It was quite a long drive for a Class 5, but it’s cool, road trips are my thing. Unfortunately, the passengers in my car on a recent lengthy adventure didn’t include that goofy bastard, DJ Qualls and Seann William Scott, it was even better. Once again I managed to coerce one Dinosaur Dracula into co-piloting a long drive down the stormy New Jersey highways with me. It was difficult to justify a hundred mile trip, but I made a convincing argument, or so I thought: “I want to get this Slimer toy I saw.” Pretty persuasive, right? I’m underselling for comedic purposes, there was actually a lot more intrigue involved. In fact, even Phillip Spade wouldn’t have been able to figure this one out.
After the flea market, we shot down the Turnpike. A quick stop at WaWa and we were off, discussing some of Matt’s latest flea market acquisitions during the ride. The rain scared away many of the vendors, but a few of them toughed it out specifically for us to pick up some old crap. From there, I was on a mission. I needed to catch a ghost.
Even the most casual Ghostbusters fans know how popular Slimer was in the ’80s. Shit, even the normies who have no idea what the prefix “Real” refers to when it precedes Ghostbusters know all about Slimer. Even 30 years later, he’s still an icon and a reminder of a simple and fun era of our lives. It’s not a stretch to say that there’s probably been thousands of licensed products with that ugly little spud’s likeness on them. Sure there were lunch boxes, pencil toppers, and sleeping bags, but toys were at the forefront, obviously.
From the moment my mom took me to see the original Ghostbusters at Movie City 5 in 1984, I fell completely in love with it. The collecting blitz didn’t take place right away though. I had to wait until the Real Ghostbusters animated series hit TV to obsess over its amazing Kenner toy line. Star Wars, Super Friends, and Batman were some of my favorite toys to collect when I was a kid, but when Real Ghostbusters toys hit shelves, I needed to own everything in that little Kenner Toy Guide. The most important piece in the line for me was Slimer, or as Kenner packaging referred to him, the Green Ghost.
Slimer transitioned from a slimy green ghost-pest in the original film to a friendly, annoying pet who hung around the Firehouse headquarters. Eventually, he even became a full fledged Ghostbuster.
His animated role as a mascot and helper is what helped him forge such a successful solo career. “Onion Head” and John Belushi’s ghost as he was also known, grabbed top billing over the Real Ghostbusters themselves in 1988 in the re-tooled season 4 as Slimer and the Real Ghostbusters. This also lead to his own comic book series from Now Comics which followed in 1989.
Of the various incarnations of RGB, Kenner’s toy line was a legitimate phenomenon. In particular, the Slimer sculpts were especially fantastic and perfectly captured his simple, animated style seen in the series. His figures usually looked bonkers with a completely maniacal face as he hovered around in hopes of ravenously gobbling up the nearest rubber pizza in his sight.
It was fun to reminisce, but let’s rewind back to the end of May.
In terms of my own collection of crap, to say that I’m a Slimer completist isn’t the case, but I still own a few key Slimer collectibles from my youth. At this point in my collecting life, I only pick up items that I think merely look cool or happen to send me telepathic ESP signals. This is what happened when we were at the incredible It’s A Toy Store‘s Toy Show in Richland, NJ. My my eyes locked onto a Slimer collectible inside the store, but I couldn’t identify him for the life of me.
This Slimer was way up on a shelf that was chock full of amazing mint in box toys and random Star Wars stuff. I felt like I passed by a pet store and I saw a rambunctious little puppy showing off to try to get me to take him home. This was a piece of plastic, how could it possibly have that kind of power over me? Cue that old ditty, “How Much Is That Slimer In The Window?”
I kindly asked one of the store employees if someone could take this mysterious Slimer down for me so I could see if there was a year or any other markings on him. The girl handed him down to me and I gave him a quick inspection, I saw no copyright or trademark inscription whatsoever. Then, I scanned him with my PKE meter and it buried the needle!
After only a minute or two, I called Matt over to see what he thought. “I think it might be a radio.” The radio theory was credible at that point, although I took note that there were no battery compartments, and the bottom looked more like a contraption to shake baby power out of. Could it have been a speaker?
Mystery Ghostbuster Toy Theater needed to come to a halt because I’m claustrophobic and the store was seriously packed with people. I wasn’t 100% sure what the damn thing was, so I hesitated and opted not to buy this unidentified Slimer. The regret started haunting me the second I walked out of the store.
Since that day, Slimer had been on my mind like crazy. It was as if I had the chance to go on a date with Selena Gomez and I was like “Yeah, let me think about it for a second…nope.” What an idiot! The regret infested my mind and I had to get to the bottom of it. Endless eBay digs and never-ending Google image searches lead me nowhere, but what I did prove (to nobody but myself) was that this damn Slimer was NOT the radio that we thought possible. Several eBay listings showed that the Slimer radio was smaller, and a completely different looking.
To up the conundrum quotient, I was also able to easily rule out that it was NOT the Kenner Gooper Ghost due to the fact that he had no mouth hole. Sing it with me Britny Fox style: “IN THE MOUTH HOLE! CAUSE MY SLIMER SPEWS ALL THE GOOP!” Nor did he have a back opening for spewing out Ecto-Plazm. BTW, if 2 of you get my Britny Fox parody, I consider myself lucky.
What in the hell was this thing?!?! Someone please help me before my head dies.
Weeks later, once I reached the point of utter frustration (and caused the same for poor Matt who was researching just as feverishly), it dawned on me that there was once a Real Ghostbusters big-wheel. I never owned one and neither did any of my friends, so, in my mind, it only existed in catalog photos. It hit me like a falling bookshelf – could this be the Slimer “hood ornament” from this ride-on toy? Although, it was my most reasonable guess, I needed to see him again to make sure.
Back to our road trip. We clocked in a good 2 hour drive and finally pulled up to It’s a Toy Store. What I didn’t mention to you is that I called the store the day prior to make sure this Slimer was still there and the guy said “You mean the radio?” I said “Yes, the radio,” appeasing him, and he confirmed that my Mystery Slimer was still haunting the shelf! I first saw him over a month earlier. No one wanted this thing and I couldn’t understand why, since he was clearly collectible.
It was obvious that even the store owners had no idea exactly what he was either. Matt was still a little skeptical about my big wheel theory, but I lawyered up and let my defense rip on the entire car ride down there. I didn’t even need to call Mona Lisa Vito as a witness! Secretly, I hoped my theory was right, because I was always in awe of that big-wheel.
I parked the Ecto-Negative 11A and stormed into the toy store as if I was Darth Vader boarding the Tantive IV. Fortunately, there were no shoppers in my way, otherwise I literally would’ve force pushed them into the next town. I turned into the little corner area of the shop and laid my eyes on this baffling hunk of green plastic that had ignited us into a quest as futile as figuring out the riddle of the Sphinx.
Without hesitation, I grabbed him and marched directly to the cash register which was being manned by the store owner. “You called me yesterday, right?” “Yes, that was me.” He made some small talk with me and then abruptly yelled over to another guy working there and said “This is a radio, right?” the other guy confirmed with confidence, while I knew otherwise.
I went home happy, with a $25 dollar, 29-year old Slimer. I locked him in the trunk so he couldn’t fly out. And even with the satisfaction of knowing that I now own this storied slimeball, it was still a long trek home. We stopped for food, but by time we got home, we were beat. The trip was successful, so no complaints, but I don’t know many people who would literally drive hundreds of miles to rescue a Slimer from a toy store.
The next day, in hopes of finally closing this chapter of my life (yes, my life has a Slimer chapter) Matt sent me some of his findings. Turns out that he’d been researching some more after we returned from the store and he found a quite telling old photo on a Ghostbusters message board.
It’s all the confirmation needed to properly identify this Slimer toy. I had a feeling that this is what it was, but I wasn’t fully certain until I had the toy in my hands to compare. You can take a look for yourself and see.
Simultaneously, Matt pointed out that it wasn’t actually a big wheel that this veritable hood ornament came from, it was actually a Power Cycle Ride-On. The catalog entry pictured above depicts an early prototype of Slimer without moving arms, while the photo from Kissfan07 posted above shows the one with moving arms that made it to the assembly line.
Made by Coleco, the Power Cycles always seemed to me to be a step above your average big wheel when I was a kid. Knight Rider (another I was envious of my friends owning) ALF, Rambo, and MASK were all part of the Power Cycles line. You can take a look at the Coleco catalog from that year via Orange Slime. Matt also discovered later that a Playskool RGB big wheel is going for $1,000 dollars on eBay!
CASE CLOSED! This Slimer is pretty obscure and not commonly seen on eBay or elsewhere, and knowing that made the trip well worth it! Discovering that there’s a lot of history attached to this toy was awesome, but the best part is that we wound up writing some of our own. Thanks to Matt and Miss X for logging in some sick miles with me to retrieve my new addition. I now have my adult equivalent to the Real Ghostbusters Power Cycle!