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.
The earliest three dimensional stage 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
Slimer (Gooper Ghost)
Haunted Humans Terror Trash
Haunted Humans X-Cop
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.
HARDCOPIES & PROTOMOULDS
Following the sculpt, a hardcopy is made. At Kenner this was often done using a green material called dynacast. If a change was made to a figure after the hardcopy was created, wax could be added to the existing hardcopy to produce the desired look or add a specific alteration. Hardcopies served various purposes within Kenner and were often painted and used in early catalogue photography.
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.
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 (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.
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:
What’s even more interesting about this piece though is that it actually glows in the dark:
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) but 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 and other promotional material:
This may well date the piece much earlier than Ecto-Glow and possibly even means that Kenner had considered producing glow in the dark companion shots for the very first figures released, before finally settling on translucent plastic.
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
Unpainted translucent first shot
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
Screaming Heroes Ray Stantz
PLUSH/SOFT GOODS PROTOTYPES
This is an example of the very first prototype for the plush Slimer hand puppet along with an internal Kenner photograph of the same piece.
These early prototypes were used as photo samples in the ’87 Toy Fair catalogue where they can be seen “in action” and also in mock up packaging.
Here is an internal photograph of the prototype plush Stay Puft toy which is also shown in the ’87 Toy Fair catalogue.