3D Prototypes

There are various different types of 3D prototypes out there for the Real Ghostbusters line and each one represents a specific stage in the prototyping process. Below is a brief summary of each of the main stages as well as pictures of some examples.


SCULPTS

The earliest three dimensional incarnation of a toy is always the initial sculpt which is made from either clay or wax. This is where a figure first becomes a 3D object and can be refined and changed until the look of the figure is perfected.

Pull Speed Ahead & T-Stick Ghost

Pull Speed Ahead 

 

 

 

 

Pull Speed Ahead T-Ghost

 

 

 

 

 

Slimer (Gooper Ghost)

Gooper Ghost - Slimer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haunted Humans Terror Trash

Terror Trash Human Front Terror Trash Ghost Transformation Front

 

 

 

 

 

Haunted Humans X-Cop

X-Cop Human Front X-Cop Ghost Front

 

 

 

 

Haunted Humans Mail Fraud

Below are some shots of a rather interesting prototype of the Mail Fraud figure. The arms, legs and teeth appear to be sculpted in wax while the torso, shorts and head are made from dynacast. It’s almost a sculpt/hardcopy hybrid. 

Mail Fraud Human Front Mail Fraud Ghost Transformation Front

 


HARDCOPIES & PROTOMOULDS

Hardcopy:

Following the sculpt, a “hard copy” is made. At Kenner this was often done using a green material called dynacast but some were also created using an off white coloured urethane material too. 

Ray Stantz Hardcopy Torso

Below is an unpainted hardcopy torso for the original series Ray Stantz.

Ray-Stantz-Urethane-Hardcopy-Torso

 

 

 

There are some minor differences in the sculpt visible here but the most notable difference between this piece and the production figure is the much smaller hole on the back where the proton pack attaches.

Protomould:

Sometimes Kenner would also produce prototypes which we refer to as “protomoulds”. Protomoulds became a cheap and easy way to prototype figures in-house at Kenner using low yield silicon moulds. These figures often had solid torsos and were usually produced using an off white coloured material. Many protomoulded figures were also painted for photography purposes.

Shown below are some internal Kenner photographs featuring the hand painted hardcopy figures of Egon, Peter and Ray from the Screaming Heroes series.

 Ray Stantz - Painted Hardcopy Ray Stantz - Painted Hardcopy (side)

 

 

 

 

Peter Venkman - Painted Hardcopy Peter Venkman - Painted Hardcopy (side)

 

 

 

 

Egon Spengler - Painted Hardcopy Egon Spengler - Painted Hardcopy (side)

 

 

 


MOLDS

Toy molds were used both internally at Kenner and during production at the factories overseas. Typically, the molds created at Kenner would be low yield molds often made out of silicon while the factory molds were made out of steel to withstand the amount of use that was required from them. Due to the variety of toys in the Ghostbusters line, many of them required different tooling. Rotocast molds were created for the larger, more “squishy” monsters while action figures were injection molded using multiple molds and then assembled using a process called sonic welding.

This is a metal rotocast mold for Kenner’s “Gooper Ghost” Slimer toy which was obtained from a former Kenner employee.

Rotocast-Slimer-Front Rotocast-Slimer-Back

 

 

 

 

Rotocasting is a process which allows you to create hollow, one piece toys (like stay puft, bug eye ghost and the Slimer above) which do not require further assembly (unlike injection molded parts that I mentioned earlier).

Once an electroform rotocast mold is created (which is often produced using the original sculpt) it’s attached to a metal fixture which then spins around. This continual motion allows the rubber silicon compound that is poured inside (via the circular hole on the back) to be evenly distributed and fill all the creases and cavities which form the finished product. Once the process is finished the excess material can be cut off and any necessary holes made. On this particular toy the “stubs” on the sides were cut away to allow Slimer”s hard plastic arms to be attached.


FIRST SHOTS

After the prototyping stage was done at Kenner, production would soon begin in the factories of the far east. Due to the amount of figures that needed to be produced, robust steel moulds were made which were capable of producing vast numbers of figures without breaking or suffering damage (unlike the low yield Silicon moulds used for protomoulds for example). It was very common for the “first” figures “shot” using these moulds to be sent back to Kenner for approval (hence the name first shots).

Characteristics: First shot figures can be found both unpainted and hand painted and often lack dates/copyright information as that information was usually added to the mould after they were produced. It’s not unusual for a first shot to be shot in non production colours too because for the most part they were just meant to check the mould for quality before production began, so the colour of the plastic used at that stage was not so important. 

Grabber Ghost

Grabber Ghost 2 UP front Grabber Ghost 2 UP back

 

 

 

 

On first inspection the only immediately obvious difference between this undated first shot and the production ghost is the colour. However, it is in fact what’s known as a “2-UP” which means it’s actually 2 times the size of the production toy:

Grabber-Ghost-comparison

 

 

 

 

 

What’s even more interesting about this piece though is that it actually glows in the dark:

Glow in the dark grabber

 

 

 

 

 

Due to the glow feature, I initially believed this ghost was somehow linked to the final Ecto-Glow series (as Kenner had repurposed several other earlier ghost sculpts for that range of figures). However, fellow collector Josh Blake pointed out to me that it actually matches the size of the original Grabber Ghost prototype shown on the back of some of the early cardbacks as well as the 1987 Toy Fair Catalogues:

1987 Toy Fair Venkman and Grabber Ghost

 

 

 

 

 

Here it is again pictured with the mock up containment unit:

containment mock up and grabber

 

 

 

 

 

This definitely dates it much earlier than the Ecto-Glow line and possibly even means that Kenner had considered producing glow in the dark companion ghosts for the very first figures released, before finally settling on translucent plastic. 

 


ENGINEERING PILOTS

The term Engineering pilot (or EP for short) is used for samples of both the toys and their packaging. Loose toy EP’s are samples of the final product which closely resemble their production counterparts save for a few minor differences (paint scheme, plastic colour) and are usually marked or numbered to correspond to a certain test batch.  

Packaging EP’s are a little different and are often just white boxes cut to the same overall dimensions as the production box in order to check the sizing is OK. They usually contain a production toy and other things like pack in catalogues & decals. 

Boo-Zooka & Boo-Lets

This is a collection of bagged engineering pilots (EP’s) and first shots for the Boo-Zooka & Boo-lets mini ghost set. The first image shows a production painted toy with a bag that is marked “1st EP”  and the other two appear to have been rejected EP samples (one bag states that the toys are “not clean enough”). The Boo-zooka ghost from that particular bag is an unpainted translucent first shot.

 

1st EP Boo-Zooka

EP-Boo-zooka-Boo-lets-with-1st-EP-Bag 

 

 

 

 

EP Samples 

EP-Boo-lets-with-notations-on-bag-Light-Dayglo-boolet-5

 

 

 

 

 

EP-Boo-zooka-Boo-lets-with-notations-on-bag-not-clean-enough

 

 

 

 

 

Unpainted translucent first shot

First-shot-Boo-zooka

 

 

 


QUALITY CONTROL (QC) SIGN OFF’S 

Quality control sign off’s are early production quality toys that were sent back to Kenner and pulled from their shipping cases to inspect quality. These samples are almost always found with an employee signed sticker attached to the packaging.

Fright Features Janine Melnitz

QC Janine

 

 

 

 

 

Super Fright Features Egon Spengler

Egon Super Fright Features Signed Sample Egon Super Fright Features Signed Sample back

 

 

 

 

Screaming Heroes Ray Stantz

Screaming-Heroes-Ray-Stantz-QC-Sample

 

 

 

 


PLUSH/SOFT GOODS PROTOTYPES

This is an example of the very first prototype for the plush Slimer hand puppet. It has much darker fabric than the production toy as well as different eyes, stitching and overall dimensions. 

Prototype-Plush-Slimer

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I purchased the prototype Slimer I also received various reference photos of the toy. The one shown in the photographs appears to be a slightly later prototype to mine however as it has both a no ghost logo and a white tag on the reverse whereas mine does not have either.

 Plush-Slimer-Prototype-Photograph-side-in-use Plush-Slimer-Prototype-Photograph-back

 

 

 

 

Similar prototypes were also used as photo samples in the ’87 Toy Fair catalogue where they can be seen “in action” and also in mock up packaging. 

Slimer hand puppet prototype 87 kenner catalog plush planogram

 

 

 

 

 

Here is another internal photograph of a prototype from the Kenner plush range, Stay Puft! Still looking for a prototype of this guy if anyone can help!

Plush-Stay-Puft-Prototype-photograph-Front