Rachel Wright is a corrupt agent of the Bureau of National Security. During her mission to retrieve the Switchblade, a highly advanced, undetectable prototype stealth fighter, she was bribed by Arnold Gundars to give him the activation code of the plane and thwart her colleagues. After faking her death, she reveals to Gundars the location of the other BNS agents, causing him to send his henchmen to dispose of them. When fellow BNS agent Alex Scott finds the Switchblade, Rachel captures him and tortures him to make him reveal the new activation codes of the plane, knowing full well it will allow Gundars's terrorist customer Zhu Tam to nuke Washington, D.C. When more BNS agents arrive, Rachel takes the opportunity to fatally shoot Gundars and Tam In the Back in order to steal the access to all the bank accounts. Cruel, manipulative and sadistic, Rachel has ultimately no loyalty to anyone but herself, and is willing to do the worst things as long as it benefits her.
Arnold Gundars and Zhu Tam are, respectively, a notorious Arms Dealer who made his fortune by selling weapons to criminals and terrorists; and a ruthless terrorist sent by his country's government to purchase the Switchblade. After acquiring the Switchblade, Gundars organizes a private party in his residence to gather the worst criminals on the planet and hold a secret auction to sell the plane to one of them. When some agents of the Bureau of National Security are sent to retrieve the plane, Gundars bribes Rachel Wright to help him get rid of the others. Ultimately, Gundars decides to sell the Switchblade to Tam, who plans to bomb Washington D.C., with the former willingly giving the latter everything he needs.
The picture books:
Growing the Beard: The first book in the series was arguably less imaginative than later entries, as most of the images featured a spattering of random objects over a two-dimensional space. In subsequent books, the photographs often contained entire miniature worlds, which, besides having substantially greater appeal for the imagination, used depth and perspective to heighten the challenge.
Nightmare Fuel: Some of the photographs in I Spy Fun House give off a Circus of Fear vibe, particularly "Creepy Crawlie Cave," "Prizes to Win," "Carnival Mirror," "Clown Dressing Room" and "Carnival Warehouse."
The two clown hand puppets that appear throughout the book are fairly creepy for younger readers. They even appear in the backgrounds of some pictures, with one example being "Prizes to Win" where they are hiding behind the chain fence looking at the reader.
Surprise Difficulty: Some people might be surprised that, in spite of the target audience being children, the riddles can be shockingly difficult and even stump many of the parents who were trying to solve the riddles with their kids, particularly the ones involving homonyms, as noted by Brutalmoose.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Both I Spy Spooky Night and I Spy Treasure Hunt had a more linear structure to their theme and both books even had a loose plot with the former focused on trekking through a haunted house while the latter was about lost pirate treasure in a seaside town. Some of the author's notes in the backs of both those books implied that I Spy would go in a more "story-oriented" direction with their themes from that point on, but Spooky Night and Treasure Hunt were the last two books released in the original lineup with every book since then simply being compilations of art from the previous books with new riddles instead.
Visual Effects of Awesome: Yes, in a children's book series. The grand majority of the books were written before Walter Wick moved to digital photography...which means that, yes, every single picture was completely real and done by hand, with zero photo editing. He even has a series of behind the scenes features on his web site detailing how he put together quite a few of the harder-to-explain pictures.
The video games:
Creepy Awesome: Skelly from the Spooky Mansion games, speaks entirely in rhyme, has a big, spooky house, created a series of riddles for the player to solve before being able to leave, and made a machine to create ghosts from simple objects.
Creepy Cute: The ghosts from Spooky Mansion. Tick-Tock and Meow in particular.
Growing the Beard: Spooky Mansion shaped the games into being themed like the books after I Spy, I Spy Junior, and I Spy School Days. Treasure Hunt then went onto to format the "three adventures" gameplay.
It's Short, So It Sucks!: The original Spooky Mansion spurred a lot of complaints of this, as evidenced by Amazon reviews. The Deluxe version alleviated this heavily by giving it an overhaul described on the main page; given that most people seem to remember it a bit more fondly than the original, it probably worked.
The portrait level of Treasure Hunt has a man being Eaten Alive by a shark... which is one of the objects to be clicked.
Arachnophobes will probably not enjoy the many spiders spattered throughout the riddles in Spooky Mansion, but the really big realistic spider in the Toy Chest and the even bigger shadow of the spider on the ceiling in the library take the cake.
That One Level: Expect everyone to groan in dismay at the magnifying glass levels. They will always show up at least once a game, and because the object size accommodates for the increased visibility through the lens, everything is shrunk to microscopic levels making it a complete needle-in-a-haystack search. While the Blackout Basement levels aren't a walk in the park either, the objects at least remain the usual size and your usual field of play isn't technically increased any like it is with the magnifying glass.
Critter, the ghost made from a snake, a frog, two flies, and an eyeball. No doubt he's made from creepy ingredients, but he looks so cute with his big eye.
The friendly aliens from I Spy Fantasy, also with big, innocent eyes.
Viewer Gender Confusion: Skelly from Spooky Mansion is referred to with male pronouns on the back of the Wii version's CD case and on Scholastic's website, but is often mistaken for a girl due to his androgynous voice.
The animated series:
Special Effect Failure: Whenever Spyler and CeCe do their "We Found It" dance, they are very obviously added into the scene digitally rather than being animated on the set.