This Ghostbusters Proton Pack Replica Is One Of The Best Collectibles Of The Year
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Since 1984, a proton pack has been one of the most sought-after items on a Ghostbusters fan's wishlist. The primary piece of gear used to wrangle phantoms, if you couldn't buy an undersized toy replica that came with a pool noodle attachment for the neutrona wand in the late 1980s, then you'd have to build one yourself. Fast-forward to late 2021, toy manufacturer Hasbro announced that not only was it going to be producing a replica of the proton pack seen in Ghostbusters: Afterlife, but it was going to crowdfund the project.
The elevator pitch was tempting, as for $400, you'd get a pack that looks like the real deal, sounds authentic, is compatible with the Spengler neutrona wand, and is loaded with plenty of extras thanks to stretch goals being met. Over 20,000 people backed the Hasbro Pulse campaign--including me--and a few weeks ago, proton packs began shipping out. Was it worth it, to spend almost the price of a PS5 on a collectible replica that can look pretty in a corner or be used for an authentic Ghostbusters cosplay?
You bet your Stay-Puft marshmallows it was.
What makes this collectible so fantastic is that right out of the box, you're good to go if you're planning to do some Ghostbusters trooping. It's not the first 1:1 scale replica of a proton pack as Anovos had previously offered a $3,000 fiberglass version that could trace its origins back to a screen-used pack and Halloween Costumes is developing its own $500 replica, but the Hasbro-developed version hits that sweet spot for authenticity and price.
While some sacrifices had to be made for that $400 price tag, this proton pack is easily customizable thanks to some forward-thinking from Hasbro and its engineers. The Ghostbusters community has wasted no time in making a great prop look even better, and right now, there's no shortage of extras that you can add to the frame or easy modifications that you can do at home.
So where do you get one of these packs? Well that's the bad news, as the crowdfunding campaign is long over and Hasbro hasn't indicated if it'll be doing another run of these packs now that they're out in the wild. With another Ghostbusters movie in development, there could be more than enough interest to roll out a new line of packs eventually, but for now, your only bet is to head to eBay and pay extra for one of these.
Points to Hasbro for once again sticking the landing when it comes to packaging, because this box for the proton pack looks exactly like the kind of strongbox that you'd find in Egon Spengler's lair.
Switched on and ready to bust some ghosts, Hasbro's proton pack is a good-looking piece of equipment. The weathering isn't entirely perfect here, but as former mythbuster Adam Savage demonstrated in his video, that's nothing that you can't fix with some easily obtainable supplies. Throw on some more silver paint and brown accents, and this pack will look like it has gone through a few apocalyptic scenarios.
The braided cable sheath on this pack is one that can be easily replaced for something more screen-accurate, as Phoebe's pack in Ghostbusters: Afterlife has a more vibrant protective covering. Hasbro's choice here is far more muted and has very messy frayed threads, but if you're looking to swap it out, then a few feet of Techflex neon yellow braided cable is a cheap and easy solution.
This red switch here isn't just a handy way to turn the pack on, but an Easter egg that goes all the way back to the original Ghostbusters film. In Afterlife, that Sedgewick Hotel discrepancy was finally addressed when Phoebe field-tested her pack, and now it's a satisfying piece of old-school haptic feedback technology to have on this collectible. Flip the switch, and you'll hear the cyclotron rumble to life inside.
You won't find a real Clippard valve on the pack--not that you can't install one yourself--but this reproduction is the next best thing. It looks like the real deal, has a metal cap, and it's surrounded by a rat's nest of plastic cables that have been molded to look like the copper attachments seen in the film.
That's a running theme in this pack, as just about every small attachment is made from plastic and rubber, from the Clippard elbow screws down to the Dale resistors. They look great at a glance, and if you want to replace them, that's surprisingly easy to do as well.
Hasbro did a great job with the decals on this pack, as each sticker looks worn and dirty. They're not metallic vinyl stickers, but for aesthetic purposes, they fit in well with the design of this pack and easily draw your eye towards some of the more interesting mechanical details. If you'd prefer something that doesn't look like it was dragged through a river of corrosive slime, Hasbo did include a sheet of stickers that can be used to give the pack a fresh-out-of-the-workshop look.
You'll find a whole lot of these extra details on the pack, which has seen some interesting evolution in the years since they were first introduced in Ghostbusters. For fans of props that look like they have been extensively used, there's a delightful number of dings, dents, and pitting molded directly into the shell.
One of the coolest extras on this pack can be found under this part of the shell. Simply unscrew the shock mount, remove the bumper, and...
...There's the cyclotron, on full display! It looks decent--although I'm planning to give mine a fresh coat of copper paint and better weathering--and inside the rim you'll find two switches. The first switch lets you switch the sounds and lights between Afterlife and Ghostbusters '84 mode, while the second switch will let you switch off the rumble function inside the pack.
There's also a hidden compartment on the side, where you can store some stuff. Or better yet, a small Bluetooth speaker can be inserted here and use to pump out Run DMC's superior Ghostbusters theme from the second film. Sorry Ray Parker Jr., your music is iconic, but Run DMC has the superior track.
You can strap on the proton pack right out of the box with the included straps and kidney belt, but if you want this to look authentic, you're going to need to do some shopping at your local military surplus store.
Remove those straps, attach an LC-1 Alice frame with the included brackets, add a foam neck roll, and marvel at how much better your pack looks with that extra touch. Plus, this makes it way more comfortable to wear for long stretches as the overall weight is more evenly distributed.
One of the other stretch goals for the proton pack was connectivity with the superb Spengler wand. It attaches easily to the pack and the neutrona wand, and once securely installed, you'll be able to power up the pack from the particle thrower. There's nothing more satisfying than hitting the switch and hearing your unlicensed nuclear accelerator roar to life. Just remember to avoid crossing the streams if you run into another Ghostbuster at a convention.
There's even a bracket for securing the wand, although you probably don't want to try your luck with it. It works fine if you have your pack on display, but for anyone looking to go cosplaying, a thicker and more durable dixie cup upgrade is essential.
Another stretch goal bonus, the proton pack comes with a terrific stand to place it on. It works just fine with or without an LC-1 frame attached to the pack, and it's just begging for some extra customization. At the time of writing, I've currently got my stand drying out in the sun after applying a few coats of spraypaint to it.
We're not done with stretch goals just yet! These scorched Stay-Puft marshmallow men are adorable, can clamp their demonically possessed hands around your cables, and even come with a few spare heads so that you can change up their facial expressions. On top of that, Hasbro also included a Spengler journal, extra sticker sheets, and marshmallow "slime" to give the prop an extra layer of messy paranormal extermination grime.
For an interesting comparison, here's what the Hasbro pack looks like next to Spirit Halloween's version. The differences are obvious, from size to materials, but the Spirit Halloween pack is worth considering if you're on a budget. It's also easily moddable, and in the years since it hit the market, a large selection of third-party extras have gone on sale to make it look like an authentic piece of ghostbusting gear.