The first wave of Playmobil's Ghostbusters was an all-encompassing effort that transformed nearly every last character and vehicle into a wonderful line of toys. As a follow-up, the German toymaker is now turning to the film's sequel, Ghostbusters II, for a new series of figures that use your smartphone to help bring ghosts to life.
Peter, Egon, Ray, and Winston, sporting their Ghostbusters II costumes.
Available next month will be new versions of Egon Spengler, Peter Venkman, Winston Zeddemore, and Raymond Stantz Playmobil figures ($US11 each), featuring updated uniforms and accessories that reflect the costumes worn in the film's sequel. As with the previous versions of these figures, there are lots of fun details included on each, and despite the cartoony caricatures, they're mostly recognisable (although you'll probably mix up Peter and Ray).
Unless you're a devoted collector, however, new outfits aren't exactly a convincing reason to buy these four figures again. So Playmobil is sweetening the pot with the addition of another accessory that uses your smartphone to create hologram ghosts to catch.
The floating ghosts are realised with a simple illusion that will impress kids more than adults.
Included with each of the figures is a small pyramid made of clear plastic that attaches to the top of the ghost-catching traps. It works in conjunction with a free "Playmobil Playmogram 3D" smartphone app (available for iOS and Android) that simply creates a series of three animated ghosts on-screen that are reflected in the plastic pyramid, creating the illusion of a floating hologram on all sides.
Having a hard time seeing your ghosts? Playmobil includes a simply cardboard shade to help them stand out.
It's admittedly more of a classic optical illusion (similar to Pepper's Ghost) than a high-tech hologram, and you ironically end-up with a ghosted double image due to the thickness of the reflector's plastic. But it works, even in fairly bright rooms, and if you're having trouble seeing the effect Playmobil has included a foldable cardboard shade to help it stand out. The app also lets you choose from four different ghosts if you're not a fan of Slimer, and you can simulate trapping or releasing each spirit - complete with fun animation and screams - that can be triggered with a simple on-screen trap.
Is the new feature a gimmick to help keep interest in Playmobil's new licensed venture? Of course it is, and adult collectors will probably be content with the line's original series of figures, vehicles, and playsets. But as simple as the hologram illusion is, it will probably blow kids' minds, who will also be happy to have a reason to incorporate the smartphone or tablet they're addicted to into their toys.