LEGO® GhostBusters ECTO-1: Hands On Review

Every so often, there comes a set that has the chance to appeal to both older and younger demographics . When a sequel comes along 36 years after the original, you normally have a level of expectation. When the release of the sequel has been delayed as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, I have only nostalgia to go on… Join me as I take a close look at the new 10274 Ghostbusters ECTO-1.

In 1984, I was 16. Teenage confusion, a love of science and hormones all worked together to give me the feeling of being a bit of an outsider. The original Ghostbusters movie was also released. Seeing Venkmen, Egon, and the team defeat the forces of Zuul and Gozer (in the form of the Staypuft Marshmallow Man) gave me a feeling of elation: seeing the misfits triumph over the system, and saving the day.

From what I have seen in the trailer to Ghostbusters: Afterlife, I suspect there might be the same level of joy in that film to be had for the next generation. But in the meantime we wait. Possibly until March…possibly June. It certainly wont be 2020

However, I suspect the delay in releasing the movie left a bit of a gap in the LEGO release schedule. Rumor has it that there have been a few shuffles in the overall release schedule to accomodate it. [ 10273 was the Haunted House – released in May; 10275 Elf Club House was released in October, 10277 Crocodile Locomotive was released in July. 10274 would normally be expected to have been seen by now. Perhaps the Crocodile released earlier than planned, to olug a gap left by the delayed movie release? Or perhaps it was just to reserve 10274 for a set with its roots in Manhattan?

When LEGO gave me the chance to review the new ECTO-1 Set, I was excited. I have had the good fortune to look at a number of sets aimed at older builders this year, and while many of them have a level of appeal, this one has probably hit exactly the right nostalgia notes for me: more than Mario/ NES, more than the piano and more than the Batwing.

So, what do we get?

It’s another big box. Once again, we see the 18+ branding: the black box; the strip of bricks along the bottom, and the necessary branging for the car: The Box is Labelled Ghostbusters – using the the font and logo from the movie. Underneath, we have a strip of yellow and black hazard tape, with the Registration plate bearing the wording: ECTO-1

The way from Zip Code 10274 to the Ghostbusters HQ

The Set has 2352 pieces, and is set number 10274. Fun fact: US Zip Code 10274 is at the southern tip of Manhattan, just a mile or so from the Hook and Ladder No. 8, which was used as the exterior for the Ghostbusters’ headquarters, back in the original film.

So, what do we see when we open the box? There are bags numbers 1-12, a soft bag containing large transparent elements and another soft plastic bag containing tyres, flextube and some sort of whippy thing. I’m not sure what to call it.

And finally, there is the instruction book, and sticker sheet. I recently wrote about the plans to trial paper packaging, replacing the single use plastics in the boxes. The first example of this that I have seen is the cardboard envelope used to hold the instruction manual and sticker set. There are 15 ‘regular’ stickers, and another 33 stickers that represent rust

The packaging for the instructions and sticker sheet for ECTO 1: the first step as LEGO moves to eliminate single use plastics from packaging. Piece by Piece!

The instructions reveal the principal set designer to be Mike Psiaki – now legendary for greating some of the great car models of recent years, including the Mustang, and the Aston Martin DB5. The artwork in the manual references both the original Ghostbusters movie, as well as the new (delayed) movie, Ghostbusters Afterlife, but without providing any material that we have not seen from the trailer or old films. Externally, the instruction manual bears an uncanny resemblance to a Hayes Workshop Manual, perhaps for the1959 Cadillac Miller Meteor. Depending on the colour, this vehicle was designed to function as a hease or an ambulance. The official PR material highlights the ambulance usage!

Mike Psiaki seems to have a habit of appearing in instruction manuals in cosplay. Not only as seen here in the Ecto-1, but also the 10273 Haunted House Fairground ride, as well as the 21309 LEGO Ideas Saturn V

The manual lays out the instructions into four sections: the chassis (Bags 1-3); doors, fins and cabin fit out (Bags 4-6); engine, front panels, hood, front bumper radiator and windows (bags 7-9) and finally rear panelling; roof, wheels, and instrumentation (bags 10-12)

Everywhere I go this year, I see Technic frames in action – whenever a set requires a strong base with little flexibility, this seems to be the go-to form of construction. We saw it in Old Trafford, in the Batwing, and it makes up the base of the chassis here. We also install the rear axles, and a large tile which probably makes up the floor in the back of the vehicle. I probably ignore this part until the very end of the build. The Axles have gears on them… I am sure we will find our why, later. I may have gotten a couple of things out of alignment, but it was apparent when I went to apply the plates on top: after wrapping the chassis the chaassis up with plates, we attach a gear and steering rack onto the front. Already, this looks like an impressive length of build.

With a base of black, yellow and blue, I get the feeling of the original Technical sets in the late 70’s- early 80’s: for a moment, it felt like I might have been putting together 8846. That gave me a dopamine charged nostalgia hit, and I prepared to continue.

Bag 2

Our second bag is full of 2x1x2/3 slopes, lots of plates and tiles, as well as a few technic elements, including something that looks a bit like a preconstructed suspension element.

We start off making two strips of 2×1 grey cheese slopes, which are mounted onto the edges of our chassis, while we proceed to tile the rear floor in yellow. There are a couple of colour coded tiles for orientation too: Red for left, and green for right. We install a lever based mechanism, which we then ‘box in’. Before you know it, we are building a seat with a proton pack on the back, which is installed facing backwards. This will be the gunner’s seat- seen in the trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

At this point I made an aesthetic decision. Particularly regarding the stickers. I shall aim to use stickers that are vital to the ECTO-1-ness of the model, but as I can not relate to the ‘new’ rusted form of the vehicle, I shall opt to make it look like it was shiny and new. Just like it was back in 1984, after the inmovie refit. A couple of details might have changed – such as the side that the ladder hangs on – but I wont let that truth get in the way of a good story.

The gunner’s seat can be deployed by pushing in a panel on the rear left passenger door – the seat spins out, facing forwards. A printed arrow reminds us which way to push it when we want to return it.

Next, we continue to work on the rear end of the car: we attach a vertical axle that will rotate as the rear axle turns, and then we construct the rear end, which closes off the back of the vehicle. The rear fender would have looked brilliant with lots of chrome, but we saw last year with the Harley Davidson Fat boy that no amount of chrome on the original would change what happens on this set today. The rear lights are part of the fender assembly, built into the technic turntable elements. I am intrigued at the fact that there are two ‘ball joint’ elements tucked away in the side walls here: one a red technic connector to ball , the other a 3.18mm bar- to ball, at right angles. I find myself wondering how they will get used as the build progresses. Hopefully I won’t have to wait too long to find out. In my soul,however, I realise that I might be kept waiting until the very end…

The steering wheel included in this bag is a bit of a giveaway as far as one of the tasks tucked away in this bag. But, there are some intriguing curves to be seen. the steering wheel is a new element, and is 5 modules/studs in diameter.

We start off contructing the steering column, and the steering wheel, via a universal joint, turns a small gear, which in turn moves the steering yoke.

We then move back, focussing on the interior. We add a sliding seat, attached by a beam to the fuel cap – and you can pull the seat back and forth with that. I was unsure if this was a play feature, but the seat is on rails, so it must be part of what we are building. I love the technique used to capture the angle of the fuel cap at the back.

Following this, we install an instrument panel in the rear, left of the car.

Lots of white, lost of sloped bricks, and a few yellow rollbars… There are also two printed bricks (1x4x3) with the Ghostbusters logo on.

We go on to add a rear door, which flings back when the gunners seat is deployed, followed by the two front, forward opening doors. I remain intrigued at the end of building these at the use of the yellow rollbar in the structure of the door: given that it is exposed, and not an entirely normal thing to see on a car door, I imagine it will be hidden later.

Having installed the rear end of the car, it is appearing even more impressive as far as its total footprint.

The fins are instrumental to the shape of the Cadillac Miller-Meteor Ambulance/Hearse – they gave the vehicle a fantastically futuristic look. In this bag, we set up the fins. The double row of grey circular element includes a ring with axle, which plugs into a 1×2 brick with axle hole. the centre of the brick is offset half a stud from the centre of the fin, so the taillights fold down, and sit in a centred fashion, before building the rest of the fin over the top. I think it is a clever solution, and instrumental to getting the final look of the car correct.

We also build up some equipment for the back of the vehicle: I wont hazard what it is for, but it looks like a great use for recycled LEGO printed tiles, which are made to look even more science-y by being put together into a complicated piece of equipment. It is great to see the old tape print brought back into use here.

This bag addresses the front end of the car. The front fender comes first, withthe fognights built into light grey barrels. One thing that becomes very obvious, very quickly is the sheer number of roller skates involved in constructing the front grille. I found it interesting to see it come together, however, a few misplaced elements on the supporting structure meant I was unable to place it easily the first time.

After the grille, we set about putting together, and installing the engine block. there is a remarkable amount of detail in here: from the air filter, radiator, belts, even the battery. I love the use of the large curved elements in forming the front wheel wells, as well.

We start off this bag building the side panels of the front end. One of the neat things about the parts palette here is the appearance of the 3×3 corner arch bricks in white. these were first seen earlier in the year, in brown, with the Mickey and Minnie statuettes. This is an element I have been looking forward to for years, and I am excited to see the colour palette expanding.

From here, we move onto the dashboard: the meters getting their curves thanks to the use of 2x2x1 1/3 curved slopes. The Speedometer is given its detail with a sticker, and a couple of small printed tiles are also present.. The Air vent, and tape player/ police radio scanner? are also detailed on the dash.

After the dash, you move on to build up the hood of the car, and the ‘twisted curve’ wedge bricks are really useful here. Unfortunately, the Cadillac badge is a sticker, but I am grateful that the stickers are on transparent stock, should you wish to use them on bricks of a different colour.

Having extended the build another 6 studs forward, I am truly impressed by the final footprint of the model.

Our next step involves attaching the windows to the doors. the rear, passenger side attaches simply enough. For the doors that open, the ‘door lining,’ including the window, has three clips, which clip onto the yellow rollbars that have been incorporated within the doors. In between the fron and rear seats, we install a fram, that contains an axle, whose gear meshes with one attaching to the steering system: I expect we will see an external steering control, before too long.

We install the windscreen, a realistic, wrap around model: 14x 6 x 5. This, along with the steering wheel, are the new moulds featured in this set. There are also some curved, click hinge windows, which for the shape of the rear of the car.

Earlier in the build, we saw a couple of sockets in located at the back of the car, slightly offset. It turns out, these are perfectly in line for the balls attached to the rear door, which we also add in this step. (some of these images might be from a few steps down the path: we still haven’t put the wheels on, in real life!

So many new white slopes suggests that we might be getting onto the roof now. this is actually relatively bulbous, and built in several sections: front right, front left and then the main body: again, a technic brick construction, covered in plates. we build up with a second layer of sloped bricks, leaving a recess: through here is a hole for the axle ultimately meshing with the drive wheel to mesh. This axle will be attached to a small gear, which meshes with the 22 tooth gear, which drives this handle back and forth, in an oscillating motion. This is the first time I have seen this liftarm/axle element used, wedged between the studs of a regular turntable plate. This will connect to one of the on roof instruments, which will oscillate back and forth, I presume as the car drives along.

Our next bag has a bundle of colour, and is used to construct the rooftop instrument array. Included amongst this collection is a printed tile, used as the front face of the Ecto 1’s distinctive siren noise. I love the instumentation shown here, as well as the detail added by the stickers – particularlay the warning, and ‘Danger: Electrical Equipment, Authorised Personnel Only.’

We are almost there!

As well as the hubcaps, there are some great retro 2×2 slopes with vertical lines, as well as some tiles with the yellow and black ‘hazard lines.’

We build the roof mounted light and siren assemblies, as well as the spotlights that are mounted around the car. We add the wheels, included the printed hub cap – again, light stone grey, rather than chrome. If I were to be truly picky, I’d complain about the lack of white walled tires. However, I am getting so excited about how the whole build is looking that I don’t care.

Next, we cover up the upper half of the rear wheels, and complete the lines.

We add the large blue hoses and ladder to the left side of the car. The ladder is made from a couple of doorframes, and I am a little intrigued by the change in its location: In the original film, the ladder was on the right hand side of the car. I presume it had to move, in order to facilitate the opening of the gunners’ seat. Although this is a change introduced form ‘Afterlife’, I regard it as a modification to the car that was performed while it was in active service with the original Ghostbusters.

We build a small, mobile ghost trap, which can be placed in the rear of the car. By pulling on the ‘gas tank cap’ on the left of the main door, the ghost trap can be deployed: rolling out from underneath the car.

And then the final easter egg, is a completely different kind of confectionary: Stay Puft Marshmallows..

All up, the build took me about 6 hours of total building time – not including sorting, knolling and taking photos along the way. You can see my complete building experience, compressed into a few minutes, on my YouTube Channel

In the mean time: here are some detailed images of the final vehicle.

Now, it has been a while since I built a larger scale LEGO car, particularly one with working features. I am delighted with the moving Scanners and ghost sniffer, as well as the steering, facilitated by a knob on top of the vehicle, as well as the exciting play features: deploying the trap, and the gunners seat.

But how to best showcase the complete model in photos?

The vehicle is huge: around 16 studs wide; and 50 studs long. There is no pretense of this being minifigure scale (such as with the 89 Batmobile): it is probably closer to miniland scale in size – the scale of figure used in the LEGOLand parks. – maybe not perfectly, but it is probably a better choice than others.

I made an aesthetic decision to leave the rust stickers off the model – leaving us with a delightfully bright model, more consistent with the version seen in the first movie. In fact, comparing the trailer to Ghostbusters: Afterlife, with the original movie, the only real difference between the two vehicles, externally at least, is the ladder being on the left, rather than the right, side of the vehicle. I can relate to the original team, and so I was happy to use the version seen. Chances are, they were the one’s that saw ECTO-1 abandoned in the shed we see in the Ghostbusters: Afterlife trailer.

I teamed up with Andrew from cheepjokes.com to take some photos. Andrew has great experience with altering lighting and adding haze to add a degree of drama to his minifigure photographs, and I thought he would be able to bring suitable gravitas to the shoot. I will discuss our ‘workshop’ a little more in a later post. But we set up, imagining the vehicle in a dark,haze filled street, with a strange green glow nearby. a small set of micro LEDs from custom LEGO vehicle lighting kit made the effect complete. Andrew started shooting, and I started to build:

Image: Cheepjokes
Image: Cheepjokes
Image: Cheepjokes
Image: Cheepjokes
Image: Cheepjokes

Sensing something was missing, I pulled out a collection of Dark Red bricks, and put together a wall: inspired in part by the New York Fire Station that the team called home for a while.

Nothing says Hook and Ladder Number 8 (the Ghost busters HQ) like a wall of dark red.

The walled gave the vehicle a sense of location, but it was still looking like it could use a little more life. I put some miniland scale figures together. You are welcome to criticise my decision to proceed with grey boilersuits: while tan might have been closer to the original, it might have meant that the figures appeared naked, when paired with a tan face (flesh tones being relatively rare, outside LEGOLand parks). Dark tan might have been a good option, but I did not have the elements that were required to put together one figure, let alone 4. Ultimately, there were three hours between detewrmining the need for some miniland figures, and implementing their design.

The results speak for themselves.

So, what did I think of the set?

Construction started off reminiscent of a childhood LEGO Technical car chassis of the 1980’s, but things rapidly took off, as we saw play features added, as well as unexpected details. The dashboard is suitably detailed, as is the engine. While I may have found the roller skate elements a little fiddly to deal with, whilst building the front grille, the effect is stunning. Mike Psiaki has included some clever trangle references here, as ways of taking your aspects of your building off the grid, as seen with the lines of the curves along the back end of the car, as well as the hinges on the tailgate. I appreciated the use of the rollbars to attach the inside surface of the car doors to the main body. And the level of detail included in the sensor array on the car’s roof was just right. Finding the marshmallow packet at the very end of the build just seemed right.

What didn’t I like? To be honest, not much. Perhaps the fact that is isnt motorised…I didnt like the fact that I had to resort to Grey for the ghostbusters uniforms. Perhaps sand green might have worked (but, again, I didn’t have the parts library to just get on with it.) There were a few stickers, but they all enhanced the appearance of the model. I opted not to make a rusty version of the ECTO-1, and as such, I still have the full collection of ‘rust stickers’ – perhaps I could use them on a MOC in the future.

I feel quite happy giving this set 5 out of 5 arbitrary praise units. The build was satisfying, the end result even more so. I acknoledge that I have a strong connection to the original Ghostbusters, coming at a formative time in my life as it did.

This is one of those sets where I would say that if the source material appeals in any way to you: Movie fan? Car fan? Movie Car Fan? Building big models?, loving the 80’s? – then you will probably enjoy building this set. And the scope for interesting lighting is pretty terrific too: I do feel as though I want to deck it out with a variety of LEDs. I think that would look truly magnificent.

I hope you have enjoyed my review of the LEGO 10274 Ghostbusters ECTO-1. If you want to see my building experience, check out my rapid build video. Alternatively, visit Cheep Jokes’ YouTube channel to see his slightly more pleasing ‘piece by piece’ stop motion build.

What do you think of this set? why not leave your comments below, and until next time…

Play Well.

The LEGO Group provided the Rambling Brick with a copy of this set for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

4 thoughts on “LEGO® GhostBusters ECTO-1: Hands On Review

  1. Great review! Looking forward to getting this one in the future at some point (hopefully discount 20% or more at one of the main department stores!). Best thing about this is the cardboard envelope for the instructions. I was worried after reading your article on paper replacement bags what it would mean for the instructions on larger sets and am very very happy to see they went this route. Not only is it recyclable but study so hopefully the days of bent instructions in large sets (like the Monkey King Mech I just started) are behind us!

    Seriously though that Monkey King Mech box was only about half full of bags, I got it about three months ago just before having a bad back injury which left me almost entirely Lego free for two months, have only just got back to building in recent weeks, so the box was standing upright the whole time and the manual was on top of the bags all out of shape because there was so much room in the box. I noticed a lot of the mid year releases have had the pull open ends rather then tape to seal, using a less cardboard on the box, which I don’t like as it damages the box, though I use embroidery scissors to open (sharp flat edge and very slim blade, perfect for carefully prying up the glue). I guess this is part of the continued effort to reduce cardboard box sizes, so am baffled at the size of the Monkey King Mech box. I wonder if the rest of the line are like that, only got the one set as they rest didn’t appeal.

    Anyway thanks again for the great review, much appreciated 🙂

    Like

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