It’s here! Just over a year after the crowdfunding campaign succeeded, Hasbro delivered the Ghostbusters Plasma Series Spengler’s Proton Pack months ahead of schedule. Backers in the U.S. started receiving unlicensed nuclear accelerators as early as January 13th, and we were among them. So, does this $399 replica measure up to our expectations?
This thing is big. The proton pack is full-size and contains many details we’ve seen on fan-made replicas for years, but with the added Ghostbusters: Afterlife detail. The tool of the trade is loaded up with various hoses, “wires,” connectors, decals, and silver paint to replicate wear.
The pack looks and feels like the genuine article for the most part, but it could benefit from a dull coat to remove the plastic look. When you get up close, you can tell, at the end of the day, this is made by a toy manufacturer.
Most of the “wires” are easily disconnected from the pack. These are made from a rubbery material that hopefully won’t become brittle over time. The proton pack is made with modders in mind because few items are permanently affixed to the body. If you want to swap the Clippard valve out for a real one, you only need a screwdriver.
The simplification of the various connectors and cables is a blessing but also makes the pack look like a toy when you’re up close. On the one hand, this decision kept costs down. On the other hand, it will take a bit of extra work and paint to get this toy closer to its on-screen counterpart. Again, the concern that the rubber-like material used may degrade over time is something to watch.
Let’s turn this thing on!
The Ghostbusters Plasma Series Spengler’s Proton Pack allows multiple light cycling options, sound, and rumble modes. Hidden under the cyclotron are two switches. These toggle between Afterlife and 1984 modes and turn the rumble feature on or off. Once a switch is flipped, the pack makes a slight shock sound to let you know that the new mode is engaged.
Check out our videos below for the two modes in action:
Rather than using the typical single-bulb light system we’ve seen on other replicas, Hasbro chose to fill each cyclotron port with three LEDs. This works great when the pack is in Afterlife mode because it simulates the spinning effect quite well.
However, when it comes to ’84 mode, the effect isn’t as impressive because you can see each of the three LEDs flash. This could be fixed with a piece of fogged plexiglass to act as a defuser, but it’s clear that Afterlife was the main goal with this replica instead of the original Ghostbusters film.
A cool added feature is a shutdown effect that happens if the ribbon cable is disconnected from the cyclotron. Depending on which mode you have turned on, you’ll get a different sequence:
The speaker is right on top of the pack where the crank is. The crank also acts as the volume control. It’s unclear what wattage the speaker is, but it can be turned out reasonably loud, which should be ideal for those who want to use this replica at conventions.
Since only four D-cell batteries power the pack, it might be wise to upgrade the power system in the future. We’ve yet to drain the batteries, but at full volume and with rumble on, this thing may only last a couple of hours.
If you have the neutrino wand, the stretch goal hose connector can power the thrower. On top of providing power, the hose allows the two replicas to communicate. Turning the neutrino wand’s power on also causes the proton pack to turn on. If the wand is shut off, the pack follows. The integration is a great touch, but we found a problem we’ll address later in the review.
You’ll need an ALICE pack if you want a more screen-accurate proton pack.
Attaching a G.I. Type ALICE pack is a breeze. All of the connecting hardware is included. Of course, all frames are built differently, but the one we picked from the Army Navy Surplus Store fits perfectly. The first thing we did was fit the frame to the proton pack using the included spacers for the frame’s base. This holds everything in place and allows you to shift the frame left or right if the army gear isn’t symmetrical.
From there, we attached the u-brackets, which are sized to match the support bars and gaps between the frame and the proton pack. Super simple; remember to remove the included waist and shoulder straps from the Hasbro replica first.
An ALICE frame does make it easier to lug the pack around because the replica is not light. While the included straps are serviceable, the unlicensed nuclear accelerator flat against your back is uncomfortable. There’s no way to lighten the load, either.
Luckily, the included Class 4 stretch goal stand was modified to allow backers to display the pack with and without the ALICE frame attached. The stand is made from sturdy plastic and snaps together. However, once the base is assembled, it may be damaged if you try to take it apart.
This wraps up the things we liked about the Proton Pack. Next, let us start looking at the accessories and items we were not impressed with.
As far as the ancillary things go, they’re hit or miss.
The marshmallow goo attachments are a perk that should have been skipped. This soft white plastic doesn’t look much like a melting marshmallow, but on the plus side, you get three Mini-Pufts with six interchangeable heads. These figures are repainted versions of the Minis that had previously been available with the Plasma Series figure line from two years ago. They’re cute, but how do these little guys fit into the overall aesthetic of the proton pack?
While the Mini-Pufts could be placed anywhere on the battery pack while on the display stand, the hidden compartment shown below has two sets of pegs that allow you to stand the manifestations of Gozer securely; however, unlike the empty void shown in the Adam Savage video, there’s no longer enough room to hide a mischievous anthropomorphic sugar blob.
As of writing this, Hasbro has created a shipping label for the green ectoplasm attachments, but they’ve yet to be picked up by FedEx. This perk will outshine the drippy marshmallow goo, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Now let’s take a look at the negatives. First, the campaign said we would get “custom 1984 decals with a brushed chrome look.” Instead, we got a pack of replacement decals printed on standard white gloss paper with NO brushed chrome.
This is unacceptably cheap. These were part of the Class 1 stretch goal and nowhere resembled what was described:
“Final product may vary.” Oh, it varies greatly and leads to our next issue: the hose.
Although pliable to a certain degree, the hose that connects the proton pack to the neutrona wand is faulty. We’d previously seen other YouTubers show off this problem and felt our pack would suffer the same issue as soon as we connected it. The hose screws into the pack and uses a two-pin connector to send power and signals back and forth.
This connection should be tight, but it’s pretty loose. Even when screwed as tightly as possible, some give still allows the pins to lose contact, making the proton pack think it has been disconnected from the particle thrower. Thus, the pack shuts down and has to be manually turned back on.
After we strapped an ALICE pack on and took the pack for a test drive, we suffered three shutdowns, one right after the other, as soon as the hose bumped into something even lightly. We’ll see if Hasbro addresses this problem as more customers get their hands on the proton pack.
Another letdown was the Class 3 stretch goal. A lot of people were let down by this unlock. Rather than getting patches or anything directly related to the pack, backers were getting a journal and stickers. Yes, stickers. These are not additional stickers for the pack but random character stickers for kids. Ugh.
Egon Spengler’s journal recounts the events of the first two Ghostbusters movies and the scientist’s journey to Summerville. Unfortunately, Afterlife didn’t chronicle what Egon was going through when trying to convince others of a second cross-rift event and the return of Gozer. The journal fills in that gap, but was this worthy of being the second to last stretch goal? No. Although it is well-written and gives us insight into the mind of Egon Spengler, I would have rather had more options worked into the proton pack instead. Maybe different colored LEDs to match the additional firing modes on the particle thrower. Oh, well.
That’s it. The Ghostbusters Plasma Series Spengler’s Proton Pack is an excellent replica with subpar stretch goal accessories. The only flaw with the pack is a faulty connection found in the optional connector hose. Am I glad I backed it? Yes. Over the last twenty years, I’ve bought and sold several fan-made proton packs, and Hasbro’s offering is the best I’ve seen at the under $500 price point. Hopefully, Hasbro will address the cheap ’84 non-chrome stickers and the hose shortly.