When Ghostbusters became a blockbuster hit in the summer of 1984, Columbia Pictures was caught in a rather precarious spot, given merchandise for the film was virtually nonexistent. Sure, you could buy the odd t-shirt, some buttons, pins, and even bumper stickers with the now iconic no-ghost logo, but anything outside the low-risk print and sale design, for example, products geared more towards children or collectors, didn’t happen until the animated series, The Real Ghostbusters, was released a few years later.
So, what exactly happened, and why was it just over a decade ago that we finally got a Peter Venkman action figure that looked like Bill Murray? Well, likeness rights are one thing, but despite having a larger budget than most comedies, with Director Ivan Reitman at the helm, whose past films included Meatballs, Animal House, and Stripes, Ghostbusters was expected to attract a similar audience. In short, it was made and primarily marketed toward adults. This left Columbia fumbling to get something, really anything, out at retail to please the younger and unexpected demographic.
Now, this isn’t to say that figures based on the first Ghostbusters didn’t exist in the 1980s, as limited model kits, once again, geared primarily towards adults, were released in Japan, one of a 1:6 scale Terror Dog and 6″ and 17″ incarnations of The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Early plans were also in place to release additional kits of the four heroes. However, these would never see the light of day, eventually being scrapped.
In a random find, Twitter user @Matt_Alt has unearthed a few photos of the canceled figures from a 1985 issue of Hobby Japan magazine, showing off the completed models that included the actors’ questionable likenesses, relatively accurate uniforms, and much-needed Proton Packs.
It doesn’t end there; as a bonus, @Matt_Alt posted another photo showing off another canceled figure, the movie’s antagonist, Gozer the Gozerian!
From a detail and accuracy standpoint, the Ghostbusters line from Tsukuda Hobby arguably remains unmatched, with both Stay Puft and the Terror Dog appearing as near-perfect scaled-down recreations of what can be seen in the film, both still commanding high-price tags on third-party sale sites such as eBay.