As with most toy lines there were many Real Ghostbusters toy ideas that for one reason or another did not make it beyond the prototype stage.
Below are a few of these unproduced concept ideas in both 2D and 3D form.
Early Ghost Concepts
Both of these unproduced ghost concepts were drawn at around the same time as many of the original toys that made it to production (March/April ’86). “Fear Sphere” is similar in design and size to the produced Gooper Ghosts like the Banshee Bomber while “The Ghoul” would have been more like the haunted humans figures.
Below is an image of a very cool early presentation board featuring multiple different ghost ideas, none of which were ever produced.
Sliming Ghost (far left) looks a little like Slimer’s evil twin. Similar to the gooper ghosts, it had a mouth big enough for a figure to fit inside.
Bug Out Ghost (top middle) was a purple lizard which had a tongue and eyes that would pop out.
Expanding Ghost (bottom middle) was a four eyed spectre that jumped out of a trash can and the Transforming Ghost (far right) was a white skeletal ghost that grew in size with a gaping mouth.
Nutrona Blaster – Laser Light Weapon
This is an image of the packaging artwork produced by Lipson for the Nutrona Blaster laser tag gun and belt:
It was a pretty basic laser tag type game where one child played the role of a Ghostbuster and the other a ghost with each belt having a light up target and speaker attached.
Although it was never produced, the toy was heavily promoted in the 1987 toy fair catalogue which featured this image of it in action. Note the airbrushed weapons.
While the artwork and catalogue imagery has been seen elsewhere on the internet, I doubt many people will have seen these before:
Shown above are photographs of the actual 3D prototype model of the toy. Both of these polaroid photos were taken at Kenner and archived for reference.
The same prototype was later photographed together more professionally:
Had the toy gone into production, the image above (or one very similar) would likely have been used for the toys packaging and on action figure cardbacks. If you compare them, you’ll notice that the 3D prototype matches the Lipson artwork almost perfectly which indicates that the final look of the toy had been achieved.
While everyone always talks about the Egon’s Lab playset in terms of it being a “nearly but not quite” idea, of all the unproduced toys and concepts for the Real Ghostbusters toy line I think the Nutrona Blaster was just as close to actually being produced and Kenner’s decision to scrap it must have been a real last minute decision.
Mini Ghost Concepts
These fun concept drawings were all done in 1986 which was the first year of heavy design for the designers that worked on the line.
According to marketing documents from that period there would have been three of these little guys in each package. They were actually referred to as “low end ghosts” so no doubt aimed at families with smaller budgets but while they were intended to be cheaper than other toys in the line they would have still been quite good value for money.
Little Leapers with Slapsticks
This is a fun concept idea involving various different vinyl mini ghosts (including Stay Puft and the no ghost logo ghost) that were each to be sold separately and could be launched up in the air using a slapstick seesaw.
Just below Stay Puft, the text for suggested modes of play reads:
“Launch them into your Happy Meal!”
“Start a Ghost circus!”
While the text on the bottom of the art quite hilariously states that the slapstick is “Not intended for use with McNuggets!”
Pretty simple concept this one, fill these vinyl minis with water and squirt people with them!
These little guys would have been rotocast vinyl minis which you could stick on your thumb and wrestle or scare people with.
Allow me to introduce you to “TripleJaw” a monster ghost concept created right at the end of 1986. The two ghosts inside the outer body would have been controlled by the tail, simply push down to activate. It would have been a particularly scary toy as the designer wanted a “Slow & agonising grinding sound” to accompany the jaws opening!
Unarticulated Slimer with telephone
This is an interesting 3D prototype of Slimer holding what looks like the firestation HQ telephone. It appears to have been sculpted without any articulation and it’s small size suggests it would have been more of an accessory than an action figure. Interestingly it was photographed resting on an upturned 35mm slide box that Kenner employees regularly used.
Fire Fright & Momma Trauma
Here are two of my favourite unproduced RGB concepts. Very similar in design to the Haunted Humans series, they were both “regular” people who transformed into ghostly monsters. However, unlike the majority of the original Haunted Humans series which were first thought up in preliminary design in late ’86, Fire Fright and Momma Trauma were drawn in late April ’87 (5-6 months later). It’s my belief that after Kenner had approved the original six Haunted Humans figures, the prelim designers were then asked to create a few additional character designs in case they were needed (possibly even for a second wave).
*UPDATE: It appears that both Momma Trauma and Fire Fright were actually going to be launched as “deluxe” Haunted Humans, retailing at a slightly higher price point than the other figures in the range. I have confirmed this from some Kenner Real Ghostbusters marketing documents in my collection.
Although this piece of concept art is undated, Kenner RGB designs with the logo on a blue background are from the same period as the Screaming Heroes concept designs which roughly dates this idea to late ’87. As you can see, both Slime Ghost figures were designed with openings in them to allow Ecto-plazm to be poured in through the top and come out of the back or bottom of the figure through a mouth.
As you can see, both figures were designed with holes in them to allow Ecto-plazm to be poured in through the top and come out of the back or bottom of the figure through a mouth.
Young Ghostbusters Ride-On’s
In late Summer 1990, the key designer for The Real Ghostbusters drew up this fantastic concept artwork for a pair of ride-on/peddle car vehicles. The art depicts the entire GB team as their younger selves with Winston and Ray driving Ecto-1 while Peter rides a motorbike with Egon in the sidecar.
Although this particular idea didn’t get much further than the concept art, it may have actually been a successful venture for Kenner given the direction the animated show had gone in with the “Junior Ghostbusters” appearing in some of the later episodes.
Bigger, Badder, Bad to the Bone
One of most amazing unproduced Real Ghostbusters concept ideas that nobody outside of the Kenner design team were aware of until I acquired a 35mm slide of the presentation board was “Bigger, badder bad to the bone”.
Following the success of the original bad to the bone action figure, Kenner gave some serious thought to creating a large role play toy/costume of it that could both trap kids (just like the toy) or actually be worn by them, enabling the wearer to literally become the bad to the bone ghost! Just take a moment and let that sink in while you look at the art!
I’m unsure if a 3D prototype was ever made but this idea did make it slightly further than prelim than I initially thought. While reading through some Kenner documentation I found the project mentioned numerous times in Kenners advertising plan from 1989 (it was due to be released at around the same time as the Ecto popper and other role play sets). The “Bigger, badder bad to the bone” costume would have retailed for $19.99 and I’m sure would have been a huge hit!