Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Toy Review – Ghostbusters Select from Diamond Select Toys


I wanted to focus this review on DST’s Ghostbusters action figures and their inherent quality, but there was no way around the fact that I was going to be comparing them to MattyCollector.com’s releases from a few years ago.

Those toys just never sat right with me and left me wanting better. As a matter of fact, I wrote a whole post about how Mattel’s Ghostbusters line could have been better. My issues were with the character decisions, the price points, and the accessories. And then their laughable proposal for a $260 Ecto-1. Ghostbusters Classics was a line fraught with poor decision making that would forever stain it for me, regardless of the objective quality of the figures. And some of them were quite good. But every time I looked at that portion of my shelves, I saw missed opportunities and wasted potential.


That’s why I unloaded the whole collection on eBay shortly after Diamond Select Toys showed their first Ghostbusters figures. I’m usually a big fan of what DST does and love their Select lines in particular. While I’m not crazy about the 7” scale, very few toy lines are compatible size-wise these days, even within the supposed twelfth scale range. If I was going to have Ghostbusters action figures that didn’t match anything else, I at least wanted them to look good.

And to include Annie Potts (these first two series don’t, but Janine Melnitz is in Series 3). These first two waves also include Dana Barrett and Louis Tully, but once I started reviewing the Ghostbusters themselves it ended up being plenty for one review. Check back in coming weeks for my thoughts on those two – especially Louis.

DST’s Ghostbusters boast superior sculpts and accessories over Mattel’s. The detail on each figure is incredible and thus far the line feels far more cohesive than the earlier offerings. But the line is not without some missteps. Read on and find out the good, the bad, and the ugly!

FIRST GLANCE

Like most of DST’s releases under the “Select” banner, these figures are gorgeous. Even though I had seen the prototype figures from Toy Fair and SDCC, I was surprised by the level of detail. Much of it was the sort of thing you look at and think, “Wow – I didn’t even realize this actually looked like this. I need to go and watch the movie again.”

I will point out that each of the four figures I’m looking at today look better in person than they do in these pictures or any that DST has provided. It seems to me that there’s something about certain styles of paint app that just doesn’t photograph very well.

PACKAGING

These all come in the gigantic Diamond Select blister card. Normally I find its size excessive, but each figure in the Ghostbusters Select line includes a piece of a diorama, and these pieces are huge.


The cardback wraps around the side of the blister, providing a nice spine that makes identifying the figures easier if they’re stored. The backs feature surprisingly thorough biographies for each character.


These packages are sturdy, but have a tendency to warp. Obviously this doesn’t matter to me.

LOOKS

The Ghostbusters – Peter Venkman, Egon Spengler, Winston Zeddemore, and Ray Stantz - are all basically the same, though there are some differences. The head sculpts are the most obvious, so we’ll start there.

Ray has great hair. The head sculpt is excellent, giving us the best Dan Aykroyd likeness I’ve see. As much as I like this one, I would have loved to have one with the cigarette hanging off of his lip. His left eyebrow is a little dodgy, but otherwise the paint is good.


I think Venkman has the biggest gap between what you see in pictures versus in-hand. This is actually an awesome head sculpt. The hairline looks a little too far back, but if you check references it isn’t. It’s just that Bill Murray’s hair is different throughout the movie. This is just one of the ways it looks. The glare from the flash is making the eyes look weird, but they’re fine.


Egon looks good. Those are some nicely done glasses for this scale and I’m quite happy that they’re separately sculpted. I think a glossy finish would have looked better, but they’re still nice.


All of the guys look good, but I think Winston has the best head. His sculpt and paint combination are the most solid and he has a nice, laid back expression on his face.

From the shoulders down to the knees the guys share the same base sculpt. The coveralls are full of details. Zippers, sipper pulls, pockets, seams, and folds in the fabric all look great. Each figure has a different amount of painted grime on their coveralls, which makes them distinctive in a good way. The paint also varies on things like the zippers, which is not good. The placement of the silver paint is inconsistent, to the point where the paint that should be on Egon’s main zipper pull is on his collar. Yikes.

Actually, in sitting here and examining the figures I am realizing that there are small, almost unnoticeable variances in the sculpts. Winston’s coveralls aren’t as detailed, for example. But for the most part these pass the shelf exam – once they’re there, I won’t notice or care about the minor imperfections.


The elbow pads are ingenious. There’s a sculpted pad on each elbow that covers both sides of the joint. At the top swivel there is a separately sculpted piece that is the actual pad part. I can be moved independent of the arm. This allows you to pose the figure’s arms in any position and still maintain a nice, logical profile.


Ray, Peter, and Egon all have the same separately sculpted belt. It’s a web belt with a pouch for their walkie-talkies, a mount for a ghost trap, a device that I can’t identify, and some hanging clips. Winston’s has all of the same stuff, but in slightly different spots, which impresses me. DST didn’t have to bother making that different, but they did. The painted detail on these is incredible. This is another area where I never realized just how much was going on until I got these figures.

Each figure has one of those mystery tubes that runs from the left thigh to a device on the back of the belt. All I can think is that this is a pee tube, which seems gross. The tube is a flexible plastic that hangs nicely and doesn’t look weird at this scale. It’s firmly attached at both ends and is fairly sturdy.


The boots looks fantastic. The laces, seams, and soles are detailed nicely. There’s even a zipper sculpted on the inside with some silver paint applied.


Finally, there are the proton packs. These are easily the most impressive parts of DST’s figures. They sport tons of paint and separately sculpted wires and parts. Nothing is lumped into the main sculpt that shouldn’t be. The wiring and many of the different parts are beautifully painted, but what sticks out to me are the labels. There are several printed labels on the proton packs and they look amazing. The printing is clear and precise. And the labels are sturdy – they don’t seem like they’re going to peel or fall off.


The straps on the proton pack are attached, but are separate from the figure. As such they look great. They don’t unfasten or come off (at least, as far as I can tell), so the packs aren’t removable, but that’s okay because I don’t see DST releasing a 7” scale Ecto-1.



The neutrino wands are attached to the proton pack by a tube similar to the one on the leg. It’s securely attached at both ends, but I wouldn’t yank on it or bend it too much. The wand isn’t as detailed as the pack, but it still has some nice little spots of paint and looks much nicer than the Mattel versions.


Unfortunately, as nice as the proton packs and neutrino wands look, they incorporate some of the only major flaws of the Ghostbusters Select line. The method to attach the wands to the packs doesn’t work. At all. There is a trapezoidal nub on one side of the pack and a corresponding hole on the wand, but the wand just does not stay put. Not even a little. This was a terrible design, and there’s just no way around that. And if I’m doing it wrong, then the proper way is so counter intuitive that it should have had instructions. DST did not address this issue when asked directly, as I’ll detail later when I discuss my correspondence with them.

Looks-wise these destroy Mattel’s Ghostbusters Classics. For just a few dollars more, these are vastly superior figures. Now let’s see how they fared in the other categories.

ACCESSORIES

Each of the four Ghostbusters comes with a piece of a massive diorama of the roof of 55 Central Park West, eight extra hands, a particle stream, and a walkie-talkie. Additionally, Ray comes with Ecto goggles, Egon includes a PKE meter, and Winston has a ghost trap.
Peter and Egon also include connectors to attach the proton streams to the neutrino wands. Ray and Winston did not include these, which was a problem for obvious reasons. DST addressed this issue in one of their Q&As:

Hi, I've been hearing the GB Egon and Peter will come with extra connections for the proton stream, is that correct?

DSTChuck: I have to check on the extra streams and connectors, if they did not make it contact CS and Heather will send you some on us.
DSTZach: Egon and Peter should come with extra connectors, yes. They hit April 20.
Unfortunately, Egon and Peter did not come with extra connectors. The ones I got didn’t, at least. Fortunately, DST sent me replacements with a quickness. They were very responsive.


If Pepe said that these figures come with a plethora of extra hands, El Guapo would approve. Each one comes with four extra bare hands and four extra gloved hands. They all switch out easily and look great. The gloved hands are brilliant because they consist of two parts – the hand and the cuff of the glove. The cuff is a soft plastic piece that extends over the sleeve of the coverall and conceals the wrist joint while still allowing for full poseability. The various hands are posed to fold the different accessories and work perfectly.


The particle streams consist of two sculpted pieces, which looks great. I kind of wish they were translucent, but then the colors wouldn’t be as vibrant, so I don’t know if that would have been better. The beams connect to the neutrino wands via a small, clear piece that plugs onto both.


I think the idea here was to keep the wand looking as accurate as possible and to not have some big, permanent piece to plug the stream into. I’m not sure how I feel about the result. The sleeve that connects onto the wand needs to be a bit longer because this thing falls off if you look at it too hard. I feel like it would have been better to hollow out the end of the wand and just plug the stream into that. Also, just because of the way the streams are designed you can’t display them for any amount of time without experiencing droopage. There’s not much way around that, so it’s not any failing on DST’s part.


The walkie-talkies are very basic, but didn’t need to be fancy. They fit perfectly into the belt holster or the included hands. Something about their square plain-ness makes me happy. Simpler times. Think about the scene where Venkman gets slimed. It wouldn’t be shot the same these days, what with cell phones and Bluetooth earpieces and whatnot.


Ray’s Ecto goggles are the stuff of dreams. Mattel didn’t produce toy versions and to me, Ray isn’t Ray without the option of strapping these things on his noggin.


They’re soft plastic so that you can fit them over Ray’s wonderful hair and the straps manage to look fine whether they’re over his eyes or on his head – a neat trick considering that those straps should look like they’re mashing his hair down. The sculpt is accurate and the paint is great. There are some little spots of black, but if you look at reference shots those are all little rivets and whatnot that are on the actual goggles. They even painted the silver rivets that attach the straps to the goggles. These are one of my favorite accessories ever.


The PKE meter looks very good. The sculpt and paint are above average for this scale. I wish the little arms could fold down.


The ghost trap has a fantastic sculpt and paint job, but is ultimately a big letdown. The doors don’t open, meaning there’s no “trapping effect” like the Mattel version had. The advantage the DST trap has is that there’s a spot on the guys’ belts to store it. It fits nicely, but I’m not totally sure what I’m supposed to do with the switch. I feel like it might fit on that gizmo on the other side, but I can’t figure out how. Sometimes DST releases should come with instructions like DC Collectibles’ stuff does.


Unfortunately, the tube connecting the trap to the switch broke off of the trap side almost immediately. I mentioned this in my email to DST and they sent a replacement trap, which was great except for the fact that that one broke, too.

I’ve been handling toys for forty years now, both to play with and “professionally”. I am very careful with my stuff. If I broke something, it’s far too fragile.

The number and quality of accessories is impressive, but there are a few things which seem to have been poorly thought out or lost something between development and production. DST is usually much better about this kind of quality control.

FUN

Diamond Select Toys has massively overhauled the design of their action figures over the past couple of years. Where they were once known more for aesthetics than play value, they’ve made huge strides in combining the two.

These figures are loaded with articulation. Since this is a line I haven’t reviewed before, here’s the rundown:

Head – ball joint
Shoulders – hinged swivel
Elbows – hinged swivel
Wrists – hinged swivel
Abdomen – rocker
Waist – swivel
Hips – hinged swivel
Thighs – swivel
Knees – double pivot
Ankles – hinged swivel

The head has a good range – as much as you need for a normal human being that doesn’t fly.

All of the arm joints are as good as could be expected. They don’t have enough range for the guys to be able to aim their neutrino wands in more than one way, but these are standard figures made of big chunks of plastic. There’s only so much that can be done without having ugly joints. Mezco’s recently announced One:12 Ghostbusters will absolutely be better in this area, but they’re also going to cost around fifty-five dollars more than these. As you guys know, I’m in love with the One:12 Collective stuff, but sometimes good enough is good enough. And these Ghostbusters are better than good enough.

The abdominal joint has a pretty good range and moves easily. The waist took some careful work to get loose.

The hips aren’t great. Because of the thickness of the sculpt there isn’t a whole lot of forward and back range. And you guys know I’m not a fan of these kinds of hip joints anyway. They don’t look as bad on these coveralls as they do on some figures, but I still don’t like them.

The knees have a nice, deep bend, but there’s not much point thanks to the limits on the hips. Additionally, the ankles don’t bend deeply enough to make the knees useful. They do swivel and have a decent range, but you’re not going to be able to get these figures to squat if that’s what you want (they don’t squat much in the movies).

Between the bounty of accessories and the solid, if slightly limited, articulation these are great toys. There’s a lot to do with each figure and once you factor in the massive diorama, this is a toy line to be reckoned with.

OVERALL

As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I sold my Mattel Ghostbusters in anticipation of these DST releases being more satisfying. I was taking a chance in doing so. While there are some definite issues with these figures, I am absolutely satisfied with my decision. The missing and/or broken parts are a problem, but these Ghostbusters have pleased me much more than they let me down. I enjoyed opening each one and examining them for review. I’m thrilled with the diorama, which I’ll review separately once its complete. And the selection of characters being released is far, far better than what MattyCollector offered.

If you’re not worried about money, wait for Mezco’s One:12 Collective figures. I can almost guarantee they’ll be the best Ghostbusters figures produced in the 6”-ish scale. But if you want very good Ghostbusters at a reasonable price, these are your guys.

Plus, there’s always the possibility that we could get an Ecto-1. DST has a lot of experience with producing vehicles. I don’t necessartily thinkl it’s likely, but at least this hypothetical ghost bustin’ car would be a higher quality than anything Mattel would produce.

4 out of 5

Who you gonna call? Call Amazon and help Needless Things pay the bills!:






2 comments:

  1. This is a fantastic review, probably the best on this series I've read yet! I've held off on these simply because I'm not sure I want to start another toyline (even though GB constantly fights with Indiana Jones for the role of my favorite film) but these get more and more tempting as more get released.

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    1. Thanks, man! I thought it was weird that I hadn't really seen any reviews of these. I wonder if DST doesn't send out as many product samples as other companies. Since I buy all my stuff, that doesn't effect what I review.
      I'm super happy with these guys, but I know I'll be tempted by Mezco's figures.
      Also, be sure to check out tomorrow's Needless Things Podcast - it's all about Ghostbusters! The movies, the cartoons and toys - everything.

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