Whatever your opinion of new Ghostbusters – our reviewer liked it to the tune of three stars, while for GR+’s Dave it’s a perfect reimagining of his childhood – there’s one series element that will forever unite everyone: toys.
For three decades, the much-idolised films, spin-off TV shows and comics have inspired all manner of figures, accessories and off-beat merch, to the point that this feature could have topped 30 entries. That, like the comic strip when The Real Ghostbusters went on holiday to Margate, would have been overkill. Instead, you're getting 13 – unlucky for the Hot Wheels Ecto-1 and classic '80s Proton Pack, both of which narrowly miss out.
In plastic, video and board game form, Venkman and friends have been immortalised many times over – and these are the dozen-and-one ‘Busters toys no discerning fan can do without. (And the often Walter-Peck-extortionate cost of capturing them.)
The Real Ghostbusters series one
Distributor Columbia was completely unprepared for the success of the first film; as a result, merchandise attached to it was basically non-existent. It wasn’t until Christmas 1986 that the first toy line representing the four main characters emerged, to tie in with The Real Ghostbusters cartoon. They’re still called Peter, Ray, Egon and Winston, but to avoid licensing headaches, the likenesses don’t quite match the movie’s actors. The line immediately sold out, and spawned ten further waves before being axed in 1991.
Release date: 1986
Cost to buy now: £100/$90 (loose, complete)
(Note: prices are not based on exchange rate alone; many items here are harder to find in the UK than the US, due to comparatively limited release numbers.)
Lego Ghostbusters Firehouse Headquarters
Who you gonna call? The bank manager, to apologise for going deep into your overdraft in order to own 4634 Lego bricks. Your boss, to apologise for phoning in sick while you assemble said bricks into the Busters’ legendary headquarters, along with nine immediately recognisable characters from series lore. And your friends and family, to inform them that – due to the possibility of inquisitive fingers diminishing the shininess of your ultimate brick creation – they may never again set foot through your front door.
Release date: 2016
Cost to buy now: £275/$350
Dr Peter Venkman & Slimer Funko Pop! two-pack
Washington-based manufacturer Funko has the market for collectible vinyl figures pretty much cornered via its Pop! range, and Ghostbusters is no exception. An oversized Stay Puft and stylised Ecto-1 – complete with Winston Zeddemore popping out of its roof – are favourites, but it’s the above two-pack that tops the lot. Released as a 2014 San Diego Comic-Con exclusive to mark the first film’s 30th Anniversary, Funko designer Reis O’Brien actually wanted it to feature real slime. "My bosses were like, 'No, that would be a logistical nightmare'," he later told SFX.
Release date: 2014
Cost to buy now: £100/$110
Ghostbusters: The Video Game
For many – including co-creator Dan Aykroyd – this novel twist on the third-person shooter genre doubles as the real Ghostbusters 3. Aykroyd and Harold Ramis helped steer the script, all four lead actors provided their likeness in both the visual and vocal sense, and returns of popular characters such as Vigo The Carpathian scratched an almost infinite number of fan itches. Set in 1991 – two years after Ghostbusters II – you played as a spook-tracking rookie, and it did (indeed, still does) a more-than-credible job of making you feel like one of the gang.
Release date: 2009
Manufacturer: Terminal Reality
Cost to buy now: £15/$25
Q Pop Raymond Stantz
QMX’s 30th anniversary take on Ray – the other three main characters were similarly reimagined – goes to town on Dan Aykroyd's likeness, with must-own results. The wry smile, dangling cigarette and overly confident pose all immediately scream Stantz, while his mini Stay Puft toy, hand held like a surrogate child, provides a laugh-out-loud flourish. Each character came with a blank thought bubble and erasable pen, enabling you to adorn them with quotes from the film (or your Zuul-possessed brain.)
Release date: 2014
Cost to buy now: NA (UK)/$86
Chronicle Collectibles Terror Dog
Another 30th anniversary treat. This hungry hound was produced using original moulds created by Ghostbusters animator Randy Cook, and – in case it needed clarifying – is a quarter-scale reproduction of the mutts possessed by Zuul and Vinz before they used Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis' bodies to get, uh, spiritual. It stands at 24in x 12in x 11in, and can take the form of either Keymaster (Vinz) or Gatekeeper (Zuul) using interchangeable magnetic protuberances. The downside? It was $555 at launch, and will set you back even more now.
Release date: 2004
Manufacturer: Chronicle Collectibles
Cost to buy now: NA (UK)/$600
Image: Chronicle Collectibles
Fire House Headquarters
I was six when The Real Ghostbusters range of toys came out, and vividly remember this being on a Christmas list which also included the Thundercats’ Cats Lair playset. Neither was forthcoming. I’m almost over it now – just a couple more sessions, says the psychotherapist – but those who were lucky enough to own this behemoth will reflect happily on its rotating fire pole, standalone ghost containment unit, and second-floor gratings through which you could dribble real slime. A mint-in-box version recently sold for $600.
Release date: 1986
Cost to buy now: £75/$125 (loose, good condition)
The essential accoutrement to the Fire House Headquarters from the previous slide, which fit its big red doors (and the HQ’s ground floor) perfectly. Being true to the cartoon rather than film, it had some additional features that purists weren’t so keen on: a ghost claw hanging out the back, and a swiveling blaster seat on its roof. One of the coolest four-wheel toys of the ‘80s, until you played with it so much it went yellow. (Really.)
Release date: 1986
Cost of buy now: £85/$105 (complete, with box)
Ghostbusters: The Board Game
In one of the most high-profile Kickstarter projects ever, Californian board game manufacturers Cryptozoic sought $250,000 back in 2014 for a tabletop incarnation of the phan-tastic four – and instead pulled in more than six times that amount towards its development. In classic Games Workshop-style you get to paint the figures – including a 100mm Marshmallow Man – yourself, with the rules seeing you and three pals combatting spooks over a series of interchangeable board tiles. Reviews were (and remain) middling, with a 6.8 average on Boardgamegeek, but those tempting figures mean it's still selling well – to the point of it driving a successful sequel appeal.
Release date: 2015
Manufacturer: Cryptozoic Entertainment
Cost to buy now: £50/$60
Image: Cryptozoic Entertainment
Ingenious, this – a projector gun where you rotated a cartridge located on the gun to make a spook appear on your wall, then pressed a button to blast ‘em. It featured four zapping noises – the highest-pitched causing every dog in your neighbourhood to bark at the moon for a period of at least seven minutes – and a selection of six ghosts from the cartoon, all of whom appeared to be laughing *in your face* as you attempted to hunt them down. Which wasn’t all that hard given you chose where they’d appear in the first place. 30 years on, it’s still a better shooter than Wet.
Release date: 1986
Cost to buy now: £25/$30
Diamond Select Ghostbusters range
It’d be a stretch to call this line a classic just yet – its first few figures have only just reached shop shelves – but it feels like these are destined to be highly sought after. The 15-model set incorporates every major character from the original film – right down to Gozer, Walter Peck and even the Taxi Driver and Library Ghosts – and each comes with a diorama piece. Buy the whole set and you can connect those pieces into the rooftop scene from the end of the film. And no-one wants to be the guy, or girl, missing one gargoyle.
Release date: 2015-16
Manufacturer: Diamond Select
Cost to buy now: £25/$15 (per individual figure)
Image: Diamond Select
Granny Gross action figure
Ghostbusters has spawned some out-there products over the last 32 years, but its Haunted Humans range of action figures makes the rest look tamer than Care Bears. There was Tombstone Tackle, an American footballer who transformed into a sort of tongue-lolling croc; X-Cop, whose face fell off to reveal its skeleton underneath; and this unforgettable octogenarian, who looked a bit like our very own Queenie. Until… well, watch for yourself.
Release date: 1988
Cost to buy now: £10/$10 (Ioose, good condition)
Image: Kenner TV advertisement
Hikari Sofubi Vinyl Action Figure Burnt Stay Puft
A 19cm, super deluxe Funko creation that looks more than good enough to eat. (But don't.) ‘Hikari’ means 'light’ in Japanese, and signifies premium versions of select figures from the widely known (and loved) Funko Pop! range. (Want the very last silver C3P0, from a limited-to-500 run? You’d better be quick.) Stay Puft got a slightly longer go on the production line, but with only 1500 of these stomping around, each will only gain value with time. Buy now or permanently feel the burn.
Release date: 2014
Cost to buy now: £48/$40