The Real Ghostbusters was one of the most popular cartoons of the 1980’s and the action figure line produced by Kenner became a staple in the toy chests of boys the world over. Although the hit movie was released in the summer of 1984, the cartoon did not make it’s debut on ABC until the autumn of 1986. Despite the long wait, the Ghostbusters franchise certainly didn’t lose any momentum and the toys flew off the shelves when they found their way into stores in time for Christmas of that year.
At the time I was still quite young so I don’t remember an era BRG: Before Real Ghostbusters. I was only three years old when 1987 rolled around and I was already an ardent fan. In fact, one of my earliest memories revolves around the action figure line. Despite my young age I was already completely enamored with the Ghostbusters. Knowing this my parents would reward good behavior with offerings from the Kenner collection and by mid 1987 I had 3 of the 4 crew members: Winston, Peter, and Egon. Only Ray Stantz was missing. Unfortunately Ray also happened to be my favorite Ghostbuster. In fact, he still is to this day. I’m not sure if it was his enthusiasm, his intelligence, his humble demeanor, or the fact that he was the most child like of the team. Regardless of the cause the fact remained that I was the most partial to Ray and his plastic effigy eluded my grasp.
Apparently there was a run on Ray Stantz figures in 1987 in my locality as the figure was sold out in stores all over the area. My parents knew that I wanted to complete the set but when in stores Ray was nowhere to be found. They placated my hunger for Ghostbusters with the various ghosts in the collection, but 3/4 of the Ghostbusters team is quite the handicap. Especially when the missing team member is the figurative heart of the Ghostbusters. The feeling of disappointment was unavoidable. Remember that feeling when you were excited to watch a Three Stooges episode and then you saw during the opening credits that it was going to be a Joe episode? That’s the same sinking feeling I had without Ray in my clutches.
Finally at some point in late summer of 1987 we tracked down a Ray Stantz figure hanging on the pegs in the toy aisle, contained in a plastic bubble on the bluish purple Real Ghostbusters cardback. A more beautiful sight my eyes had never beheld at that early point in my formative years. Ray came complete with Proton Pack, Neutrona Blaster (with an orange beam), and the wrapper ghost which was a plum colored malevolent looking phantasm. Elated at completing the crew I eagerly anticipated ripping into the blister pack and freeing the final piece of my Ghostbusters puzzle from his plastic prison.
Later that night I was reveling in my victory with my newly acquired Ray Stantz figure in our kitchen when the unthinkable happened: the peg which affixes the proton pack to the back of the figure snapped off. Holy fuck. I shit you not. Within the first 12 hours of owning the toy I managed to mangle the most integral accessory and ruin it’s playability. Hurriedly I ran to my father in the hopes that he could remedy the situation. In retrospect it was a clean break which would easily have been redressed with a dab of plastic cement and an hour of patience. Perhaps we didn’t possess any crazy glue. Maybe the thought simply did not occur to my parents. Whatever the case I was told that the situation was hopeless and that I would just have to live with it.
I was shattered. At the height of my triumph I was thrust back into the depths of despair. My gang of Ghostbusters was completed for nary half a day before tragedy had befallen. For the rest of the 1980’s my squad of busters would arrive on site and battle banshee’s with 3 of the team members in good form and the 4th would have the proton pack on the ground beside him. It looked stupid and I felt stupid doing it, but I had no other option. I had learned an early lesson about the cruel nature of the universe. Just when you think everything is right with the world and nothing could be improved, life has a way of restoring a balance of sorts and making you humble.
As for the figure itself, it was a fabulous rendition of the cartoon character portrayed in the movies by Dan Aykroyd. Although the animated versions looked nothing like their silver screen counterparts, the plastic representation was the spitting image of the TV show portrayal. Pudgy and baby faced, he was outfitted in his tan jumpsuit, adorned with the No Ghost logo on his sleeve, and even included the harness for the Proton Pack sculpted onto the shoulders and waist. Quizzically like all of the ghosts in the Kenner line, the ghost didn’t appear in any of the TV episodes but it was still a great addition none the less. Wrapper ghost was made of a soft malleable rubber perfect for chewing. His tail would unravel and spring back to shape and his visage was adorned with a wonderfully creepy maniacal grin. Although the proton pack could have been a bit more detailed with paint application, overall the toy was very well done and didn’t leave anything to be desired.
Today the Ghostbusters figures are quite popular on the secondary market. Despite being manufactured in large quantities, carded specimens of the figures, particularly the first run of the Ghostbusters in their classic attire are quite scarce and fetch a hefty price on sites like eBay. At one time these toys were quite easy to find at yard sales and flea markets but the supply seems to be drying up rather quickly as the millennial generation enters their 30’s and embarks on a quest to relive their fabulous youth. My only advice to any seeking these toys out is to be careful when affixing the Proton Pack to the back of the figure. Don’t make the same error I did nearly 30 years ago.