By John Lester - images & text © 2002
"Everyone can relax, I found the car."
Columbia Pictures' 1984 hit Ghostbusters is still one of my favorite movies of all time - and the Ectomobile one of my favorite "superhero" rides. I've been waiting a long time for a decent kit - and Polar Lights have finally stepped up to the plate with one.
Image: The roof rack is way over-simplified
Image: Clear & tinted parts
Image: Other details
Image: Stickers provide the bare essentials for markings
Image: Instructions are typical for Polar Lights
What You Get
The box is almost bursting with parts - clear, tinted, white and chromed plastic, plus vinyl tires, screws and metal axles. Instructions and a sheet of stickers complete the package. It's marketed as a Skill Level 1 Snap-together kit for ages 8 and up.
The major features of the vehicle are present, but it's a curbside model (no engine, no separate chassis) and the interior is pretty spartan. Molding is pretty good, with no flash or sinkholes (on my kit, anyway) and negligible mold seams. It's very well engineered: almost all the chrome parts attach to the sprues in spots where you have to scrape off the chrome anyway if you're going to glue them on, for instance. The equipment that festoons the exterior is provided as separate pieces, which makes painting so much easier. The three clear pieces (flasher covers and windshield) are clear and distortion-free, as is the tinted piece that covers the back windows.
Instructions are typical for Polar Lights - not great, but most folks will be able to puzzle through them. Paint call-outs are provided, but to get the details right you'll need to compile some references. The stickers provided give the "No-ghosts" logo for the doors and hood, license plates and red for the fins. The logos are OK, but the license plates are the wrong color and I'd skip the fin markings - it's just as easy to paint those on. Missing are a whole bunch of dataplates, guages and warning stripes for the equipment on the roof, as well as dashboard instruments and such.
The Ecto-1 and Ecto-1a (Ghostbusters II) were both constructed from 1959 Cadillac Miller Meteor Combination End Loaders and are both housed on a Sony backlot as of this writing. The model appears to be pretty faithful to the original Ecto 1. Where it falls down in accuracy is the in all the gadgets and equipment lashed to the roof. The major details are there, but vastly simplified (for good reference images showing this, see the Ghostbusters Prop Archive). Also missing is any of the equipment (like proton packs) normally stowed in the back. While the hard core modelers out there will no doubt provide a market for aftermarket resin bits (those that don't scratchbuilt the whole assemblies), the folks targeted by Polar Lights will most likely be happy enough with what is provided.
Assembly & Finish
Fit of the major components is pretty near outstanding. I dry-fit most of the larger pieces and was very impressed. I'd use glue to make sure things stay together though.
While I'm sure the stock kit can be built up to make a nice-looking desk model, you can really make the car shine with a relatively few additions. Fill up the inside with equipment -- you won't see details through the heavily tinted "glass", but you will be able to make out the shapes. The roof rack looks to be scratchbuilt easily enough from styrene rod and sheet; you can remove equipment from the kit part and go a long way towards filling the new structure up properly.
I like this kit, despite it's shortcomings. It's something that will appeal to my 7 year old neice as much as it does to me - and we can both built it to our individual levels of experience and be happy. Furthermore, the low price lets me rationalize any aftermarket accessories I may end up acquiring.
Recommended to any who have the interest in the subject.
This page copyright © 2002 Starship Modeler. Last updated on 16 October 2002.