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Abby Yates

by yo go re

Hey, Ghostbusters toys! Probably would have made more sense to review those during Horror Month, wouldn't it? Well, don't tell us, tell Mattel: they're the ones who didn't let stores put the things on clearance until way too late.

"You shouldn't be reading ths stuff. You're not supposed to listen to what crazy people write in the middle of the night online!"

We begin with Abby Yates - paranormal researcher, supernatural scientist, entity trapper. If the 2016 movie were really a reboot of the original, she would be its Ray: enthusiastic, dedicated, and just a little bit childlike. With her best frienemy/intellectual rival Erin Gilbert, she co-authored Ghosts from Our Past: Both Literally and Figuratively: The Study of the Paranormal. Here's her author bio from the book:

Abby L. Yates, Ph.D., is a supernatural scientist and founding member of the Ghostbusters. Prior to joining the private sector, she was a professor of paranormal studies at the Kenneth P. Higgins Institute of Science. Her philosophy is that if she can be a scientist, then so can anyone.

Abby was played by Melissa McCarthy, the only member of the main cast to not be an SNL alumna - she's hosted a few times, but never done anything memorable (most of her sketches boiled down to "fat people are awkward"). The likeness is as mediocre as all the male Ghostbusters', helped quite a bit by the glasses and the hairdo.

Mattel clearly learned some lessons from their time crapping the bed with the '80s Gb line - to begin with, we're not going to be stuck with one generic body to represent all four women. Melissa McCarthy may not be the "tractor-sized" "hippo" film critic Rex Reed described her as (though we may have to give him "screeching, humongous creep"), but neither is she "Gwyneth Paltrow farting on the Chex" thin. This toy is actually kinder to her than the movie was, being a little less baggy (and a little smaller overall) - in other words, they've tried to "sexy" her up without turning her into a supermodel. A middle ground between reality and our cultural ideals.

One area where this figure isn't as good as the men is the articulation. The girls get a swivel neck, swivel/hinge shoulders and elbows, swivel waist and wrists, H-hips, swivel thighs, and hinges for the knees and ankles. That sounds like a decent amount (for a Mattel product), but the boys had balljointed heads and swivel/hinge wrists, which made posing them easier: you could fine-tune the wrists to hold the proton pack's gun properly, and a simple tilt of the head could change the toy's attitude. This figure can do neither of those things.

But then, back on the plus side, we've got the modern proton pack. When Mattel started their Ghostbusters line in 2009, the proton packs were molded onto the figures - because if you're going to make the most disappointing, unimpressive figures imaginable, you might as well go all-in. That's the Matty way! The new figures, by contrast, get removable packs from the start. It's the same mold for all of them, but it matches the real prop very well. Obviously it needs a ton more paint to accurately match the look seen in the film, but the physical elements are all there (but man, what a shame that the ghost trap isn't a removable piece). Technically the orange "belt" the figure is wearing is supposed to be attached to the proton pack, not the jumpsuit, but that probably would have caused problems with manufacturing. But what, no PKE meter?

The Ghostbusters figures each come with a Build-A-Figure piece (which Mattel is still calling "Collect and Connect," because they're bound and determined to make "fetch" happen). The BAF is Rowan, and Abby has his arms.

I'm not a big fan of Melissa McCarthy's movies, so I didn't expect to like Ghostbusters and I didn't expect to like this figure. If nothing else, at least the plastic version is decent (at the right price).

-- 11/02/16

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