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!