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Hasbro's Kenner Classics: GhostPopper Review

 By Paul Rudoff on Feb. 9, 2021 at 11:50 PM , Categories: Real Ghostbusters, Toys
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Hasbro's Kenner Classics line continues with the Kenner Classics: GhostPopper. Read on to find out more about it...

First revealed at Hasbro's PulseCon online event this past September, the Kenner Classics: GhostPopper (henceforth only referred to as the GhostPopper) brings back the poltergeist popping action you loved as a child. The retro nostalgia starts with the packaging, which replicates the iconic look from the 1980s, but with a few 2020 accommodations.

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(original on top, Hasbro on bottom) (click to enlarge)

The biggest change you will find on the packaging AND the toy is the addition of numerous warning labels, such as the big one in the upper right corner. This is the result of toy safety requirements that did not exist in the 1980s. This is also why Hasbro had to use photographs of a new kid model. You'll notice that the new kid is wearing protective eyewear while the old kid isn't. I'm sure there is a government mandate that requires kids be shown wearing eye protection when using projectile toys, so Hasbro had to do new photography regardless of whether they had the original 1980s photos or not. The artwork of Stay Puft and Egon is the same, or damn close to it, though they added motion lines around Stay Puft.

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(original on top, Hasbro on bottom)

Also, because Hasbro wants to use the same packaging in multiple regions around the world, all of the text is presented in multiple languages. As such, various text is shrunk in size when compared to the English-only original; like the "with Poltergeist Popping Action!" tagline that appears below the product title. Since the multiple languages wouldn't fit in the starburst, "Six Soft Foam Pops Included" has been changed to an image of a foam pop with "x6" next to it. The proclamation of "3 Ghost Targets" has been changed to "3 Cutout Targets", which actually corrects an error on the original packaging since not all of the targets are, technically, ghosts. As you can see, there are other changes, too. I won't detail them all, but the other notable one is the removal of the "Who You Gonna Call?" song lyric from above The Real Ghostbusters logo in the lower left corner. This allows Hasbro to avoid paying a royalty to Ray Parker Jr. (and Huey Lewis).

The left and right sides of the box are completely different, and I'm not just referring to the photography.

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(original on top, Hasbro on bottom)

The left side still proclaims (in multiple languages) that the GhostPopper is "an essential piece of The Real Ghostbusters equipment", even though it never appeared in a single episode of the series. It is no longer "always ready for quick reloading", nor is it "a fun way to rid your house of ghosts" anymore. The reason why the illustrated instructions have been moved from the back to the right side will become apparent once we look at the back.

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(original on top, Hasbro on bottom) (click to enlarge)

Yeah, the entire space where the illustrated instructions were is now taken up by three HUGE warning labels in foreign languages. Geez, you think they're big enough? Anyway, looking past all of the unsightly warning labels and excessive multiple languages, we see two of the three cutout targets: the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and Slimer. The team at Hasbro managed to make both guys look nearly identical to the original Kenner artwork. The last target can be found on the bottom of the box. It's a The Real Ghostbusters Logo target, just like the Kenner original.

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(original on top, Hasbro on bottom)

The GhostPopper is about 15" long and feels like it's the same size as the original. I no longer own an original Kenner model, so I'm just going off of muscle memory from almost 35 years ago. The biggest difference from the original is the color.

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(original on right, Hasbro on left) (click to enlarge)

As is quite obvious to anyone who isn't color blind, the original was black with a red gun barrel, while the new one is blue with a bright orange gun barrel. Just like the kid's PKE Meter that Hasbro will release once Afterlife eventually comes out, there has been a concerted effort by Hasbro to make all of their roleplay toys blue instead of black. I assume this was to avoid any licensing conflicts with the prop replica manufacturers. Not that any of them are making GhostPoppers, but I guess Hasbro wanted consistency between all of their roleplay toys.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. All of the other original Kenner roleplay toys were blue - the proton pack, ghost trap, etc. - so it was always odd that the GhostPopper was black. Also, the change to non-realistic colors might have to do with government requirements to make play weapons not look like real weapons. Not that any cops would mistake the GhostPopper for a real gun, of course. Try robbing a bank with one and the staff would laugh you out the door... where the cops would be waiting to arrest you.

There are other changes, most of which are pretty subtle. Jason Fitzsimmons gave me the original comparison photos that he used in his video review since I don't own a Kenner original with which to show you more comparisons.

If you look carefully at the below image, you'll notice that the opening to the right of the logo sticker is wider in the original than in the reproduction. The opening to the right of that is thinner in the new model. There are two other differences, but they're easier to see in the next image, so scroll down when you're ready.

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(original on top, Hasbro on bottom) (click to enlarge)

Okay, in these close-ups, we see that the logo sticker fits better in the new version than in the original. It now goes right to the edges of the allotted space, which looks so much better. Also, under the opening to the right is a little bit that ends in a raised bump in the original. In the new one, it ends in a divot, instead.

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(original on top, Hasbro on bottom) (click to enlarge)

Aside from the color, the other big difference in the look of the GhostPopper can be found on the underside. The Kenner original was plain, while the Hasbro remake is plastered with lots of white warning labels in multiple languages.

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(original on top, Hasbro on bottom)

The label says, "WARNING: Do not aim at eyes or face. Use of eyewear recommended. Do not modify projectiles or blaster." This seems more like something the lawyers forced Hasbro to add rather than the U.S. government.

Now that I've detailed the packaging and the design, let's look at the actual play and function of the thing.

As previously stated, the GhostPopper comes with six soft foam Ghostpops and three cut-out targets (only two shown in the photo below).

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The yellow foam pops/darts are stored in the top of the unit. You load one snugly into the front, pull back on the handle, and then thrust the handle forward. The compressed air inside propels the pop outward. In the old packaging, it proclaimed a distance of up to eight feet. I could not achieve that goal, but maybe a little kid with some extra strength could send that little pop soaring.

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The toy functions exactly as you remember. Here's Hasbro's Bill Rawley demonstrating it at this past September's PulseCon online event.

Play Video

Kenner Classics: GhostPopper carries a MSRP of $19.99, which is an excellent price for the nostalgia value alone. The GhostPopper is available exclusively at Walmart.

Original Kenner images courtesy of Waypoint here and here and the Ghostbusters Wiki. Toy comparison photos provided by Jason Fitzsimmons of Ghostbusters News, used with permission. Other images scanned and/or photographed by me or provided by Hasbro. This item has been provided by Hasbro for review on this site.

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