When the Ghostbusters movie was first released in 1984, Columbia knew it would be successful, but nobody knew it would be the massive hit that it would go on to become. The original Ghostbusters grossed nearly $300 million worldwide and became the 2nd biggest film of the year, behind Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Columbia was initially caught off guard, so they immediately went into merchandising mode to get as many products out as they could, but a toy line wouldn’t see the light of day until the Real Ghostbusters animated series began airing on September 13, 1986. The animated series gave Columbia the avenue they needed to mass market the Ghostbusters franchise once again, and by attaching it to an animated show (see Masters of the Universe, G.I Joe, Transformers, Etc.), it could be much more kid friendly than the adult themed comedy of 1984. The Real Ghostbuster toy line followed the animated show, being released in time for the Christmas season of 1986 by Kenner Toys. Kenner was looking another big franchise to hitch their wagon to since their Star Wars money train came to an end in 1985. Fun Fact: The reason that the show is called the “Real” Ghostbusters was due to a licensing issue with animation studio, Filmation. They had the initial rights to the Ghostbuster name and created an animated Ghostbusters show of their own that began airing in 1986, the same as the Real Ghostbusters show. Filmation’s Ghostbusters series only ran for a few months before departing this world, while the Real Ghostbusters show went on to huge success. The Real Ghostbusters animated series and toy line went on to become massive hits and even proved successful enough to hurry along a live action sequel to the Ghostbusters movie in 1989.
The Real Ghostbusters line was a hug hit for Kenner, and their sales numbers were off the charts during that period. The figures used the same 3.75 inch format as Kenner’s uber successful Star Wars line, which allowed them to create multiple vehicles and accessories for the figures to use. The focus of the toy line was directed on the Real Ghostbusters animated show and not the live action films. This allowed Kenner to reach their true target audience…..kids. The Real Ghostbusters lineup consisted of the regular team of Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, Winston Zeddmore and Egon Spengler. Janine Melnitz and Louis Tulley were also eventually added to lineup, along with a ton of different and unusual ghosts for the team to bust. Alas, all good things must come to an end, and in 1991, it did exactly that for the Real Ghostbusters action figure and toy line. After releasing countless creative and fun new figures since 1986, Kenner finally called it quits after only releasing one new wave in 1991. Toy sale numbers had been gradually declining, but with no live action movies on the horizon to help promote their toy line, interest in the Ghostbusters franchise was simply fading. Increased competition from other popular franchises, such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Nintendo signaled the end of the line for our favorite ghost busing heroes. The animated series finished its run on October 5, 1991 after a very successful 65 episode run. Kenner Toys really did give us some amazing figures during the Ghostbuster’s six year run and came up with new and exciting ways to showcase their main characters. Their commitment and dedication to the Ghostbusters franchise shined bright during this stretch, and definitely showed with each wave . The Real Ghostbusters may not be considered one of the most iconic toy lines of the 1980’s or 1990’s, but they will always hold a special place in the hearts of every child growing up during that time period.
Kenner released some real quality Real Ghostbusters products during its run, and just like every toy line, the values of certain items can greatly fluctuate over time. This is based on several factors, including the item’s time period, scarcity, consumer demand and overall condition. The good news for Ghostbusters collectors is there always a demand for items from this era, as Kenner created some truly iconic pieces. Loose individual figures from any of the Ghostbusters lines can certainly be found in most secondary markets, but boxed figures are becoming harder to find in good condition and can fetch very high values, especially the final 1991 wave figures. That being said, values on Ghostbusters items from any line remain very steady, but have seen a recent spike in prices due to the re-issued vintage line from Hasbro. The market for the vintage items remain strong due to an ever present 80’s and 90’s nostalgic desire. Boxed versions of most of the vehicles and accessories from the Real Ghostbusters line can be found fairly easy on the secondary market at fairly reasonable prices but items from the first and final waves remain tough finds and usually fetch high prices in good condition. The figures, playsets, vehicles, packs and other sets from the Ghostbusters lines will only increase in value as these figures and sets become rarer and harder to find in the future.
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