I am closing out 2018 with my final write-up featuring some figures that I have been cautiously looking forward to for a long time. At this point in time, I have a LOT of Ghostbusters figures in my collection, and even though the original movie is one of my Top Ten of all time, The Real Ghostbusters are what I have been really clamoring for in terms of action figures. Was the wait worth it? Let’s see how Egon, Winston, and Slimer stack up.
I am cautious because I have like/hate relationship with DST offerings. They have a lot of properties I really dig, and the sculpts and prototypes they show off are usually pretty amazing. However, more so than just about any other company, the steep fall off from prototype to production usually leaves me fairly disappointed in their final offerings. Sure, production degradation is pretty much standard for all companies and should be expected, but the combination of weak joints, sometimes brittle plastic, and goopy paints often make what I find on the shelf disheartening. That said, I do collect their Nightmare Before Christmas line, and it is usually pretty strong, so I was REALLY hoping these would be closer to that quality than some of the previous Ghostbusters offerings. So, how did these turn out? Well… pretty much how I expected.
I say that because, all of these figures exemplify the strengths and weaknesses of DST releases, and pretty much right down the line. I was already keeping myself in check here because some design choices that were clear from the prototype stage disappointed me (I will get to that in just a minute), but my love for the property and the strength of the sculpting in the new pieces were strong enough to make sure I was not going to pass these up. I am left in a bit of a bind in terms of reviewing these though, because my critical eye sees things that need to be better, but at the same time, I do like these overall, they are the best RGB figures since the original line (but have next to ZERO competitions there), and I want to see the releases continue past the next assortment. That said, let’s try to navigate through this.
Egon and Peter are my favorite Ghostbusters, so I am glad to see that Egon is probably the best figure out of the three released here, even though Winston probably had the chance to take that spot. Slimer has some qualities that are near-perfect, but others that make him pretty clearly the weakest of the lot (the previous movie Slimer suffered in the same ways). However, all three of the figures excel and suffer pretty equally in all categories, so that makes talking about some of this stuff a bit easier in terms of organization. I like ending on a high note, so let’s dive into what doesn’t work as well first.
So, this probably sounds funny, but if you never got any closer than about four or five feet to these figures, they would hold up really well. My main gripes with these figures come from the mediocre paint applications across the board, the reused parts from previous figures (even though I understand why that was done), and the missed opportunities for some accessories. My issues with the paint is not unique to these figures, or even the Ghostbusters line itself; thick and gloopy paint that has runs and bleed and misalignment is probably the biggest weakness of all DST releases. It makes me want to weep over how much better some of the Select figure could look with better paint. These guys make out better in the paint department than their movie counterparts, but there are still issues.
Bleed and slop are pretty common on all the figures, especially on the beautifully sculpted new proton packs, where precision and clean lines is so important. There are just too many lines that are sloppy to ignore, and this is also pretty common on the GB’s costumes, especially at the collars and boots. Even more so, my eye twitching gets pretty bad with the sheer thickness of the paint that Diamond uses, especially in the faces. I had to scrape off a big gob of paint on Egon’s jaw, and imperfections/blank stare in Winston’s eyes are what keep him from being the best figure of the assortment. I REALLY wish the thick and sloppy paint issues could be solved throughout all of these lines because they do bring down good sculpts, and consistently take potential “A-grade” figures down into the “B minus” range on that quality alone.
I am going to break my discussion of the sculpting up into two parts here because I am on opposite ends of the Earth when it comes to what works and what doesn’t. I LOVE what works, but what ultimately doesn’t is a lot of the reuse from the movie Ghostbusters figures. Look, I know WHY DST reused the basic ‘buster and Slimer bodies here, it is expensive to tool so many new parts, and while I thought I would be okay with it by the time these were released, this figures ultimately work against themselves here. See, the new head sculpts and proton packs are great, and so inline with the RGB cartoon, that it makes my dislike the realistic and same-sized bodies from the movie versions. I could understand if DST wanted to make a design choice to bring everything about these figures into more “realistic” takes, but the new head sculpts for all three figures are so spot-on to the cartoon (sure, there hair is more detailed, but that is about it), that they cause incongruence with the bodies.
Slimer takes the biggest hit here because the back half and the arms of the figure are all wrinkled and lumpy while the new faces are accurately smooth and cartoonish. That transition is pretty jarring, and it works against the new pieces, even though they look great on their own. The GBs suffer from that, too, because the cartoon/vintage toy bodies most certainly do not match the movie versions, but that would be okay if the new head sculpts were more realistic, instead of being beautifully accurate to the RGB style. It’s tough, for sure, and I wish that a better balance could be found in the details so it is not so strikingly different from piece to piece. At the end, I would not want to sacrifice the accuracy of the new pieces, so I wish all new bodies were possible, too.
However, I think I am okay with getting past that part on Winston and Egon, because it is not terrible or anything, but the fact that all four of the guys are going to have basically the same body is what gets me. I get it, I really, really, do – this was a cost-saving step, and probably a big reason why Mattel did not make a realistic attempt and cartoon/toy versions back when they were making figures, but I am still disappointed. As far as builds go, Winston actually turned out okay because I think these bodies match his cartoon build the closest, and Peter can probably be cheated close enough as well, even though he is skinnier than Winston. However, Egon should be taller and much slimmer than the rest, so he falls noticeably short (and wide) here. Ray is going to have the same issue in the next series, and will probably be worse off because he needs to be a bit tubby and most certainly shorter than the rest. I know, I know, it was probably prohibitive to take this route, but damn, I love the RGB so much, I wish these could match more closely.
Now, the accessories are where I am really split, so this makes for a good transition from my critiques to my loves, and it all has to do with what is here, and what is not. While I wish the proton packs, traps, and PKE meters were better painted and had better plastic, their sculpts are nice, and I LOVE the accuracy that is retained here. More so than even the costumes, the pack designs are dramatically different from movie to cartoon, so I am glad they turned out so well. However, it is INFURIATING that they cannot be removed without cutting the belt strap on them. I audibly “arggggged” at that, especially since the figures were displayed in prototype form with the packs removed. BLARG. Also, while I usually appreciate swappable hands being included with figures, the reuse of the gloved hands is pretty wasted here because the ‘busters usually, if not never, wore gloves in the cartoon. I mean if you are cool with that, please enjoy them, but that gets me to my (probably) unreasonable nitpick of these releases…
Man, I wish the pack-in ghosts that were included with the original figures were able to be done here. I mean, maybe they cannot be since they were really Kenner creations (I really don’t know), but I LOVE “Gulper,” “Grabber,” “Wrapper,” and “Chomper” so much, I am sad they are not here. Like I said, that is a total nitpick, and probably a bit unfair, but even if they were just unarticulated “slugs” in translucent plastic, I would have been over the moon for them. I don’t hold the lack of these against these releases by any means, that would be pretty unfair, but I can say that if they WERE included, at least for me, they would be so fun. I know, I am spoiled, and the fact that the Firehouse diorama pieces are included (the DST dioramas are ALWAYS awesome, I will give them that), makes it even worse, but my love and nostalgia for those ghosts run strong enough, I still had to mention it.
So, that gets me to what I genuinely love about these figures, and strangely enough, there are three major plusses here to match the three minuses from above. I spoke about the accessories and new parts as positive above, so I will get into that a bit more, but the overall feel and effect of finally having some modern Real Ghostbusters figures is pretty awesome, despite the flaws. There is so much potential for what could be in terms of characters (namely, Janine and LOTS of featured ghosts), and I think RGB fans will support them because, with the exception of a few characters here and there, we are pretty good for movie figures. Plus, the ghosts on the cartoon and in the vintage toy line were always MUCH cooler to me.
As I mentioned, the new on-model proton pack and ghost trap sculpts are quite nice. While the same basic concept and form was retained from movie to cartoon, the former were certainly cobbled together to look and feel real-world, while the latter are almost futuristic in design. These are most certainly the cartoon designs and not the vintage toy versions, and I am glad for that since the toys were just blunted to be functional with the proton streams. Speaking of, I am VERY pleased that the vintage toy colors were preserved here for the streams for each ‘buster. While I hated that the streams could not come out in the old toys, I loved that each guy had their own colors, and even though these are just the previous streams re-used, this is spot were it was smart to do so because they look completely reinvented.
I have criticized the paint work on the accessories, but the materials are worthy of criticism as well because I wish the hoses on the packs and trap were less clunky. I had to heat up and reshape all of the cords and hoses to take pictures. Yes, the wands are hanging upside down in the pictures, but that is because the simply would not stay the correct way due to the hoses. I will be working on that. However, I will likely be displaying all fo the GBs with their proton streams (especially since the packs don’t easily come off), but I worry about the tips of the wands bending over time. Same for the antennae on the PKE meters – they are, um, flaccid, so a stronger plastic would have been appreciated, and I will have to do some hairdryer work to straighten them out (like the aforementioned cords/hoses). I will say the materials ARE good on the streams, and the streams themselves are strong while the electric charges around them are made of a nice soft plastic that suits them well.
The best parts of the these new figures though, are the new head sculpts and likenesses that are true to the cartoon source material. Yes, the paint needs to be better (the eyes, you guys), but the Egon and Winston portraits, as well as the three Slimer expressions, all look wonderful at the sculpted bases. As I mentioned, Egon is my favorite and his wild hairdo really shines here, so I feel he is the most interesting. I get that the glasses needed to be a certain thickness to be usable here, but I wish the added plastic was placed on the outside of the rims and not the inside so you could see his eyes a bit better. Winston is really just as strong in terms of sculpting, but since his hair isn’t a giant spiral, he is a bit more blasé. I like that I am having a tough time choosing which Slimer face I want to display because all of them were lifted right from the animation cels, and all of them work well. I will say that the pieces do leave some pretty big seam lines, so if that usually catches your OCD, don’t view Slimer in profile.
So, at the end, I DO like these figures, but I wish I liked them more. The Real Ghostbusters is one of those properties that I have wanted to have in modern action figure form, so I am willing to be more okay with the sub-par paints and less than effective reuse here. The new sculpting is great, and now that I have pretty much gotten the chance to reconcile the issues I was expecting with this first series, I am still mostly looking forward to Peter and Ray (and the finished Firehouse diorama). I do genuinely hope that the line continues to get us some characters like Janine, Samhain, the Sandman, the Boogeyman and others. I am not sure if the ghosts from the vintage Kenner line can be on the table, but if they are, we NEED some of them as well. If you are a GB fan, these will be hard to pass up, just know that they do have their issues. I hope they can continue to improve, but if nothing does change, I will at least I will have Egon, Winston, Peter, Ray, Slimer, and a toy-scale Stay Puft in a serviceable format to hang with the rest of my 1980s collections. You can get both sets at BBTS now, so getcha some before they vanish into the plastic containment unit.