Lego Ghostbusters ECTO-1 review: "The ultimate piece of fan-service"

Lego Ghostbusters ECTO-1 set with the instruction booklet
(Image: © Future)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

If you're a fan of the series and can justify the cost, you won't be disappointed. Excelling both as a display piece and a fun (albeit long-winded) build with plenty of tricks up its sleeve, Lego Ghostbusters ECTO-1 is a masterclass on how to do movie icons like this justice.

Pros

  • +

    Satisfyingly tactile, interactive elements

  • +

    Incredible attention to detail

  • +

    A rewarding build-process

  • +

    Surprise details, like the pop-out gunner's seat

Cons

  • -

    Parts of the instructions could be clearer

  • -

    Quite fiddly and time-consuming

  • -

    If you make a mistake early on, it can be a pain to fix later

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The Lego Ghostbusters ECTO-1 set is the stuff dreams are made of. Besides recreating one of the most iconic vehicles in movie history with painstaking detail, it has a few tricks up its sleeve that makes it truly delightful to show off as well as display. 

Yes, it costs a small fortune. And yes, it takes up lots of space. But Lego Ghostbusters ECTO-1 is the ultimate piece of fan service. Actually, scratch that - it's one of the best Lego sets by a wide, wide margin. Although this version is a beat-up old scrapheap that's seen better days (it's based on the Cadillac's appearance in 2021's Ghostbusters: Afterlife), the model is anything but slapdash; it's a complex, intricate figure with numerous moving parts and plenty of hidden details.

Lego Ghostbusters ECTO-1 - features

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Price$239.99 / £209.99
Ages18+
Pieces2,352
MinifiguresNone
Height10" (23cm)
Width7" (17cm)
Depth19" (47cm)
Item Number10274

How easy is it to build?

Closeup of the gunner seat in Lego Ghostbusters ECTO-1

The pop-out gunner's seat is a highlight of the Lego ECTO-1 right from the start (Image credit: Future)
  • Takes around 10 hours
  • Quite complex
  • Lots of moving pieces to connect 

It took Finn Wolfhard's character a while to put the real deal back together in Afterlife, so it's only right that building the Lego Ghostbusters ECTO-1 is a complicated process. This is one of the more difficult sets I've made, and the likes of Lego Optimus Prime seem like child's play by comparison.

To be precise, completing this kit took roughly 10 hours over the course of multiple evenings. And despite the instructions being easy to follow for the most part (they split the build into bite-size chunks with separate, numbered bags as per usual), it often uses a single image to show where multiple bricks are going… but the green outlines it uses to identify those bricks are a bit too discreet. I'd frequently miss them and spend longer than I'd care to admit wondering what I was supposed to do next.

Lego delights in adding unnecessary but endearing flourishes to its models... and the ECTO-1 is no different

Still, at least the pictures are clear with easily identifiable pieces; you won't end up grabbing the wrong part by mistake because its color in the book is different. That's a blessing because it can be difficult to fix something you got wrong earlier in the build without taking whole chunks apart (particularly when the roof is added).

Fortunately, the journey is an enjoyable one even if that does happen. Lego delights in adding unnecessary but endearing flourishes to its models (be it details you'll never see again after it's finished or sticker panels that aren't visible most of the time), and the ECTO-1 is no different.

The instruction booklet itself is more like a coffee table read, too. Besides descriptions of what to do, it's of a surprisingly high quality and is crammed with details about the car from Afterlife.

Design

Top-down shot of the Lego Ghostbusters ECTO-1 set with the back door open and the 'remote control' Ghost Trap

A lot of thought and fun extras have gone into the Lego ECTO-1 (Image credit: Future)
  • So much intricate detail
  • Cleverly-hidden interactive parts
  • Picture-perfect recreation

When it's finally done, the Lego ECTO-1 looks incredible. It's really cool even mid-way through the process. Whether it's discovering that the steering wheel actually works or the doors can be opened, there's something satisfyingly tactile and interactive about this set. None of this is 'necessary', but that's why it's special. A lot of care has gone into this ode to the Ghostbusters, and it's evident in every brick. Even seeing that iconic white chassis take shape panel by panel is a delight.

As you'd expect, that makes it a superb display piece. There's so much to see here, and no space is wasted; peek through the window and you'll find a proton pack along with a containment unit in the back, while popping the hood reveals a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor engine. Multiple rust-effect stickers give it a detailed but not overly-busy appearance, too. You could spend quite a while happily drinking it all in.

Will make you feel like a kid again, playing with their new toy on Christmas morning

However, putting it on a pedestal and leaving it there would be a shame. The Lego Ghostbusters ECTO-1 is surprisingly interactive, and that's where it goes from 'good' to 'great'. Yes, the doors all open and the wheels move. But the real party tricks will make you feel like a kid again, playing with their new toy on Christmas morning.

To start with, pressing a hidden button on the side pops the 'gunner' seat out of the car via metallic 'pistons', ready to bust some ghosts. Its reveal was one of the coolest moments in Afterlife, and that makes seeing it replicated here so seamlessly a tick in the win column.

New vs old

Closeup of the Lego Ghostbusters ECTO-1

(Image credit: Future)

How does the new Lego ECTO-1 hold up against its older and cheaper counterpart (opens in new tab), now retired? For starters, it's a lot bigger. This version dwarfs the original, and while that means it doesn't include any minifigures (they wouldn't be to scale), it's also more detailed. While the overall design is similar, you're getting bonus features like a pop-out gunner's seat and usable ramp for the Ghost Trap with this one as well.

Secondly, you can pull a tab at the back that lowers a ramp where the boot should be. This releases a mini Ghost Trap on wheels, and even though the handle for doing so is a bit finicky, the mechanism as a whole works remarkably well.

Last but certainly not least, rolling the ECTO-1 along will cause the instruments on the roof to spin just like they do in the movie. The circular siren light at the front also has a secret function; twisting it will turn the wheels.

Seeing an unsuspecting visitor's reaction to all this is really wonderful. You'd never be able to tell it can do all that at a glance, making it a fun conversation starter as well as a display piece.

Just proceed with caution: as with all Lego kits, the ECTO-1 can be a little fragile.

Should you buy Lego Ghostbusters ECTO-1?

A closeup of the back of the Lego Ghostbusters ECTO-1 set

The Lego ECTO-1 is full of clever little features that elevate the overall build (Image credit: Future)

If someone asked me whether it was worth picking up this Lego set, I wouldn't hesitate. This is by far one of the coolest kits on shelves right now, and if you're a fan of the franchise, you need the Lego Ghostbusters ECTO-1 in your life. Much like the Ultimate Collector Series Millennium Falcon or the Lego Home Alone house, it does this slice of nerd royalty justice.

Sure, it's a fair bit pricier than Lego's Back to the Future DeLorean or the more recent Batmobile. But it's also more interactive. In fact, it rivals some of the more expensive Technic kits in terms of complexity - and size.

Buy it if...

You love Ghostbusters
If you're a fan of the Ghostbusters films, comics, or cartoons, you need this set in your life. Actually, what's a stronger word than 'need'?

You want a conversation starter as well as a display piece
The interactive elements of the Lego ECTO-1 make it an absolute delight to show off, particularly if onlookers are not prepared for what it can do.

Don't buy it if...

You don't have much space
This is one of Lego's bigger kits, so anyone struggling for shelf space might be out of luck when it comes to this set.

You're not up for a complicated build
While it's not the hardest set to put together, it's not easy either. Newcomers or those that get easily impatient may want to steer clear.

How we tested the Lego Ghostbusters ECTO-1

I put together the Lego Ghostbusters ECTO-1 over the course of many evenings with my wife, and it took around 10 hours in total. We then proceeded to drive it around making 'nee-naw' noises like idiots, but we had to do due diligence. I was also sure to test how sturdy the various mechanisms were in use after the build was completed.

For more information on our process, take a look at how we test products.


Want some recommendations? Don't miss these essential Lego Star Wars sets, not to mention the top Lego Super Mario sets. Meanwhile, you can save money via our dedicated page of Lego deals.

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Benjamin Abbott
Tabletop & Merch Editor

As the site's Tabletop & Merch Editor, you'll find my grubby paws on everything from board game reviews to Lego buying guides. I have been writing about games in one form or another since 2012 and can normally be found cackling over some evil plan I've cooked up for my group's next Dungeons & Dragons campaign.