It was June 8, 2010 when Mattel announced they had the Voltron license, and it's taken just over a year for their first toy to come out.
From days of long ago, from uncharted regions of the universe, comes a legend. The legend of Voltron:
Defender of the Universe! A mighty robot, loved by good, feared by evil. Comprised of five mythical robot lions, an piloted by five courageous space explorers, Voltron uses his powerful Blazing Sword to fight against the evil forces of King Zarkon and his Robeast monsters.
This figure is "Blazing Sword Voltron," and was available from Mattel at SDCC 2011 - or, because Mattel is finally learning its lessons, through its website on August 1. And for once even getting it at the show wasn't a huge hassle, because Mattel ran a pre-order sale on July 11 that let attendees reserve (most of) the figures they wanted, for easy pick-up once they got to San Diego. It's weird to say, but more companies should follow Mattel's lead. [Yes, "Mattel's lead" in doing the same thing Sideshow started doing years ago. --ed.]
This Voltron is not five lions that join together to form a big robot - it's just a big robot. Think of the non-transforming Revoltech Transformers as a comparison. Actually, that's a very good example: just s with those toys, the goal of this figure was to duplicate the look of the old cartoon, rather than the old toys. As such, the lines are very simple and blocky. There are no technological details, no fancy textures, no seams or rivets... just chunky straight lines.
It actually works out fairly well. All the important details are there - the star
on the belt, the white panels on the wings, the yellow circles on the hips - it's just the minor stuff that's been simplified. The highest level of detail can be found on the sigil in the center of his chest (which is logical, since that's basically Voltron's equivalent of the Batsymbol). Each of the lions gets a unique shape that's accurate to the cartoon: the green one is round, the red one is square, etc.; they each have uniquely styled heads, too. The most "cartoony" thing about the entire piece are the proportions: though the lions that form the legs would be the same shape from front to back, the legs on this toy have a decidedly skewed perspective; the feet are much wider than the knees.
Paint is simple, but sufficient. As the sculpt is big and blocky, so are the colors applied to it. There's no shading, just giant swatches of solid color. That said, they still didn't skip any of the small details - did you know Voltron had a silver dot on his forehead? We never did. And yet there it is, clear as day.
The strength of this figure is the articulation.
Though it's only the size of the Trendmasters version, it moves even better than Toynami's Masterpiece toy. The toes are on balljoints, the ankles and knees are hinged, the thighs swivel, the hips are balljoints, the waist turns, the wrists are balljoints, the elbows are hinges with a swivel both above and below the joint, the torso is balljointed, there are swivel/hinge shoulders, hinges for the wings and balljoints at the top and bottom of the neck. Great stuff!
All that articulation means you can "recreate Voltron's battle moves," as the package says. And yes, you can
do that: nearly any pose seen in the cartoon can be achieved here. But perhaps more importantly, you can re-create all his sweet dance moves, too! The joint in the head was stuck fast on mine when I opened it, but I managed to free it by pulling the head off completely. I must note, however, that the plastic used in construction of Blazing Sword Voltron is uniformly soft, so now there's a little bit of shearing on the peg. It's thick enough to survive, but be careful.
Voltron has two accessories, one of which has never been made before. To begin with, he has the Blazing Sword,
which has been done in show-accurate colors (white blade, blue hilt - not vac-metallized silver) and style (with the handguard that everyone always seems to forget). It's 7¼" long, and can be held in either hand. The second accessory... you know in the cartoon when they'd say "form Blazing Sword," put the hands together and pull them apart, revealing a beam of light that then coalesced into the actual sword?
Well, the second accessory is that beam of light. No kidding! It's a vaguely sword-shaped, just-over-7"-long piece of semi-translucent yellow plastic, sculpted to look like glowing energy! And thanks to all the articulation, he can get into the proper pose with it, as well. The jaws of the red and green lions are spring-loaded, so the hands will snap shut and hold the swords tightly.
The packging is nice. It's an 11¼" tall, 7½" wide and 5" deep box, with a big window so you can see Blazing Sword Voltron clearly.
The top has a cutout in the shape of his chest symbol, and the tray he rests in provides a backdrop of Castle Voltron or whatever it's called. [The Castle of Lions --ed.] Press a small button on the front and the included voice box plays a snippet from the opening narration. Now, there are two facts you need to know: 1) you cannot get the figure out of the package unless you remove the cardboard tray; and 2) you cannot remove the tray. Seriously, the tray is glued to the inside of the box. And not just with "magazine mailing label" level glue, we're talking full-strength industrial stuff. Why? I don't know. Because Mattel never met a bad idea they wouldn't implement? I have to get up in there with a knife and carefully cut the glued parts in order to slide out the tray.
I was on the fence about this Voltron. He cost $30, which seems really excessive for this kind of figure: $20, sure, I could see that, but the extra 10 bucks feels like a ripoff. Still, Blazing Sword Voltron is a ton of fun, and is nothing like any other Voltron toy ever released. Like I said, I was on the fence - but I'm glad I got him.