I've been waiting since 1984 for Ghostbusters toys! While it's true that both GB movies have had their share of merchandise, likeness rights issues have prevented any spin-off product from looking like the actors. At least that was the case until last year, when Mattel finally acquired likeness rights along with the Ghostbusters license. Mattel responded with not one, but two terrific-looking lines of figures - one in the six-inch scale, and a series of twelve-inch versions, complete with cloth costumes and illuminated accessories! All of the figures have been sold as exclusives to Mattel's collector website, mattycollector.com. Since not all of the larger figures have been released yet, I'll focus on the six-inchers for now.
On the whole, this is a great figure line! The sculpts and production values are worthy of classic movie toys - they're richly detailed without feeling overworked, and the likenesses are well worth the wait.
The first toy, Egon Spengler, appeared with a double-whammy: not only was it the first figure in the license, it was also a San Diego Comic-Con 2009 exclusive, making it one of the hot toys to get that summer. I think there were leftover figures after the convention, so Mattel sold the rest of them on the website. Egon has a fine likeness, aside from the awkwardness of his thick glasses.
It's a bit of a no-win scenario: either you sculpt the glasses right to the head and lose a bit of accuracy, or you make them a separate piece and have them be slightly out of scale. The latter is a good compromise, and Mattel gets an 'A' for effort, especially since the glasses have tiny 'lenses' (and not just empty frames).
Next up is Ray Stanz, who looks great too. It's nice to see the elbow pads incorporated into the figure sculpt without hindering the joints. The proton pack and stick are really well done, and the suit tubing is also a nice detail. While display stands for the figures themselves would have been nice, balance issues aren't too bad when you consider how back-heavy they are!
Winston Zeddemore's likeness is a little wonky - to me, he looks a little more like Eddie Murphy than Ernie Hudson. His physique is also affected by the homogenous figure forms - he seems a bit skinnier than his true body type. Still, there's nice details here too, like the gloves tucked into the waist belt.
Peter Venkman looks wonderful - I was worried about the 'slimed' variant, but the color and texture are great! It adds a little 'wear and tear' to the character without looking distracting, or too much like paint. It's also fun to have his jumpsuit pulled over his boots, unlike his counterparts. I'm sure it's true to the film, and it adds a lot of contrast without much extra cost.
The most recent original character to date is Walter Peck, the EPA rep. He's my least favorite figure, not because he's a peripheral character, but because his likeness is almost cartoonish, exaggerated much more than the others. Another drawback is his bulky 'suit jacket', which might have been sculpted right to the torso for better effect. Still, I'm happy he was included in the line, and that gives me hope for Dana Barrett and Louis Tully!
The articulation on all the figures is nicely done. There's enough joints to keep the diorama-makers happy, and they're well-disguised enough to avoid looking mechanical. The arm joints are especially helpful, as most of the characters will need to hold proton-pack 'sticks' - not an easy pose for your average figure.
All of the figures come with nifty accessories. Egon is packed with a Slimer figure, which even has its own 'flying' stand! Ray comes with a glow-in-the-dark Ghostbusters logo, and while it's not quite as fun as some of the others, I'm sure customizers will have a field day with it as they build their to-scale fire stations. Winston arrives equipped with his own ghost trap, which can be decorated with plastic 'energy effects'! Unfortunately, Peter comes with another Slimer, though it makes sense as the figure is a 'slimed' version. Since Walter Peck is probably considered a low-priority item (even for fans), he gets the best accessory - the containment unit in the firehouse basement. The door pops open with a flick of the lever, and the tiny traps fit in perfectly!
The packaging is (to some degree) standard operating procedure for Matty Collector - double-boxing for protection: a simple white cardboard outer box covering a more elaborate inner one. The outer white box is pretty straightforward - glossy white stock with the Ghostbusters logo on it.
The inner package is very nice - a custom-designed blister card set-up that's quite on-theme with the film. Each figure is depicted 'on the flattop' of Dana's apartment building, flanked by terror dogs as if confronting Gozer the Gozerian in the final battle. The reverse of the card is a scene at a desk in the firehouse, as if you're rifling through the Ghostbusters' files. There's some funny info in the 'paperwork' displayed for each character.
Originally, these figures sold for $20 + shipping each, and you got a lot of toy for your money, all things considered. Unfortunately, all of these figures are sold out at Mattel's site - you'll have to brave the secondary market to buy them now. Egon goes for at least $50 at this point, Ray costs a minimum of $28, Winston is selling for $56 or more, Peter is up to $30 and up, and Walter Peck costs $40.
I have heard that there'll be an exclusive Ghostbusters 2 four-pack at Toys 'R' Us next year, so that might ultimately be cheaper. Keep in mind, though, that they'll have different paint jobs and accessories.
Also in the future: An additional Ray Stanz 6" figure - this one looking like he does in the Ghostbusters television commercial, and packed with a cool Subway Ghost. That'll drop on August 16th.
On top of that, mattycollector.com is now offering a $20 subscription (dubbed "Club Ecto-1")to all of their six of their 6" Ghostbusters figure releases over the next year. It's not too compelling to me, as the first two figures appear to be a costume variants (Winston w/Slime Blower & Courtroom Peter). Since I'm mainly interested in original characters, I'll probably continue to take my chances with individual orders online. In any case, good luck and have fun!