I've always had a soft spot for large figures and robots. So it should be no surprise that I'm a complete sucker for large robots and robot combiners.
The reintroduction of combiner teams got me back into Transformers. So it may be a bit surprising that I have never had a Voltron toy. So with the
latest Voltron cartoon getting good reviews and the toys tempting my from the store shelves for the last year, it was only a matter of time before
my resolve would break down and the defender of the Galaxy would finally be finding a home on my toy shelves. And the addition of a classic style
Voltron this year along with the announcement at Toy Fair that they would be recoloring the figures later this year was finally enough to force my hand.
Robeasts beware, the legendary defender Voltron has arrived.
Packaging - Black Lions 6/10, modern lion limbs 7/10, '84 lion limbs 8/10
The lions for the sixteen inch Voltrons are sold individually with each of the limb lions available on cards as part of one assortment while the
black lions are sold separately. In terms of the packaging design and graphics, the cards do a great job of displaying the lions as well as the
included accessories. The redesigned graphics for the classic lions are just a bit smaller though so it is even easier to see the toy inside. The
black lions for both sets come in a larger window box instead of a card. I suspect that they did this in part to justify the additional price. But
the black lions are not that much larger. And they don't have much for accessories. So they don't do a great job of filling all of that space. The
modern version is also available in a box set which is exclusive to Toys R Us. But I ended up going with the individually sold lions.
On a side note, Playmates' Voltron line includes multiple versions of Voltron in a variety of sizes and with different features. Some combine, others
don't. Some include die cast metal for those who miss the days when kid's toys had enough weight to double as a dangerous weapon. But the packaging
and names don't do a great job of explaining the differences. It's not too bad if you are buying them in person in a store. But as more and more
toy sales occur online where you only have a brief description of the product, I could easily see people mistaking one version of the line for another
and end up with incompatible figures.
Sculpting - modern lions 6/10, '84 lions 8/10
Playmates has done a very respectable job with each of the lions for both sets. The modern version of Voltron reuses some parts for the hind end of
the lions which form Voltron's arms and the two that form his legs. That might annoy some fans. But personally I like that it gives the completed
Voltron a more consistent look. But once assembled into Voltron, the red and green lions end up feeling a bit too thick as forearms. But as solid as
the modern Voltron is, Playmates really stepped it up with the classic lions. Each individual lion looks great. They even went so far as planning ahead
so that the screw holes for all four limbs are hidden on the inner legs and back of the arms. When formed into Voltron, they do have a couple of very
minor issues. The shoulder joints for the black lion leave some unwanted breaks in the chest. And the lower torso or ab area is larger than it probably
should be. But in both cases, the fully assembled teams create a nice large, imposing Voltron.
Paint - Modern 8/10, '84 Voltron 6/10
The paint work for all of the lions across both sets is pretty solid. Playmates did particularly well painting the lion faces. The one area where
the modern version manages to set itself apart from the classic lions is with the use or lack of use of silver paint. None of these lions has any
actual die cast metal, but the modern lions use a fair amount of silver paint for the trim and the body of the black lion so that as Voltron, you
don't see a great deal of dull grey. But with the classic lions they painted the black lion torso, but the black lion's hind legs as well as all
of the legs for the individual lions are a dull, unpainted grey plastic.
Articulation - 8/10
Votron toys don't have a really great history with their articulation. But Playmates' offerings have done quite a bit to raise the bar. Each
individual lion has a hinged jaw with all but the black lions having spring loaded jaws. They have rotating necks, three hinge joints in each leg
and a hinge joint in the torso of the red and green lions and an additional neck joint for the blue and yellow lions. That gives each lion a lot
of range of motion. And most of the joints have fairly strong ratchets so they can hold a pose very well. I wish they had given the individual lions
ball joints for the hips. That would have given each lion a greater range of motion for more cat-like poses. And it shouldn't cause too many issues
for the combined modes beyond perhaps needing a way to peg each leg next to the body of the lion. The Black Lions add an additional hinge joint for the
back legs as well as a hinged tail and wings. The added joints for the rear legs is odd as they become completely redundant. The black lions also
contain the greatest weakness for both versions of Volton. Both versions include rotationg joints at the shoulders for the black lions, but they do
not include any joints where arms connect to the torso. So you can use the lions' articulation to rotate the shoulders, but it seriously breaks up
the torso for both versions.
Accessories - Classic Black Lion 0/10, Modern Black Lion 2/10, Modern blue
and yellow lions 5/10, Modern red and green 6/10, other Classic lions 8/10
For the modern lions, each one comes with the small shuttle vehicle that the paladins use to travel to the lions in the show. Each one can be stored in
a small compartment in the belly of the lion. The red and green lions come with half of Voltron's sword each. And then each lion also has a larger
weapon/launcher that can attach to the lion and fire a projectile. The launchers are all based on the weapons that are used in the show. But they
are still fairly large and clunky. And when you put the team together to form Voltron, you only have his sword. They didn't include the shoulder
cannon, the shield formed by the black lion's wings or the black lion's upgraded wings.
The classic black lion is the only figure which has no accessories. But they made up for that with the other four lions. Each of them comes with a
jaw blade, a projectile launcher and a third weapon to use in lion mode. The red lion also comes with the blazing sword and the green lion has
Voltron's shield. That is a lot of extras. I really wish the modern lions fared as well in terms of accessories since the current show seems to
use the individual lions a lot more than Voltron anyways. Classic Voltron's weapons do raise two small quibbles. Both are cast is a grey plastic.
Ideally I would like to see both have a vac metal coating. At the very least, they should have been painted silver. The second issue is that the
blazing sword is a bit too small. It's not tiny compared to the completed figure, but it isn't as impressive or imposing as it should be.
Electronic Features - black lions 7/10, others NA
What the two black lions lack in accessories, they attempt to make up for with a fairly impressive electronic lights and sound effects feature.
Both versions have a button on the side of the body which will activate some lights in the chest and play a sound clip. But what is impressive
is that there are sensors which will allow the black lion to know whether it is in lion form, Voltron or in the process of forming Voltron. And
it will attempt to play an appropriate sound clip to match. That is really cool. And it largely addresses one of the biggest issues I generally
have with electronic sound effect features. They rarely play the sound effect that you would want in that play situation. But here, when you form
classic Voltron, you get most of the lines from the cartoon for the Voltron sequence. And you aren't going to have a single black lion exclaiming
that it's time to form the blazing sword. I really like that. On the down side, the buttons being on the side of the lions make them really
easy to activate accidently. Fortunately the feature can also just be switched off entirely.
Combined Form - Modern 6/10, Classic 8/10
Even though I bought five individual lions for both the modern and classic versions, the real highlight for me is definitely their combined form.
And fortunately neither version of Voltron disappoints. Both versions stand just under sixteen inches to the top of their heads. That's a nice
size in my opinion as it allows them to be larger than most other toys including most Transformer combiner teams. But it also keeps them from being
too large which I hear was an issue with the version that was done by Mattel for their collector club a few years ago. Both versions also give
Voltron a fairly impressive amount of articulation. They certainly put the old 80's die cast bricks to shame. They do have a some weak points though.
Both versions use the front legs of the blue and yellow lions to form heels for the combined forms. But the ratchet joints in the lion legs are
not really strong enough properly support the weight of the complete team. The modern version could have benefitted from having slimmer limbs.
The forearms and shins get fairly bulky. And the arms are a bit too short. It is also difficult to fully retract the tails for the red, green,
yellow and blue lions on the modern version. In the cartoon it appears that they extend slightly during the combination
process. Unfortunately the toys aren't able to do that as well. Still, these are both really great versions of Voltron.
Value - Modern 7/10, Classic 9/10
The two black lions sell for $30 each while the other lions sell for $18 to $20 each depending on the store. So for a full team of lions you are
looking at a price tag between $100 to $110. There is also a box set for the modern team that sells for $100. That's a very fair price for either
version. The modern team has a few minor issues and missing accessories that aren't an issue with the classic team. But with either version, I don't
think there has ever been a better mass market version of Voltron. But as of the publication of this review, the line is starting to go on clearance
at Target stores. I saw them down to 50% off today. And at that price, even casual fans should seriously consider picking these up.
The Voltron: Legendary Defender line is in stores now and has been for some time. The Classic, '84 version were added to the toy line starting this
year and seem to be replacing the modern version in ongoing shipments. And according to what was said at Toy Fair this year, we may not see regular
versions of the modern figure going forward as they seem to have plans to introduce a repainted version instead. Although with the loss of Toys R Us
and Target now suddenly clearancing out the line, it's future is suddenly looking rather uncertain.