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A Tale of Two Different Boxes for Hasbro's Ghostbusters: Afterlife Ecto-1 Playset

 By Paul Rudoff on Nov. 4, 2021 at 12:00 PM , Categories: Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Toys
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Hasbro recently released the Ghostbusters: Afterlife Ecto-1 Playset, which I reviewed last month. You may have heard, or even noticed yourself, that the toy comes in two slightly different boxes. Both boxes have an illustration of Phoebe in the new Ecto-1's gunner seat. The difference is that she is wearing a different outfit on each box. One box has her wearing a Ghostbusters uniform/jumpsuit/flightsuit. The other has her wearing blue clothing/overalls/coveralls. Why is that the case? Read on to find out more...

We all know that the Ghostbusters: Afterlife movie was originally meant to be released to theaters on July 10, 2020. Thanks to the apocalypse happening across planet Earth, that never happened. By March 2020, when the world shut down, Hasbro had already manufactured many products that would tie-in with the movie, which were going to be released just ahead of the film's theatrical release. The Ecto-1 Playset was one such product.

Due to the chaos going down across the world, Hasbro immediately put a halt to the release of the movie merchandise, but a few copies of the Ecto-1 Playset made their way into stores... or at least the back stocking areas. During Summer 2020, some boxes popped up on eBay. They all featured the illustration of Phoebe in a jumpsuit. The eBay scalpers claimed that this box was "rare", since it was "recalled" by Hasbro. I'm sure that many Ghostheads paid some rather exorbitant prices for these boxes. (FYI: Hasbro's suggested retail price for the Ecto-1 Playset is about $30.)

Jump ahead to September/October 2021. With the film firmly set for a November 2021 theatrical release, Hasbro was finally able to properly release all of their toys related to the movie; the Ecto-1 Playset being one of them. Fans noticed that the illustration on the front of the box had changed. Phoebe was no longer wearing the jumpsuit seen in the "leaked" boxes from the previous year. Now she was wearing blue overalls over a blue shirt. As I have just confirmed with Eric Reich from Ghost Corps, the box art was changed after the first print run due to it being somewhat of a spoiler to see Phoebe wearing her grandfather's jumpsuit. That's something she, likely, dons for the film's big climax. The folks at Hasbro and/or Ghost Corps didn't want to chance spoiling the climax for anyone, even with something as minor as that. Also, the Fright Feature figure of Phoebe that was shown in photos on the back of the original box was removed from this new box. The figure was wearing the jumpsuit, so the same reason applies for that change, as well. I assume that Hasbro also erased the figure because they didn't want buyers to think that the car came with the figure.

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What happened to the original jumpsuit box? Was it truly "recalled", never to be released to the general public? Was it a rarity, as the eBay scalpers claimed?

As Public Enemy once proclaimed, don't believe the hype. The jumpsuit box is very much available for purchase... but only while supplies last. Where you can buy either box will depend on which store you visit and in which country. Kinda... sorta... maybe.

On Friday October 29, 2021, I visited the Target and Walmart stores in Westbury, New York. As I wrote on the Spook Central Facebook page, I noticed that Target had the blue overalls box. The store had four of them in stock (I bought one) for the price of $26.49. The Target in Levittown, New York, also only had the blue overalls box - about 3 or 4 in stock - when I was there back in September. Neither of these Target stores had the jumpsuit box.

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(click for uncropped original photo)

Meanwhile, the Walmart across the street had a HUGE amount of Hasbro toys on an end cap, including TWENTY of the jumpsuit box (for $29.87 each). Sixteen of them on the end cap, and a few more down the aisle. That doesn't seem very "rare" to me. Walmart did not have any of the blue overalls box.

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(click for uncropped original photo)

My personal observation was confirmed by Ghostbusters News' posting of a photo that Michael James Kelley Jr. took of a Hasbro Ghostbusters toy display spotted at a Walmart in Towson, Maryland. This photo, which is displayed below, shows that Walmart store selling six (or more, if there are additional boxes behind them) of the jumpsuit boxes, and none of the blue overalls box. Jon Jones on Facebook also confirmed my personal observation.

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(click for uncropped original photo)

Up in Canada, the situation with Target and Walmart may be the same (I have yet to get confirmation). I have been told by Serge Rioux that in Quebec, Gamestop has the jumpsuit box, while Toys R Us has the blue overalls box.

This all led me to believe that Hasbro ended up making each box a store-exclusive. I checked in with Eric Reich from Ghost Corps, who told me that that wasn't the case.
The boxes were never meant to be "store exclusive" boxes. As you noted, the box art changed due to possible spoilers, and my guess is that first order was made by Walmart, so they got all the boxes with the original art in their distribution centers. The other orders then with the new box went to Target and any others. Long story short, I think it's just the supply chain which dictated where the boxes ended up, and not exclusive to one store or the other.
So, the appearance of store-exclusivity is just a total coincidence. It does tell us fans where we are most likely (but not 100% guaranteed) to find a specific box:

• FIRST EDITION JUMPSUIT BOX - Walmart (U.S., Canada?), Gamestop (U.S.?, Canada).

• SECOND EDITION BLUE OVERALLS BOX - Target (U.S., Canada?), Toys R Us (Canada).

I can not tell you which box Amazon is selling. If you buy it from Amazon - and please do, as Spook Central will earn a very tiny commission from the sale - post a comment below to let us know.

Now, as for the "rarity" of the jumpsuit box... That is really going to depend on how many were produced by Hasbro. They are not sharing the numbers, but I have to believe that they produced (at least) a few thousand of them back in early 2020. Hasbro would have wanted to have enough ready to be released in all major retailers all across the United States and Canada in June/July 2020 in time for the movie. We know that both of these countries have gotten the jumpsuit packaging in 2021, but we don't know if the production got far enough along before the global shutdown to make product for other countries. I was able to confirm with Eric Reich that production on the jumpsuit box has ended, so that once the supply of the jumpsuit box is exhausted, the blue overalls box will be the only one going forward.
A certain amount of units was made with her in the flight suit, and that box will not continue to be made. The other one in the overalls will.
Obviously, the jumpsuit box is "limited" in the sense that there are a finite number that were produced and no more will be made. However, we don't know how limited it is. For the sake of argument, let's say that Hasbro produced 5,000 units of the jumpsuit box. While those would be the only copies of the jumpsuit box ever made, I wouldn't exactly call five thousand "rare". I would say that if you want the jumpsuit box, go to one of the retailers listed above NOW! You don't want the eBay scalpers to nab them all, or to chance any unsold boxes being sent back to Hasbro in a few months and possibly being hard to find later.

Finally, I'd like to point out that the CONTENTS OF BOTH BOXES ARE 100% THE SAME. The only difference between the two is the imagery on the box. Nothing more, nothing less. So, unless you're a collector who wants both boxes, it doesn't matter which one you buy if you just want the toy inside.

More images from my trip to Target and Walmart on October 29th can be found on the Spook Central Facebook page. Be sure to also read my review of the Ecto-1 Playset. You can buy it at Amazon here.

UPDATE (11/19/2021) - Having now seen the movie twice, I can point out that the illustration with Phoebe in the blue overalls is actually movie-accurate. At no point in the movie does she wear the Spengler jumpsuit while sitting front-forward in the gunner seat, as shown in the original illustration.

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