Matty Collector: Club Lion Force Voltron by Mattel

Mega thrusters are go, Bitches!

It was a long wait, folks, and a unique and epic experience: A subscription that sends you a series of stand-alone toys, which in the end will piece together to form one ginormous robot. Throughout the course of my 30-some odd years of toy collecting, there hasn’t been anything quite like Matty Collector’s Club Lion Force: A year long journey, in which every couple of months brought me one step closer to something really damn cool. It was an idea that took the Collect & Connect concept to the extreme, and one that was perfectly suited to the Voltron property. When I came home to find my Black Lion sitting on my stoop, I was so relieved excited to know that the journey was finally complete.

Before moving on, let me throw out a little disclaimer. I realize for some people this ride was not a smooth one.  If you’re a toy company doing something like this, you really need to be able to get your shit together, and that’s something that Matty can’t always claim to be good at. I realize that some people had QC issues with individual lions, others had typical Digital River snafus, and when you’re dealing with parts of a whole, any one of these issues could be enough to ruin the entire experience. I’ve seen the horror stories from the people for whom one problem along the way stopped them from completing their Voltron. If you’re one of those people, I really feel for you. It’s not like you can take these back to the store for an exchange, and the prices of these damn things on Ebay are getting outrageous.

No doubt, I was really lucky. I haven’t had a single QC issue with any of my Lions. Nonetheless, my heart was in my throat as I opened Black Lion in fear that something would be wrong with it, and my journey to form Voltron would crash and burn just inches from the finish line. In the end, he turned out fine. And now with Voltron standing in front of me, comes the inevitable question: Was he worth it? Was he worth the stress and the money? The answer in a word? Yes. The answer in a few more words? Hell fucking yeah, he was worth it! So let’s form Voltron!

Plugging the limbs into the Black Lion goes very smoothly and the connections hold very well. I was a little afraid of how difficult it would be to disconnect the limbs without forcing them, but they all separate again just fine. The arms pull out without any undue pressure and the legs eject just by pressing the buttons on the backs, very similar to the Toynami Voltron.  I’ll confess to not being a big fan of the spring-loaded transformation gimmicks, but I sure do love the way you press in the chest crest to make Voltron’s head snap open and into position. It’s awesome! Once assembled, Voltron’s proportions are excellent and he looks mighty goddamn majestic. I stood him on a table and went to get some work done on the computer, and I just found myself admiring him every couple of minutes. He’s certainly an attention getter.

I try to keep the majority of my toys in my display areas, so they don’t take over the whole house, but dammit if I don’t want to just stand him on an end table in my living room like a vase or something so that guests would say, “Hey FigureFan (because that’s what everyone always calls me), what’s that on your end table?” And I would just say, “That’s my goddamn huge Voltron, son.” And with that we would go back to sipping cognac and playing Scrabble. Let’s just drop in a shot of him standing behind my Toynami Voltron for the proper size perspective.

Obviously we’ve already seen a lot of Voltron’s sculpt when we looked at the individual lions, so I won’t go into a lot of detail there. I will say how much I adore the face. It’s beautifully sculpted and perfectly captures Voltron’s stoic portrait and the paintwork is excellent. The chest crest is really great looking too. I was a little worried about how it would come out since the individual lions were missing some of their finer details, but it has a nice, chunky animated look that makes me smile.

Easily the biggest complaint I’ve seen about Voltron is his inability to stand in action poses or with his weapons in hand. It’s not so much an inability as it is people deciding to come out of the gate bitching, rather than take the time to play around with him to see what he’s truly capable of. He is definitely top heavy, there’s no doubt about that, but in a way very similar to Toynami’s Masterpiece Voltron. Still, his ratcheting joints are strong and effective, and he balances perfectly fine when placed in a typical standing pose. When you put his sword and shield in his hands, you do need to work at it to get him to stand, but I’ve had tons of success posing him while brandishing his weapons. There’s plenty to tweak to get him to stand. Besides the fold down heel struts, you can also make some little adjustments to the Yellow and Blue Lions’ paws for a little added assistance. I generally find that he will stand in all sorts of great action poses on carpet, but he tends to slide real easy on tables or smooth surfaces.

Naturally, Voltron comes with his weapons. We’ve already looked at the Collect & Connect Blazing Sword, but I’ll admit I was surprised to see the extra Sword in with the Black Lion. I’m sure it was revealed during the course of the year, but I must have missed it because I genuinely thought the Collect & Connect sword that came with the figures was all we were getting. Both the sword and shield have huge pegs that go into the recessed sockets inside the Red and Green Lions’ mouths, holding them in place very well.

I was really dismayed by how much negativity there was on the Matty forums about the finished Voltron. Surprised? No. Only dismayed. I’m not talking about the people with QC issues, I’ve already empathized with them, and they have every right in the world to be royally pissed. No, I’m talking about the bunch of whiny fuckers who are bitching just to bitch. Ever since getting my hands on the Red Lion, I had a pretty good idea what the finished product was going to be like, and everything fell right into line just as I imagined it. I wasn’t expecting a super-articulated ninja robot, and there was no reason for anyone to expect that. What I was counting on was a big, heavy beast of a toy that would have been perfectly at home in the 80s. I wanted a showpiece reminiscent of a time when toy companies weren’t shackled by safety regulations and they could produce a giant robot that would crush a kid to death if it fell on them.  No, if the final Voltron held any surprise for me, it was just how majestic he looks fully assembled and standing there on display. I know, I’ve probably thrown the word majestic around a few times in this feature, but it’s honestly the word that best describes him. I adore this thing, and might I remind you all that I’m the guy that cannot stand the Voltron cartoon.

Oh yeah, and while I know it would never happen, Matty if you ever do decide to do a second sub with a similar scaled vehicle Voltron, I’ll be there on day one with my money to suffer through it all again.

Voltron: Black Lion by Mattel

Yes, it was the final month for Matty’s Club Lion Force, and that meant that not only did we subbers get Keith, but we got the last and biggest Lion of the pack: Black Lion. Ever since the beginning of the month, I’ve been on pins and needles, worried about getting this thing safely into my collection. Was Digital River going to screw up? Would Black Lion be stricken with some horrible QC issues, like having four back legs and missing a head? Or would Matty just send me one of the Avatar beasts in a Voltron package. I was seriously stressing out. But it was all for naught in the end. Blackie arrived on my stoop with the rest of my October haul and now he’s safely in my clutches.

Once upon a time, I marveled at the size of the Yellow and Blue Lions. But damn, this guy is really big. He comes in the same style box, which has a cardboard base and back, and four clear plastic walls. The animated backdrop shows the Castle and all in all, this thing looks mighty impressive in the package. Matty probably should have mentioned somewhere on there that the Sword and Shield are concealed under the cardboard base, since none of the other lions have had any accessories packaged down there. I have to imagine someone, somewhere is going to pitch the packaging before realizing their horrible mistake.

As soon as I got Black Lion out of the box I gave him a good once over. It was like pulling someone out of combat and searching them for bullet wounds. There was a minor paint smudge on one of his red wings, but it came off with a little magic eraser treatment, and a tiny bit of black rubbing on one of his yellow shoulders. Other than that, this guy is fine.


As expected, Black Lion is the boxiest of the lions, but that goes with the territory of being the torso. On the other hand, he’s also the most complex looking of the bunch. The wings on his back stay folded up quite well, and you only need to lift them up to reveal the key slot for Black Lion’s cockpit. Push in the key, or any pointy object, and the hatch will release to reveal the cockpit compartment for your Keith figure. If you were wondering whether Black Lion’s huge size would give it a more roomy or complex cockpit, well, that isn’t the case. The inside of the cockpit is similar to the other lion interiors. There are some well-placed stickers to make up the instruments, and it’s just big enough to comfortably fit the figure.

In theory, Black Lion has about the same articulation as the others, but the fact that his shoulders form Voltron’s hips and shoulders actually give him a little more range of motion. I also really dig his tail a lot more than the other lions’ tails. He’s got three hinges in it, and it looks wavier, fluid and tail like, while the other lions’ tails look more like antenna.

In addition to the ubiquitous mouth blade weapon, Black Lion comes with the aforementioned Star Shield and Blazing Sword, but I’m actually going to cover those pieces when I look at Voltron on Friday.

I feel kind of bad for Black Lion. He’s easily the most impressive lion of the pack and yet he’s probably going to get overlooked by a lot of collectors who will be using him to form Voltron the moment he arrives and so he won’t spend nearly as much time in his Lion mode as the others. Still, he’s a great looking piece and makes for an awesome display when perched at the head of the group. In the end, I’m just so happy he arrived and in good condition so I can put an end to the rather trying, yet ultimately satisfying, ordeal of Club Lion Force .

Voltron: Keith (Black Lion Pilot) by Mattel

It’s the final month for Club Lion Force and thank Christ for that! While I have been lucky enough to have a pretty good experience with Matty on this subscription, my stress over each release has been mounting, until finally reaching a fevered pitch with this final month. But we’ll get to that tomorrow when we discuss Black Lion. Today, we’re going to check out the final pilot figure, Keith, and I’ve looked at enough of these that I’m going to try to go through this one pretty quickly.

As expected, Keith comes in the exact same style window box that we’ve seen with all the figures, except Sven. The box is black to match his lion and features some decent character art on the front along with a little window that displays the figure, the alternate head, and the key stand. The back panel has a little blurb about Keith and his lion, photos of the completed Blazing Sword and a shot of the figure fitting into the Black Lion’s cockpit. As always, the box is totally collector friendly, which is awesome. On the downside, the Blazing Sword is designed to lock together, so once it’s assembled, it won’t be going back into the boxes.

Keith holds no surprises. He has a solid head sculpt, and appears to be built off of the same body as Lance and Sven. The paint on the figure is great, with no smudging or dirt on the white, and no bleeding around the red. The alternate helmeted head is overall pretty good, but there’s an annoying black spot of paint on his visor. This black spot is the first true defect I’ve had in any of my Club Lion Force toys, so in the Voltron Quality Control Lottery… A winner is me!

Articulation includes a ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders and elbows, universal movement in the hips, and ball joints in the knees. Once again, the fact that the pistol is sculpted into his holster and cannot be removed is a constant sticking point with me and these figures, but I take a small bit of solace in the fact that this is the last time I have to mention it. Speaking of repetitive criticisms, I still really wish the key stand had a sticker on each side.

In addition to the key stand, Keith comes with the tip of the Collect & Connect Blazing Sword and the last two pieces of the stand, so we can finally put this thing together. The sword consists of snapping together the hilt, guard, and three pieces of blade. The blade is painted with a faint swirly energy pattern and the edges are sculpted with translucent yellow plastic flames to make it appear to be pulsating with Ro-Beast killing power. In reality, it looks ok, but I tend to prefer the regular Blazing Sword that comes with the Black Lion. But more on that tomorrow!

So, let’s take a moment to ruminate on the pilot figures. Remember when the first Lion Force sub details came out and Matty was going to sell the pilots and lions separately? Well, I think grouping them together was one of the better decisions. Sure, it meant that collectors couldn’t order extras, but I would have been plenty peeved paying $15 plus shipping for these things had Mattel shipped them separately on non-Lion months. A few of my friends maintain that I’m discounting the cost of the Blazing Sword pieces, and yeah it was a nice bonus, but I would have been fine without it. I still like the pilot figures, Keith and his teammates are plenty cool, but there’s no doubt Mattel took shortcuts with them, making them in no way worth the price.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at the grand daddy of all the Lions!

Voltron: Blue Lion by Mattel

Today we’re checking out the latest release from Matty’s Club Lion Force and it’s the Blue Lion, number four. Blue is the second of the robo-cats that make up Voltron’s legs and that makes him the same size as Yellow, in other words, he’s one of the big ones. He arrives in a white mailer with the Allura figure bundled inside. At this point, there aren’t a lot of surprises, so let’s dig right in…

Ah, the packaging. It looks so good when it first arrives. As with the other lions the package consists of a cardboard base and backer and the rest is clear plastic. The box is color coded to coordinate with the Blue Lion theme and the back of the box shows off some pictures of the toy’s features as well as a little blurb about Princess Allura. You also get a tantalizing shot of Voltron showing where the Blue Lion fits in. The lion is posed inside with the help of a tray and heavy duty clear plastic straps and his weapon is rubber banded to the back. It takes some deft scissor work to get him out without tearing the hell out of the package. This whole ensemble is just collector friendly enough so that you can get the lion back inside, but it’s not very durable and once unstrapped, the lion just rattles around inside the package. I really would have preferred a straight up box with some artwork to store the lions in. I’ve saved all the packages so far, but chances are once I can build Voltron, I’ll be pitching these to reclaim some space in one of my toy closets.

When Yellow Lion arrived, I was blown away by his size and the same was true when I got Blue in hand. As expected, Yellow and Blue are both built on the same basic body, but there are plenty of resculpted parts to make Blue distinctive. He has a flat back, minus the grey half cylinder on Yellow. His head is also more squared off and less organic looking than Yellow’s. The legs are identical to Yellow’s, giving the toy the same nagging articulation limits. As with all the lions, I really wanted mid joints in the legs that could move both ways. Sure, there are still some good poses available here, but not as good as it could have been.

There have been a number of reported QC issues with the coloring on the lions. I know more than a few people have received lions composed of two shades of plastic. I’ve been really nervous since then about having a similar issue, but so far I’ve had no problems and I’m happy to say that the coloring on my Blue is spot on. In fact, the color here is pretty spectacular. I love the shade of blue used for the body and it contrasts beautifully with the white and yellow. All the paintwork on the head is bright and sharp. About the only flaw I can find is a little uneven application around the edges of the cockpit, but that’s only visible with the cockpit open and even still, I have to get pretty nitpicky to find anything to complain about.

As with Yellow Lion, Blue’s cockpit is hinged at the back and is opened by pressing the key (or key or any pointed object) into the button to release the catch. Once open you get a simple sculpted seat and stickers to add the details of the controls. It’s a roomy cockpit and little Allura has no trouble fitting inside.

Blue comes with a spikey dagger that he can hold in his teeth. There aren’t any little dimples in this one to match up with the teeth, but Blue’s jaws close up pretty tight so he can hold it very securely. I’m not a big fan of these weapons, but I suppose it’s nice to have them.

As it stands, I think Blue here is my favorite of all the lions. He’s beautifully colored and I love the sculpt. There are certainly some things that could have used more attention, particularly the featureless black plate on the top of his head. Either way, I really like this guy and I’m still digging the 80’s retro vibe I get from these toys. I’m also officially starting to get really excited about finishing off my BFV* and quite frankly having all the limbs and no Black Lion is driving me crazy. I’m still having trouble fathoming just how huge Black Lion is going to be, not to mention the Voltron figure itself. What I do know is that I’ll be lining all the lions up at least a week before Black Lion is shipping, just so I’m all ready to go when he gets here.

 *Big Fucking Voltron

Voltron: Princess Allura (Blue Lion Pilot) by Mattel

Yep, it’s Voltron time again… if you’re keeping score, we’re up Lion and Pilot #4 (ok, Pilot #5 if you count Sven) this month. Today we’re going to check out the Blue Lion pilot and sole girly-girl of Team Lion Force: It’s Princess Allura. As usual, she comes in a white mailer box tucked away in the larger white mailer that contains her Lion. We’ll be checking out Blue Lion tomorrow and throwing all our attention behind the pilot figure today. The pilot figures have been pretty formulaic, so if you’ve been with me from my first look at Lance back at the beginning of the year, a lot of this will seem awfully familiar…

…like the packaging! Allura comes in the same collector friendly box as all of the other pilots (minus Sven, of course!).  And like the others, Allura’s box is color coded to match her lion, so in this case it’s blue. The front of the box has a decent piece of artwork showing off the figure’s animated counterpart. There’s also a window to show the figure itself. The back of the box has a blurb about Allura and Blue Lion and some shots of the figure and her accessories. Take note, the photo on the back erroneously shows the key-stand being pink, while the one you actually get is appropriately blue.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it one more time in a few months, this package design is nearly perfect. The only thing I would have preferred is having the figure’s name printed on the side for when I store them on the shelves lined up like books. Oh well, at least they’re color coded.

Open up the box and slide out the tray, we get a great look at everything that comes inside. You get the figure with the swappable head, the key style figure stand, the piece of the Blazing Sword, in this case it’s the top of the hilt and the base of the blade, and you also get one of the two clear stands for the Blazing Sword. I’m still resisting the temptation to start assembling the sword until I get everything.

Some early pictures had me a little worried about Allura’s body sculpt. She looked a little too chunky, but with the figure in hand it looks like those were probably just from unflattering angles. The proportions and build of the final figure look really good. Once again, Mattel has done a decent job of using different builds for each of the figures making them look as diverse in size and shape as the characters were in the cartoon. I am, however, a little iffy on Allura’s heads. The sculpts seems ok, I like the shape of the face and the sculpting on the hair, the helmeted head looks great, but I think it’s the eyes that just seem a little weird or creepy to me. It may just be conveying the animation style, but there’s just something about those eyes that doesn’t gel right with me. Once again, the figure’s gun is sculpted into the holster and once again, I’ll point out that at $15 each, these figures should have had removable guns.

The paintwork on this figure is excellent. The aforementioned eyes are a style choice, and not caused by sloppy paint. I’m particularly impressed by the paint on her thin, silver tiara. The pink on her uniform is great, and while some of these figures have been prone to some smudging on the white uniform, Allura has none of that.

Articulation here is exactly what we got with all the other figures. In this case, that’s a bit of a relief because sometimes female figures get a few points of articulation cut out. That’s not the case here. Allura has ball joints in her neck, shoulders, elbows and knees, and universal movement at the hips.

As usual, the figure comes with the key that can be used to open the accompanying Lion’s cockpit and it doubles as a stand. It’s a good thing, too, because Allura’s tiny feet make it difficult for her to stand on her own. One of my running gripe’s with this line is that Matty couldn’t pony up for an extra sticker on both sides of the key and yes, that still irks me a bit.

So, there are no big surprises here. Overall, Allura is a solid figure. We deserved better at this price point, but by now we all know what to expect and we’re either comfortable with that or we’re not. I still haven’t decided whether I’m going to be displaying these figures in front of my completed Voltron, leaving them in the cockpits, or just keeping them in the boxes. I suppose that’ll be determined by how much space I have. Tomorrow, I’ll be back to check out Allura’s lion.

Voltron: Club Lion Force Exclusive Sven by Mattel

As promised, I’m back with some content, and just to minimize the shock of there being no Vintage Vault today, I’m at least looking at something that is rather retro. Yes, those of us who subscribed to Matty’s Club Lion Force not only can sleep at night knowing that our Voltrons won’t be missing a limb for having missed a lion on a Sale Day, but we also got to add the exclusive Sven figure to our collections. I’ve gone on record many times here saying that I’m strictly a fan of Voltron based on concept and the fact that he’s a pop 80’s icon, so I’m not exactly the kind of collector this figure was aimed at. I can, however, still appreciate it and be happy for the fans that have been waiting to get this figure for 30 some years.

Of course, Matty can rarely do anything without eliciting buckets of controversy, and so they decided to package Sven on a retro-style card, rather than in the collector friendly boxes that the rest of the pilots came in. This act of treachery has pissed off many fans who will have to tear open the figure in order to display it with the rest of the pilots. And, of course since this figure is only available as an exclusive with the subscription, you can’t exactly buy an extra for openers. Not unless you were one of the ones that laid out $80 for him at Big Bad Toy Store before they sold out. Crazy! As a result of this madness, I’m only going to be looking at the packaged figure. Nope, I’m not opening mine. I have no desire to display Sven loose with the rest of my pilots, and I really dig this packaging, so mine will remain tucked away in the white mailer until I can find a Zolo-style clamshell to fit it and hang it on my wall.

And there’s that beautiful packaging. The design is obviously a delightful nod back to the cardbacks used for the vintage Panosh Place figures. It’s not a direct facsimile, but there are a lot of similarities, right down to the angled corners of the card, the animated character art and backdrop design. The key stand and helmet are positioned differently inside the bubble and Sven’s modern card has a snazzy reflective ink used for the Voltron logo. I even like the little “First Ever Sven Figure” medallion up in the left corner. The presentation here is first rate and the figure is displayed very nicely, with the helmetless head attached to the figure and the helmeted head beside it, just like the other pilots came in their boxes.

The back of the card is similar to the back of the other pilot’s boxes. It has a little blurb about Sven and it shows how he fits into the Blue Lion’s cockpit. There are also some nice shots of animation from the original cartoon.

Also included in the white mailer is a little double-sided mini-poster. One side has a great shot of Voltron wielding the Blazing Sword. The other side reads, “Let’s Go Voltron Force” and has a shot of each of the pilots, with Sven in place of Princess Allura. I have no clue what I’m going to do with it, but it was a cool little bonus nonetheless.

As for the figure itself, Sven shouldn’t present any surprises to anyone who has been getting these figures since the beginning. In fact, Sven appears to use the exact same body as Lance. If there are any differences in the sculpt, I can’t see them. Both of Sven’s head sculpts are quite good, and I still really like the use of the clear eye shield on the helmeted heads. Once again, I’ll take the opportunity to point out that the gun is sculpted into the holster, and that we should have gotten better on what is essentially billed as a $15 figure. The paintwork on my Sven looks excellent, although it’s hard to tell if there’s any major flubs on the back.

The articulation has been consistent throughout all the pilots and Sven is no different. You get ball joints in the neck, shoulders, elbows and knees, and universal movement in the hips. The figure has solid poseability, but once again, should have been better considering the cost.

If you’re really pissed off about Matty’s choice of packaging here, you might consider that they could have really been dicks and put a piece of the Blazing Sword in with Sven so you had no choice but rip it open. As it is, Sven just comes with the extra head and an extra Blue Lion stand/key.

I’m very pleased with Sven, and I think most collectors will be happy with the figure. It’s the packaging that will fuel the drama over this release, but it is what it is. I’ll admit it would have made infinitely more sense to keep a uniform package style for all the pilots and most everyone would have been happy. I appreciate Matty trying to do something special for this sub exclusive figure, but if they were going to go this route they should have ponied up for a re-sealable clamshell package or something, especially since it’s just not feasible or affordable for most collectors to buy a second Sven for opening. Me? I’m happy to hang mine on the wall right behind wherever my Voltron is going to stand. And chances are the rest of the pilots will be in their packages too.

[And that’s it for me this week, folks, I will be back on Monday to start covering the rest of my Matty Collector stuff, including Voltron’s Princess Allura and the Blue Lion and my much anticipated Mirror Master figure from Club Infinite Earths. There will likely be some more bonus updates next week too as I continue to try to get all caught up. –FF]

Voltron: Green Lion by Mattel

Alrighty then, time to wrap up this four-day run of Matty Collector madness with a look at the third lion from the Club Lion Force subscription, Green Lion! This guy is an interesting release, since he pairs up with the Red Lion in forming Voltron’s arms. I was very curious to see how similar the two toys would be, and in the end I’m very pleased by how unique Matty managed to make this guy, while still conforming to the Voltron component. Let’s check him out…

Green Lion comes in the same half window, half box as the other lions. I loved this package the first time around, but the charm is starting to wear off on me. Don’t get me wrong, it looks great when the toy is MISB, but getting him out without damaging the package is a pain in the arse, and it’s virtually impossible to get him back in the proper way without him just knocking about in there. I’ve taken care to save all three lion packages, but I’m pretty sure once Voltron is complete, I’m going to wind up pitching them. Maybe I’ll just hang onto the white mailer boxes in case I ever want to put the Lion’s into storage.

Out of the box, The Green Lion is the same size as Red Lion, but these guys are certainly not identical twins. I’ve been avoiding pictures of these toys before their release so I was honestly expecting a lot of heavy parts sharing between Red and Green with just a little re-sculpting for good measure. I was pleasantly surprised to see that apart from the legs and tail, the bulk of this figure is either significantly re-worked or brand new. Green Lion has a sleeker, more rounded style than his boxy red brother, which is pronounced enough to make him distinctive but shouldn’t be distracting when he’s paired with Red to serve as Voltron’s arms.

The cockpit in the Lion’s back does open the same way as the Red Lion’s. It splits in half and separates in the middle. The hatch on this one, however, doesn’t lock as well as the Red Lion’s and you really don’t even need to push the button to open it. It does however stay closed and latched pretty well, so I’m not sure if this is a minor QC control issue or just a variation in the strength of the mechanism from the Red to the Green.

Articulation? The Green Lion shares all the good and the bad with the Red Lion. The legs are jointed at the top, middle and foot, but they are each only designed to bend one way and that means you can’t get all the great poses you can get out of some other Voltron sets (*cough* Toynami *cough*). On the other hand, the ratcheting joints are nice and strong and the auto transform feature from Voltron limb back to Lion is still present, like it or not. Limited leg movement aside, my biggest gripe with the articulation is the head. I would have liked a lot more neck movement. All that being said, I think I’ve said before that these lions feel more like 80’s vintage toys than highly poseable collector figures, and I’m perfectly fine with that.

Green Lion also comes with his little three-pointed blade weapon. I’m not a big fan of these things, but I’ll give credit for Matty including them. It has two little dimples in the handle to match up with Green’s teeth and he can hold it in his jaw pretty well.

And that’s Green Lion for ya. As with the pilot figures, there are things Matty could have done better here, but overall I’m pretty pleased with him. By now we know what to expect and apart from being a little surprised with the amount of new sculpting, there’s no big differences here between Green and Red. The end the result is kind of a “been there, done that” attitude when I got him out of the package. I suspect the same will be true for the next release, as Blue Lion will have a similar feel to Yellow. Of course, Black Lion will be brand new and have a lot of wow factor because of his sheer bulk, not to mention being the final piece needed to assemble Voltron!

Voltron: Pidge (Green Lion Pilot) by Mattel

Alrighty, folks, we’re pushing on with Matty Madness week. The DC stuff is out of the way and now we can check out June’s Club Lion Force offerings. This month, we got the Green Lion and Pidge. If you’re keeping score, this release officially gets us over the hump and more than half way to completing the BFV*. I’m getting seriously excited now! We’re going to take a look at the Green Lion tomorrow, but today we’re just going to focus on its pilot. Yes, it’s the annoying know-it-all kid of the Lion Force… Pidge.

We’ve seen this packaging before, but let’s go through it anyway so I can pad out this feature a bit and pander to the people who weren’t here for the last two pilot figures. Pidge comes in a snazzy little box with a window that shows the figure. Each of the boxes are color coded to each pilot’s lion, so this one is green. The character artwork is pretty solid and the back shows off photos of the figure, the key stand, the C&C Blazing Sword piece, as well as an illustration of how the figure fits into his lion.

The package opens at the top or bottom and allows you to slide out the tray and get at all the goodies. No surprises here. You get the figure with his extra helmeted head mounted beside him. You get the C&C sword piece, in this case it’s part of the blade, and you get the key stand. The package is delightfully collector friendly, which is a big bonus, as I will likely be keeping the figures in these boxes even after I’ve completed assembling the Voltron.

Pidge is tiny! Yes, I expected him to be small, but man he’s small. That’s not a knock against the figure, mind you. Something I love about the way Matty is doing these figures is the way they’re all differently proportioned. Part of me was expecting the same body on all of them, including Pidge. Ok, not really, but the point is that while there are a few things I would do differently with these guys, the relative scaling is not one of them. It’s quite perfect. The head sculpts are very well executed and oozing with personality right down to his huge dorky glasses. If you want a great example of why Matty didn’t go with removable helmets on these figures, Pidge is it. There’s no way all that hair would have fit under one!

Matty managed to get the same level of articulation into Pidge’s tiny body. That means you get a ball jointed head, ball jointed shoulders and elbows, universal movement in the hips, and ball jointed knees. The joints don’t quite have the range of motion as the bigger pilots, but for a figure this size, I’m pleased.

Of course, there are a few things I’m not so pleased about, and these are mostly the same gripes I have with the Lance and Hunk figures. The fact that the gun is sculpted onto the belt and not removable still pisses me off. And yes, I’m going to mention it every time I look at one of these guys. The fact that the key stand doesn’t have a sticker on the reverse side really irks me a lot too. At $15 a figure, these things are not a lot to ask for, but obviously, Matty isn’t going to make any running changes halfway through the subscription.

And there you go. I think we all know what to expect from the pilot figures now. If anything, Pidge surprised me a little because of his excellent scale and the way the articulation wasn’t sacrificed too much for it. I like these figures well enough, but when you consider their cost, Matty should have put a little more into them. Collectors may find this sentiment to be especially the case with Pidge because he is indeed so small for a figure with a fifteen dollar pricetag. Either way, I’m happy to have the third member of Lion Force in my collection. Tomorrow, we’ll check out Pidge’s ride.

*Big Fucking Voltron!

Matty Madness Week

I’m coming off of my three-updates-per-week rotation this week in order to get through all the Matty Collector stuff that was dumped on my stoop this weekend. Later today I’ll be posting a look at the Club Infinite Earths Metron figure, tomorrow it’ll be Atrocitus, and then Wednesday and Thursday we’ll look at the Club Lion Force Green Lion and Pidge. Friday I’ll return to normalcy with Vintage Vault.


I’m a strong proponent of giving credit where it is due, especially when I spill so much electric ink here bashing Matty Collector’s poor performance. This past Matty Sale Day, they did everything right, so here I am applauding it. It was a big Sale Day for me as I have both Voltron and DC Infinite Earth subscriptions and they both synched up, which meant I was getting Green Lion and Pidge, plus the monthly DC figure, Atrocitus, plus the DC Sub Exclusive figure, Metron. A lot could go wrong, and nothing did. Not only did I get billed the correct amount on the Monday before the Sale Day, but everything shipped out two days before the Sale Day as well. The shipping is still pretty slow, but certainly not nearly as bad as previous months. Plus, considering how much they were shipping to me, I’ll even say the shipping charges were pretty reasonable.

So, bravo, Matty, for a job well done this time.

Voltron: Yellow Lion by Mattel

And as promised… here we go with the second building block needed to construct the ridiculously huge Voltron figure. Yesterday we looked at Hunk, now its time to check out his ride, the Yellow Lion.

Out of the white mailer box, and my first impression is awe at just how big this guy is. I was suitably impressed with the Red Lion’s size, but Yellow Lion is considerably larger. The toy comes in the same style of window packaging as Red Lion. Its not really fair to call this thing a box as about three-quarters of it is made up of clear plastic with just a cardboard back and base. The back panel shows the toy in action along with some of its features. You also get a shot of Voltron showing the Yellow Lion as his left leg. The lion stands on an illustrated cardboard tray with clear plastic supports that holds him in an action pose. A little careful clipping with some scissors can free the lion from the base without mangling the package. The overall presentation here is pretty amazing, as the toy looks absolutely fantastic in the package. But with all that having been said, I still would have preferred a standard regular old box. I’m storing all my lions in their packaging until I get them all together, and these window “boxes” aren’t exactly easy to store.
In hand, Yellow Lion is a nice, big and sturdy toy. His body is one solid piece, as opposed to Red Lion, which has the elbow joint in the middle. This along with his bigger size just makes Yellow Lion feel more substantial and solid. The rounded hump that makes up his shoulders also gives him less of a boxy look and his head is more naturally positioned than his Red brother. Granted, all of this design element comes from the fact that the two Lions form different limbs. I’ve got nothing against Red Lion, its a great looking toy, I just think that the leg design makes for a better looking Lion vehicle and I suspect that will follow through when we eventually look at the Green and Blue Lions.
The coloring here is nice and vibrant and relies mostly on the color of the plastic, rather than a lot of paint apps. Again, Mattel went with a pale grey colored plastic for the legs, and while some will take issue with it, I’m glad they went this route. Technically these pieces are supposed to be a chromed, steel finish. Some argue that white would have been better. I’d rather they be distinguished from the white parts of the Lion’s face and so grey works fine for me.
If you remember my look at the Red Lion, you’ll recall I had issues with the leg articulation, and the same holds true with the Yellow Lion. I’m happy with the strong ratcheting joints at the tops of the legs and the ankles are fine too. Its the middle joints, which only bend backward on the back legs and forward on the front legs that really bugs me. It really limits the poses you can get. Other articulation includes two hinges in the tail, and the head can pivot up and down and rotate left and right at the neck. The jaws also open and he can hold his blade weapon in his mouth. If you flip the lion over you can see a button on his belly. Pressing this while he’s folded up into the leg mode will automatically convert him back into lion mode.
Take the key that came with the Hunk figure (or any pen or pencil) and you can unlock the cockpit and open the Yellow Lion’s back. While Red Lion’s cockpit splits open, Yellow Lion’s just swings open on a hinge in the back. Its a lot less sophisticated, but the idea is the same. Inside you get the same sort of cockpit with a sculpted chair and some stickers for instruments. Hunk fits inside, but the arm rests make the back of the seat too narrow for him to lean all the way back into it. As a result, it feels like the cockpit was designed for one of the thinner figures. Nonetheless, you can still get him in there and close the hatch with room to spare.
It may sound like I have a lot of issues with this toy, but when all is said and done, I’m still plenty happy with how he turned out. As much as I liked Red Lion, I think Yellow is a better lion, because the design of his transformation allowed him to be. He has that same great nostalgic 80’s toy feel as Red. I don’t think its something Mattel was expressly going for, but it just kind of happened. And while I didn’t shoot any pictures of him in his leg mode (I’m saving all that for the end), when I converted him, I really began to appreciate just how big the Black Lion is going to have to be, let alone Voltron. Sure, when you consider Yellow Lion and Hunk set me back about seventy bucks with shipping, it seems rather steep, but I still think it’ll all be worth it in the end. Besides, try hunting this set on Ebay and you’re already looking at paying over $100 in a lot of cases.

And now begins the wait for the next Lion. Sigh… it’s going to be a long year.