The Ghostbusters began as a 1984 film starring some of the largest comedians of the time: Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and Harold Ramis. The movie also featured Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, and Rick Moranis. Despite the comedic focus of the writing, The Ghostbusters was also an action-filled tale filled with supernatural suspense.
The story began with three paranormal scientists, Peter Venkman, Ray Stanz, and Egon Spengler, setting out on their own to investigate and capture the supernatural, like ghosts. As they grew in prominence, they gained a fourth member, Winston Zeddemore, as well as a secretary, Janine Melnitz. They eventually discovered that one of their clients, Dana Berrett, lived in an apartment building that would become the focal point of a ceremony to summon a god, Gozer the Gozerian.
Despite their best efforts, the Ghostbusters could not save the city without some setbacks. The EPA almost set the city in ruin when they shut down the team’s containment unit. Meanwhile, both Dana and one of her neighbors, Louis Tully, were possessed by the servants of Gozer. Even as they faced Gozer, Ray accidentally summoned a gigantic Stay Puff Marshmellow Man. Still, they banished the god by crossing the beams and saving the city.
The soaring success of the first movie cemented The Ghostbusters as a profitable brand. As work on a sequel began, a cartoon series was launched in 1968 to help market the brand to children. However, since Filmation had previously created a Ghostbusters series, this one needed a new name. Thus, DIC Entertainment and Columbia Pictures Television decided to proudly proclaim that this new cartoon was The Real Ghostbusters.
Rather than using the original actors from the film, the cartoon used a brand new set of voice actors. Lorenzo Music was the original voice of the skeptic, Peter Venkman, though he was later replaced by Dave Coulier in season 3. Meanwhile, Maurice LaMarche was the voice of Egon Spengler. Frank Welker provided his voice talents for Ray Stanz, Slimer, and many other characters. Finally, Winston Zeddmore was voiced by Arsenio Hall up until season 4 when Buster Jones took over the role.
Alongside this new cartoon series, Kenner produced an exciting new toy line. As it came out several years after the movie, the line focused on its namesake, The Real Ghostbusters cartoon series. So, fans had to wait years to find a toy of Zuul or any of the characters from the movie. Even Kenner continued to produce toys in 1989 when the sequel film came out, they did not add any characters from that movie. Kenner finally discontinued the Ghostbusters toys in 1991, after 10 waves.
While the cartoon series and toy line stayed strong, Ghostbusters successfully returned to entertain audiences at the theaters. Ghostbusters II debuted in 1989, with each of the major players from the first movie returning.
Once again, Sigourney Weaver’s character, Dana Berrett, found herself in the epicenter of a paranormal uprising. However, this time her infant son was the target of the malevolent spirit, Vigo the Carpathian. So, she contacted her former love interest and paranormal investigator, Peter Venkman, to help save her son. As the plot developed, the Ghostbusters learned that an ectoplasmic slime had developed under the city and gained strength from the city’s negative emotions.
After learning that it could also be charged with positive emotions, the Ghostbusters set out to encourage the entire city. They eventually decided to spray the Statue of Liberty with the slime to create a shining beacon of hope that the city would embrace. This power allowed them to save Dana’s son and defeat Vigo.
Unfortunately, even though Ghostbusters II was a financial success, it did not lead to another direct sequel for decades. Thus, the Ghostbusters brand languished for years after the cartoon series and Kenner’s toy line were discontinued.
Still, the Ghostbusters returned briefly in 1997 with a brand new cartoon series. Jeff Kline and Richard Raynis joined forces to introduce a brand new generation of Ghostbusters in the Extreme Ghostbusters. While Egon Spengler remained a mainstay from the original group, the rest of the team were brand new, younger characters. There were Eduardo Rivera, Kyle Griffin, Ronald Jackson, and Garret Miller on this new team.
Accompanying the 1997 series was a new toy line from Trendmasters. Similar to the cartoon series, the toy line only lasted for one series. However, it featured multiple sizes, both Classic and Deluxe characters. There was also an Ecto-1 vehicle.
After the Extreme Ghostbusters vanished, Ghostbusters went into another multi-year hiatus. However, the concept remained too good to disappear for good. In 2016, another new team of Ghostbusters was introduced to theaters. This reboot series replaced the entire team with an all-women quartet. This new team consisted of Dr. Abigail L. “Abby” Yates, Dr. Erin Gilbert, Dr. Jillian “Holtz” Holtzmann, and Patricia “Patty” Tolan. Chris Hemsworth also appeared in this new movie as the group’s secretary, Kevin Beckman.
Once again, Ghostbusters returned to the toy aisle with a new line of toys from Mattel. This toy line featured “elite” action figures with modern articulation standards. There was an action figure of each of the four women along with one for the Stay Puff Balloon Ghost, Rowan, and Mayhem.
Moreover, Diamond Select released toys for both the classic movies and the 2016 movie during this time. Their selection of toys gave fans one of the first chances to obtain an action figure of a possessed Dana Barret. This line also featured an action figure for Gozer the Destructor. Other toy lines that celebrated the renewed interest in Ghostbusters were Minimates, Jada Toys, Vinimates, and Underground Toys.
As the 2016 Ghostbusters film was mired with controversy, the next iteration of the franchise decided to return to the original storyline. Released in 2021, Ghostbusters: Afterlife once again presented a brand new generation of Ghostbusters. This time, Egon Spengler’s grandchildren, Trevor and Phoebe, took on the mantle. Joining them were Lucky and Podcast, who admired the original team. Together, they took down a second incursion of Gozer and his minions.
This time around, Hasbro stepped up to create a new series of toys for Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Along with the toys for the movie, Hasbro began to rerelease classic Kenner The Real Ghostbusters toys. Moreover, they created a collector-tier toy line, the Plasma Series.
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How to use the Identification Tool to find your action figures and toy lines
Do you have an old-school G1 Transformers toy you are trying to identify? Don’t know the name? No problem! I’ll help you use this identification tool. For example, just type in “jet” in the figure name field and hit search. You’ll see all the Transformers G1 Toys that are jets. Maybe try “car” and select the color “blue” and a list of Transformers matching those results will appear. Maybe you don’t know what the finished vehicle will make, so try searching by “red” only. Did you forget to remove “car”? Now search just the color “red”. Perhaps you know the name, but can’t spell it try “Wheljck” instead of “Wheeljack” and all the Wheeljack characters are listed for you.
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