One of my favourite things in life is seeing a parcel on my doorstep when I get home from work. The anticipation that builds from days (sometimes weeks) of waiting for my LEGO to arrive usually means that my excitement levels are off the charts.
Last week’s package, was a little more special than usual containing one of my most anticipated sets this year – LEGO Ghostbusters Ecto-1.
Name: Ghostbusters Ecto-1
Set Number: 21108
Price: AU$69.99 (LEGO.com link)
Exclusive to: N/A
Year of Release: 2014
Ecto-1 is the 6th LEGO Ideas set, joining an illustrious group of fan-voted and LEGO-approved creations such as Minecraft, Back to the Future Delorean and NASA’s Curiosity Rover. The brainchild of designer and massive Ghostbusters fan, Brent Waller (pictured below in his Ghostbusting getup), Ecto-1’s release was accelerated to coincide with the Ghostbusters 30th anniversary.
I recently interviewed Brent Waller where he shared some insight into the creation of one of cinema’s most iconic vehicles which also included some interesting photos of early prototypes.
21108 LEGO Ghostbusters Ecto-1 went on sale online on 1 June 2014 on LEGO.com for AU$69.99 ($49.99 in the US) and should be available in Australian retail store (s?) later this year. Fingers crossed.
Do you have a paranormal LEGO situation on your hands? Find out below if Ecto-1 lives up to the hype or whether it’s a ghastly letdown.
The LEGO Ghostbusters set is the very first fan-voted set released under the LEGO Ideas banner (formerly CUUSOO) and comes in some really cool packaging that’s feels a lot more premium than regular LEGO cardboard boxes. It looks fantastic, with a yellow and black striped border trimming surrounding the box flap as well as the new LEGO Ideas logo featuring prominently in the bottom right corner.
Lifting up the flap reveals the contents of the set and the instruction manual. Interestingly, the plastic bags are unnumbered which is quite an uncommon occurrence these days. The set is built from a lot of tiny pieces, so it’s not that difficult finding what you need as the elements used are fairly distinct. I like the box and will most likely use it to store the parts when I eventually disassemble the set.
The instruction manual is another highlight of the set – a beautiful 100+ page booklet. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the instruction booklet, which also contains a few pages devoted to introducing builders to the Ghostbusters cinematic universe, characters and model designers.
It makes for very interesting reading, particularly learning about the design process which spanned Brent Waller’s initial LEGO Ideas submission to how LEGO designer Marcos Bessa and graphic designer Adam Corbally modified the model to ensure that it met LEGO’s standards of stability and offered a good building experience. One of my favourite bits in the manual is the inclusion of classic quotes from the cast members of Ghostbusters in different pages of the manual.
Introducing the cast of Ghostbusters, now immortalised as LEGO minifigures. LEGO did an exceptional job capturing the likenesses of Dr. Egon Spengler, Dr. Ray Stantz, Winston Zeddemore and Dr. Peter Venkman with the weakest representation being Dr. Ray Stantz who looks pretty plain. It’s a wish come true for me, finally having a minifigure version of Bill Murray – a celebrity that fans have been wanting to build out of LEGO for a long long time.
The minifigures come with their own custom Ghostbusters stand, complete with yellow and black stripes, which allows them to be displayed with relative ease. The stand also helps keep them from falling over from the weight of their Proton Packs.
Taking a closer look at the minifigures, I have to say that LEGO have really outdone themselves with the amount of detail squeezed into the torso designs. They could have phoned it in with generic uniforms and torsos but they instead went the extra mile to give us unique versions of each Ghostbuster. Another delightful surprise is alternate faces with the usual “scared” look. Looks as if they saw a ghost, heh.
Each Ghostbuster has a unique torso bearing a name tag with their initials on it as well as their first names printed on the back. On closer inspection, I also noticed that they also each have slightly different belt designs. I really didn’t expect this much detail paid to each torso but it’s very very appreciated and makes each minifigure feel extra special.
Here’s a closer look at the Dr. Egon’s torso printing. It seems that LEGO is finally able to replicate the same shade of neck with minifigure heads, a very notable improvement when it comes to torso printing!
Each member of the Ghostbusters team comes equipped with a Proton Pack aka “unlicensed nuclear accelerators” which are strapped to their backs. The Proton Packs are pretty hefty and make it pretty difficult for them to stand if they’re not secured in on studs. That said, I like the design of the packs and the printed element is a nice little bonus.
One great thing about this set is that there are no stickers. For a set aimed at older LEGO fans, I think LEGO have finally caught on to the deep hatred that AFOLs have for stickers.
This is the finished product, one of Hollywood’s most iconic vehicles, Ecto-1 in all its glory. From the very moment I finished putting Ecto-1 together, I was blown away by the completed model. It’s an incredible recreation of the original, and the designers need to be applauded for capturing the look and feel of Ecto-1 so faithfully.
Ecto-1 looks spectacular from every angle. From afar, the car’s bright colours, unique shape and plethora of bells and whistles helps make Ecto-1 instantly recognizable. It’s remarkable how the colours work so well with each other, especially the reds, whites and blue lights.
I really enjoyed the entire building process as it was filled with some really interesting techniques as well as non-repetitive sections. I can attest to how well thought out the design of the Ecto-1 is. I’m normally not a fan of putting together LEGO vehicles, especially cars because they don’t stray from their general shape.
With Ecto-1, I didn’t feel like I was going through the motions when putting it together. Kudos to Brent and Marcos for putting a lot of thought into the overall design of this set, which helps make this set such a refreshing experience to put together
This was my favourite part of Ecto-1, the roof with its assortment of Ghostbustin’ gadget and gizmos. There’s a LOT of stuff going on on Ecto-1’s roof, from radars, wooden sticks (?), sirens and rubber hoses, there is no shortage of delightful instruments perched on top of the vehicle.
I especially liked assembling all the little contraptions, and it was quite fun turning each page of the instruction manual to discover more little widgets to add on to the crowded roof. It brought back a lot of memories of designing crazy techno-builds in my childhood, where you would just try and cram as many guns, lasers and scanners on a robot, spaceship or base.
The eclectic nature of Ecto-1’s roof really comes into its own and because it’s the final part of the assembly process, left me with a very pleasant ending to an already very enjoyable build.
Not missing out on play and interactive features, Ecto-1’s roof is fully removable, allowing you to transport the Ghostbusters team in and out of their vehicle. Speaking of transport, you might wonder if everyone fits in the car?
They certainly do, although it’s a bit of a tight fit in the front seat as there is only a 4 x 4 area which means you’ll have to place in diagonally to each other. In the backseat is a little computer console, which is a nice addition to ensure that the interior doesn’t look bland and even some bootspace for the fourth Ghostbuster (in this case Bill Murray) to lie prone so that no one misses out on their trips to investigate strange going-ons in their neighbourhood.
A smart use of curved slopes, tiles and cheese slopes give the side profile of Ecto-1 a very pleasing and smooth look. Again, I’d like to reiterate how much I love that we didn’t have any stickers in this set. I don’t have an irrational hate for stickers but the appeal of printed elements, like the curved slope with Ghostbusters logo is hard to resist. It just feels right.
Rounding off the build are the red side spoilers or wings (no idea what the red part is called, so I’m making stuff up) which makes the car look as close as it can to its movie counterpart in addition to giving it a very sleek and dynamic look. We also get a very generous helping of brushed silver pieces which feature on Ecto-1’s bumpers as well as printed Ecto-1 New York licence plates.
Final Thoughts: Sets like the Ghostbusters Ecto-1 don’t come along very often. It’s quite rare that you get to play with sets that tick so many boxes. Nostalgia, build ingenuity, displayability and a very premium look and feel all resonated very strongly with me from the moment I opened the box to the point that I proudly placed this on my modest display shelf.
I expected that I would be a fan of this set when news broke that it had passed the CUUSOO review but I never imagined that I would like it this much, much less consider it one of 2014’s standout models. Believe the hype, this set represents the perfect marriage of a LEGO fan’s passion and matured build techniques that The LEGO Group’s talented designers have been honing all these years.
It’s the perfect size for a build in one sitting and when it all comes together, the sense of satisfaction that it evoked in me was quite rare. For those of you keeping score at home, I highly recommend picking this set up.
What I liked:
- Fantastically designed minifigures, with lots of tiny but intricate details to set them apart from each other
- Model looks great on display. Brent nailed the scale of Ecto-1
- The roof. All the little gadgets and gizmos on the roof brought out my inner child
- Fun, non-repetitive build which will introduce you to some neat building techniques
- Great Ghostbusters collectibles like the fancy instruction manual and box
What I didn’t like:
- The Australian price is pretty steep. $70 for a car and 4 minifigures is kind of steep and this set may not be as accessible as I’d like it to be.
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Something strange in your neighbourhood? Who you gonna call? Let me know in the comments!