|Top Thirteen Mini-Ghosts of The Real Ghostbusters Toy Line
I was only three years old in 1986, when the popular film Ghostbusters was adapted into both cartoon and toy
formats. I had already developed an early love of monsters, but the most intense program I was brave enough
to watch at the time was Muppet Babies. I became dimly aware of the Ghostbusters only due to clips of Slimer
on this very show, but initially ignored the franchise itself.
One day, while staying at a grandparent's house, a slightly older relative returned from a dentist visit with a
small toy he had been given for his trouble - a lump of translucent yellow plastic in the shape of a
needle-toothed, bug-eyed phantom. Nobody knew where this toy had come from, but the dentist had
apparently called it "tooth decay," still the first name that comes to mind when I see the little guy. It wasn't until
days, possibly weeks later that I was browsing in a toy store and caught sight of "tooh decay" hanging off a
rack as an accessory to one Egon Spengler, and found to my delight that every figure included a different
ghost companion. The little monsters were the simplest and cheapest part of the toy line, but fascinated me
far more than the heroes and vehicles they came packaged with.
Now, with the power of the internet, I can at long last reciprocate the joy these lumps of plastic brought me
with one of the geekiest, most niche countdown lists in the history of geeky, niche countdown lists, giving
these ghouls the spotlight I alone probably feel they deserve.
The most cheaply designed creature I'll be mentioning here and the only one without its own unique name,
the "Ecto-Plazm" mini-ghosts were a thoughtful bonus in every can of official "Ecto Plazm Play Gel," and came
in a few different series depending on the color of slime. These "Come to Your Senses" ghosts came buried
only in the pink variety, though the figures themselves were yellow-orange. I'm plenty fond of the mouth and
nose varieties, but the bulging set of eyeballs, with its wicked teeth and stylish muttonchops, is the clear
winner. The best part was pushing slime out through its pupils, much more disturbing and unnatural than its
One thing, though - the can of slime calls these flying facial features "Class 9." In the first Ghostbusters film,
the penultimate villainess Gozer is a class 7, and she's an evil demigod. These eyeballs and noses could
apparently end man with but a thought.
|#12 - Un-named "Come to your Senses" Ghost.
Typical of the subtle sexism that ran rampant through the toys of the 80's, it was thought that only girls would
want to buy girl characters, so the first-ever figure of Janine just had to have the cutest, most innocent-looking
monster in the line. While the men are out trying to electrocute Cthulhu, the womenfolk just have to keep
Tickler from mussing their hair. It's interesting, though, as the only mini-ghost made with more than one
Oddly, the ghosts that came with vehicles and playsets rarely made use of the attractive transparent plastic,
and were even made of slightly varying materials, like the squishy, metallic rubber used only for the Galloping
Ghoul. I always liked its panicked expression, but what makes it really endearing are the sculpted "action
lines" joining its feet, as though the ghoul is really galloping as he sits there on some creepy website owner's
Like an upgrade of #12's big-toothed brother, this ghost consists solely of a disembodied mouth, almost
resembling a set of shark's jaws with eyes and an ugly little nose. It's definitely one of the coolest to imagine
as an actual ghost. A ghost that can't actually eat, but can and will bite your head off.
Actually my personal favorite of the whole series, but he's down at #6 because I'm trying to be more objective
here. Soar Throat is possibly the smallest of the mini-ghosts, with even less mass than the Ecto-Plazm figures.
This is something a few collectors have complained about, but I think the scrawniness adds character to a
striking design. With his long neck, bulging eyeballs and nasty little jaws, this freaky pink devil looks like some
perpetually crazed, alien chicken.
Perhaps the most creative of the mini-ghost sculpts, this figure represents two tiny ghosts whose long, thin
tails are joined in a knot. Even without the gimmick, the ghosts themselves are a pretty neat design; maniacal,
cyclopean imps with almost bug-like bodies. I must say, however, that I've never cared for the proportions of
this thing. It would have looked great if the ghosts were a bit bigger and closer together - more like the
packaging art - but I get the feeling they just wanted to save on plastic.
Perhaps in an attempt to make up for that whole Tickler thing, a later figure of Janine had a manly angling
motif, with both a diving suit and hi-tech fishing pole. It's too bad the figure itself looked like a creepy troll doll,
but it did have a very clever action feature: push a switch on her back, and a film of transparent plastic fills
her helmet like water, printed with tiny bubbles and viperfish-like monsters!
This was one of the only animal-themed ghosts of the line, and looks rather like an angry carp with multiple
rows of teeth. Judging by its little "antenna" however, it may have been intended as a spectral deep-sea
anglerfish, making it much cooler than it should be. All I'm left wondering is what's up with the name; is "boo
fish" a gag of any sort?
Of all the weird and wacky mini ghosts, two things are shamefully lacking: bugs and tentacles. "Slimy Spider"
sought to rectify this, and succeeded beautifully as the most alien and fearsome mini-ghost of line. It was also
the only mini-ghost to be directly referenced by its human companion; popping open Egon's helmet revealed
a set of Slimy Spider tentacles attacking his head!
|Meanie. Weenie. Ghost. What more could I possibly say? This puts all five "Super Fright Features" ghosts on
the list. As one of the last sets, they were really upping the imagination.
Already mentioned under #13, Gulper here is none other than "tooth decay," my very first piece of
Ghostbusters merchandise, though that's not at all why he's topping the list. As much as I appreciate the
surreal, creative diversity of Ghostbusters' assorted spooks and demons, Gulper earns the top spot as the
only thing in the toy line that brings to mind an actual, honest to goodness GHOST under the laws of popular
culture, with that Pac-man monster silhouette and whatever you would call that little dollop on his head.
A simple but creative design, this little devil is named for the bars of slime that stretch across his gaping,
fleshless throat. Someone at Kenner really liked this ghost, because it was recycled as a "glow in the dark"
figure for no less than two other products; first with the official life-size ghost trap, and again - with painted
eyes! - for the Ecto Glow figure line.
For better or for worse, "Snake Head" stands out from the other mini-ghosts with its realistic reptilian details
and relatively "serious" design when compared to the usual snaggly-toothed, bug-eyed goblins. This is
actually why it's not one of my favorites, since it's just, well, a couple of snake heads, but it's also why I felt the
need to include it. It's also interesting how one head has slitted pupils while the other's are round; common
indicators of a venomous and non-venomous snake, respectively.
Part of the very first wave, Chomper is the least ghost-like and most unusual looking of his brothers, Gulper,
Wrapper and Grabber, with his freaky horse-teeth and platypus-like bill. The naming convention of these
four always made me think "Slimer's extended family"...it's a shame that Slimer himself was never made into a
mini-ghost until the 90's "Extreme Ghostbusters" line.