Reviewed by Patryk Szymanski (SAFOLs Member, CapeLUG Member)
My return to LEGO® building started in 2016. The second set I bought was the VW Camper Van and this set introduced me to the LEGO® Creator vehicle world. I soon thereafter bought the Mini Cooper and thereafter the VW Beetle. It was with the VW Beetle that I was introduced to the design work of Mike Psiaki.
I have never been into cars. However, I have been fascinated by the way in which LEGO® designers have been able to replicate these real-life structures into super scaled playable models. Although there have been many designers involved in the creation of the LEGO® Creator Expert vehicle range, it is Mike Psiaki who has been at the forefront of the design and engineering of these vehicles. And it was only deserving that he takes on this project.
So, let’s get the basics out the way. The Ecto-1 is based on the Ecto-1 from the yet to be released Ghostbusters: Afterlife movie. In reality, the Ecto-1 is a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor Futrara Duplex. These cars were used as a limousines and ambulances in the past.
The set compromises of 2,352 pieces. It comes in the adult collector’s style box with images of the movie and the model on it. The box contains 23 numbered bags with an unnumbered bag containing the tires and some other bits. The instruction book cover has been stylised to represent that of a car manual. The first few pages cover the history of the Ecto-1, along with some information about the vehicle including the challenges faced in the design of the LEGO® model.
The set contains some new and rare parts as well as a few printed pieces. The highlights for me are the new steering wheel and thelarge 6×14 curved windscreen. The set also contains three 1×4 Ghostbuster logo printed panels. Disappointingly, there is a large sticker sheet which is predominately populated by rust stickers.
So, onto the fun bits.
The build is great! I built the model over a few evening sittings completing about one bag per sitting. This was intentional on my part as I wanted to savour the building experience. There are quite a few interesting building techniques, some of which I have seen used in previous Mike Psiaki builds, such as the door hinge mechanism that he developed for the Ford Mustang Creator Expert set. Of note is a phenomenally inventive method used to attach the hind quarter panels to the car (not going to say more than that!).
The Cadillac engine looks great and is shielded by the car grill made of forty silver roller-skate pieces. Nice parts usage!!! The car interior is sparse, but this is purposeful as there is a fare bit of under-the-hood Technic building and mechanics that needs to be housed inside the vehicle.
As with the Aston Marton DB5, Psiaki incorporates some very cool action features which includes functional steering which can be turned through a knob on the roof, the impressive gunner’s chair which is activated by pressing on a section of the car’s exterior (this is awesome!!) as well as a red barrel antenna and clear plastic dish that move and rotate when the car is rolled. There is a trap door mechanism at the rear of the car that when activated by pulling a lever releases the “Remote Trap Vehicle” or R.T.V. The R.T.V is a new technology that is going to be released into the Ghostbuster universe. Finally, there is also a little Easter egg in the form 2×4 slope build onto which a Stay-Puft Marshmallow sticker is applied. This pays homage to the Marshmallow Man seen in the original films.
The completed model boasts a length of 47cm with a height and width of 22.5cm and 16.5cm, respectively. This makes the ECTO-1 a formidable display piece. The complex curves and angles of the real-life Cadillac are exceptionally well portrayed in this LEGO® model. Special mention should be given to the back light ensemble which looks amazing! The model is also very sturdy and allows for a good amount of play without bits falling off, however the front barrel headlights do tend to fall off.
My main criticism of this set is the large number of stickers used. It would have been nice if the Cadillac, R.T.V, dashboard/cockpit and licence plate labels were printed onto the tiles and bricks. As for the rust stickers, a total of 38, but I can appreciate the fact that printed pieces would likely have pushed the price of the set up a fair bit. Furthermore, not printing the rust onto bricks may have been for more stylistic reasons. I would imagine that some AFOLS would prefer to build the vehicle in the likeness of the original Ecto-1 seen in the first two Ghostbuster films and leave the rust out of the build all together.
There has been talk in various forums that it would also have been nice if a display plaque and some special edition minifigures were added to the set as was done in the 1989 Batmobile. I suppose that it would have been a nice touch, but the addition thereof would likely mean a price increase. I would rather have the model come in at a cheaper price without the extras, as the main beauty of this build is exactly that… the build!
So, what is the final verdict??
My love for LEGO® building lies in the engineering, design and playability and Mike does this seamlessly in his latest offering. I have built every Creator vehicle that he has designed and my greatest enjoyment in this build came from seeing how he has managed to incorporate building techniques he has learnt from previous models into the Ecto-1. The curve and angle techniques are reminiscent of his work on the Ferrari F40 and VW Beetle. The mechanical workings are a culmination of his designs found in the DB5, Ford Mustang and Fat Boy Harley. And yet he is still able to surprise with new building techniques.
The Ghostbuster Ecto-1 is an exceptional model, it looks great and has super playability. Retailing at R3,999.99 it is not cheap and for that price I would have appreciated a few more printed pieces. Nonetheless, it is a welcome addition to my Creator vehicles collection!
All images used from the official press release.