We're at it again, yes another retro style Voltron has been released. Classic '84 Voltron variant, hit shelves earlier this month and I finally got my hands on the final Lion. Now I can give this anticipated set a proper review. As many already are aware, the Netflix Voltron reboot, (Legendary Defender) has been very successful with not just the younger crowd, but also with those who watched the original televised series of 1984. I for one found all seasons of Legendary Defender unquestionably on point and am eagerly waiting for season 5. As for the toys, Playmates have been the primary license holder for toy merchandise, and when wind got loose that they would be releasing the original Voltron, I was all in!
Each of these classic lions are sold separate, four of which are carded and the Black Lion, being the largest, is boxed. It would have been better if all the lions had been packaged in boxes for storage. I ended up keeping the Black Lion packaging but discarded the others as they were torn to bits. MSRP was $19.99 for the four and $29.99 for the Black Lion, which I will say is fair. I found my Lions between both Toys"R"Us and Target, which seem to be reasonably easy to get now. Starting with the packaging, the blue art deco keep in style with its newer counterpart, with a retro touch of course. Let's open these bad boys and see just how the Playmates version stacks up.
The first thing you will notice is the size. The Lions, especially the Black Lion, are immense. At least coming from the standpoint of the original diecast '84 version, as well as the popular Chogokin version. These come accessorized with a mouth blade, and two shoulder mounts. The accessories all are colored matched with the Lion they belong to. Much like the original, you get the spring loaded missiles for each of the Lions. The Black Lion, although with no accessories, includes a sound feature which I'll get to in a bit.
Construction on these Lions is hefty! No metal anywhere but its clear these were meant to be thrown around, very robust! Give them to your kids' guys; these were meant to be played with. Everything is tight and is perfect for play or display. For the most part, these Lions are constructed in a uniform plastic mold but don't let that dissuade you as these still feel somewhat premium. Legs articulate well and have the standard ratcheting clicks you would come to expect.
Blue and Yellow Lion, measuring approx nine inches from head to tail, only have articulation at legs and feet as well as neck and head. The heads on these two Lions allow for Voltrons feet to be spread and give much-needed stability, all while also giving some impressive head movements in Lion mode.
As for the mouths, I found it disappointing that mouths cannot stay open. They are spring loaded and look only to mount weapons as there is a slot on the roof of the mouth to attach blades. Red and green lions have a bit more going for them regarding articulation. Not only do they bend at the midsection, but they also pivot at both the waist and at the head, and no their heads do not pop off. They also are packed with the Shield and Blazing Sword. The paint could be better but hardly bad. Again, keep in mind who this was created for.
Its plastic construction and sound gimmick were hardly implemented to attract the adult collector. So try not to expect a premium experience.
Now on to that sound feature I mentioned earlier. The Black Lion houses the CPU that plays audio sounds. There is a switch to turn this feature on or off on his back. Once on, the CPU can identify each Lion when it is attached and speaks an appropriate phrase for that specific action; I couldn't help to be fascinated. The audio expressions seem to be sampled from the original TV show, or they went and got some incredible voice over talent! Voltrons eyes do not light up, but his chest insignia does, only when sound plays.
Once fully formed, the iconic announcement sequence plays bringing you back to the original toon. Boy, these cool features would have been so neat back in the 80's! One by one the CPU knows when you insert each Lion into place! There is also a button on his side that plays even more random audio phrases. In full robot mode, Voltron surprisingly is pretty stable. Standing at just over 15 inches, he can be articulated in some very nice poses.
There aren't many negative things to say about this awesome rendition, but there is one and only one I must mention. When in robot mode, arms cannot swivel up or down without the chest piece rotating along with them. I found this an unfortunate flaw that should have been addressed. We did get a fully raising and rotating head that softens the blow, but it makes it difficult to pose him with arms up, without breaking up the chest.
I for one am impressed! Playmates deserve a thumbs up for giving us a retro style Voltron that looks and functions fantastically! This is one of the better Voltrons produced, and think its worth your consideration. It can't come close to my Chogokin (shown) in terms of quality and design, but it is an excellent piece in its own right! So, if you don't want to shell out the cash for the Chogokin Voltron, this version, I feel, is next in line. Cool audio features, great proportions and displays impressively, plus your wallet will thank you.