I was going through my box of unreviewed toys last week and ran across the Ready to Believe You Venkman. Oops. I’m not ready for Nekron Week, I’m caught up on MOTU, I still need to find a few more Marvel Legends… so what the heck, let’s do a Ghostbusters review.
I don’t mind doing Ghostbusters reviews, but they’re kinda difficult for me. In a Kobra Khan review I can blather on about childhood nostalgia that’s evoked by a great figure. In a GI Joe review, say Airtight, a fantastic figure can overcome the lack of childhood attachment. When it comes to a Ghostbusters review, I’m just kinda bummed out that they’re not cooler.
It’s not that the figures are bad. They’re serviceable. For this particular figure, the reused head sculpt is recognizable as Bill Murray even if it’s not spot on. The reused body isn’t an issue because it fits the need (even though it’s not movie accurate). But just having the figure doesn’t fill me with any joy. And I love Ghostbusters. It’s one of my all-time favorite things. As a toy collector, this should be one of my all-time favorite lines. But somehow, either through something inherent to the idea of movie-based Ghostbusters action figures or through what Mattel has done here specifically, I just feel like I’m buying these figures on auto-pilot. I always feel like I should stop.
One of the reasons this figure can’t do much more than be serviceable is the lack of accuracy to the movie. Honestly, I don’t tremendously care if something is screen accurate, but that would at least be a selling point to help Mattel out with these figures. If you’re into screen accuracy, then you can’t help but notice the little wrong details on this buck body: the coat should be buttoned up, Peter & Ray shouldn’t have black pocket protectors, and Peter should have a green tie. I don’t descend into this level of nitpickiness easily (and I actually get a kick out of the metallic blue tie), but it just gives off the vibe that very little joy went into designing this figure too.
Part of that may just be due to the kit-bashed aspect of the figure. There’s nothing new here. Any one of us could have made this figure a year-and-a-half ago by swapping heads and taking a Sharpie to the pocket protector. I know I’m a sucker because I bought it, but it’s difficult to get excited about spending $35 ($22 plus UPS shipping) on a figure I could’ve made at home with little effort. There was a reason to buy the figure though, it just wasn’t the figure itself. Continue to Page 2…
9 thoughts on “Ghostbusters: “Ready to Believe
You” Peter Venkman Review”
i would love to see a longer piece one of these days on collector’s lines that aren’t well executed tanking early, but done in a truly exploratory way to see what’s at fault: the collectors, for not buying in or the industry for making the line shoddier than most folks expected.
cuz we see that a lot… collector’s lines, like SOTA’s SF or darkstalkers or mattel’s GB that seem to suffer from bad sales, but then the business side of things is never as cut and dry as it seems. w/ SOTA, we had rollovers in management that caused huge delays, along w/ a drastic drop in quality, that killed SF, darkstalkers i think was the first example i can recall where i really felt like it was the community’s fault for not putting their money where their mouth was, but then GB… these have just seemed really phoned in to me since the beginning, and just not worth my dollar… and now the line seems pretty dead in the water so i’m not the only guy who feels that way.
or to put this another way… we know that masters of the universe was HUGE once… if mattel had decided to throw monster high style support behind masters, could it be even bigger right now? instead, they decided to make it a niche property and that’s how it still feels.
Ghostbusters makes me sad.
Wait, I mean to say the toy line makes me sad. It really seems like the ultimate example of everything wrong, everything that can GO wrong with a licensed property.
– A far too strong desire to adhere to a cheap-ass buck system to produce figures, which hinders both accuracy and creativity.
– The entire ‘actor approval’ process. Yes it’s nice that the actors get a say, and nobody wants another ‘ape face Leia’ to happen, but you can’t let an actor take over the process. Yes, we all know there’s a specific actor who seems to be making it a life project to pee in everybody’s cornflakes in regards moving forward with this license. How much did the constant delays in getting a Venkman figure out hurt the line? I’d think it had to have some effect. Oddly enough I’ve not heard of any delays in the production of the recent (not Mattel) Terminator figures, OTOH the lack of a ‘1980s Sarah Connor’ figure in that line may be saying something about this process…
– Ghosts, Ghosts, Ghosts. Ghosts require complete new tooling. Line demands use of bucks. But Ghosts can’t be made, there is no Ghost Buck. But you need Ghosts. Illogical! Illogical! Norman! Co-ordinate!
– Accessories. That is THE MOST WRONG camcorder imaginable! Why? Because it’s not a camcorder in the movie. That, friends, is a video camera. The VCR is the box slung over his shoulder. Yes, my children, there was a time when such things existed, that the camera was only a receptor, the recording required a separate unit (with sucking heavy battery!) attached by a cable. If I could attach a picture I could..wait…maybe..ahh, never mind, I suck at searches. 🙂
bah. You’d think that a ‘collector line’ would be free to go all-out and be insane, without the restrictions of catering to fickle corporate toy buyers stuck in out-of-date ‘playbooks’ on how a line should sell (then again, are there really ANY corporate toy buyers anymore? It’s pretty much down to TrU, Walmart and Target and maybe KMart. Not like the wild days of the ’70s) but Matty was only looking at the bottom line and so…
Farewell, Ghostbusters. Coulda been great. You’re going out with a statue as your last ‘action’ figure.
I’m with you Steve: a Ghostbusters line was one of my dreams that quickly drifted into a kind of freaky waking hallucination of indifference and regret. I’m not sure why Ghostbusters has so much trouble in the toy world as NECA struggled to drum up interest in the ghosts they’d already released while people sat on their hands waiting for Venkman and Co. to be announced; I do think Murray killed that line though I don’t know if that was his intention.
The buck system doesn’t work for every line either, but that could just be me getting extremely tired of it being used in almost everything I buy now. Mattel’s GB line is probably the worst about it too; I haven’t counted but, including heads but not accessories, there’s probably less than 25 original parts created for the line. The lack of proton streams and traps probably didn’t help either nor did the weaker likeness of Egon and Ray.
I get that Mattel can’t throw a ton of money at the property since its popularity dissipated pretty quickly but I’m afraid the lack of success they experienced will scare anyone else off from trying to get the license in the future. As it is, I’ll buy RTB Peter when he inevitably goes on sale around Halloween; Mattel really burned me when they put almost everything in the whole GB line back up for much cheaper than I originally paid last year. I think I’m going to skip Dana and the Rookie because one’s a statue and the other is a figure I’ve already bought 4 times with a new head and accessory.
To be honest, the Ghostbusters line was over for me a while ago. Once we finally got all 4 unslimed ‘Busters, I was done, because it had become very clear by that point that we weren’t going to be getting anything else worth buying from this line. There weren’t going to be any ghosts. No Terror Dogs. No Ecto-1. It was a bit surprising that we even got Mr. Stay Puft (and look how that turned out. 6 months later and they’re all falling apart).
No, all we were going to get was kitbashed figures on a couple of standard bodies. And that’s not worth me plunking down my hard-earned money for to get a couple of new accessories each go-around.
What’s kind of funny to me is that I still don’t have a Slimer figure out of this. I didn’t buy any of the slimed figures, and I didn’t want to buy the half-assed TRU GB2 set (really? They used the GB1 Winston head and just didn’t paint the mustache?). So I managed to doge all of the uses of that mold. Which is too bad, because I like Slimer. They just never included him in a pack worth buying.
This line had so much potential,but it seemed like they Mattel was never as behind it as fans would have liked. Lack of accuracy of some of the accessories, the DCUC buck system, and the Stay Puft debacle juts really hurt this line in the long run. An no terror dogs? Sigh…so much untapped potential.
I have the main 4 guys (slimed Venkman because I wanted slimer) and the Containtment disposal unit but stopped there. And I only got them when they had that mega sale back in October so they were 12 bucks I think…
the funny thing is, as development costs go… wouldn’t a 2 pack of terror dogs been a lot cheaper to make and distribute than stay puft? and they’d have been less likely to try something fancy for them, which we all get to see backfired badly w/ stay puft. and i get fans would easily have been as eager to buy the TDs as they were the marshmallow man… oh well.
and yeah, the ghosts… every buster should have come w/ a unique ghost, that would have made the pain of the buck system MUCH more bearable.
one last note from me, then i’m outy… the likenesses aren’t even that good! if they’d gone after the likenesses and given us something on the order of the bale and ledger movie masters figs, i’d have gotten it, but since the heads are soft and cartoony anyways, why did they both w/ the likeness rights at all?
I would guess it’s because someone thought it was expected, given the current things Gentle Giant promotes with its 3-D laser scan tech. It’s the new ‘thing’ ya know.
Me, I think trying for photorealistic likenesses is a huge mistake. The human face is very ‘plastic’, malleable and look different depending on angle, lighting, expression. Most every laser scanned face I see in toys just looks wrong in some undefinable manner. I think a good sculptor creates a face that is altered in ways to take into account scale and the difference between living flesh and cold dead plastic.
Think of Venkman in the Real GB cartoon. doesn’t look much like Murray overall yet it does convey the very ESSENCE of him in character. I think that’s called ‘art’ but maybe it’s ‘frank’ or ‘chuck’. 🙂
I suspect a sculpt of Murray/Venkman that DIDN’T have to undergo approval from the actor would have turned out much more ‘alive’ and capture the character better.
I still say the core problem behind the entire line and concept of the Ecto-1 Club was Mattel was counting on GB III actually going into production and the thought of being able to ‘piggyback’ the development costs for the Club on the back of a general retail line, thus increasing the profit margin. No movie, suddenly the pure profit turned into ‘just another product’ and it lost all the ‘heat’ from the money people.
Or something. 🙂
Don’t worry about being “nitpicky”, Noisy, this line totally deserves it. Mattel touted this as an “Adult Collector” line, but used the usual mass-retail tactics while charging a premium for these. I’m massively disappointed at how the overall line turned out and haven’t purchased any figures since RTBY Egon and don’t plan on buying any more. And on top of that the yearly clearance sales just serve to insult the fans that have bought into the line at regular prices. If they had sold these at $15 from the beginning, they would have sold better and avoided the clearance sales. Because let’s not forget they also had those “mystery box” sales where they essentially gave an item away for free.
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