Toy Review: Neutrino Wand from Ghostbusters by Mattel (with video!)
Ghostbusters and Raiders of the Lost Ark constantly battle for the title of my absolute favorite movie of all time. If you ask me one day of the week, I'll tell you that my favorite movie is Ghostbusters. Ask me the next day and I'll tell you I prefer Raiders of the Lost Ark. I have loved Ghostbusters ever since I saw it as a kid (even though parts of it terrified me). I've sat in a real Ecto-1 (it was signed by Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, and Dan Aykroyd). I've watched the commentary track for the film (something I rarely do). I randomly insert Ghostbusters lines into regular conversation. I guess I have about every mark of Ghostbusters fandom there is except for being a prop expert. Yes, while I know all of the tools the guys use and some of the little nitty gritty details, there are entire websites where Ghostheads sit around and study, compare, and build Ghostbusters props. While I'd love to get to that point someday, that's not me. Today, as I'm reviewing Mattel's Ghostbusters Neutrino Wand from their Epic Creations line, I'm not able to give you specific measurements and comparisons. I will give you my opinions as a toy collector and a lifelong Ghostbusters fan. Deal? If that works for you, then join me after the break....
Ecto Goggles on the site earlier this year, so I had a good idea what to expect. The general idea here is to create fairly screen accurate collectible items. I don't think the term prop replica really works here as accuracy doesn't seem to be the primary concern. That's not to say that this collectible is inaccurate, but it's not exact nor does it use mixed materials to match the onscreen source material (it's mostly plastic).
Rarely do I talk about packaging, but 1. This thing is pretty expensive and 2. It's got some really cool packaging. Inside the large white mailer box the wand is shipped in is the main package which resembles a wooden storage container. It's made out of cardboard, but it's a very sturdy, waxy cardboard that's quite colorful. The lid lifts off and the wand rests safely inside a plastic tray and is held in place by sturdy Styrofoam. I don't typically even keep boxes, but the box is so inspired that I'm definitely using it to store my wand.
The wand is surprisingly lighter than I thought it would be. It doesn't feel inflatable or cheap or anything, but I expected a bit more heft to it. One thing that's interesting, particularly if you've never held a prop wand of any kind in your hands, is that it is a bit awkward in your hands. I initially wanted to hold it like a rifle or one of the vintage toys, but that doesn't quite work. Anyways, you'll get a feeling for it after awhile. The sculpt is pretty nice on the item with a fair amount of detail. There are lots of screws, bolts, and welded parts sculpted on. I kind of wish it actually used more real screws and bits. From a short distance, though, I'm not sure you'd be able to tell that some of the knobs and such aren't actually metal. You might even initially think that the main body is metal as it has a paint job that makes it look like parts of the painted black body are wearing away to expose the shiny metal underneath.
There's some nice fine detail work such as a schematic of some sort and a "Danger" warning on the left side of the wand, a minimatic cylinder from Clippard Instrument Laboratories in Cincinatti, Ohio (evidently a real supplier of parts- I found them online). The official name is the Clippard Modular Valve R-701 and you can still buy them to make your own Ghostbusters prop particle thrower. I mentioned it above, but the bottom of the wand does have a metal bracket that looks like it has been designed so that you can store it on a Proton Pack. Who knows if Mattel will ever release one, so perhaps fans will have to find a way to implement this into their homemade Proton Packs.
I don't talk about the price of toys and collectible items often since they can vary quite a bit and change pretty frequently, but since Mattel is only offering this through their Mattycollector.com website, I feel justified in mentioning the asking price of $130 clams. I have to say that I think that seems a bit expensive for what is essentially a plastic toy gun with lights and sounds. If you called this a prop replica to someone who actually collected prop replicas, I think they'd probably laugh at you. You know what, though? I love this thing. Love it, love it, love it. Ghostbusters was one of the first things I really remember loving as a kid. Heck, I think being a Ghostbuster was the first career I ever verbalized that I wanted to pursue. I vividly remember my parents buying me the Kenner GhostZapper, a toy gun that functioned like a projector with little film reels depicting various Ghostbuster ghosts and specters. While I loved the gun, I was so terrified by the Gozer and Skull faces on the film reels that I made my parents cut those frames out. Yes, I had the GhostZapper, the Proton Pack set with the yellow foam stream, the Slime Blower, and plenty of other weapons, but this is the toy I guess I always really wanted. It's a bit expensive, but at the same time it's a toy that you wish you could somehow send to your younger self as it's everything you hoped and dreamed for as a kid.
So, how does it really stack up? The size seems right and it feels sturdy. Not as heavy as I'd like, but it doesn't feel cheaply made or overly fragile. I don't think you'd want to drop it, though, but regular use shouldn't give you any difficulties. The sculpt is nice. It's a bit soft in places, but from about two or three feet, you might not realize you're looking at a toy. That's thanks in part to the excellent paint work. I really like the lights and sounds. The PKE Meter and Ghost Trap both were great in this category while the Ecto Goggles were a pretty big miss. Overall, I'm giving this a Great. It's not as nice as it could be, but it's still pretty cool. It's definitely a fun item to pull out to show off to guests and I do plan on trying to implement it into a Ghostbusters costume for either Charlotte Heroes Con next year or for Halloween. I will say that while browsing a number of Ghostbusters fan sites, I am completely in awe of the Proton Packs and wands that fans have created. Some are simple while others are very, very complex and nearly identical to their on screen counterparts. I don't think that this is a substitute for the work of those devoted and industrious Ghostheads in any way, but for fans like myself who don't trust themselves to build or weld something, this is a great alternative.
As of the writing of this, the Neutrino Wand is still on sale on Mattycollector.com and Big Bad Toy Store. I've also reviewed the Ecto Goggles from Mattel's Ghostbusters Epic Creations line.