The Real Ghostbusters gave Kenner’s design team a huge amount of freedom with which to come up with really crazy concepts and fun features, but something I’ve always found interesting about the toy line is that those ideas didn’t rely on the animated show or the original film for inspiration (Kenner only ever produced two characters that featured in the film & cartoon – Stay Puft & Slimer). This incredible freedom to literally come up with their own brand new creations (or go off on a tangent with things like the classic Hollywood monsters series) was regularly put to good use especially where the ghosts and monsters were concerned.
Below are various different images of preliminary concept designs and final renderings for some of earliest produced ghost toys (designed in 1986 and released in 1987) through to some of the later releases (1988-1989).
Slimer (Green Glutton)
The first incarnation of Slimer in the RGB toy line was the oversized “Green Ghost” figure which came complete with a half eaten pizza, steak and watermelon. The original design isn’t far off the production toy (apart from lacking any buttons that made the arms move) but you can definitely see the influence of the promo pilot reference material here as Slimers overall appearance is slightly more menacing, just like it was in the pilot:
Bug Eye Ghost
In comparison to other similar concept ideas this is a pretty simplistic drawing for a fan favourite, the “Bug Eye” Ghost. Even though the detail is minimal it does demonstrate the eye popping function that the toy had. I’m really glad to end result looked much cooler than this cross eyed slug though!
The Banshee Bomber, one of the “Glooper Ghost” toys that utilised tubs of Kenner’s Ecto-Plazm is shown here and the overall look of the production toy is pretty close to the original design.
Much like the Banshee Bomber, Squisher looks pretty close to the production toy here.
While the main image and the “goo slinging” action shown on this concept drawing aren’t instantly recognisable, the profile drawing on the far left reveals that “Goo Slinger” went on to become Sludge Bucket.
Bad to the Bone
The initial design for Bad to the Bone had a coffin accessory that he could escape from. It looked like a pretty fun idea but because the figure had no legs it meant that it would have had to have been held at all times during play. I think the original floating torso design was dropped simply because the toy worked better if it was able to stand up, which is probably why the production toy had a base worked into the design.
At first glance, the “Vapor-izor” looks like it may be an unproduced concept but believe it or not this is actually what the H₂Ghost originally looked like. The artwork on the original concept doesn’t look much like the production toy but marketing documents from that period indeed confirm that the Vapor-izor toy was going to be a two piece water shooting ghost.
You can take a look at a couple of similar ghost designs from this period that did actually go unproduced by clicking here.
The haunted humans figure range was one of the best things Kenner ever did with the RGB line. The idea of having some pretty ordinary looking human figures (postal worker, garbage disposal man and even a little old lady) totally transform into menacing looking ghosts was brilliant and extremely well executed.
Tombstone Tackle was originally going to be called “Sudden Death” which was actually quite a clever use of a sports term for the American football playing figure, but I can see why it wasn’t considered suitable for kids!
Above is the final rendering of the Mail Fraud figure drawn by one of Kenner’s product development designers and is based on the original concept artwork shown below:
Above is the final rendering of the Granny Gross figure drawn by one of Kenner’s product development designers and is based on the original concept artwork shown below:
As you can see from this rendering of Terror Trash, his original name was “Garbage Strike”. There doesn’t seem to be a clear reason as to why that change was made but perhaps Kenner just decided that Terror Trash sounded better.
This is a preliminary concept for X-Cop. While this figures name wasn’t changed, the original artwork had some cool features that didn’t make it to production. Light up eyes and a hidden revolver would have definitely made him a cooler figure!
The original name for the brain blaster ghost was “Scatterbrain”. This piece of preliminary concept art also has a slightly different colour scheme to the final product.
Ecto Plasm Ghosts
The Ecto Plasm ghost classes are explained on the production tubs but they originally had different names.
The class 4 “Spritual Expressions” name was changed to “Come to your senses ghosts”, class 3 “Corporal Manifestations” was changed to “Skullful Manifestation Ghosts” and the class 5 “Goop Eating Full Floating Torsos” eventually became just “Full Floating Torso Ghost”.
As you can see, Brain Matter and Stomach Stuff were originally going to be called “Pocket Mini Goops” before the name was changed to Mini Goopers.
The mini trap ghosts are similar in both design and colour but were first called “Trap Jaws”.
Pull Speed Ahead
As you can see by the name correction, pull Speed Ahead was originally called “Scream Roller” (a name that would end up being used for Winston’s companion ghost from the fright features series) while T-Stick started out as “Ratchet”. The toy itself looks far more menacing and scary in the preliminary concept art than the production toy so a lot of revisions were made on this one.
Slimer (Gooper Ghost)
This preliminary concept art for Slimer the Gooper Ghost depicts a much more cartoon-like Slimer, much smaller in size to the production toy.
Interesting to note that the two yellow side cannons are not present on the concept art and instead there is a rotating “Ectoplazm canon” at the top.
Boo-Zooka & Boo-Lets
I don’t care what anyone says about the bright pink Boo-Zooka, it was a cool toy! Popping mini ghosts out of a larger ghosts mouth in order to knock your action figures over was a fun game as a kid and both the final rendering and indeed the final sculpt of both the Boo-Zooka and the “Boo-lets” were nicely done.
Slimer/Green Ghost with Proton Pack
What’s immediately obvious about this piece of concept art is the name at the top: “Fright Features Green Ghost“. This shows that the Green Ghost with Proton Pack was originally tied to the Fright Features hero series, which makes sense given his eye popping feature.
Here is an image of the final concept rendering for Air Sickness which was scanned from a 35mm internal Kenner slide. This piece of art was drawn by one of Kenner’s industrial designers that worked in product development. All of the toys various features and different forms are shown as is the final colour scheme and look of the production toy.
Here is an image of the final concept rendering for Wicked Wheelie which was scanned from a 35mm internal Kenner slide. This piece of art was drawn by one of Kenner’s industrial designers that worked in product development. All of the toys various features and different forms are shown as is the final colour scheme and look of the production toy.