Get excited for Hasbro Ghostbusters in 2020.
As a lifelong fan of Ghostbusters, 2019 is going to be long remembered as the year when everything changed for the better. Jason Reitman’s surprise announcement of Ghostbusters 2020 and the accompanying teaser trailer that dropped in January took us all by complete surprise.
It would take months to properly weave the tale of the development hell of Ghostbusters 3. When my parents bought our first family computer in 1996, complete with AOL (sorry, if you were a NetZero kid, your childhood probably wasn’t great) the first thing that I did was search Ghostbusters 3. I have been typing GHOSTBUSTERS 3 into my search bar for over twenty years. Dan Ayrkroyd has been “working” on an idea for a third movie since I was in middle school and until January of 2019, I just never thought it was really going to ever happen.
When the announcement happened, it shook me to my core. Ghostbusters is my Star Wars. Well no, Star Wars is actually my Star Wars, I really love Star Wars. Star Wars is my second favorite film franchise and I can’t watch any Rise of Skywalker trailer without blubbering like one of those NetZero kids who keep getting booted offline. Side note: I don’t even know if NetZero was around in 1997. I just know that there were “other” internet service providers besides AOL and I wanted no piece of that action. I wanted the sweet sounds of my 56K modem connecting to the web while that little blue, bald man ran across the screen. I think he was running? Maybe he was just standing in place and it looked like he was running. All I know is that the internet was super important in my “EFD” (Early Fandom Development) because for the first time, I could connect with the outside world of other hardcore Ghostbusters fans and discuss the possibilities of a third move. I could also discuss the other most important thing in my life; TOYS.
As collectors, the prospects of new entries into our favorite franchises are always immediately
accompanied by conversations about the toys. The toys are everything to us. We follow the development of IP acquisitions by toy companies like dad’s follow the stock market. I can’t tell you a thing about technology futures or why the US dollar is great (or bad?) but I can tell you all about Mattel losing the DC license or why we might not ever see proper Back to the Future action figures.
Ghostbusters has an incredible toy history. Of course the original film didn’t have any kind of toy tie-ins but that all changed in 1986 with the animated Real Ghostbusters series and the incredible real Ghostbusters toy line from Kenner. If you’re a Ghostbusters fan over the age of 30, you probably have some incredible memories of the Kenner RGB Firehouse, Fright Features Egon’s broken tie, and of course the iconic Ecto-1. With Ghostbusters, Kenner produced one of the most successful, iconic, and incredibly creative toy lines of the 1980’s. Like anything else though, the Ghostbusters craze died down and eventually the line was cancelled. Kenner was acquired by Hasbro, and a silence fell upon the franchise. 1997 did bring a line of toys from Trendmasters to support the new animated Extreme Ghostbusters. It was fun but unfortunately short lived.
Soon, we’re going to do an extensive retrospective on both the Real Ghostbusters and Extreme Ghostbusters lines, but for now let’s focus on the real excitement; Hasbro acquiring the Ghostbusters license for 2020. In order to properly get examine this, we have to look back a few years to 2009 when Mattel released the first film-accurate line of Ghostbusters action figures and props to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the franchise. Sold under the Matty Collector banner, for the most part, the line was very well-received and embraced by the collecting community. Mattel had acquired the Ghostbusters license in anticipation of a third Ghostbusters movie that was to be released in 2011. (This eventually was delayed multiple times and ended up as Paul Feig’s 2016 reboot Ghostbusters: Answer The Call) Mattel was ready to bring Ghostbusters back in a big way, with plans for an extensive retail line of figures covering all aspects of Ghostbusters, new animated series’ and even an unreleased 3 ¾” line of Real Ghostbusters Figures. Unfortunately, the big plans never came to fruition and with too many repaints and uninspired figure choices, and with no media backing, this Ghostbusters line came to a sputtering stop in 2014.
Mattel did end up producing a line of figures for the 2016 film, but that movie and it’s merchandise will be another story for another day.
So that brings us to the present. In my circle of friends and collectors, we have long pondered
what the future of Ghostbusters toys should and could. With seemingly endless possibilities for such a toyetic property, maybe the rumored animated movie would be enough to get those Ghostbusters juices flowing again. Then, Jason Reitman’s announcement happened and Toyfair brought us the Transformers/Ghostbusters collaboration from Hasbro, and everything changed. We all waited for an official announcement (which happened in July) but the writing was on the wall. Ghostbusters was coming home to Hasbro, and this was the best possible thing that could happen for Ghostbusters toys.
Here’s why. Sure, there’s the obvious. Hasbro owns the Kenner brand and offered some incredible retro-style offering’s for Star Wars with The Vintage Collection, and of course the 2019 Retro Collection which saw new molds of the vintage Star Wars line in retro, weathered packaging. The thought of being able to walk into Target or Wal-Mart in 2020 and see vintage style Real Ghostbsuters figures on the pegs is enough to make a fan cry. But this is so much bigger than that. Yes, retro figures probably will happen, and I will get them all x3. (One to open, one to keep in package, and one just in case...duh) What really excites me about the possibilities for the Ghostbsuters line from Hasbro stems from what Hasbro has been doing with their other brands over the last few years.
If you’re familiar with Star Wars The Black Series, Marvel Legends, and more recently Power Rangers Lightning Collection, then you know exactly where I am going with this. With Ghostbsuters, we have a chance to see a collector’s line of figures that covers all aspects of the franchise in beautiful, 6” articulated detail. AND MY GOD THE ACCESSORIES! My one wish is that each figure comes with a ghost. I know that I originate from a simpler time when the video game system came with two controllers plus a game, but come on, let’s make it happen. Give each buster a companion ghost. It’s the right thing to do Hasbro.
The new photo-real technology that is being used by Hasbro on their current lines is a total game changer. Just look at the latest Black Series offerings for Rise of Skywalker. The human characters are incredible with beautiful paint applications and actor likenesses, the likes of which we have never seen at this scale of price point. I am salivating over the idea of a 6” line of collector focused figures for Ghostbusters that covers the movies, cartoons, comics, etc. We have thirty years of this incredible property to draw from, and the template is already there. Now I am not comparing Ghostbusters to Marvel or Star Wars as far as overall popularity, but I think the fanbase is there within the hardcore and general collecting communities to support an incredible new line of figures. And if GB20 is a hit, that only solidifies that even further.
We could also feasibly see some really beautiful prop replicas with a Hasbro collector’s line. The Mattel props were pretty good, specifically the PKE Meter and Trap, but Hasbro has shown that they have the ability to produce beautiful helmets, shields, and swords, and there’s no doubt that with an IP like Ghostbusters, traps, packs, PKE Meters, goggles, and more are on the table, especially if GB20 introduces new film introduces new equipment to the canon.
So retro figures, a new collectors line, and replica props all seem like realistic possibilities for Hasbro Ghostbusters in 2020. Another thing to consider is a kids-focused Ghostbusters line, inspired by Jason Reitman’s film. It’s no secret that the new movie is focused on a younger cast and that Sony’s dream scenario is that the movie capitalizes on the nostalgia of thirty-something’s while capturing the hearts and minds of a totally new, younger generation of fans. If all goes according to plan, kids are going to leave the theatre wanting to BE Ghostbusters, just like I did 30 years ago when Ghostbusters 2 was released. Let’s hope that when those kids tear down the toy aisle they are greeted with colorful renditions of all of their new favorite characters and spectral spirits. Let’s also hope they get the opportunity to strap on a new Hasbro proton pack and bust some heads, in a spiritual sense of course.
As stated earlier, with such a toyetic property, Ghostbusters has the opportunity to be a runaway hit for Hasbro. That being said, things don’t always work out the way they are supposed to. Hasbro fell flat with their Jurassic World line and Mattel took it over, launching it to another stratosphere with an award winning array of figures and dinosaurs starting with the release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. To me, Hasbro has a chance to once again make Ghostbusters a mainstream player in the toy category. Of course the toy’s success will run concurrently with the eventual success (or lack thereof) of the new movie. Again, GB20 feels like a can’t miss hit, but modern movie going audiences are very fickle and hard to figure out. Why did Stephen King’s IT become one the highest grossing horror films of all time while the new Pet Sematary failed to find an audience? Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was a beast for Sony, while Men In Black: International (also Sony) and more recently Terminator: Dark Fate both flopped at the box office. No matter what, we’re getting new Ghostbusters toys from Hasbro, but I desperately want staying power for the line. I want to see it grow and continue to have releases, even in non-movie years. (Like we’re seeing with Jurassic World) Hopefully, the new movie is so successful that a new animated series is green-lit immediately, giving us even more opportunities to expand the franchises toy catalogue. We will know more soon, and with Toy Fair 2020 coming up in February, it’s safe to say that we will see our first glimpse of what Hasbro has to offer very soon. It’s a make or break year for the Ghostbusters franchise, so I am going to take some deep breaths, have a shower, and just appreciate the possible/probable renaissance as it happens.