Voltron is a recipe for a geek-gasm. Start with a mysterious oppressed planet, uncover five ancient transforming robot lions, insert young, highly-trained warrior pilots, add a galactic monstrous evil villain empire bent on universal domination, sprinkle in glamorous royalty, knead in hilarious dialogue, mix in magical spirits, cook it under the heat of a life-or-death confrontation of good versus evil, and top it off with a giant robot that defends the universe against other giant robots. Originally aired in 1984, Voltron rapidly rose to the top of the ratings in its after-school time slot and arguably became one of the most successful cartoons to date. With talk of a new live-action Voltron movie on the horizon and a revamped Voltron cartoon series set to air on Nicktoons June 16, 2011, I thought that the time was right to give GWCers the low down on the 1984 cartoon. If you've never experienced Voltron, and the thought of five magical robot lions who link together to form one mighty magical robot warrior and defender of the universe turns your space knobs -- you should give Voltron a try. Perhaps you're one of the fortunate and have seen all 124 episodes of the original Voltron series and all you require is a refresher. Either way, I suggest you get comfortable and turn on your space communicators to receive and enjoy the basics of Voltron: Defender of The Universe!
Voltron was special. Sure, there were other noteworthy science fiction cartoon series before and after, but the Lion version of Voltron has won over fans like no other. Voltron combined magic and robotics, teamwork and mysticism, high-tech weaponry and medieval royalty, courageous heroes and evil villains, a great musical score, and witty dialogue along with life-and-death intergalactic conflict in one, small 30-minute package delivered directly to your living room every day after school. The 1984 Voltron cartoon series had something for everyone and every age. After more than 25 years the episodes are still entertaining to watch, as I recently confirmed while watching some with Audra. Voltron was a true king of 1980s cartoon science fiction.
From the information available on the Nicktoons web page the reincarnated Voltron series takes place about five or six years after we leave the original 1984 Voltron cartoon. There are new characters and probably new challenges. From what I can tell, the new Voltron cartoon is exclusively designed for modern youth and is tailored to their sophisticated cartoon viewing requirements. I'm not sure the older audience that fell in love with Voltron in 1984 will be able to fully enjoy the Nicktoons version. But the new Nicktoons version builds upon the original Voltron, and with the live action Voltron movie still in the works, the background information in this article should help you enjoy both of the new versions. As a full disclaimer I'm only a Voltron fan. I own all the 1984 cartoon episodes and have several Voltron comics. The information presented in this article is simply a compilation of my knowledge from viewing the shows and reading a few comics. So if you have additional information or corrections, please let me know. I'd be interested to read it!
Voltron: The Big Picture
[caption id="attachment_6263" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Galaxy Garrison Located On Earth"][/caption]
Voltron is anime, which means it originated as a Japanese cartoon, and it was brought over to the United States and re-cut, re-edited, re-scored and re-voiced into an American version. Voltron was originally pitched as a trilogy with three giant robots including Defenders of the Near Universe, Middle Universe, and Far Universe. However, only two of these Voltrons were eventually produced as cartoons: the 5-Lion Voltron and the 15-Vehicle Voltron. Since both the new Nicktoons Voltron and the live-action movie Voltron are based on the 5-Lion Voltron, it will be the focus of this post.
The 5-Lion Voltron originated from a Japanese cartoon named Go Lion. However, the Voltron cartoon series Americans saw was noticeably different from the Go Lion cartoon in Japan. American television standards at the time would not allow any excessive violence or human death, so the American Voltron team, World Events Productions, had an interesting time maneuvering around those types of scenes and topics. Often a deceased character was referred to as recovering at the hospital planet or having simply gone mad.
Also, the Voltron that was actually aired was broken up into three series. The first 52 episodes comprise the core of Voltron and are referred to as the first series. These episodes came directly from the Japanese Go Lion cartoon. The second series also had 52 episodes and presented the adventures of the 15-Vehicle Voltron. The remainder of the 20 episodes were new, American-made episodes and revisited the 5-Lion Voltron but with new animation and outrageously funny new dialogue. I'm sure the production crew definitely had fun crafting the wit of Haggar the Witch, who once tells us that while she can create monstrous evil Robeasts, she doesn't do windows.
The introduction to every episode states "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. As Voltron's legend grew, peace settled across the galaxy. On planet Earth, a galaxy alliance was formed. Together with the good planets of the solar system they maintained peace throughout the universe until a new horrible menace threatened the galaxy. Voltron was needed once more. This is the story of the super force of space explorers specially trained and sent by the alliance to bring back Voltron: Defender of the Universe."
According to the special features included in the 2006 tin set Voltron DVD release, Voltron's name originated from the team at World Events Productions. Two of the original concept names were Volta or Volton. But thanks to the influence from Disney's original 1982 Tron movie, a combination of Volt and Tron took place and the name Voltron was introduced to the world.
The main players in the Voltron series are the Galaxy Alliance, the Planet Doom Empire, and a little oppressed planet by the name of Arus. The Galaxy Alliance plays a minor role in this first Voltron series, but it does become a much bigger player in the later series and episodes. There is also the Drule empire, a evil mob syndicate, if you will, that is the main antagonist for the 15-vehicle Voltron.
Voltron Characters: Planet Arus & Friends
[caption id="attachment_6264" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Princess Allura"][/caption]
Arus: Planet Arus was a peaceful scientific planet on the outer fringes of the known universe, away from Earth in the Denubian Galaxy. Arus was a planet full of knowledge, and its only acceptable use of force was for defense. Arus' ruler King Alfor saw the rising threat of the Planet Doom Empire and prepared, creating the Castle of Lions and Voltron. Doom attacked and Arus fought back. Doom's Evil Witch Haggar defeated Voltron through a spell in a final epic battle that severely weakened Doom's forces for years, though King Alfor was killed during the final battle. Haggar's spell separated Voltron into the Robot Lions and the good people of Arus created hiding lairs for them. The Lions' keys were hidden and the people of Arus hunkered down underground and in caves since most of their homes were destroyed. When Voltron begins, Planet Doom is threatening again and in a desperate move the Galaxy Alliance sends a small special force of Space Explorers to find Voltron.
Princess Allura: Allura is the sole remaining member of Planet Arus' Royal Family. When we first meet the Princess she is the lonely ruler of a ruined world who has lost almost everything. She is young, beautiful, and powerless to help her people or her planet in the face of the imposing threat from Planet Doom. In many ways the story of Voltron is really the story of Allura and how she becomes the amazing person and benevolent ruler that she was meant to be. I suspect Allura is why Voltron appeals to so many little girls. She was the delicate princess who also learned to defend her planet and kick Doom ass while piloting the Blue Lion. And even though it takes the entire 72 episodes of the Lion Voltron series one and series three, we find out who Allura's true romantic interest really is.
Diplomat Coran: When all the chips are down and your back is to the wall, Coran is always there to do whatever he can to help. From maintaining the Arus Royal Castle ruins to operating Arus' remaining defense network, Coran takes care of it all. Like Batman's Alfred and GWC's Juan/Techdrew/Juanstar, Coran is the force that makes Arus go. Coran handles intergalactic diplomatic affairs, Princess Allura's education, and planetwide strategic planning; he also mans the Castle of Lions Control Center and orchestrates castle galas and celebrations. Coran never assumes he is in charge and has sacrificed much for love of Arus, its people, and the Royal Family. Coran's official title is Castle Diplomat, but that is only a small portion of his responsibilities. And if there is one thing to know about Coran outside his official duties, remember that the man loves to dance.
The Ghost of King Alfor: None of the other 1980's cartoon series that I watched ever had the type of awesome character that Voltron had with King Alfor. Alfor always seemed to know what was going on and, more importantly, always had a way to help when needed. Alfor's secrets into Voltron and his ability to summon energy forces and magic are matched by no other. The easiest way that I know to describe Alfor is to think of Obi Wan Kenobi after Darth Vader strikes him down, combined with all the magic and power of Harry Potter's Professor Albus Dumbledore. That is truly a force I'd hate to be on the wrong side of. More importantly, King Alfor is someone who I would hate to have disappointed with my conduct or actions. He was simply that great of a man.
The Space Mice: These poor creatures never had a fair shake from the first American-reproduced Voltron series. Often the Space Mice save everyone's butts. They also kept poor Princess Allura company after Arus was decimated by the first war with the Doom Empire. But the Mice never had any sort of consistent names. I've heard them called Sooki, Chitter, Cheezer, and at least a dozen more. Voltron was never much for consistency. Once World Events Productions managed to change the name of an entire planet without any explanation, but The Space Mice never seemed to be named the same name twice. The Space Mice are very important to the overall Voltron plot. They are constantly watching out for Haggar's Blue Cat and in episode 46 they are equipped with their very own fighting vehicle, the X-47. Nevertheless, the Space Mice are far more than simple comic relief; they are the friends that you'd always want watching your blind slides.
Nanny: Another Arus character that never fully received a fair shake is Nanny. Nanny was in charge of Princess Allura's upbringing but was forced from the Royal Castle during the first war with Planet Doom. Nanny is never a consistent character, but does end up residing in the castle and cooking for personnel upon her return. Nanny's official title is "Royal Governess." The lifestyle during Arus' second war with Planet Doom is hardly the sort that Nanny is meant for, but she does her best when she is shown on screen. And I suspect she manages to keep the castle from descending totally into a military barracks and keeps it a respectable, royal palace. One more thing about Nanny: She's what I would call a Drama Mama. Things tend to elevate when she's around. So when ever you see Nanny on screen, be prepared, since she tends to get on the nerves of the Voltron Force from time to time.
Queen Orla: Allura's aunt, Queen Orla, is also a very small character in the original Voltron. The Queen arrives at the Royal Castle from elsewhere on Arus shortly after it becomes known that Voltron has returned. Orla's presence is mostly comforting to Allura to remind her that some family is still alive. Orla is seen a few times early in the series and is never heard from again.
The Ghost of Allura's Mother: The ghost of the Queen is only seen a couple of times in the 1984 Voltron series. We never learn her real name and the Queen never plays the same significant role that King Alfor plays. However, Princess Allura misses her very much and loves her.
Prince Bandor (Planet Pollux): Arus has a sister planet named Pollux. At the beginning of the 1984 Voltron cartoon King Koba of Pollux has made a deal with Doom Empire and are Doom sympathizers. As the series progresses, Princess Allura's cousins, Prince Bandor and Princess Romelle, end up allied with Arus. Prince Bandor is young and has hatred for the Doom Empire for what happened to his father and older brother. Prince Bandor ends up standing shoulder to shoulder with the Voltron force against the forces of Planet Doom.
Princess Romelle (Planet Pollux): Princess Romelle might as well be Princess Allura's twin instead of her cousin. This distinction earns her a trip to Planet Doom as a slave following Pollux's rebellion from the planet Doom Empire. Even though Romelle is older than Bandor, she defers ruling decisions to Bandor. There is much more about Romelle I wish to say, but to stay spoiler-free, suffice it to say that Romelle is indeed a pivotal main character in Voltron and she is someone to watch out for in any version of the franchise.
Voltron Characters: Galaxy Garrison
[caption id="attachment_6265" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="The Original Voltron Force: Sven, Keith, Lance, Pidge, and Hunk"][/caption]
Keith: Space Explorer Commander "Captain Keith" is the leader of the Voltron Force. Keith pilots the Black Lion and is the main pilot of Voltron. Keith always does the right thing and always sets an example for the others to follow. Keith is also never afraid to go toe-to-toe with Planet Doom's Prince Lotor. Keith's battle tactics always end up winning, even if sometimes he needs a little help from friends or from King Alfor. Keith is the sort of special forces commander that you'd love to serve with, and he is the center, heart, and soul of Voltron.
Sven: The best navigator in the Galaxy Alliance starts out piloting the Blue Lion and Voltron's right leg. But Sven is meant for bigger things and is eventually replaced in the Blue Lion by Princess Allura. Fortunately, World Events Productions (WEP) made the best out of the Japanese Go Lion footage and Sven became a very important member of the Voltron Force living on Pollux instead of a rather more unfortunate ending. In the Japanese version, Sven is killed by Haggar the Witch, and Sven's cousin is introduced to the series later. WEP managed to change the story so that Sven survives through his cousin. In the end I like Sven's storyline and enjoy what WEP accomplished.
Lance: Lance is the goofball pilot of the Red Lion and Voltron's right arm. But don't mistake Lance's comedic attitude for ineptness. Lance is one of the most skilled in hand-to-hand combat among the Voltron force, and as pilot of the Red Lion gets to wield Voltron's famous "Blazing Sword."
Hunk: If there was a position for muscle in the Voltron force, it would go to Hunk, hands down. In addition to having pure mass, as pilot of the Yellow Lion and left leg of Voltron, Hunk is often charging into harm's way. He loves to smash things that are part of the Doom Empire. Hunk also loves little kids, especially since he was an orphan on the street in his youth. Hunk loves to eat and constantly drives Nanny bonkers with his appetite. Hunk might be more brawn than brains, but he has a huge heart, and I'd take him on my side any day of the week and twice on Sundays.
Pidge: Last, but certainly not least, is the tiny Pidge. Pidge is a natural gymnast and often fits where no one else except the Space Mice can go. Pidge has a special relationship with the Space Mice and creates the X-47 for them. Pidge pilots the Green Lion and is the left arm of Voltron.
Marshal Graham: Galaxy Garrison is the Galaxy Alliance's headquarters and it is located on Earth. We don't see much of Galaxy Garrison during the Lion Voltron series, but Arus is a member of the Alliance. The head of the Galaxy Garrison forces is Marshal Graham, who always has the weight of the free universe on his shoulders. If there's anyone who can make a decision to help out the Voltron Force by, say, deploying a Star Fleet to fight with Voltron -- it would be Marshal Graham.
Commodore Steele: There are a few other Galaxy Garrison personnel that we see during the Lion Voltron series, but next to Marshal Graham, Commodore Steele is the one we see the most. The best way I can describe Steele's duties is to say that he is either Graham's Chief of Staff or Operations Officer. Steele shows up from time to time but is not a significant player until the Vehicle Voltron series.
Voltron Characters: Planet Doom
[caption id="attachment_6267" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Prince Lotor and King Zarkon"][/caption]
King Zarkon: The best warrior in the Voltron universe is blue, has gills, and has more evil in his pinky finger than Kai Winn had during the entire Star Trek DS9 series. Zarkon has a high tolerance to poison, is protected by Haggar's magic, and demonstrates his ability to fight in the gladiator-style Robeast arena from time to time. Zarkon also has a special interest in defeating Arus and Voltron. As long as Zarkon exists in this universe, Voltron is in danger.
Haggar the Witch: Take all the ugly in the universe that you know of, double it, and that's what Haggar looks like. She's as evil as they come and was the cause of Voltron's only defeat. She travels around the universe in red or black coffin ships and creates very evil and destructive Robeasts to fight in Zarkon's armies. Magic is her weapon, and as a delighted Audra recently found out, Haggar gets the funniest dialogue in the entire Voltron series. Haggar never aspires to power herself, and often keeps the peace between the forces of Doom. But watch out! The woman has a vengeful streak and you don't want to be on that list if at all possible.
Prince Lotor: Zarkon's son Lotor seems capable, but can never deliver in the fight against Voltron and Arus. He also is constantly trying to kill his father and take over the Doom Empire. Lotor has the hots for Allura and never stops pursuing her. Lotor is armed with a light saber and constantly crafts his attacks to capture Allura. No matter what happens, Lotor always returns to being evil and is most certainly never to be trusted by either side.
Commander Yurak/Commander Mog0r/Commander Cossack: Yes, I realize these are actually three different people, but they end up being one and the same. These three are all King Zarkon's generals who control Zarkon's forces. Yurak is eventually turned into a Robeast by Haggar, and Mogor also doesn't last. Cossack the Terrible manages to get to the end of series three, but is just as inept. In any event, these three carry out the evil orders of Zarkon and Lotor and try to destroy Voltron and Arus. I don't envy them in the least.
Blue Cat: Haggar's Blue Cat makes a great spy, since no one seems to be able to spot it. The Space Mice sometimes get into skirmishes with the Blue Cat but neither side seems to prevail. Whenever you see the Blue Cat, it's definitely a bad sign since you know Haggar is close by and up to no good.
Queen Merla: In the purely American Voltron series 3, Queen Merla is introduced. Needless to say, Merla is evil. Merla also has telepathic powers, wears boob armor and ends up engaged to Lotor. Merla is definitely the sort of evil hot chick that Sean is always attracted to.
Robot Forces: In one of the many changes from the Japanese Go Lion to the American Voltron, Doom forces were relabeled from alien enemy soldiers to Doom's robot warriors. This was a direct consequence of the standards on American television in those days precluding portraying deaths. In a few instances the Robots start to revolt against Doom, but for the most part they remain loyal. There are probably millions of robot soldiers, which is good -- when it comes to combat, numbers seem to be their only advantage since only 5 Lions can decimate an entire attack force.
The Basics Of Voltron and The Five Lions
[caption id="attachment_6268" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="The Five Lions In Flight"][/caption]
Haggar's curse on Voltron broke up the Defender of the Universe into five separate robot Lions. There are the Black, Red, Green, Blue, and Yellow Lions. Each Lion operates best in a separate environment. The Red Lion can operate in hot liquid lava. The Green Lion is best suited for forest terrain. The Blue Lion operates best in water environments, and the Yellow Lion is suited for use in desert environments or underground tunneling. The special Black Lion best operates in air or space. However, all of the Lions can operate in all environments, to a certain extent.
The Robot Lions are hidden in special lairs around the Castle Of Lions on Planet Arus. Each Lion is hidden in a lair specific to its forte. The Blue Lion rests in the moat around the Castle Of Lions and the Black Lion is perched on a tower out the front gate of the Castle. The Red Lion rests at the bottom of a lake of lava at the bottom of mountain from the Castle Of Lions. The Green Lion is found in the nearby forest, and the Yellow Lion is hidden in the nearby desert.
The Voltron Force uses a special chute equipped with a fast lowering bar and special underground tunnel rocket ships to get from the Castle of Lions Control Room to their respective Lions. Somewhere between the chute and the rocket ships they manage to get into their special Voltron Force uniforms. Once near the Lions, the chairs from the rocket ships automatically transport the pilots to their Lion cockpits.
The Lions only operate once a special key is inserted. Once the Voltron Force finds the keys and the Lions in an arc spanning the first five episodes or so, they are located on the breast of their Voltron Force uniforms until inserted into the Lions' control panels above the front cockpit windows. The keys are not your standard Masterlock turn keys. In fact, they aren't even your modern key fobs, no sir. These keys transform on their own to both operate the Lions and activate Voltron. These are the coolest keys ever. In fact, I'm shocked that my 2007 Honda doesn't have keys as cool as the Voltron Lions did back in 1984.
Once powered up and engaged in combat, each Lion has its own set of weapons. Most of these weapons magically appear out of thin air. I would've loved to keep up with all of the Lions' individual weapons, but the list would have turned out longer than the wait between seasons of a show on SyFy. Suffice it to say, the Lions are well-equipped to handle just about any enemy that comes their way. They are even able to defeat some of Haggar's Robeasts without forming Voltron.
As the ghost of King Alfor eventually explains in episode 29, the Lions' power crystals are powered from the elements on Arus -- that is also why the lairs are where they are. The Ghost of King Alfor periodically has to appear to reveal new secrets of Voltron, usually dealing with power or weaponry.
Most of the time when the Lions combine to form Voltron, Keith will say the same thing. "Activate Interlocks! Dynotherms Connected! Infracells Up! Megathrusters are go!" I have no idea what any of that means, but once Keith says that and operates some machinery in his Black Lion cockpit, the Lions then power up with their colored contrails and form Voltron while Keith describes the process.
Once formed, Voltron uses a variety of magical weapons to defend itself. The most notable weapon is the Blazing Sword that appears out of thin air between Voltron's Lion hands. But there are many others. This is by no means meant to be an all-inclusive list, but during a a recent rewatch of series one and three, these are the weapons I noticed Voltron capable of producing and wielding:
Most of the time Voltron is formed to defeat a Robeast sent by the Doom Empire. Usually Voltron is capable of defeating the Robeasts by using the Blazing Sword. Of course this exciting end to Voltron episodes almost always takes place during the last 5 minutes or so and is followed by a CHiPs-style happy moment before the final credits roll.
One of the main attractions to Voltron is that the Robot is not purely mechanical: Voltron is magical. In addition to the weapons that appear out of nowhere, Voltron's source and use of power is magical. King Alfor also comes in from time to time with magic to save the Voltron Force. Voltron is never completely understood and I'm certain it still has secrets for viewers to uncover with additional story.
The Weapons of The Doom Empire And The Lowdown on Robeasts
[caption id="attachment_6269" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="One Of King Zarkon's Skull Tanks"][/caption]
The Doom Empire has battlecruisers, skull fighters, skull tanks, and robot warrior forces. These are usually under the command of Yurak, Mogor, or Cossack. Sometimes Lotor or Zarkon himself will take personal command as well. None of these forces can hold a candle to Voltron, and thus can often be seen in retreat. We only see it once in episode 45, but Doom also has a gigantic weapons-producing factory satellite similar to the one we see in Robotech.
[caption id="attachment_6270" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="One Of Haggar's Robeasts"][/caption]
King Zarkon's real assault weapons are his Robeasts. Godzilla-like in size, Robeasts are taken from real warriors or exotic animals, and Haggar uses her magical beams to convert whatever into a Robeast. As we find out early in the series, not even main Doom characters are exempt from becoming a Robeast. Robeasts are magical organic/robots of gigantic size and power. Robeasts are responsible for an incredible amount of damage throughout Voltron. The only way to stop Robeasts seems to be unleashing Voltron to go Seal Team 6 on their butts. In the end Robeasts never are completely successful, but they do get progressively nastier throughout the series.
[caption id="attachment_6272" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="The Castle Of Lions"][/caption]
The Castle Doom and The Castle Of Lions each have their secrets. The Castle of Lions on Arus really starts out as an old, bombed-out Royal Castle where the Space Mice, Coran, and Princess Allura hide out. But once the Space Explorers show up, Allura instantly ordains them as the the Voltron Force and entrusts her planet's defense to them. Coran and King Alfor still have some tricks up their sleeves, and once Voltron is operational, the remnants of the stone castle are pushed aside and the Castle of Lions fortress appears. This new Castle has metal shielding, missile defense systems, anti-aircraft lasers, and a sophisticated defense Control Room. In the many dark times that confront Arus during the Voltron series, the Castle of Lions is the sole beacon of safety and hope for the people of Arus. The Castle Of Lions is where the Arus Royalty and Voltron Force reside. And in the best moment of the series that will have you jumping up on your couch when all hope seems to be lost, the Castle of Lions pulls one last magic trick and converts into a Flying Fortress.
[caption id="attachment_6275" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Castle Doom"][/caption]
Castle Doom, the Castle of Lions' counterpart on Planet Doom, also has surprises. Castle Doom is full of every ounce of evil that Zarkon and Haggar could throw into it. It has ultra blasters, lasers on robotic snake heads, and neutron missiles, and it can transform into an enormous mobile battle station. Castle Doom is also where thousands of slave prisoners are kept in the dungeons, including the Voltron Force and Princess Romelle. The castle is surrounded by a large skull pit, Doom's ammo depot, Haggar's laboratory, and the Robeast gladiator ring. We often see Zarkon holding court or gorging himself with food, drink, or pleasures of the flesh in the throne room of Castle Doom. Needless to say, Castle Doom is a formidable and sinister fortress for anyone daring to attack.
Music And Voice Actors
[caption id="attachment_6278" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="The Cast Laughing It Up On Arus On The Castle Of Lions Balcony"][/caption]
In addition to having a snazzy theme song and a great soundtrack, Voltron was the very first American television program recorded in stereo. The music lead for Voltron, John Peterson, did some incredible work. Peterson was able to record with a 50-person orchestra, making most of the show's musical score orchestral rather than synthesized. A total of one hour of music was commissioned for Voltron, and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Unlike most other cartoons of the era, the voice actors recorded in ensemble rather than just alone. This led to some great dialogue, especially later on in the series. The voice actors are also all well-known in the industry. Just check out IMDb some time and look at their body of work. It is truly amazing.
[caption id="attachment_6291" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Voltron Toys From The 1980s"][/caption]
Voltron was never made in America exclusively for toys, as were some other cartoon series. In fact, there were no agreements before the show aired with any merchandiser. It wasn't until the series aired in 1984-5 and became popular that toy designers approached World Events Productions. One of the most remembered toys were the five robot lions that combined to form Voltron. Of course, these toys were expensive back then. A clip in the DVD extras mentions a price for all five lions at around $150, which was (and still is) amazingly expensive for a toy (the adjusted value for today is around $315). In contrast, I still have the Target price tag on my Jetfire Transformer box for $29.99, and even that put any further toy purchases on hold for several months because it was so expensive.
The beauty of the Voltron Lions was that most kids' parents could not afford the entire Voltron set. Occassionally you would see kids in the neighborhood or at school bringing their Lions together to form Voltron, and that was the spirit of Voltron right there: teamwork, fun and imagination.
[caption id="attachment_6277" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="The Voltron Force Relaxing Before The Space Olympics on Arus: Lance, Allura, Keith, Pidge and Hunk"][/caption]
Voltron actually has a lot of the same mindsets found in GWC. Keith once says in episode 67, "We'd rather believe in people too much rather than not at all. That's just the way it is on Team Voltron." This tends to get Arus and the Voltron Force in trouble from time to time, but I'd rather live my life with this sort of optimism than being guarded and secluded.
The Lion Voltron was immensely popular. Was it Princess Allura's ability to rule a planet and be one of its chief protectors? Was it the magic involved through the series combined with mechanical capabilities? Was it the fun dialogue? Was it the great muscial score? Was it the classic story of good versus evil? Was it the cool toys? Was it a combination of things? It's hard to tell really, but whatever the reason, Voltron was, and remains, one of the most beloved cartoon series ever made.
In June, a new Voltron cartoon will grace our televisions and hopefully we will get to see the live action movie that's currently in production in the coming year or two. Until then, try to check out the 1984 Voltron. You can find the episodes on Netflix Instant Watch or IMDb, or you can pick up the DVD sets at most online stores.
Are you looking forward to the new Voltron material being released soon? What was your favorite part about Voltron? Leave a comment below or catch me on Twitter at @ShooterGWC. I'd love to hear from you.
Until next time...
[caption id="attachment_6279" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="The Castle Of Lions Turned Flying Fortress In Action"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_6288" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Voltron With His Blazing Sword - ROAR!"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_6280" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Queen Merla - Definitely Could be A Favorite of Sean Complete with Vulture Pet And Chest Armor"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_6287" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="One Of The Voltron Lion Keys"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_6289" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Haggar's Blue Cat"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_6281" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="The Space Mice's X-47 - Every Little Bit Helps In Voltron!"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_6283" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="The Evil Witch Haggar"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_6284" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Seen Almost Every Episode: The Voltron Underground Rocket Sleds"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_6285" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="One Of Haggar's Coffin Ships"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_6286" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Victory Celebration, Voltron Style!"][/caption]
I loved Voltron! The only major problem that I had with the cartoon was that it seemed that Princess Alura always had to be rescued. That bothered me, even when I was a child. She did get her moment to rescue the Voltron Force once, but I wished she’d been a little more bad-ass. Someday I’m going to try to find and watch the DVDs, both the American and Japanese versions.
If you watch the series end-to-end you’ll see Allura becomes more and more self sufficient. As I mentioned at the beginning of the post the story of Voltron is very much the story of Allura growing from a sheltered kid of a devastated planet to the true ruler AND protector of Arus. The fact that she becomes part of the Voltron Force from the beginning is a testament to her courage. Remember when she goes out to the gun mount on the castle wall and starts shooting? No one else would lend a hand. She picked up the guns to fight. She learned how to pilot the Blue Lion and she decided as head of state as to when to use Voltron and when not to use Voltron. Yes she needed to be rescued, but over time she learned and didn’t need to be rescued.
Thanks for your comment!