Poe’s Review > The Mighty Spector (Masters of the Universe Classics, Mattel)

“Mmff mffmrmff mffr!”

Where to start with the Mighty Spector?

As every MOTU fan’s long-suffering confidant knows, the Mighty Spector is the creation of Scott Neitlich, brand manager for Mattel’s Masters of the Universe Classics line. He’s t third release in the 30th Anniversary sub-line, which has already given us the somewhat controversial Fearless Photog by Nathan Bitner and the critically acclaimed Draego-Man by the Four Horsemen; Geoff Johns’ Sir Laser Lot will be arriving in August. Neitlich created the character when he was a kid, and once submitted it to Marvel Comics (for two in-depth interviews about Spector’s creation, go here and here). 

The Mighty Spector

It’s a bit difficult to untangle the fan dislike of Spector as a character and figure from fan dissatisfaction with Neitlich himself. Many fans believed Neitlich took advantage of his position to force his Mary Sue-like childhood fan character into the line (“Lieutenant Spector” has Neitlich’s own face).* But most of the criticism seems to focus on the idea that Spector’s design is lackluster and ill-fits the MOTU universe.

The Mighty Spector, Vikings fan.

The design itself is strongly evocative of masked superheroes such as Spider-Man, Spawn, or Grendel, but particularly Deadshot, Deathstroke and, of course, Deadpool. While I might be willing to argue that maybe you could squeeze a superhero-like figure into MOTU, what I don’t like is the utterly incongruous playing card theme. The chest armor shows a spade, while the eyes are diamonds. Such a theme is fine for an Earth-based character living in modern times, but on a fantasy character from an alien world, it’s just wrong. Neitlich has tried to explain it, but I still think it was a bad decision that distracts from the overall look.**

Spector’s new sculpting include the left forearm, the head, and the armor. Everything else is re-used from previous figures. In fact, Spector seems to be one of the most cost-effective 30th Anniversary figures, which may not be by accident. One reason I’ve been somewhat easier on Spector than many is because I’ve wondered whether Scott’s figure was a sort of sacrificial lamb, purposely designed to use minimal new parts to keep costs down and allowing Mattel to spend more tooling on the likes of Draego-Man and Sir Laser Lot.

DRAW! – a card, any card.

The newly-sculpted parts are all up to the Four Horsemen‘s standards. The face is almost a little too detailed, showing the contours of Spector’s eye sockets and mouth; maybe a Cobra Commander-like faceplate would have been cooler?

The yellow harness, on the other hand, is a bit uninspired and even features that oh-so-1990s thigh pouch.

Probably the neatest part of the figure is the interchangeable miniature “Cosmic Key” on the wrist. There’s a bare version and one with a translucent green “plasma blade” that looks a lot like a Green Lantern construct. He also comes with a blaster.

I think it was acceptable for Neitlich to design a figure for the 30th Anniversary line. Whatever fans may think of him, he’s done a lot for MOTU and MOTUC in particular. He’s helped keep the line in the good graces of the Mattel higher-ups and given us figures many of us never thought we’d see.

Putting all the controversy aside, the Mighty Spector has some neat accessories, and personally I think he looks okay alongside the other MOTUC characters (except for the playing card motif). But he’s just not an exciting action figure or character design.


*On an irrelevant side note, my own Mary Sue-like character from my teenaged Transformers fanfic-writing days was named “Spade,” the shape that adorns Mr. Spector’s chest armor.

** “The purple suit is because purple is my favorite color and the spade symbol was a symbol I always felt was very mysterious. How we are working this symbol into the MOTU lore will be revealed in time. Keep in mind that symbols mean different things to different cultures, so in the MOTU world this is not a ‘playing card symbol’ but rather the organization that Spector works for. (Much as He-Man has an Iron Cross but he not a member of the German army from WW2!)” —Scott Neitlich

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The Mighty Spector™ Bio

Real Name: John Spector

After Skeletor® banished King Randor® to Despondos™, he seized his rightful throne and dismantled the Eternian Palace Guards™. Loyal to Marlena and the Royal Household, Lt. Spector™ was cut off from the rest of the Masters of the Universe® when he was thrown into a time portal and flung into the future. In this new time, he served King He-Man® and was given a special suit reverse-engineered from the Cosmic Key™. Using its powers, Spector could travel into time, fighting for the Royal Family as their agent throughout Eternia’s history. Spector uses his Vortex Suit to turn the tide in battle, loyally serving the King and Queen of Eternia®.

So Johnny Spector just wanders off and ends up being thrown into a time portal into the future? Evidently he lived in the Filmation MOTUniverse, where that sort of thing happened every Tuesday.

And as soon as he could travel through time, couldn’t he go back and prevent whatever scheme allowed Skeletor to banish King Randor? Why didn’t he? Is he just a douchenozzle? I don’t know, it just seems to me the Mighty Spector’s abilities arguably make him the most powerful Master of the Universe of them all.

Also, He-Man becomes king, an idea that always makes me wonder whether Adam ever publicly “comes out” as He-Man, or if he’s still switching between the two. I imagine it would be useful once you’re king – switch into your Hamlet-like role of the sulky heir whose throne was stolen by an avuncular figure, then go drinking and wenching for a while before returning to your muscled-up form and royal duties.

Comments now closed (18)

  • What irks me about him is every heroic warrior has some handicap that gets weaponized in Eternia(usually by Man at arms) or a half animal theme.There is no absolute quirk that makes him deserving in MOTUC,maybe if his Chest is a clock it would be cool.Hell a he-man figure for a fork for a head is better.

  • Thank you Poe. I’ve been waiting for this review. My biggest gripe is he just doesn’t have a MOTU feel to him. He doesn’t even fit in NA He-Man. He looks so out if place. I clicked the Fwoosh link and was blown away by his amazing pictures, but Spector just looks so out of place. Those amazing pictures show just how un-MOTU he is, but how Marvel/DC/Image he is. This figure is a total fail as a MOTUC figure, but not a bad generic super hero figure.

  • Spector, like most new characters, is a lesson in nostalgia. If Spector came out in the 80's, he wouldn't have been an issue. Spector follows the same principals as other accepted characters.

    It's hard for me to judge Spector based on appearance (plot-wise is another story). We have characters like Sy-Klone (who looks like a superhero) and Rio Blast (a friggin' cowboy in a sword and sorcery world), who look as un-MOTU as you can get. But those characters are okay?

    Bow has a earth symbol heart on his chest and that's okay, but Spector's earthly spade isn't?

    • I agree that he might have fared a bit better if he was an 80s toy… (no deadpool comparisons)
      also he probably would not look as Liefeldian as he does now.

      name/tagline/action feature relation… Spector lacks it.
      Sy-Klone:Heroic Fist-Flinging Tornado has a Spinning action feature
      Rio Blast: Heroic Transforming Gun-Slinger his action feature makes his blasters pop-out
      The Mighty Spector: Heroic Master of Time Travel his 80s action feature would have been similar to the Kenner Star Wars Luke figure (popping Light Saber) This one makes no sense.

      Bow's symbol DOES have an actual relationship to the character's theme.
      He's an Archer like Cupid, he's also the Heartthrob of the PoP line.
      Spector's spade has no real reason to be there aside Toyguru wanting to put a spade there.

  • I’m sure this figure is cool for those that want a figure of Neitlich. At least with the Palace Guards two pack you could dump his head in the parts bin and use the far better snake or feline face.

  • Bow has a heart-themed gimmick and it's not like the symbol is deeply rooted in Earth culture. It's traditionally believed to be based off one or more parts of the female physical form that clearly remains available for inspiration on Eternia. It's not an unconnected arbitrary design element like it is with Spector. What else on the figure even relates to playing cards? Nothing in his history, or his abilities.

    To be honest, until Poe pointed it out, I didn't even see the diamonds in his eyes. I thought they were just the generic Spider-Man eye shapes.

    It'd be like Rio Blast having the same abilities, back story, personality, and other attributes, but dressing as a pirate.

    • Bow has various playing card symbol shaped arrows in his quiver. It seems that Eternia has the same symbols as Earth does.

      • Well, Bow's from Etheria, not Eternia 🙂

        And it's one thing to have such shapes on a small arrow accessory and another to have it be front-and-center on your costume. As Braystreet said, I think hearts and crosses are icons that have long borne polysemic attributes, whereas the spade symbol – while perhaps rich in symbolic history – is, to most Western audiences, almost exclusively identified with playing cards.

        So I still think it's distractingly out-of-place, particularly since it doesn't fit the "time traveler" element at all. Why not a clock? It's a round symbol right in the center of his chest – if the figure had existed in the 1980s, it definitely would have been a clock.

        I agree it's interesting to speculate whether fans would like Spector more if he had been designed in the 1980s, but he wasn't. I don't think the nostalgia argument holds up very well because fans loved Draego-Man. That's because Draego-Man fits in perfectly; Fearless Photog falls somewhere between the two of them.

        One reason I liked Fearless Photog was his design was so damned bizarre, like many vintage MOTU figures; Spector's design is anything but "unique" or "unusual." It's very derivative, and that's one reason I think so many people dislike it. Sy-Klone spun around and had a lenticular sticker; Rio Blast had all sorts of pop-out guns. (And for the record, I actually don't think Rio Blast fits the MOTU world very well.) Maybe a vintage Spector could have had some sort of cool clock-related action feature…if his design had featured a clock.

        • In regards to Draego-Man: Anthropomorphic dragon man with MOTU belt and loincloth fits a sword and sorcery world better than a superhero.

    • I guess that's why everyone wants the Rock people,

      Oh wait, no.

      It's an uninspired design, that doesn't fit in with MOTU, because he was never MEANT to fit in with the MOTU. If you read some interviews, he plainly states that the design was never meant to be anything but a generic character.

  • Maybe it’s just me, but I do think that if this guy were around in the 80’s he would have been better received, he fit’s the “masked mystery man” role kind of like snake-eyes in G.I. Joe. But I’ve been partial to the masked guys since I was a kid, even prefering the “mask faced” transformers. I don’t think I’m alone in this preferance, but then again maybe I am.

  • …Poe, I love you man, but do I have to read this review? I am sick to death of the whole thing. I own the silly figure because I bought the subscription. It was transferred from it's shipping box to a storage box in the closet where it will remain until I see fit to liquidate the collection or die, whichever comes first. Whatever anyone thinks of it, it in no way warrants or deserves the attention it has gotten, negative or otherwise. Bring on the reviews for Horde Prime, Snake Man-At-Arms and the Griffin – the least among them is still a more worthwhile topic for discussion!

  • What bothers me about spector isn’t the playing card motif in itself, but rather the overall laziness of the design. The playing card angle is the only half-inspired aspect of the character, and that’s only partially explored. Take away his spade and diamond eyes and he’s a spawn face on a totally featureless body with a typical 90s comic harness. He looks like exactly what an 8 year old would have come up with in 1992, and I don’t think that merits a figure.

  • I love my Spector figure. I was prepared to just love him out of spite since the initial outrage over his reveal was a bit ridiculous, but I really enjoy him.

    That's not to criticize those who had a negative reaction to him, since most of the points being made against the character and design are very fair as long as they don't boil down to personal attacks. I agree with most criticisms to some extent, while also disagreeing completely since he still works for me.

    I just like the figure. Can't put him down. A big part of it could be that the simple design's got no armor or cape to get in the way of posing him with his pretty cool looking weapons. I find the design to be a mixture of fun, silly and cool, which is what draws me to a lot of MOTU designs.

    I honestly don't have a problem with the spade, even though I thought I would. I think the only thing that keeps it from working better is the way it's just kinda hanging out there inside of a circle instead of being incorporated more into the design. If the ridged circle was instead a sculpted spade shape, we'd probably have fewer complaints about it.

    As far as the existence of the spade shape itself? That could be explained. Marlena's from earth, I guess. Maybe she decorated the whole castle with spades! Or not. I could argue that I've seen countless clocks with spade shaped arrows on their hands.

    I could definitely see this guy having a clock on his vintage figure. That opens another door, though. Would Eternia necessarily have clocks that are just like Earth clocks? Even on earth, different cultures have used different methods and mechanisms throughout history to tell time. The He-Man era of Eternia is a period that probably uses both magic hourglasses and digital clocks to read whatever time their particular planets rotations have determined. It's silly taking it that far and I certainly won't but I also think it gets silly whenever we decide "doesn't fit" in this imaginary magical world because arguments can be made for and against everything.

    I do really like that he's got a unique wrist blade that calls back to action features seen not only in vintage Star Wars figures' telescoping lightsabers, but also the proton packs from the Real Ghostbusters to some extent. The cancelled whip accessory was a bit more similar to that, though.

    Anyway, Mighty Spector's cool and fun to me. I understand that he's not barbaric enough to fit with early MOTU and doesn't have a defining gimmick like some of the later stuff. To me, all of the 30th stuff really does hit me like the next wave of figures I would have been surprised to discover in an 80s toy aisle. That stuff always felt like a bunch of strange invaders at first, in any toyline, but I usually warmed up to it just like I have Spector.

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