusters fusion, but my gut tells me this may be it, and if that’s the case, well… Playmobil certainly gave it their all and did a fantastisc job.

More Playmobil Ghostbusters Sets! (#9221, 9223, and 9224) 

What? No DC Friday? Nope, not this week. I’m actually caught up on reviews for my DC collection right now and I haven’t had time to go into storage and pull out some old stuff. And so I’m re-purposing the next two Fridays for other things. Never fear, DC Friday will return in two weeks! In the meantime…

Yup, I got some more Ghostbusters sets from Playmobil and today I’m going to knock out three of them! While each of these come in enclosed boxes, the two smaller ones are pretty much just figure packs, and even the larger Stay-Puft set just features the one larger and one regular figure. Of course, I’m not complaining, as these sets all do their part to build up the Playmobil Ghostbusters Universe and they compliment each other nicely. They also provide the rest of the team to go with my Ecto-1. If you have any experience with Playmobil sets the packaging should be familiar to you. While the deco has been branded for the license, everything else is the same. You get photos of everything that comes inside on the backs of the boxes and there is some minor assembly required and stickers to apply, mostly for the Proton Packs and Ghost Traps. Let’s start big and work our way down…

Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man and Ray Stantz: The name is pretty self-explanatory, as this set includes Mr. Stay-Puft and Ray Stantz, the heart of the Ghostbusters! I really love the look of Stay-Puft and I’m happy they didn’t redesign him to look like a giant Playmobil figure. He’s cast in a great looking white pearlescent plastic and features some bright blue and red paint.

Indeed, even if you’re in the market for a Stay-Puft and don’t care anything about Playmobil, this figure would still probably scratch your itch. It’s not as big or impressive as the Diamond Select Stay-Puft Bank that I display with my Mattel Ghostbusters, but to be fair this is supposed to be a smaller scale anyhow. Really, my only complaint here is in the articulation. Sure, I expected a big hollow figure and I didn’t expect any articulation in the legs, but I was a little disappointed that the head doesn’t turn. At least the arms will rotate at the shoulders and the hands swivel at the wrists. All in all, he’s a great looking figure and still fun to play with.

The other half of this set, Ray, features a marshmallow-soiled uniform, which may irk some collectors, who are looking for a set of the guys all in clean uniforms. I find that I don’t mind it so much. It definitely adds a little personality to the figure, especially since Ray otherwise just looks like a standard Playmobil guy. Luckily, he has his name on his shirt and he also comes with his Ecto-Goggles to help further distinguish him. The Proton Pack is an amazing piece, and identical to what we saw in the Ecto-1 set. The wand can peg to the side for storage and it also comes with a particle stream effect piece. Moving on to…

Peter Venkman, Dana, and The Terror Dogs: This is a really well-rounded set of four figures, as it gives you not only Peter and Dana, but also the pair of Terror Dogs, another Ghost Trap, and another PKE Meter. We’ve seen the equipment before, so let’s just take a quick look at the figures…

Like Ray, Peter features a soiled shirt, this time with green slime. Once again, if you’re looking for a clean set of Ghostbusters, this is likely to irritate you, but I’m still happy with it since it gives a little more personality to the figure and further helps to identify him, along with the name on the uniform. Peter wasn’t really known for carrying around the PKE Meter, but it’s cool that Playmobil is throwing us extra equipment. Hell, I’ve got plenty of PKE Meters and Ghost Traps just from the four sets I own.

Dana features her possessed look from just before she turned into one of the dogs. I think it’s a pretty good attempt at the character while still sticking to the Playmobil aesthetic. They also managed to keep the hip articulation while doing her sculpted gown. I love her demon eyes! Who the hell would have ever imagined that cute and innocent Playmobil would ever do ladies possessed by demons!

Not to mention, the The Terror Dogs! These are fantastic little sculpts that manage to be both adorable and still easily recognizable from the film. They feature articulation in all four legs, the neck, and their jaws will even open! My only complaint here is that I wish Playmobil had made this a bigger set that included a rooftop playset. I would have gladly paid an extra $15 for the altar with a Gozer figure and a place to put the dogs. I think that would have been amazing. And that brings me to the smallest set…

Egon Spengler and Ghost: The last set completes the Ghostbusters team with Egon Spengler, as well as including two actual ghosts!

Playmobil did a find job recreating Egon with printed glasses and a crazy pompadour! He comes with a Proton Pack with proton stream, a PKE Meter, and a Walkie-Talkie. It feels like Peter should have come with the Walkie, but I’m not complaining. I can just give it to him, anyway.

The Ghost Trap comes with a ghost that you can plug into it. Oh, so that’s what that hole is for! He’s a pretty jolly wisp of Ectoplasm, as he’s smiling even though he’s about to get sucked into the torture-dimension that I like to think comprises the inside of those Ghost Traps. Playmobil really needs to release a variety of these ghosts to plug into the different traps. Hell, go ahead and blind bag ’em, I’ll buy tons! It’s a simple plastic shell, but if you put an LED behind it, it makes for a pretty cool effect.

The other ghost is a regular figure and I call him Dapper Ghost, because he looks like a proper 19th Century gentlemen. The figure itself is partially translucent and has some skeletal paint apps on him. The overcoat and hat are both regular opaque plastic. I really dig his mutton chops and his little mustache. As much as I love this guy and all his personality, I wish Playmobil would have given us one of the ghosts from the film. This should have been Library Ghost or Taxi Driver Ghost. Still, he’s cool.

That’s four sets down and two to go. I’m still hunting the Hot Dog Stand with Slimer and the Firehouse is on its way to me as I write this article. Right now, I’m just basking in how great it is to have the whole team with my Ecto-1. As with most Playmobil sets, the fun is getting them all together and that’s certainly the case here. These adorable little spook hunters are all ready to go on adventures. These sets were $20, 15, and 10 respectively, which seems a bit high when I compare it to the same $45 I spent on the Ecto-1. Sure, it’s a lot of figures and accessories, but Stay-Puft was the only really substantial piece and he’s nowhere near as complex a toy as the Ecto-1. That’s OK. I’m still fine with the value here and I’m hoping that Playmobil isn’t done with this line yet.

Playmobil Ghostbusters: Ecto-1 with Winston Zeddemore and Janine Melnitz (#9220)

I know, it’s been quite a few weeks since I’ve done an Anime Saturday post and I’m not doing myself any favors, because the prize figures and Figmas have been backing up on me something fierce. I didn’t have the time to do one this weekend either, but I really wanted to get to checking out this Ghostbusters Playmobil set earlier in the week and when it didn’t happen, I decided to suck it up and review it this weekend. As for Anime Saturday, it will return next weekend. I’ll be on vacation by then and spending it watching a lot of anime and playing a lot of video games, so I’ll be good and ready for it… Promise! 

It’s been six years since I last opened up a Playmobil set and with the Ghostbusters Anniversary this past week, it felt like the time was right to break that terrible streak and check out one of the new Ghostbusters Playmobil sets. Playmobil and I go way back and rather than waste time here, I’ll refer you to this post back in 2011 when I talked a little bit about what the line has meant to me. Quite frankly, I’m just too damn excited to dig into this set right now, so let’s Go… Ghost… Busters! Oh, wait. Wrong Ghostbusters. My bad…

In terms of packaging, Playmobil hasn’t changed much. The larger sets still come in boxes that are easy to open and pretty good for storing the toys in when you’re done. I usually like to take one of the biggest boxes in a series and use it to store the contents of a bunch of sets. In the case of this series, Playmobil eschews the regular bright blue deco in favor of one a little more faithful to the Ghostbusters brand. One of the most curious things about Playmobil is that they never put the name of the sets on the box. Instead sets have simple numbers, similar to LEGO. They’re also quite content with showing off the toys themselves rather than waste your time with a lot of fancy box art. Back in the day, Playmobil had a great series of space toys called PlaymoSpace. They should have done that here. PlaymoBusters. PlaymoGhost. Mmm… Maybe not.

Ah, there’s nothing quite like breaking into a box of Playmobil. Inside, you get the partially assembled Ecto-1, several bags of pieces, instructions, and stickers. These aren’t really building sets, but there’s a lot of fun to be had putting everything together. Playmobil is all about lots and lots of accessories and pieces and everything working with everything else. The bulk of assembly for Ecto-1 involves the wheels and all the gear on the top. It took me about a half hour to get everything together and stickered. You also get some slime splashes in the box, which are made of rubbery plastic and stick to the car. Probably cool for the kids, but I haven’t bothered to take these out of the plastic. Anyway, before we get to the main attraction, let’s check out the figures!

As the box states, the set comes with Winston Zeddemore and Janine Melnitz. Obviously, Playmobil is engaged in marketing shenanigans here, making you buy a bunch of sets to get the whole team, but I’m fine with that. I’ve now decided that I’m getting them all anyway and I absolutely love that they put Winston and Ghostbuster Janine in what will likely be the most desired set. If you’re familiar with Playmobil figures, there’s nothing new here. They come on standard male and female bodies, with articulation in the neck, arms, and hips.  The printed uniforms are really nice. I like that they didn’t just use the same printing, as there’s a little bit of variation on the belt gear between the two figures. The printed portraits are pretty great too. I just can’t look at Winston’s face without smiling. That’s a face that tells me “if there’s a steady paycheck involved, I’ll believe in anything you want.”

The proton packs are quite detailed, especially by Playmobil standards. They even include the tiny warning labels and the wands can store on the backpacks by plugging them into the sides. The packs themselves clip onto the figure around the shoulders and waists. The figures can hold the wands slung under their hands to sort of mimic the way they were wielded in the movie.

You also get a pair of proton streams that plug right into the end of the barrels. At this point, I’ll remind everyone that Diamond Select released $25 Ghostbusters figures with proton streams that had no way of attaching to the wands and later had to rectify that by including adapters if you bought more figures. Hey, I’ve got nothing against DST, but I think it’s funny that between the two, Playmobil got it right.

You also get a Ghost trap with a foot pedal. The doors on the trap are hinged and you can open it. There’s a sticker that depicts the horrible pocket torture dimension that the ghosts are sucked into.

And finally, you get a PKE Meter, which is just a static piece with a sticker for the display, but cool nonetheless. Moving on to the real showpiece of this set…

The Playmobil Ecto-1 is absolutely glorious. What I love the most about this thing is that it doesn’t feel overly stylized or super-deformed to make it kiddie friendly. It’s just a damn nice reproduction of the vehicle in the 4-inch scale. Sure, some of the stickers make it look a little animated. It’s definitely a toy first and a showpiece second, but I think it looks damn great. As a Playmobil fan and middle aged child, I’m happy to play with it, but as an adult collector, I’ll be proud to display it too.

There are a fair number of stickers to apply, but I was happy to see that all of the Ghostbusters logos are printed directly onto the vehicle. Some nice touches include the official-looking Ecto-1 NY licensed plates and the fact that the headlights are actually clear plastic, even if the spot lights are just stickers. The tires are actually rubber and the hubcaps are removable. I’ll also note here that the Ecto-1 features electric lights and sounds via three AAA batteries. Some of you may know that I’m not all that into electronics in toys like this, so I haven’t even picked up any batteries for it yet. The box says it has a siren and the lights flash. If I ever get around to trying it out, I’ll attach a video.

Playmobil did a nice job with the crazy array of equipment and sensors on the top of the vehicle. You get all sorts of hoses and tanks and god only knows what else up there.

The back door opens up to have access to equipment storage. You can even fit the proton streams in there if you want. Still, it’s kind of hard to get in there from the back, but luckily the entire top lifts off.

Here you can see there are places to put up to four proton packs and a place for a single ghost trap. This is also how you get the figures into the front seat, since the doors don’t open. There are also two additional seats in the back so you can fit up to four Ghostbusters in the Ecto-1 at any one time.

The going price for the Ecto-1 seems to be around $50-55, although I was able to grab one off Amazon for $45 shipped and I’m pretty content with that price. Granted, you could probably get a bigger Playmobil pirate ship with a lot more pieces for around the same price, but no doubt some of the cost here is going to the license. And that alone is pretty special, because I can’t recall Playmobil ever doing licensed sets before. There’s no doubt about it, this set is fun and Playmobil put a lot of thought and love into designing it. It’s probably not a surprise to anyone that I immediately ordered three more sets, which should be rolling in over the next week. I have not ordered the Firehouse Playset yet, but it’s going to happen. God help me, I have no idea where I will put it, but it’s going to happen.

Ghostbusters: Limited Edition White Fudge Marshmallow Twinkies by Hostess

So, today I went out for lunch and a couple of pitchers of brew with some friends and it took me near a Walmart that I never go to. I never really go to any Walmarts anymore, because none of the ones in this area actually stock any toys worth a damn. But with Titans Return figures cropping up all over, I thought I’d give it a try. It turned out to be a bust. A shelf crammed with Motormasters and pegs stuffed with Robots in Disguise. I grabbed some kitty litter so it wasn’t a wasted trip and stomped off to the register defeated. But then it just popped in there. Something that I loved from my childhood. Something that could never possibly destroy me. Mr. Stay Puft. And he was on a box of Twinkies. In a big display at the checkout. I bought them and now I’m going to tell you what I think. And Ray is going to help me…

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While the toys for the new Ghostbusters film may already be on clearance at a number of retailers, the breakout marketing hit seems to be of the edible varieties. The nerd world seems to have gone mad over the return of Ecto Coolers, and now we have Hostess jumping on board with Ghostbusters themed Twinkies. I haven’t purchased Twinkies in something like 20 years. I can barely remember the last time I ate one. But these looked like they were worth a shot. They had Slimer branded ones too, but I wasn’t confident in Hostess’ ability to work wonders with fake Key Lime flavoring. These are more my bag. White fudge covered Twinkies with marshmallow topping. The box is branded with Mr. Stay Puft himself and the Ghostbusters logo warning you that these are Limited Editions. Indeed, very limited, as the expiration date on my boxes show their time is up next month. What’s that old joke about Twinkies never expiring? Anyway, this box of chemically produced snack cake goodness boasts 9 individually wrapped cakes, which seems to me like a rather odd number. Both literally and figuratively. Nonetheless, I was anxious to try these with my afternoon coffee.

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So, the last time I had a Twinkie, I’m pretty sure it came in a clear baggie. These come in swanky white wrappers peppered with the Hostess logo. They feel posh, but I’ll confess to being disappointed that the branding stops at the box. Those Hostess emblems should have been Ghostbusters emblems. Also, these look rather small. I probably remember Twinkies bigger because I was small the last time I ate one, but these are not big Twinkies. I didn’t even feel bad about my plan to gobble down two of these with my coffee, providing they passed the taste test. If these Twinkies represented all of the psycho kenetic energy in my immediate area, I’d be OK with that, because it wouldn’t be much. Ray looks a little more worried. But then they’re huge by his standards.

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With the wrapper off, I’m less impressed. It’s not really Twinkie shaped. It’s kind of got a flat top. It also looks like something Mr. Stay Puft might leave behind after a squat. It does smell good though. Also, I’m now enamored with the idea that Mr. Stay Puft shits marshmallow Twinkies.

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Now’s the time to admit that I was a little disappointed when I got the box home and read the fine print. I expected the Twinkie filling to be marshmallow, but it’s regular Twinkie filling. The Marshmallow is spread on top of the Twinkie before its encased in the white fudge. Yeah, it clearly states that on the box, but in my defense, I’m a 43-year old man buying snack cakes to cheer myself up from not finding any toys. My oversight is understandable. Breaking one open, it certainly looks inviting. The sponge cake is yellow and spongy and the creamy center is chock full of fluffy isotopes. But I can’t see any marshmallow layer. Hmm… Well, the proof is in the eating.

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And I have to say, these things are damned good. The marshmallow is there. And it’s fairly potent. But not too potent. It’s hard to believe it’s all coming from that nearly non-existent layer on the top, but I’d say it’s just the right amount of marshmallow finish. It also blends nicely on the palate with the combination of white fudge icing and whatever the creme goop is that they inject these things with. The cake is as smooth and spongy as modern science can produce, and I found these to be a real treat with my coffee. Would I buy more? Yes, undoubtedly. I doubt I’d make a special trip to that Walmart for them, but if they turn up at the Target or Publix around the corner, I could see putting a box or two of these away for a rainy day. I could also see myself being sad when the last one is gone.

Ghostbusters 2: Vigo The Carpathian by Mattel

A couple of weeks ago Harold Ramis left us to venture off to the Undiscovered Country. That inspired me to go into my pile of unopened Ghostbusters figures to check out Egon Spengler. It also inspired me to finally get around to opening some of the other figures in that pile, so you’ll likely see some of Mattel’s now defunct Ghostbusters line turning up here from time to time in the weeks to come. Today we’re checking out Vigo from Ghostbusters 2. We’ve had pack-in ghosts before, but Vigo is really the only baddie that got his own singular release and that makes him kind of special. Ghostbusters 2 is a film that pales in comparison to the original, but it’s still a guilty pleasure of mine.

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Vigo arrives in the same basic packaging as all the other Ghostbusters figures. The key difference is that the Ghostbusters emblem on the top has been changed to the Ghostbusters 2 emblem. I appreciate Mattel going out of their way to make that change, especially since this packaging is so damn attractive that I could see a lot of collectors choosing to display them unopened. The other difference is that instead of Mr. Stay Puft on the backdrop of the card, Vigo features a lenticular card of the painting that he came out of. Again, I’ve got to give kudos to Mattel for doing something clever and fun here.

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Vigo comes clad in his full Carpathian armor and there’s some pretty nice detail here. The chest piece, shoulders, and skirt are all sculpted in soft plastic and layered over the figure’s buck. The one thing I was most looking for was the pair of sculpted skulls on his shoulder straps, and yep, there they are. Additionally, the sculpt includes all sorts of little barbs and rivets and even the lacing that runs up the back of his tunic.

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I seem to recall a lot of people grousing about the head sculpt, but I think the portrait is actually quite good. It certainly bears a resemblance to the late actor Norbert Grupe. Maybe I’m just too forgiving, or maybe a lot of people are just dedicated to pissing and moaning about everything that Matty Collector does. Anyway, I like the deep set eyes and the angry, determined expression. The swept back grey hair is pretty well executed as well.

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I don’t know how much articulation one really needs in an action figure of an undead Carpathian warlord, but Vigo has a fair share. You get ball joints in the neck and shoulders. The arms have hinges in the elbows and swivels in the wrists. The legs have the usual DCUC style hips that allow for lateral leg movement. The legs have hinged knees and ankles, and there are swivel cuts concealed at the tops of the boots. He can also swivel at the waist. The lack of swivel cuts in the biceps is a little disappointing, but all I really need this guy to do is stand there and look menacing while Ray and Winston shoot slime at him.

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Vigo doesn’t come with any conventional accessories. A baby Oscar might have been an interesting choice. He does, however, include the aforementioned lenticular painting, which is quite large and features two sides. The front shows Vigo or is empty depending on which way you look at it. The reverse shows the portrait of the Ghostbusters in their renaissance garb. It’s a cool addition to round out a figure that really had no need of any additional accessories.

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Vigo is hardly a “must-have” figure, but once this line died and the figures started turning up for cheap, I found myself suddenly wanting to be a completist. I seem to recall picking up Vigo for around $10 on Amazon because, well why wouldn’t I? He certainly isn’t a bad figure. Granted, when the line was still viable and fans were crying out for some figures for their Ghostbusters to fight, I don’t think Vigo was really their first choice. I know he wasn’t mine. Just like everyone else, I would much rather have had Gozer. And why we never got the Terror Dogs is beyond me. Obviously Mattel had some tooling money to spend, and they could have basically sold the same Terror Dog to us twice. Maybe there were still some licensing issues tied up with NECA on that one.

Ghostbusters: “Ready to Believe You” Egon Spengler by Mattel

I’m interrupting my regular planned feature today for this little special. Sure, it was spur of the moment and I wound up having to stay up pretty late to write it and do the photo shoot, but considering the occasion I think it was worth it. If you follow me on Facebook, I posted a short piece yesterday about Harold Ramis passing. Being a child of the 70’s and growing up in the 80’s Ramis was involved in so many of the movies that I loved during that curious transition from adolescent to teenager. Whether behind the camera or in front of it, Ramis was a genius at writing, directing, and even delivering comedic dialogue. He knew what was funny and yet the often crass comedy of his films almost always hid a message of inspiration for the underdog. I loved this man’s work and it had a huge influence on my formative years, helping me to grow into the smart-ass that I am today. But this blog isn’t about movies, so I thought it fitting to give him a tribute FFZ style by looking at one of his action figures. While the bulk of Harold Ramis’ work did not dabble in science fiction, the nerd and geek community nonetheless adopted him for his role as Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters, and so let’s check out that character today, immortalized in plastic.

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It seems oddly appropriate to point out today that Egon was actually the very first of the Ghostbusters to get the 5-inch treatment from Mattel. He appeared as a Slimed Variant Exclusive released at the 2009 San Diego Comic Con. Later he would get a wider release without the slime and yet again he was released as the figure we’re looking at today. While this line has had its share of critics, it’s hard to knock the presentation here. Egon comes packaged, along with the Library Ghost, under a huge bubble against a carded backdrop of the Stay Puft Marshmallowman. The Ghostbusters emblem is on the top and the bubble is flanked by the Keymaster and Gatekeeper. The whole package is big enough to sit right on your shelf and it looks good enough to leave in the package and display it as is. But y’all know me… let’s rip this baby open.

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The “Ready to Believe You” variants come from the commercial shown during the original Ghostbusters movie. All three of the original Ghostbusters got the “RtBY” treatment, but none seem more at home in their lab coat than Egon here. I own all three of these figures, but if I were only going to pick up one it would certainly have been Dr. Spengler. The underlying buck is the same used for the Ray Stantz figure that I featured here last year. It’s a solid enough figure, complete with black slacks, belt, and white dress shirt. The tie is even a separate piece, sculpted in soft rubber. It’s a pretty lean body, which works much better for Egon than it did for Ray. The lab coat is the usual vest-style overlay with sculpted arms to look like sleeves and the illusion of this being a full coat works fairly well. Egon’s coat features a newly sculpted pocket computer, attached to his pocket, and white painted buttons, besides that and the blue tie, this figure is identical to Ray from the neck down.

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The portrait is the same sculpt used for the previous Egon figures. Whether that’s good or bad is a matter of personal taste. I think it’s a decent likeness of Ramis although it definitely errs more toward being a caricature than a straight up likeness. A lot of that comes from the ridiculously high bangs that were so gloriously emphasized in his Real Ghostbusters animated counterpart. The glasses are rather thick, but they are sculpted as a separate piece, include plastic lenses, and are permanently attached to the figure. I give Mattel props for the glasses. No, they don’t look perfect, but they can’t be easy to get right in this scale, so I’m willing to be rather forgiving.

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The articulation here is pretty standard for the line. The arms feature ball joints in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps and wrists, and hinged elbows. The legs have the DCUC-style hips, swivels in the thighs, and hinges in the knees and ankles. Egon can swivel at the waist and he has a generous ball joint in the neck. Egon is by no means super articulated, but it’s not exactly crucial to the character and I think what’s here is fine. He’s at least limber enough to hold a Twinkie while using it as a metaphor for the frighteningly elevated levels of supernatural activity within the Greater New York area.

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Egon comes with three PKE meters, each one in a different stage of detection. You get one with the arms all the way down, one with them partly up. “Listen! Do you smell something?” And one with them at full on ball-to-the-wall “Oh shit, there’s a ghost here!” mode. The inclusion of even one PKE meter was a very nice accessory, considering it was conspicuously absent from the first Egon release, so getting three really made buying this figure worthwhile.

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What else made this figure a very worthwhile purchase was the inclusion of the Library Ghost, or Eleanor Twitty if you prefer, from the beginning of the original film.  This free-roaming vaporous full-torso apparition is beautifully recreated in partially translucent plastic. The face sculpt is awesome right down to the swept back grey hair and messed up ghoul teeth. I really dig the paintjob on this figure too. The mix of matte purple with the translucent parts makes for a pretty eerie effect. She features three points of articulation, which includes a rotating head and rotating shoulders. Twitty also comes with the same clear plastic stand that all of the ghosts featured. So far, this is easily my favorite of all the bundled ghosts in the line.

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All in all, this set is a well-rounded package. The causal collectors can probably do without Peter or Ray in their lab coats, but as I said earlier, it seems a must to have Egon in his “doing science” outfit. The inclusion of the PKE Meters and one of the most iconic minor ghosts in the franchise makes this deal all the sweeter and I definitely recommend anyone collecting this line pick it up. It may seem trivial to some to honor Harold Ramis’ passing with a look at one of his action figures, but the fact that this figure exists celebrates part of the legacy he left behind and a character that lots and lots of people loved. I know I’ll be celebrating his life for the rest of this week with some of his movies and trying to remember him with smiles and laughter because I think that’s what the way he would have wanted it.

Godspeed, Harold Ramis… and thanks for all the laughs!