While not a toy, The Official Ghostbusters Training Manual was one of my prized possessions as a wee tyke. Published in conjunction with the movie in 1984, I probably got it only a couple years after I’d learned to read, which explains why there are lines from it that were so deeply embedded in my psyche that I never forgot them.
What I did forget, it seems, is just how much Ghostbusters was a part of my childhood. I’ve gone through nostalgic revivals of interest in He-Man, Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and paid tribute to smaller fads like Robocop, but I’ve more or less neglected Ghostbusters–despite the fact that, as a kid, my Kenner Green Ghost and Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man were two of my most beloved toys. With the imminent arrival of Mattel’s Ghostbusters line, I expect that to change soon. In fact, the entire Ghostbusters franchise seems to be in the midst of a cultural revival (with rumors of a new sequel a la Rocky Balboa, Rambo, Live Free or Die Hard and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull).
Before I go further, I should mention that while I bought this particular copy off eBay (my original is long gone), it has a price sticker from Building 19, which is a New England department store chain whose first and largest store is in Weymouth, Massachusetts, where I lived until I was about eight years old.
As the title suggests, the book is written as if it’s a training manual to become a Ghostbuster. I’d say the target age range would be about 6-8, though it’s hard to say due to all the technobabble like “psychokinetic energy” and the ubiquitous “ectoplasm.” The book comes with a bunch of stickers that you’re supposed to put on the appropriate pages in the book. I can’t remember whether I actually stuck them on the book or just used them elsewhere, but this eBay copy actually came with them intact on the separate sheet. (That made me wonder: who bought this thing and then just kept it laying around, completely untouched? And why?)
Though definitely a kid’s book, it does have some nice photos and even an interesting blueprint of the ghost trap.
Of course, this is the page I remember the most. Like all kids, I loved–and, frankly, still love–Slimer (although this was the period when he was still just “the green ghost,” or in this case, a class five full roaming vapor). Slimer’s scenes in the movie are pretty fleeting and you never really get a good look at him, so the best part about this book was a nice still photo of the character. This was also the page that contained the phrase I never forgot: “Horribly ugly, trailing smelly ectoplasmic goo.” Why did that stick in my head? I don’t know, maybe it was the first time I’d encountered a dependent clause.
At the end of the book, you get to fill out a certificate that shows you’re an official Ghostbuster (and yes, I’m 90% sure I signed it when I was a kid). What’s interesting here is that it’s only signed by Peter, Egon and Ray. Does that mean Winston had to read this manual and sign off on it before they’d let him strap on a proton pack? Poor Winston, the Ringo Starr of the Ghostbusters.
And that’s it. I hope you’ve enjoyed this examination of a movie tie-in children’s book from the 1980s. Now I’m going to go read some Pynchon or something* to try and fool myself into thinking I’m not wasting all my time.
*No, no I’m not. That’s a flat-out lie. I’m going to write my Man-At-Arms review, then maybe watch Eureka on Netflix.