Happy Hump Day, Toyhounds! I’m checking in with a little bonus Wednesday content today so that I can wrap up my review of Playmates’ Voltron Legendary Defender Lions, because the Classic ’84 Lions have hit stores, and this Netflix set is really just old news now. Yesterday, I had a look at the Black Lion and today I’m finally putting these five kitties together to form Voltron… Dyna-Thrusters are go… Let’s go Voltron Force!!!
And here he is, and straightaway, I’m very impressed with the way he turned out. He’s big, he’s heavy, he looks mighty damn good, and he’s a surprisingly stable robot that can be played with like an action figure without worrying about him coming apart. I’ll talk more about the playability here in a bit when I get to articulation, because there are some caveats. He’s certainly not as well proportioned and streamlined as the Utlimate Voltron, but that’s to be expected considering this one is actually formed from the separate Lion toys. We’ve had more than a few combining Lion Voltrons over the years, and overall I’d rank this one up with some of the best of them. It’s always a question of the right amount of compromise between the Lion toys and the combined mode, and I think this one did just about everything right.
When it comes to transforming the Lions and putting him together, there’s nothing terribly complex, although there are some things that are really neat. I absolutely love the way the legs on the Green and Red Lions completely fold away. The front legs store inside their respective Lions’ bodies and the rear legs are hidden nicely too. The result is a very streamlined look to the arms, which is more than I would have expected considering the price point on those guys. If you have the electronics set to On, Black Lion will comment on every step of the assembly. It acknowledges which Lion is being plugged in and calls on the next Lion to join. Sure, it can get annoying, but it’s also really damn impressive. And if you get tired of hearing it, there’s always an OFF button. I had every intention of doing a video of the electronics, like I did with the Black Lion, but wrestling with this guy on camera proved to be way beyond my patience. When separating the Lions, the legs simply eject by pushing the buttons on the backs of the knees. The arms have to be pulled out, and sometimes that can require a lot of force.
As I discussed in the reviews of the individual Lions, the paint and coloring on these has been fairly good with little flubs here and there, and all that carries over to the Voltron mode as well. The various colored plastic of the torsos and limbs are all nice and shiny, and the silver and gold paint looks especially nice. It would have been really cool if they could have painted all the gray plastic in that snappy silver, but I get how that would have been expensive, and probably would have had rubbing issues when it came to the combining. Here’s hoping the gray on this one won’t yellow over time like the shitty plastic Mattel used on theirs. One thing I do find a little hard to excuse, however, is the lack of paint on Voltron’s face. It’s a key area of the figure and it’s not all that big a surface. I think it would have looked so much better had they painted it silver instead of leaving it that bare gray plastic, and I don’t see how it would have broken the bank. It’s a shame, yes, but not a deal-breaker, and I had the same issue with the Ultimate Voltron figure too.
So let’s talk articulation. There are some useful points here and some not-so-useful ones. If you’re talking playability, I’d say there’s a ton of fun to be had here, but in terms of poseability, then not so much. Voltron looks great standing there on the shelf, but as soon as I try to get him into some cool poses, I find out that he really is a lot more limiting than I had hoped. From the waist down, things are actually not bad. The hips offer the possibility of a wide stance, the knee ratchets are pretty strong, and you do have those swivels in the thighs. One thing to note while posing the legs is that the front legs on the Blue and Yellow Lions do not lock into place and since these serve as heel spurs, this can be good and bad and bad news. The good news is it lets you tweak them for stability in different poses. This helps since there are no ankle tilts. The bad news is, sometimes they will give way under the weight of a pose. In fairness, I had the same problem with Matty’s far more expensive Classic Voltron, so it’s not something that is unique to this toy.
The articulation in the arms is a lot more problematic. The shoulders do not articulate at the points where the Lions connect, but rather further into the chest where the Black Lion’s shoulders are. This can look awkward and throw off his symmetry on certain poses. But my big problem is in the elbow hinges, which are constantly at odds with the compacted hind legs of the Lions. You can’t bend the elbow far at all before it bumps up against these, and that’s disappointing, because it practically renders the whole joint useless. You can, however, get some decent lateral movement out of the shoulders. There’s no articulation in the torso, which is to be expected, but the lack of rotation in the neck really bothers me a lot.
As for his accessories, Voltron’s Shield plugs into the Green Lion so it can be worn on his shoulder. The Sword is completed from the two parts that came with the Red and Green Lions. The Shield looks great, but I’m not at all a fan of this Sword. Part of that has to do with the design, as it’s really the one thing I think they screwed up when designing the Legendary Defender version of Voltron. Everything about this guy is so sexy, but that swrod was a swing and a miss. The toy version doesn’t help matters, as it just looks cheap and flimsy and the clear plastic blade is prone to showing scratches. He can, however, hold it quite well.
I also dig how you can attach the Red and Green Lions’ weapons to give some some added firepower.
It may sound like I’m coming down really hard on this figure, but the truth is I’m actually pretty happy with it. I think Playmates walked that fine line between creating some great Lion toys and making a solid looking combined mode, and that isn’t at all easy. Not to mention they did it in a way that allowed this set to be sold off the pegs in the local toy aisle, as opposed to as a more expensive adult collectible. In the end, I can’t emphasize enough the subtle difference between playability and poseability. This is a fun toy to play with, even with some of the limitations in articulation. He stays together very well and he’s just a gloriously hefty amalgamation of plastic robot lion goodness. But if you’re looking for a Voltron that can pull off some great poses on your shelf, than the Ultimate Voltron is definitely the direction to go. For me, having both really is the only answer.