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Mighty Spector

Masters of the Universe Classics
by Shocka

Reviewing toys is a funny old thing, kind of like reviewing music. Music is so subjective; what people like is what people like, regardless of anything else, to the point where criticism is often moot. Toys are more objective, in that we can pretty scientifically gauge the quality of a toy based on the accuracy of its sculpt, how much articulation it has, how durable the plastic is, how well the paint is applied, so on so on. But what is subjective is whether the character itself is worth owning, and that is often where high praise - or passionate anger, as seen in today's review - comes from.

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.

The Mighty Spector is the creation of Scott "Toy Guru" Neitlich - the Mattel Associate Brand Manager - who has been responsible for making the Masters of the Universe Classics happen. It's his entry into the MOTU 30th anniversary Series, the specialist series that previously saw Fearless Photog revealed into plastic existence finally and also debuted the 4H's awesome Draego-Man. The problem is that while the Fearless Photog has a storied history with MOTU and Draego-Man is just genuinely awesome, Mighty Spector is uninspired: a purple Deadpool with a couple of playing card symbols and no real link to the MOTUniverse. Neitlich's own bio, as seen above, paints the character as a Mary Sue Author Avatar, following on from the fact that his own likeness was used for the head sculpt of one of the Royal Palace guards (the same "Lt. John Spector" mentioned in the bio). The character even features a miniature Cosmic Key, which is exactly the kind of nonsensical creation that fanfic authors use in their own stories.

There are numerous complaints here: the first is that MOTU has no place for superhero-like characters who could have been directly lifted from DC or Marvel. This isn't necessarily invalid; the Mighty Spector looks completely out of place alongside He-Man, and is even pushing it hanging alongside clearly sci-fi characters like the Space Mutants. But - and as mentioned in the Snout Spout review - MOTU is whatever people make it, so maybe one could stretch their imagination to let Mighty Spector in, regardless of how he seems to fit the universe.

Secondly, it seems like Neitlich abused his position as Mattel Associate Brand Manager to have this figure made, and essentially forced it on collectors as part of the 30th Anniversary sub. The latter is undeniable; despite Mattel's success with the subscription models, they have in no way benefitted collectors and have resulted in lots forced to buy toys regardless of whether they want them or not. With so many subscriptions hitting this year, it made sense to opt in to the 30th Anniversary sub, as to cut down on postage, but meant we'd be buying a lot of product sight unseen.

The way to get around all this - and the right way to handle this figure - would have been to have added Neitlich's design to the competition, giving collectors the opportunity to vote on what toys they want to be made for the 30th Anniversary sub, without detailing that it was his own entry. Even if Mattel had made this figure after all I feel that people would be significantly less angry not knowing the background of this toy, letting the design stand up on its own. If it was to be included in the voting, when it isn't voted into the line no one has to buy it, but Scott is still left with the opportunity to have it sculpted and made the same way the rest of us are when we want to have a custom figure made for us.

Regardless of this, the interesting point remains that this is actually a good action figure. The sculpt, while an obvious mishmash of various superhero influences, looks very nice - like a MOTU Deadpool - and is articulated with the same excellent movement as the rest of the MOTUC. The paint application is great: the purple and yellow work well together, and the metallic detail on the boots and gloves is well done. One issue I've seen across every Spector I've seen is that the spade on his chest is not perfectly centered - I'm not sure why this is, but it definitely doesn't add to the appeal of the figure, instead giving everyone all the more reason to paint over it and put a more MOTU-themed symbol onto him instead.

I say "good" action figure, not great; Mighty Spector is let down in the accessory department, including only the interchangeable tiny "Cosmic Key" - which looks more like a weird mini-lightsaber that fits onto his hand - and a blaster as we've seen with many previous figures. The total lack of new sculpting on this figure, and lack of accessories, may have helped Matty with all of the new tooling for Draego-Man (amongst others), which is fine, though Mighty Spector looks a little bare. That doesn't help sell him. He looks great, for example, with Marlena's rifle, making him look like some kind of masked hitman, arguably a much more interesting background that what Neitlich's bio suggests.

So, while not a bad action figure, the fact that the character is so disinteresting is what makes or breaks this for people. Someone could make the absolute best action figures ever, with moving, durable rubber skin over an articulated metal skeleton, and superb paint and realistic detailing, and if they were for the movie Troll 2 no one would buy them. Because it's Troll 2. Actually, scratch that - I love Troll 2 and would absolutely buy those toys. In fact, can someone make them now? Please?

-- 07/09/12

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