The Real Ghostbusters: Complete Collection
DVD Case Comparison
Metal (Steelbook™) vs. Plastic
When the DVD box set was first released back in November 2008, the five smaller sets ("volumes") inside were each housed in a metal SteelBook™ case. When Vol 1. was released by itself in March 2009, it retained its Steelbook case from the box set. However, in early 2010 TimeLife begun the process of replacing the Steelbook metal cases with plastic cases that are of the same dimensions. It started with the individual release of Vol. 2 in January 2010, then within a few months after that the Complete Collection box set and the individual Vol. 1 started using the plastic cases, as well.
The new packaging has all five discs packaged inside a clear standard-size plastic keepcase (same dimensions as the Steelbooks), with each disc on its own page with NO overlap! For the individual Volume releases, a paperboard sleeve is placed around the plastic case. The new cases weigh less than the old cases: for the entire set (firehouse box, book, bonus disc and all five cases), the Steelbooks weigh in at approximately 3.25 lbs, while the plastic cases weigh in at approximately 2.5 lbs.
I suggested this packaging to Jeff Peisch (producer of the DVD box set, and head of TimeLife's video division) back in January 2009, after I saw how well it worked in CBS/Paramount's Petticoat Junction - The Official First Season set. One of my major complaints about The Real Ghostbusters: Complete Collection, other than the slow or sped-up episodes in Vol 4, is with the Steelbook cases. I hate the disc-over-disc storage inside the cases, and the disc locking mechanism, which has absolutely no give and upon repeated use will cause the inner ring of the disc to crack. I've had this happen with my Ghostbusters 1999 DVD, and that case's disc locking mechanism is a bit better than the Steelbooks - but not by much. So I'm quite happy that TimeLife decided to take my suggestion and switch everything over to the plastic cases, though I'm sure that it's the cheaper cost of the plastic cases that really spurred their decision.
For the individual Volume releases, the first thing you'll see in this new packaging is the paperboard sleeve around the outside of the case. The front art is exactly the same as the inside case art. The back of the sleeve has the list of bonus features and the such over the artwork of the logo getting sucked into the trap (the same art, without the text, is on the back of the inside case). Now let's pull that sleeve off and take a comparative look at the inside case versus the Steelbook case, which is what you'd see in the Complete Collection box set.
With the Steelbook case, the printing is done on the metal case itself. With the plastic case, the printing is done on a paper liner, which is placed on the outside of the plastic case under a sheet of clear plastic (to hold it in place). In all of the comparison images below, the Steelbook is on the left and the plastic case is on the right. For the front and back comparisons, I placed both cases next to each other on the scanner bed and scanned them in at the same time as part of the same image. This ensures that the comparison is a fair one as the cases were scanned under the exact same settings and in the same exact situation. For the best possible comparison, the paper liner was taken out of the plastic case and scanned next to the Steelbook case. FYI: All displayed images can be clicked on for larger copies.
The Front Cover - Here's where you can best see why the type of material being printed on makes a big difference in the quality. The colors on the Steelbook case are dull and lifeless. The colors on the paper liner (plastic case) are bright and vivid. Take a look at the red around the word "Real" for a good comparison. Check out the difference in color on the floor tiles. The paper liner (plastic case) not only looks better, it's way more accurate to the original artwork than the Steelbook cases. (The original artwork, given to me directly by TimeLife, appears below the comparison.) Also, although the embossing on the title "The Real Ghostbusters" is a nice touch on the Steelbook, the raised border makes the cover look ugly. The only thing the Steelbook has going for it is that you can see a little more of the artwork on the left and right sides.
Steelbook: 0 | Plastic: 1
The Back Cover
- Again, the colors on the paper liner (plastic case) are brighter and more vivid. All of the text on the bottom is easier to read on the paper liner (plastic case), too. Speaking of which, there's an interesting discrepancy in the runtimes listed there. The Steelbook (which came out first) says 725 minutes, while the plastic case says 831 minutes. It should also be noted at there's a discrepancy in the runtimes on Volume 5 as well: Steelbook says 600 minutes, while the plastic case says 785 minutes. We know that all of the discs are exactly the same in both sets (no new content was added for the new packaging), so why is there such a big difference? I can only guess that the original runtimes are wrong, and the folks at TimeLife caught the error later on and made the correction. I never totalled up the length of all of the content myself, so I don't know which is correct. (The runtimes listed on the old and new cases for Volumes 1, 3, and 4 are exactly the same.)
Steelbook: 0 | Plastic: 2
- Opening up both cases we see a MAJOR difference. The Steelbook has Discs 2 & 4 placed under Discs 1 & 3, while the plastic case has each disc on its own page. In the Steelbook case, you have to remove Disc 1 in order to get to Disc 2, and remove Disc 3 in order to get to Disc 4. You don't have to deal with such nonsense with the plastic case. (In the image below of the plastic case, Discs 1 & 4 are hiding on the reverse of Discs 2 & 3, respectively.) Keep in mind that both cases have the EXACT SAME DIMENSIONS ALL AROUND. The reason all five discs fit on their own pages in the plastic case, but not in the Steelbook, in spite of both having the same dimensions, is due to the method used to manufacture a case made of metal. Again, the Steelbook's metal works against it. By the way, the individual releases contain a booklet inside the case (seen in the plastic case image below) which contains the same text as that respective volume's section of the book in the complete series box set. It's just shrunk down a little bit to fit inside the case.
Steelbook: 0 | Plastic: 3
- Taking all of the discs out, we can see that there's artwork underneath them. The artwork differs between volumes. For Vol. 2 it's a model sheet of the Ghost Detector (the "sniffer" that Peter used in Dana's apartment upon his first visit in the first movie). In the Steelbook case, the artwork is printed on the reverse of the metal, and can be seen under some plastic disc holders that can't be removed (you can't remove them without breaking the case). So you have the annoyance of looking through the mouldings in the plastic if you want to enjoy the artwork. Since the plastic case is clear, the artwork is printed on the reverse of the outside paper liner, which can be easily removed, and put back into place afterwards. That's why the scan below from the plastic case is all nice and clear (I simply scanned in the paper liner itself), while the Steelbook scan is all "deformed".
Disc Locking Mechanism
Steelbook: 0 | Plastic: 4
- The disc locking mechanism, as you could guess from the name, is the part of the case that holds the discs in place. As I've said at the top of this page, I don't like the disc locking mechanism in the Steelbook cases, as it has absolutely no give, and upon repeated use will cause the inner ring of the discs to crack. Sadly, the plastic case isn't 100% better than the Steelbook - but it IS better. The plastic case's disc locking mechanism is comprised of five tines chasing each other around a circle
. It has a little more give, but not much. The Petticoat Junction set's disc locking mechanism
is a little better, but even it is not as good as the four spade
(my name for it) and M-Lock
hubs. Still, when compared to the Steelbook, the plastic case's locking mechanism is an improvement, even if not by much.
Steelbook: 0 | Plastic: 5
- What happens if your case breaks? Well, if you have the Steelbook case, you're screwed. You'll have to buy another one, or see if TimeLife will be kind enough to send you a replacement. The plastic case, on the other hand, can be easily replaced - assuming you can find a retailer online (or offline) that sells clear plastic, standard-size, five-disc DVD cases with each disc on its own page. They're obviously out there, as Paramount and TimeLife are both using them for their sets.
Steelbook: 0 | Plastic: 6
So there you have it. Plastic case beats Steelbook in every category. I really have to wonder why Steelbook cases are so sought after by DVD collectors. After my experience with them in The Real Ghostbusters set, I will forever try to avoid them as much as possible. The new plastic cases make excellent replacements for the Steelbooks cases. They fit so nicely in the firehouse box in place of the Steelbooks, as you can see in the image below, which displays the Steelbook box set on the left and the plastic case box set on the right. If you'd like to read more about the new plastic cases, be sure to check out this blog article