I didn’t own Spydor as a kid and still haven’t owned the vehicle to this day. However, I remember very well seeing it advertised on TV and instantly wanting one. What kid wouldn’t want a giant motorized creepy crawly vehicle?
Design & Development
According to The Power and the Honor foundation, Spydor began as a Roger Sweet concept. Often Roger would start out with a single, brief idea noted on a piece of paper, and leave the visual design work to others on his team. In this case Ed Watts created this early illustration for a walking spider vehicle. The illustration is dated September 19, 1983:
The final design, which featured six legs and ant-like pincers, was mocked up into a prototype by Otto Gabler, per the research of The Power and the Honor Foundation. On the patent documentation for the vehicle (filed July 8, 1985), Mike McKittrick and Nicholas DeAnda are listed as the inventors. In that context it means they created the mechanism that allowed the vehicle to walk.
Toy & Packaging
The final Spydor vehicle looked something like a mashup between an ant and a spider. The legs have a definite spider shape, but there are only six of them. Rather than spider fangs it features pincers that could capture a heroic warrior.
The motor and gear module was visible through the bottom of the vehicle, allowing a child to observe the motor at work:
It can be difficult to find a Spydor with intact legs or with both guns. The legs are reportedly easy to break, and the guns are easy to lose. The motor isn’t always in working condition either.
A three-way switch on the back allows you to move the vehicle forward, backward, or turn it off:
The packaging artwork was done by William George. In the scene below, Battle Armor Skeletor looms large over Battle Armor He-Man as he uses Spydor to attack the most powerful man in the universe. In the background, tooth-like volcanoes belch smoke. Three moons hang in the Eternian sky.
A Spanish version of the instructions are shown below. The images come from Mundo Masters.
Spydor appears in the 1985 minicomic, Hordak – The Ruthless Leader’s Revenge! In the story, Skeletor and Hordak join forces in order to attack Grayskull. Mid-battle, Skeletor’s plan to double-cross Hordak is revealed, and the two evil factions fight each other. Skeletor rides Spydor throughout the battle.
In one panel, Skeletor commands Spydor to destroy the heroes, suggesting it might have some sentience:
In the 1985 Golden story, I Have The Power, Skeletor has Beast Man capture a giant living spider creature. Skeletor uses his “mechano-ray” to transform the creature into a living vehicle:
Spydor shows up fairly frequently in the UK comics, including issues 6, 15, 19, 24, 35, and 58. The first appearance in Issue 6 is in a story called “Machine Wars” which is an extended battle between the heroic and evil warriors using a number of vehicles. I’ve included sample pages from those six appearances (it may appear in later issues as well).
Spydor appears in the story Courage, in issue 10 of the Star Comics MOTU series, this time colored a uniform blue/gray:
Spydor appears in the bottom right corner of the 1985 William George MOTU poster:
He’s also front and center in a poster by Earl Norem that was included in the Spring 1985 US Masters of the Universe Magazine, which also featured Skeletor, Moss Man and He-Man:
I’ve found a number of newspaper ads for Spydor. Many of the ad images are just based on the illustration on the back of the Spydor box.
The French color advertisements below come from the Super Shogun Blog and Nathalie NHT:
Spydor made an appearance in the background of Big, starring Tom Hanks. Dinosaur Dracula outlines the various toy appearances in the movie here.
Spydor In Action
Øyvind Meisfjord has kindly contributed the following image and videos of Spydor in action:
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2 thoughts on “Spydor: Evil Stalker (1985)”
Excellent article! Thank you! Brought back a lot of fun memories.
I have to say, the voice in that British ad sounds A LOT like British comedian / impressionist Jon Culshaw doing his Tom Baker voice! Also reminds of watching some British “Star Wars” toy ads, and hearing Tony Jay — the actor who voiced Shere Khan, Megabyte, and Chairface Chippendale, amongst others — doing the narration.
Heh. I know it’s supposed to be a “zoom” dust cloud to convey motion, but the French ad on the pink page gives the impression of Spydor farting.
I had this toy as a kid, and it was great fun. But unfortunately, the guns had a tendency to come loose and fall out easily. So I tried to push one in good and hard to get it to stay in, and the peg broke off in the socket. I didn’t push it with the other one.
Another thing that was extremely cool about this toy, that can be glimpsed at the end of the last video, but I never heard anyone else talk about — when Spydor walks over the camera, you can see light shining through the eye. For some reason known only to my child brain, I decided to pop off Spydor’s eyes, put them over my own like a pair of monocles, and look through them. I don’t know what kind of plastic they used for these eyes, but when you look through them, you can tell the difference between natural light sources and electrical light sources, based on the colour they appear through the lenses. If I recall, sunlight showed up as more red, and electric light came though as more purply-pink.
On a biological note, while ticks are also arachnids, when they’re in their larval form, they only have six legs, and reveal the final pair after their moult into a nymph. So if Spydor was that big when it had six legs . . . how big would an ADULT be . . . ? [Spooky theremin music] 😉
I love this toy and I have collected many of them. Mecanism is strong. But guns are often broken or lost.
Do you know there is variant ?
You can find it with red legs and maroon body (Italy ?) or orange legs and black body (Mexico ?).