I was hoping to have finished my look at Playmates’ Voltron: Legendary Defender Lions before the end of last year, but that didn’t pan out. Hope y’all didn’t think I forgot, because I didn’t. I just got side-tracked in the craziness that was 4th Quarter. But I recently started picking up some of Playmates’ Classic Voltron Lions and that proved to be just the ticket to motivate me to wrap up my look at these guys from the Netflix series. Fair is fair, I can’t start opening those until I’ve wrapped up my reviews of these kitties. So, let’s check out the Black Lion today, and tomorrow I’ll come back and have a look at Voltron himself. And in case you missed it, here are my reviews of the Yellow and Blue Lions, as well as Red and Green.
While the previous Legendary Lions came on huge carded bubbles, Black Lion comes in a window box, which offers a great look at the toy from multiple angles and also has a Try Me hole so you can fire off some of the electronic phrases & sounds. Personally, I wish all the Lions came packaged like this one. Technically, the package is collector friendly, but it would probably take a lot of patience and determination to get Black Lion out without mangling the tray. There are a lot of rubber bands and some zip ties holding him in place so a Blazing Sword, or razor comes in handy. The back of the package shows you a picture of the toy and also the proper way to connect all the Legendary Lions together to form Voltron.
Out of the box, I find this guy to be pretty damn impressive. Obviously, he’s the biggest Lion in this pride, and the stylish wings on his back give him an even larger appearance. As with the other Lions, the quality of the plastic here feels really good in hand, and thanks to both the size and the electronics, he has a nice heft to him. Playmates has been able to maintain a uniform aesthetic throughout the entire set, while still instilling a little bit of individuality to each of these big cats, and that’s certainly true of The Black Lion as well. I think they’ve done a nice job recreating the animated models in toy form. He features that same great mix of angles and curves that walks the fine line between paying homage to the originals and yet still managing to look fresh and new. The coloring on the toy is mostly achieved through the plastic, which is predominantly a mix of black and gray. The black has a nice sheen to it, whereas the gray is a bit more matte. The red plastic used for the wings looks great, and you get some snappy silver paint as well.
The majestic wings attach to the body with rotating hinges, so you have several options on how you want to display them. I kind of dig them straight up and back, but they look pretty cool when they’re angled too. The tail on this kitty isn’t as bendy as on the others, and it’s designed to stay so that it’s curving up and away from the body, which looks really good. Overall, the leg articulation is similar to the other Lions, although you lose a bit of it in the hind legs so that they can serve as Voltron’s hips. The rotation at the tops of the legs doesn’t any further forward than you can see above. Also the middle hinges in the hind legs are designed to only bend backwards. In the end, this guy isn’t quite as poseable as his peers, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had with him.
The head sculpt is very nicely done and gives this big cat a lot of personality. The paint is overall pretty solid, but there’s a little white slop on my Lion near the nose. I’m still satisfied with how he turned out. These are, after all toys, and not very expensive ones at that. Black Lion’s mouth will open, but you’ll see Voltron’s face peeking back at you, so it’s best to keep it closed.
As with the other Lions, this guy comes with a pilot sled that can be stored in a hatch in the belly. As I’ve said before, this gimmick doesn’t do a whole lot for me, but it doesn’t hurt the toy either, so I’m fine with it. There’s also a button on the side of the Lion that allows you to fire off some of the phrases and sounds, as well as light up his chest. Likewise, there’s an On/Off switch on his back in case you want him to be quiet. Here are some of the sounds and phrases he says…
There may be a few more in there, but after a while he started repeating, and I think you get the idea. The chest light isn’t all that apparent in the Lion mode, because it’s pointing at the ground and kind of hidden underneath him, but it’s mostly designed for the combined Voltron mode.
The Black Lion seems to be selling at most places for around $30. I paid $25 for mine, and it feels like a pretty good deal. Playmates did a beautiful job with this kitty and, like the others, he’d be a damn fun toy even if he didn’t combine with the others to for The Big Guy. Looking back, I remember being happy enough with the Ultimate Voltron that I was considering passing on this version. But now that I have a complete set, and I see how great they look all lined up, I can confidently say that I’m very happy that I decided to collect these. It’s also good to know that there are proper Voltron toys on the shelves for the kids to enjoy, because these would have blown my little mind back in the day. Come on back tomorrow morning and LET’S FORM VOLTRON!!!