Written by Jonathan Wojcik
The Real Ghostbusters
Images courtesy krebstore, Jez's toy store, and sj1s.123
Yeah, it's even more REAL GHOSTBUSTERS stuff this soon! SO ANYWAY in the late 80's, the biggest competitor to the Ghostbusters were the Transformers,
and while there's not a lot of crossover between interest in robot jets and interest in slime demons, Kenner apparently decided it was just
the theme of transformation kids were looking for, and began to wheel out a whole range of spooks in disguise...
Lacking any further context other than its name, the "Haunted Humans" line was equally interpretable as ghosts with human forms or actual
by ghosts, who apparently had a grand old time ripping their new bodies inside-out. "X-Cop" here was possibly one of the most menacing, his entire front popping open to reveal a screaming skeleton with empty, dead eye sockets and a protruding tongue.
It's pretty clever how this toy actually works, with part of the skeleton sort of "printed" on the inside of the flip-down face and chest. It's also pretty clever how the name simultaneously references the idea of a dead
cop, a fired
cop, and X-rays.
I always thought Mail Fraud was, for some reason, the least exciting of the Haunted Humans, even though he goes from a fat mailman to a fat mailman with demonic eyes for nipples and a giant mouth in his pants. The tie popping up like a "nose" is a nice touch, too, but I guess the other Haunted Humans just get so
much weirder. I think the best part of Mail Fraud is really that his whole "human" head gets sucked down into his torso like a turtle.
HARD HAT HORROR
I couldn't dig up an equally good photograph of "human" Hard Hat, whose head was disturbingly and hilariously tiny, but his monster mode is exciting enough to make up for it. This is the Haunted Human I always think of first, both because I somehow wound up with two
of him as a kid, and because that perfectly square head is so darn memorable. It's only square so it can fit right in the action figure, but it ends up being the monster's most interesting design feature, and a block for a head even feels like it makes sense for a demon construction worker.
The same is true of Hard Hat's toes, the nails curling straight up only so they can be hidden in the hollow boots, but the result is a monster with disturbingly "upside down" feet. I grew up with so many
toys whose most interesting design features were out of pure manufacturing necessity.
This is another whose human form is easy enough to picture, and actually might have the simplest transformation in the line. All you do is open this guy's back to turn him into an upside-down alligator manbeast with a neon green tongue and a fanged, bug-eyed football in his throat
. I won't lie, the outer monster is alright, but that football is so cool I really wanted it to be detachable.
As the figure used most to advertise this line, Granny always seemed like the most "important" Haunted Human, like she would have been a higher-level villain in command of your other ghosts and monsters. All you do is press her body down to pop out her eyes, tear her whole torso open into a grisly esophagus and reveal the third, giant eyeball hiding under her hat, which all folds back up on its own when you release your grip. Yes, it was fun as hell to make that giant mouth flap as madly as you could. In the 80's, us kids thought this killer grandma was hilarious
This is the one Haunted Human I actually still own, but for consistency's sake I'm still using photos scavenged from old Ebay auctions. The first thing I like about this figure is how unnatural and off-putting that human form actually is, with inhuman blue eyeballs and what really looks
like an inhuman monster's awkward attempt at a smile. This guy truly feels like an otherworldly creature's terrible disguise, and ironically much scarier to me than any of the "transformed" figures.
When you do
transform Trashy, though, you end up with UNDENIABLY one of the greatest character designs in action figure history.
Look at how wonderful every part of this is. The slimy-looking green wings, the mutant purple beak in its stomach, the mossy green bile pouring down the trash can...and of course that ghostly, translucent green fly head with the lovely, purple eyes. Everything about Terror Trash is simply perfect, though as with Tombstone's football, I really wished as a kid that the green fly could come out
of the trash can with its own little body. How kickass would that have been? A tragically missed opportunity, especially if they could have also put some fangs on the inside of the can. Then you've got a garbage man who can turn into a man-eating garbage can and
a phantom fly friend.
If I were a ghost, this is pretty much exactly the ghost I would be. I already want to be this and I'm not even dead yet.
We're not, however, finished with these goons. There were also two larger-size vehicle
humans, one of them being the delightful Air Sickness.
This freaky looking guy in a personal-sized flying contraption could actually split into four
total ghosts. The wings, as you can see, became a bat-like yellow demon. The seat could fold down into a set of mechanical jaws, and the engine actually had its own spooky face on the opposite side. The only problem was how awkward and blocky these ghosts were, really looking more like hunks of plastic than believable creature designs - something that kinda put me off as a kid.
The other "vehicular" Haunted Human was definitely my favorite in the series after Terror Trash,
and you can see how these two monsters would have fit back together into just a single bike and rider. Separated, the bike becomes a three-limbed bug with delightfully Rat-Fink-like eyeballs while the rider explodes into a horrifying, purple cyclops with a motorcycle tire for a dingus, possibly the single spookiest thing The Real Ghostbusters toy line ever actually came up with.
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