To borrow from the words of the incomparable Dr. Peter Venkman: “Call it fate, call it luck, call it karma. I believe everything happens for a reason…”
Especially when that reason involves toys, collectibles, movies, and maybe running around the city with an unlicensed nuclear accelerator strapped to your back. Or, at the bare minimum, a conversation about said Proton Pack and the accessories that go with it.
This week, The Pop Insider took a seat at the table for a catch-up roundtable with members of Hasbro‘s Ghostbusters team, including Manager of Global Brand Marketing Emily Bader, Sr. Graphic Designer Patrick Dennis, and Principal Product Designer Kevin Evans. The topic at hand: the swift success of their latest HasLab project, the Ghostbusters Plasma Series HasLab Two in the Box! Ghost Trap & P.K.E. Meter.
“Two in the box, ready to go — we be fast and they be slow!”
Ghostbusters fans sprung into action quicker than the unsung heroes of New York did when they put the Scoleri brothers in the box back in 1989. In a matter of hours, the Two in the Box! HasLab project exceeded its goal of 10,000 backers, guaranteeing that new and existing recruits can add an official Psychokinetic Energy (P.K.E.) Meter and Ghost Trap to their ghostbustin’ gear. The immediate success can be attributed to the HasLab team’s constant communication with fans and collectors and the use of those learnings to make each project better.
“You know, it’s been interesting because so much has changed in the world of HasLab since we did the Proton Pack,” Bader explains. “I’ve done three G.I. Joe HasLabs in the time since we did the Proton Pack, and there have been a lot of learnings that we were able to take from projects that have happened since then and apply them to this campaign, which I think is is really beneficial for everyone involved.”
Those learnings can be applied on the fly, and that means HasLab projects can evolve throughout their funding period and beyond as Hasbro designers incorporate feedback into the finished products. This is possible because HasLab projects are essentially the business of toymaking in reverse.
“It’s a little bit backward because we do a lot of upfront development,” Bader explains, pointing out that the product shown to consumers at the start is a very realistic-looking, but very handmade prototype. Then, if funded, they have to figure out how to make it. “Now, we actually get to go back and restart the development process the way that we would with regular toys … going through all of the development process milestones. We’ve been working with our amazing factory partners on this already, but with these hand-painted, thrown-together models, you go backward and then you go forward again.”
Without delving too deeply into the trade secrets of development timelines, speed is a big factor.
“With HasLab, we get this out there as quickly as we can,” Evans says. “I think the paint was still drying when we were taking photos of these things and then we’re putting them out there.”
Bustin’ Gets Some Upgrades
The team at Hasbro set out to create an authentic experience that Ghostbusters fans, including cosplayers and makers, can enjoy — a P.K.E. Meter and Ghost Trap that can stand up to enthusiastic roleplay. That meant crafting products that can simultaneously work with previously released items, including Spengler’s Neutrona Wand and Proton Pack, or stand on their own.
“There is definitely a hierarchy of fun props from Ghostbusters,” Dennis says, commenting on the team’s wish list of role-play items and the order in which they’re made. “It goes Wand, Proton Pack, P.K.E. Meter, and Ghost Trap.”
While customization has long been a part of the Ghostbusters fan experience with countless makers crafting their own props (Dennis among them), Bader points out that there is a disclaimer to acknowledge.
“Legally, we will insist that you do not modify or tinker with our toys because they are toys and we make them to specific QA standards,” she says. “With that in mind, and interpret this as you will, this HasLab is being made with the same fan-focused appeal as the Proton Pack.”
That means that while certain fan-requested features, such as smoke from the Ghost Trap, will not make the final product (spoiler alert: it would ramp up the cost), there just might be a “sizeable cavity” for such a feature to go once it’s in the hands of a Ghostbuster in the wild.
Additionally, since the launch of the latest project, additional functions have been added, including a rumble motor in the Ghost Trap, refined wings for the P.K.E. Meter, an update on the pedal function for the Ghost Trap (one tap to open, one tap to close), and more.
Each role-play item is also crafted with plenty of premium materials, including steel and some faux leather as used in other Hasbro premium role-play items.
Over the weekend, the Hasbro team put their toys to the test with a visit to the Rhode Island Comic Con and Hook & Ladder No. 8 (aka Ghostbusters HQ) in Tribeca.
Word on the street is that everything performed just as it should, which begs the question: “Can a working Slime Thrower be next?”
In the meantime, don’t wait to secure your Two in the Box! HasLab goodies. Stretch goals are open, but you need to back the campaign by Dec. 11 to get your gear.
Speaking of Dr. Venkman…
Again, call it fate, call it luck, call it a serendipitous coincidence, but it just so happens that our roundtable took place less than 12 hours ahead of the official teaser trailer debut for Sony Pictures’ Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire. Take a look!
In Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, the Spengler family returns to where it all started — the iconic New York City firehouse – to team up with the original Ghostbusters, who’ve developed a top-secret research lab to take busting ghosts to the next level. But when the discovery of an ancient artifact unleashes an evil force, Ghostbusters new and old must join forces to protect their home and save the world from a second Ice Age.
Originally slated for release this fall, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire will hit theaters in time for the 40th anniversary of Ghostbusters next year.
And yes, there will be toys!
“You’ll learn about that soon-ish,” Bader says. “I mean, usually, when there’s a movie that comes out, we like to make toys to support it, right?”
GHOSTBUSTERS PLASMA SERIES HASLAB TWO IN THE BOX! GHOST TRAP AND P.K.E. METER
Get the equipment you need to bust ghosts right at home! This kit comes with a P.K.E. Meter and Ghost Trap as seen in Ghostbusters. The HasLab crowdfunding campaign will be open to backers until Dec. 11.