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.