Playmates Voltron Legendary Series Voltron and Voltron '84 review

Classic and Legendary Defender Voltrons
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.

Happy Hunting:

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.

Modern Green Lion MIB front

Modern green lion MIB rear

Classic Green Lion MIB front

Classic Green Lion MIB rear

Modern Black Lion box front

Modern Black Lion box rear

Modern Green Lion side view Modern Green Lion rear view Modern Green Lion with shield at rear Modern Green Lion sitting Modern Green Lion head Modern Green Lion inside mouth Modern Green Lion weak joint Modern Green Lion accessories Modern Green Lion Paladin's shuttle Modern Green Lion shuttle storage Modern Green Lion with cannon Modern Green Lion with loaded cannon Modern Red Lion card front Modern Red Lion card back Modern Red Lion side view Modern Red Lion back detail Modern Red Lion head Modern Red Lion accessories Modern Red Lion with launcher Modern Red Lion paladin shuttle Modern Voltron sword parts Modern Voltron sword Modern Blue Lion card front Modern Blue Lion card back Modern Blue Lion side view Modern Blue Lion rear view Modern Blue Lion head Modern Blue Lion sitting Modern Blue Lion accessories Modern Blue Lion with launcher Modern Yellow Lion card front Modern Yellow Lion card rear Modern Yellow Lion side view Modern Yellow Lion head Modern Yellow Lion accessories Modern Yellow Lion shuttle Modern Yellow Lion disc launcher Modern Yellow Lion with launcher mounted Modern Black Lion side view Modern Black Lion reverse view Modern Black Lion head Modern Black Lion with mouth open Modern Black Lion effects switch Modern Black Lion activation button Modern Black Lion shuttle Modern Black Lion shuttle storage Modern Lion team Modern Voltron front Modern Voltron rear Modern Voltron with sword Modern Voltron action pose Modern Voltron ankle Modern Voltron head Classic Black Lion box front Classic Black Lion box rear Classic Black Lion side view Classic Black Lion rear view Classic Black Lion head Classic Black Lion mouth open Classic Black Lion switch Classic Black Lion activation button Classic and modern Black Lions Classic and modern Black Lions Classic Green Lion side view Classic Green Lion reverse side Classic Green Lion head Classic Green Lion accessories Classic Green Lion launcher Classic Green Lion shoulder spike Classic Green Lion mouth blade Classic and modern Green Lions Classic Red Lion card front Classic Red Lion card back Classic Red Lion side view Classic Red Lion reverse view Classic Red Lion head Classic Red Lion top view Classic Red Lion accessories Classic Red Lion launcher Classic Red Lion shoulder gun Classic Red Lion mouth blade Classic and Modern Red Lions Classic Blue Lion card front Classic Blue Lion card back Classic Blue Lion side view Classic Blue Lion head Classic Blue Lion accessories Classic Blue Lion's mouth blade Classic Blue Lion gun and launcher Classic and Modern Blue Lions Classic Yellow Lion card front Classic Yellow Lion card back Classic Yellow Lion side view Classic Yellow Lion head Classic Yellow Lion rear view Classic Yellow Lion at attention Classic Yellow Lion back cannon Classic Yellow Lion accessories Classic Yellow Lion launcher Classic Yellow Lion shoulder shield Classic Yellow Lion mouth blade Classic and Modern Yellow Lions Classic lion team Classic Voltron front Classic Voltron back Classic Voltron head Classic Voltron height Classic Voltron chest detail Classic Voltron weapons Classic Voltron: form Blazing sword Classic Voltron with sword and shield Classic Voltron in action