Ghostbusters is my favorite movie of all time.
Released in 1984, Ghostbusters was a highly successful comedy film written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, who also star in the film. Of course, you already know all this, because you’ve seen the movie. If you haven’t, what the hell are you doing on my blog? What are you even doing on the internet? Go. Leave.
Despite being geared more towards adults, Ghostbusters captured the imaginations of children everywhere with its impressive special effects, fun premise, and lovable characters. So two years later, we got the Real Ghostbusters cartoon series.
And what a great series it was. Named “Real Ghostbusters” to avoid conflict with Filmation’s Ghostbusters cartoon, Real Ghostbusters remains one of my favorite cartoons of all time, with thrills, chills, and neat ghosts around every bend. Of course, every great cartoon at the time needed a great toy line to go with it, and our friends at Kenner had us covered… and we couldn’t be happier with the results.
Kenner is perhaps best remembered for their Star Wars toy line, but they also were responsible for the Robin Hood, Predator, Beetlejuice, and Jurassic Park toys, among many others. For years, Kenner were the kings of the action figure industry, and to this day their toys are still beloved by those who grew up with them. Hasbro cannibalized their remains in 2000, but even today still pay homage to the classic toys from time to time.
The Real Ghostbusters toy line was vast, lasting the entire run of the cartoon that birthed it. I have quite a few of them myself, and if I were to talk about the full line, we’d be here all day. So I’ve decided to narrow it down: I present to you, the Top 10 (in my opinion) Real Ghostbusters toys.
10. The Pack-In Ghosts
A Ghostbuster is nothing without ghosts to bust. It’s kind of in their job description, after all. But what if your parents will only let you buy one toy? What’s a kid to do? Well, don’t worry; good ol’ Kenner’s got your back. There were lots of variations of the Ghostbusters themselves throughout the line… some made faces, some could glow in the dark, and of course there was also the classic ‘Busters. But they all had one thing in common: each one came with a small ghost to bust! And they were always fantastic, treading that fine line between goofy and terrifying. I love ’em. They look like the kind of little figurines kids would collect and trade with their friends at recess.
Technically it should be Frankenstein’s Monster, but I’ll forgive them. In addition to the various spooks and specters, there was a wave of classic monster-themed figures as well! They all had special features when you squeezed their legs together: Frankie here raises his arms and opens his mouth. I have a thing for Frankensteins, so this one had to go on the list.
8. Granny Gross
Oh, man. Even if you only had a couple of Ghostbusters figures, you probably had Granny Gross. Granny Gross was without a doubt one of the most popular non-buster figures throughout the toy line’s run, and how could she not be? Part of the Haunted Humans wave, Granny was a harmless old lady at first glance… but lift up her hat, and she shows her true colors.
7. Green Ghost (Slimer)
Originally known as the Onionhead Ghost in the movie, Slimer is perhaps the single most iconic Ghostbusters character. He’s the first ghost they actually bust, and his scenes are some of the most memorable of the entire film. So in the cartoon, he takes on a new role as a sidekick to the Ghostbusters… this exposure served to make him even more popular, and as a result he became the “face” of the franchise. Though ugly, he had a cuteness and charm about him that made him marketable, and any kid who grew up drinking Ecto Cooler could attest to the appeal of Slimer. There were a few Slimers throughout the line, but this was the first… and as a result, the one everyone had. He’s referred to as the Green Ghost throughout the line, mostly because he was not yet named when the toys went into production. Despite limited articulation and no action features, Slimer was one of the most popular toys of the series, simply because he was Slimer.
6. Bug-Eye Ghost
As I mentioned, the toy line went into production long before the cartoon aired. So with the exception of Slimer, most of the ghosts in the toy line were completely original, not based on anyone from the cartoon (though some, such as this fellow here, would later cameo in the show). This led to some really neat designs, and this guy’s one of my favorites. Bearing more than a passing resemblance to the wonderful Boglins puppets by Mattel, Bug-Eye was a sight to behold. He was purple, pimply, and creepy, and could even launch out his giant eye. Bug-Eye, I love you.
Another one of the Classic Monsters, Wolfman is my favorite of the bunch. Now, I’m not a huge fan of Wolfmen… especially not when there’s Frankensteins, Draculas, and Mummies to compete with. But this figure is rad as hell. Squeezing his legs together makes him spread his arms, tilt his head back, and close his mouth as if he’s howling. I love it. The wave also included Dracula, the Mummy, the Hunchback, and a Zombie, but this guy is by far the most interesting.
4. The Ecto-1
The Ghostbusters had a lot of vehicles in the cartoon… and the toy line had even more. Vehicles are a huge part of the action figure industry, even to this day, and it’s not at all unusual for new vehicles to be made up to sell more toys. The Real Ghostbusters was no exception. But even with countless vehicles to choose from, there was only one we were really interested in… the Ecto-1. The Ecto-1 was the Ghostbusters’ main vehicle of choice, and we all had to have it. It had a grappling hook on the back too, so they could cruelly drag ghosts against the pavement behind them. Jesus.
3. Proton Pack
After seeing the movie, every child had the same thought: “I WANT ONE OF THOSE PROTON PACKS.” We all wanted to be Ghostbusters, but there was no good way to live out those fantasies… the best we could do was carry around a stick and pretend it was firing lasers. So naturally, Kenner came to our aid with a kid-sized Proton Pack toy! And it was great. It came with a long foam tube to simulate the proton stream, so of course, there were only two options of what to do with it: accidentally knock over picture frames, or whack your parents with it until they got pissed off. Both options were likely to get it taken away, so the foam laser usually didn’t last too long. Still, it was a great toy, and pretending to bust ghosts was fun as hell.
2. The Ghostbusters
When it comes to Ghostbusting, the only thing more important than a ghost to bust is a Ghostbuster to bust said ghost. Even with all the different variations available, the classic Ghostbusters were the best of the bunch. No spinning heads, no bulging eyes, no wacky gimmicks… these were our heroes in their purest form. Each one came with a Proton Pack, with a wavy stream shooting out… twisting a knob on the back of the blaster made it spin, giving the effect of a moving proton stream. These figures were great, and we all snatched them up as quick as we could.
1. Firehouse Headquarters Playset
If you had this, you were a real lucky son of a bitch. Playsets were once a major part of toy lines, and sadly, they’ve gone into a decline in recent years. It’s understandable… they’re big, expensive, and few parents are willing to lay down the cash for them. But when you DID get your hands on one, it was magical. There’s been lots of fantastic playsets throughout the years… Castle Greyskull, the Daily Bugle, and the legendary U.S.S. Flagg to name a few… and this is one of the greats. The Ghostbusters’ Firehouse had a ghost containment unit, the firepole, a grate up top to pour Ecto-Plazm slime, and a space to park the Ecto-1. If you had one of these and didn’t take good care of it, I sincerely hope you catch fire.
So that’s my Top 10 Real Ghostbusters toys. Your opinions may vary, and I’d like to hear about some of your favorites if I didn’t include them. That’s all for now, and I hope you enjoyed!
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