A while back, Cryptozoic Entertainment ran a Kickstarter and released a board game based on the Ghostbusters franchise which is reportedly fantastic, though a bit price-prohibitive. Now, the same company is running a Kickstarter for a sequel game. As part of the promotion, it was revealed that this new game ties in all of the extended universe of Ghostbusters, including the animated TV show, the comic books, and even the action figures which never had any tie ins for the universe beyond being goddamned weird — primary among these was a haunted toilet called “Fearsome Flush”. That was a weird toy, and we’ll get to it in a bit.
During my childhood, I had a VHS tape which contained only Blues Brothers and Ghostbusters and I would rewatch it every Saturday morning. There were no Jake and Elwood Blues action figures, so I lived a lot of my childhood fantasies through posable Ghostbusters teammates and monsters. As an outsider in grade school, they became my escape, and my surrogate friends.
Let’s revisit the Ghostbusters toy line together and discuss the bizarre late-80s choices that some marketing folks made.
The Super-Fight Ghostbusters toys featured the entire team, and when things got weird, the toy made the heads explode out of their abdomen and spin in circles. They weren’t the most fun toys, but at least Janine got top billing.
Screaming Heroes were an extension of this same line. If you thought the Ghostbusters were great before, wait until their entire bodies change to accommodate a scream.
Haunted Humans were different. The line included Terror Trash, Mail Fraud, Hard Hat Horror, Tombstone Tackle, and X-Cop. Each of them turned into a frightful monster out of nowhere, and the horror of their transformation made them truly unique.
Then came the Monsters line, which grabbed a handful of popular culture creatures and gave them karate-chop action. I appreciate that the Wolfman Monster looks like a post office worker for some reason. Not sure why the Ghostbusters would want to fight Quasimodo, though. Seems decidedly un-ghostly.
There were a few bigger accessories for the Ghostbusters team of weirdo scientists to interact with. This toy line included the iconic Ecto 1 vehicle, but also the Ecto 2 (a helicopter) and Ecto 3, which was basically a dune buggy fronted by a pair of capture mitts. You know, for grabbing road ghosts. From like, DUIs or whatever.
There was also a collection of haunted vehicles, including a haunted helicopter called Air Sickness, a haunted motorcycle called Wicked Wheelie, and the Highway Haunter which was an official Ghostbusters car that, upon transformation, ejected its occupants and became the ghost of a praying mantis (?) Arguably, this is the most upsetting toy in the line, because it suggests insects have souls, or perhaps the toy implied the Ghostbusters were fucking up reincarnation on some level. Distressing.
The best Christmas morning of my life involved coming downstairs to discover that Santa had left me the Ghostbusters Fire House Headquarters. The playset itself had very little detail worthy of celebration, but once you added all your figures and ghosts and vehicles, it became a living extension of the universe. It also included a grate-like series of platforms for you to pour Ghost Slime through and cover your action figures with. I never got to experience the joy of that slime sloshing, because my father and uncle tried out the Ectoplasm in a KB Toys, and couldn’t wash it off for three days. Still, ‘twas the best Christmas ever.
As a kid who really thought he’d grow up to be a Ghostbuster, these life-sized wearables should’ve had me more excited. They really, really did not get the job done. One was a proton accelerator that just had a long, phallic foam extension while another shot small foam darts.
Toy companies also released a ghost trap which would open when you stepped on a pressure pad. Mine had a leak in the hose so it never opened unless I opened it by hand, therefore looking directly into the trap, just like you should never do.
There was also a voice modulator called a Ghost Spooker which presupposed that ghosts could be tricked just like adults in the Home Alone franchise. The TalkBoy was much better.
What the hell is that? It is a toilet that, when a Ghostbuster toy tries to poop in it, turns into a monster which tries to eat them and/or their poop. Imagine a child potty training but also seeing this toy zooming around the house. Imagine that this child is my little sister.
The hell is Green Ghost? Why can’t we just call him Slimer? Were they afraid kids wouldn’t remember a name like Slimer? What IP lawsuit prevented them from calling a fat ghost by name?