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Gruesome Ghosts Decal Kit

Luke's Toy Store
by yo go re

After we reviewed the Minimate Ninja Decal Kit, the folks over at Luke's Toy Store asked if we'd be willing to review their next set. You might as well ask if Artemis would be willing to review a female action figure! We OAFEs love free things, so here we go: Decal Kit #2!

The exclusive Gruesome Ghosts Decal Kit will allow you to create 10 creepy ghosts for your Ghostbusters Minimates to battle. Its a fun and easy way to expand your Minimate collection. These decals have been designed so that anyone can apply them using only a bowl of water and a sharp scissors or hobby knife. After a little practice you can make a brand new Gruesome Ghost in as little as 10 minutes!

The Gruesome Ghost Decal Kit already gets a step up from the Ninjas when it comes to "packaging" - the first kit just got a little label on the front of a manilla envelope, while this one gets a custom-printed envelope showcasing all 10 ghouls you can create using the stickers inside.

Still thinking of the first-timers, the set includes two identical sheets of stickers, just in case you mess up. There's also a list of recommended bodyparts to build your own blank Minimates in white, black or red, as well as instructions on how to use the decals. Finally, there are two pages of assembly instructions - not for the stickers, but for the Minimates themselves.

See, most of the ghosts in this set are designed to be built from a specific (and uncommon) set of Minimate pieces. The entire Gruesome Ghosts kit was designed around two box sets: Battlestar Galactica: Razor and The Spirit. Both sets were only available through the specialty market, so it's not like you can go grab one at Toys Я Us or Suncoast. However, neither are the sets as old as, say, the Spider-Man or X-Men packages, so you still have a good chance of finding them.

Anyway, while the Ghosts use those Minimates, it's not just a case of "put these stickers on Figure A; put those stickers on Figure B," etc. There's a lot of mixing and matching of parts, which is why the kit includes assembly instructions. Luke's Toy Store provided us with a pre-scrambled few Minimates for this review, but the assembly guide will make it easy to get your own bodies together.

Like the Ninja Decal kit, the Gruesome Ghosts are water slide decals, which use the dextrose residue from the backing paper (rather than some external bonding agent) to adhere to their new surfaces. Since the labels are printed, they can get a very fine level of detail, and they're thinner than many other types of decals, so they won't blatantly rise off the surface they're stuck to - perfect for Minimates!

The decal sheet has 51 pieces. Obviously that doesn't divide evenly by 10, so each ghost patten ranges between three pieces and nine. To apply them to the Minimates, cut the label out, soak it in water for 50 seconds, then slide it onto the body. The quality on these stickers is the same as the Ninja Decal Kit; since we've already covered that stuff (short version: it's really good) and there's a lot more variety among the ghosts, we'll focus on what the ghosts are like.

Given that the Gruesome Ghosts decals are meant to be used in conjunction with The Spirit set, something had to be done with those weird-ass clothes The Octopus wears. A fur hat and a huge coat with silver spirals? Not really something you can disguise. The set plays up the opulent outfit by turning Octopus into the Vengeful Diplomat. The recipe is basically just Octopus with a white guy's head and hands, and therefore, just one sticker will turn him into the Diplomat: a head. The new face has sunken eyes, rows of tiny sharp fangs, and his flesh seems to be decaying. You can almost hear him shouting "diplomatic immunity!" right before Murtaugh shoots him. In case you want to use a more normal base figure, the decal kit also includes front and back torso stickers that look like a dress shirt. Fancy! Also, perfect for a J. Jonah Jameson or Perry White custom.

Also straight from the Spirit box set is the Undead Nurse. She's made entirely on the Silken Floss body, which isn't much of a stretch: used to be a nurse, still is a nurse. Incredible! That's not to say the figure is unchanged - the face, chest, back and legs all get stickers to set her apart. The chest is a minor change, reducing her cleavage slightly and adding a stethoscope, but the back of her shirt is ripped open to reveal the tips of a sharp external spine. At a glance, her face is similar to the Diplomat's, but hers is actually more skeletal. This isn't quite Silent Hill, but it's close. The kit suggests giving her the knife and datapad from the BSG box, and there's even a sticker to turn the pad into a medical chart.

And speaking of BSG, you can use one of the uniformed figures to create The Hungry Hungry Cop. He has blank yellow eyes, and dark circles around them. Get more sleep, cop! He has teeth like a shark, and it seems the lines on his face are meant to suggest that he's fat. Of course, no matter how much he eats, he's still going to be hungry - the shirt of his uniform hangs open to reveal another face in his belly. It's not a direct copy of the one on his head, but they're undeniably close - yellow eyes, dark bags, wee pointy teeth... this set is really big on pointy teeth. Only two of the ghosts don't have pointy teeth, and that's only because they both have their mouths closed. Anyway, the Hungry Hungry Cop also gets some stickers to add detail to his pants, and if you turn him around, you'll see a forked tail poking out from his waist.

The instructions say to give the Cop the Spirit's hair, but that causes a problem: the hair is already a very tight fit on the head, and though the decal is thin, it's thick enough to get in the way; of course, the issue isn't that the hair won't fit on, the issue is that the hair will tear up the decal and push it out of the way; I carved some material off the inside of the hair, and it still happened. No problem with the Nurse or the Diplomat, just the Cop.

The Spirit and BSG Razor packs are both four-figure sets, so that would only mean eight bodies for ghosts. So how does this decal kit make 10? because there are some extras designed to fit on any plain blank bodies you happen to have around the house. For instance, the Heartless Romantic: his skin is chalky white, and a hole has been punched into his torso. Actually, judging by the damage pattern, a hole has been punched out of his torso. Creepy! His eyes are black with white pupils, adding to the unnatural look.

If you have a red blank handy, you can make The Eye of Suffering. His crimson flesh is mostly normal, save for the single giant eyeball which takes up the majority of his torso. His face is slightly wrinkled, but there are also deep scratches over his closed eyes - since he's probably not just keeping them closed for effect, you can probably guess that he's somehow had his eyes clawed out. This, like the Heartless Romantic, is a three-sticker design, but I've further customized mine with some pieces from the Ninja Decal Kit.

The other ghosts in the set look pretty cool, particularly the electrically-themed Ghost In The Machine, the first to feature decals for the upper legs. And as our own Rustin Parr proves, you can create a ton of variety in these ghosts ghouls just by trading pieces around and thinking outside the instruction sheet.

The Gruesome Ghosts Decal Kit also includes a sheet of "Optional Updates and Upgrades," with extra tips to add to the look of your undead army. Simple stuff, like "give this guy this accessory," or "color this in with a marker for a seamless look," that sort of thing. And again, you can always choose your own tweaks, too.

The Ninja Decal Kit was a good starting point (and may suit the generic, interchangable nature of Minimates better), but the Gruesome Ghosts are a good step up. The designs could really use some more variety in the faces, but considering that these were designed with specific base figures in mind, they work very well. Yes, it seems likely that the impetus for creating this kit was a store looking to move some slow-selling stock (face it, neither the Spirit nor the Razor set is exactly what you'd call a "hot" item), but that doesn't undercut the quality of the Gruesome Ghosts.

You can buy the kit by itself for $5, and try to find the Minimates at online stores like Entertainment Earth, or you could shop smart and get an excellent deal: Luke's Toy Store offers a combo bundle with the kit and both sets. Hell, even if you're just looking for the sets and have no interest in the decal kit, you're not going to find them cheaper than they are in the combo. You like the Ghostbusters Minimates? Buy the combo and summon them some ghosts to bust.

-- 10/18/09

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