Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I'm A Grown Man And I Bought This: Mattel 12" Ghostbusters

I've been a big fan of the movie Ghostbusters ever since I saw in in the theater back in 1984 (yeah, I'm gettin' old). The sequel I didn't like so much, but the original is as perfect a movie as you're ever likely to find.

The only problem was that in all these years, no one ever released any official Ghostbusters action figures. Oh sure, they had a whole line in the 1980s based on The Real Ghostbusters cartoon series, but it just wasn't the same. I wanted toys from the movie, dammit!

From what I've heard there were many toy companies that wanted to make GB toys, but there was always one thing stopping them. One Mr. William James Murray. The other actors from the film were more than happy to have their faces immortalized in plastic, but for many years Bill Murray was always the holdout. Since he was for all intents and purposes the star of the film, there wasn't much point in making toys without his character.

Then a miracle happened: the Toy Gods answered my prayers. Bill Murray finally deigned to allow his precious likeness to be used and Mattel announced they were making official movie version Ghostbusters figures. Huzzah!

These figures actually starting coming out sometime in 2009. Mattel released one every three or four months until the team was complete in 2010. However, they were priced at $60 each. Believe it or not, that's actually not a bad price for a 12" action figure these days. In fact, most 12" figures from Hong Kong toy company Hot Toys regularly run well over $200! Yeah, toys are crazy expensive these days.

So even though someone was finally making Ghostbusters figures, I couldn't afford to buy them. Thanks, Universe! You are hilarious. I went about my life and eventually forgot about them, remaining Ghostbusterless.

Then another miracle happened; just last month Mattel had a big sale on Ghostbusters merchandise. At last the price was right, and I finally managed to get my Ghostbusters figures!

I picked up the Peter Venkman, Ray Stanz and Egon Spengler figures. Mattel also made a Winston Zeddemore figure, but... alas, I didn't get him. I desperately wanted him, but I had to draw a financial  line in the sand somewhere, so I limited myself to the three main members. Sorry Winston. Maybe next time you're on sale.

By the way, these are online exclusive figures, so don't expect to be able to waltz into your local Target or Toys R Us and buy them. The only place you can find them is at Mattel's online store, mattycollector.com.

The figures come in large, fairly sturdy plastic and cardboard cases. If you're one of those weirdos that keeps their toys in the box, then you're in luck. The boxes look great and the figures are clearly visible inside.

Although the boxes appear to be collector friendly, I was surprised to see that they most definitely are not. Not that I cared, mind you. I open all my figures and I pretty much destroyed the boxes trying to get them out. Keep that in mind if you plan on taking out the figure and placing it back in the box.

Oh, we're not nearly done! There are tons more photos after the jump! Read the rest by clicking below.

OK, onto the reviews of the figures. Let's start with Peter Venkman, as played by Bill Murray himself. Each of the figures is placed into its respective package in a pose from the movie. For some reason Mattel decided that the best pose for Venkman would be for him to hold his radio in front of his face, covering a good part of it.

I can't help but wonder if that was Mattel's way of taking a little dig at Bill Murray for all the years he held out on approving his likeness?

As for the head sculpt, it's not bad, but it's by no means a realistic depiction of a human face. There's no doubt as to who it's supposed to be, but it seems a bit on the cartoony side, almost like a caricature. I'm not complaining, mind you. I'm happy to finally have my Ghostbusters figures, and it's definitely Bill Murray. Just an observation.

Once freed from their plastic prisons, the detail in these figures is amazing, especially for this price point. The jumpsuits are well made and full of little details, including tiny (non-working) zippers! The belts are super detailed as well, and hold an array of equipment. Everything's scaled properly and the suit fits the figure very well. I'm not sure about those elbow protectors though. They seem a bit... puffier than I remember. I thought they were hard plastic or rubber in the film. Looks like I just found another reason to watch the DVD!

Next up is Ray Stanz, as played by Dan Ackroyd. Stanz is posed in the box holding his proton wand (boy, did that sound vaguely dirty!).

Once again, there's no doubt as to who it's supposed to be, but he's still a bit on the cartoonish side as well. By the way, as seen here all the figures come with their corresponding name tags on their jumpsuits.

All the figures' hands can hold their accessories with no trouble, as shown here. You would not believe how often that's a problem with action figures, and a big pet peeve of mine.

Finally we have Egon Spengler, as played by Harold Ramis. Egon is my favorite character in the movie and his figure is posed in his box holding his PKE Meter.

After seeing the boys side by side, I think Spengler's sculpt is the best of the three. Maybe the glasses make it easier to capture his likeness? By the way, this tiny pair of glasses are an absolute wonder of engineering. Many times action figure glasses are wildly out of scale, resulting in huge frames and ridiculously thick stems. These appear to be in perfect scale to the figures. They're also fastened to Spengler's head so they won't be dropping off and disappearing forever into the depths of the shag carpeting.

Even more attention to detail: Spengler comes with his trademark PKE Meter prop, for measuring supernatural energies. The Meter actually comes with a tiny button that when pushed, causes the "wings" on either side of the meter to spring out, just like in the movie! Amazing!

Here's a full body shot of Spengler, taking a reading.

Each figure comes with an array of accessories. All three figures come with a separate set of ungloved hands, in gripping and non-gripping poses. The Venkman figure even comes with a pair of folded black gloves that you can hang off of his belt! Spengler comes with his aforementioned PKE Meter, and Stanz comes with his night/ghost vision visor.

One cool thing about the packaging: each of the larger boxes comes with a smaller thin box that slides out. This thin box resembles a gym locker, and houses the accessories inside. Although I will not be keeping the large boxes, I will keep these "locker boxes" to keep from losing the small accessories. I wish more companies include packaging like this.

Each of the three figures also comes with the iconic ghost trap. Just like all the other accessories, it's amazingly detailed. It even comes with the foot pump!

Best of all when you push a tiny switch on the side, the yellow and black doors of the trap spring open!

Ah, but we're not finished! If you pull on the central part of the trap, the actual ghost containment unit slides out, ready to deposit the ghost into the holding pen! Now that's detail!

They just wouldn't be Ghostbusters without their proton packs, and that's an area where these figures don't disappoint.

The proton packs are incredibly detailed, even down to the ribbon cables. I'm by no means a Ghostbusters scholar but everything looks like it's there to me, and like all the other accessories the detail is amazing. They've even added some silver paint to some of the edges to simulate wear and damage. All three of the figures' packs appear to be the same sculpt, which of course is to be expected.

As if that wasn't enough, the packs even have a light-up feature. Press a small button on the bottom of each pack and a series of four LEDs lights up in sequence. The lights flash in a circular pattern for about a minute or so and then shut off by themselves.

All in all I'm extremely pleased with these figures (even moreso because I got a deal on them). The likenesses are decent, the clothing and accessories are extremely detailed and they're just plain cool.

• The world finally has 12" Ghostbusters figures!

• Amazingly detailed clothing and accessories.

• Light up proton packs.

• While they're cool and amazing figures, they're definitely made for the adult collector. All the little details and fiddly bits feel quite fragile and wouldn't last five minutes in the hands of a kid.

• The boxes are not collector friendly, if that sort of thing matters to you.

• If you open your figures as I do, expect to spend a good half hour trying to wrestle them out of the boxes.

• Mattel has some serious problems when it comes to their online store, and the delivery service they use. It took a full TWO WEEKS to receive these figures. From what I gather, mine was not an isolated incident. Granted we're talking about toys here, not urgently needed medical supplies, but two weeks to send something from California to Indiana seems a bit excessive to me. Be warned if you ever order from them.


  1. so, you could only afford to buy 3 out of the 4, and you decide you can do without the african-american team member? ;)

  2. Well, that didn't take long! I knew someone was going to bring that up.

  3. you know your nephew couldn't pass up the opportunity to make that joke :)


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