Voltron was one of the coolest robots and action figures of the 1980’s! The Lion Force, that is. From its introduction to American television in the Fall of 1984 through the summer of 1985, all I could do is dream of being a Lion pilot and helping to defend the planet Arus from the evil King Zarkon of planet Doom.
But not only was I a fan of the animated series, I was also a huge fan of the original World Entertainment Productions, Ltd. Voltron 3 figure. By the Spring of 1985 that was all I wanted. I went store to store looking for the best price and found it at $99.99! This was 1985! But the weird thing about it is that I had neither any money nor any real intention to buy - I was just hunting the best price.
And I still wanted one, so I asked my mother. Instead of agreeing to buy it for me, we went on a trip to Chinatown to see if we could get a bootleg version at a cheaper price. What we discovered was that everyone had the same idea, and all the bootleg Voltrons were selling in the $70 range. The cheapest one we found was a metal diecast 1980 Lionbot from Taiwan for $50. My mother decided that all of the figures we saw were too expensive and decided not to buy me anything.
A few months later back home I began getting some hand me down lion bots and ended up with a chest, a leg and a broken arm. I still played with them and loved them - I don’t even know if they were original or bootleg.
I still followed the original television series until its finale on during the first season. I might have been more enamored with the toy than the story, but the story had some interesting ideas floating around.
Originally airing in Japan during 1981 through Toei Animation, the series was dubbed and edited for the American market by World Entertainment Productions while adding an additional 20 episodes for a total of 72 episodes during the first season. The Lion Force Voltron was also named Voltron 3 - Voltron of the Far Universe, the final of a proposed trilogy.
5 former sports slaves from the planet Doom escaped and joined forces to become the five young pilots of the Lion Force. While they each had distinctive personalities, they were all top of their academy with incredible hand to hand and dog fight piloting abilities. They worked together like a professional team in and out of their lion vehicles.
Commander Keith piloted the Black Lion which formed the head and the torso.
Second in command Lance was the right arm and piloted the Red Lion.
Boy Genius Pidge takes flight of the Green Lion and composes the left arm.
The Calm Sven originally piloted the Blue Lion on the right leg until he was severely injured.
Princess Allura took over the Blue Lion while also being the heir of Planet Arus.
Tough Guy Hunk pilots the Yellow Lion as the left leg.
Together, they form Voltron, Defender of the Universe, protecting the citizens of planet Arus from the Evil Zarkon from Planet Doom.
By the Fall of 1985 I started getting a little uninterested in the animated series but nevertheless gave their second installment a try. This time, they took away my favorite Lion robots and replaced them with a vehicle manifestation of the original: Vehicle Voltron of the Near Universe - or Voltron 1, the first of the proposed series being closest to Earth. It was based on the Japanese Armored Fleet Dairugger XV, a team of fifteen pilots sent to colonize planets far away from the Galaxy Alliance home. Along the way they get into trouble with the Drule Empire and cannot rely on the Lion Force because of the vast distance, so they form Vehicle V1.
This new team of 15 pilots make up a complex system of compilations, fighting as fifteen individual vehicles, as three distinct robot vehicles, or together as Voltron.
The team and vehicles include:
The Strato Fighter: Air Team
Leader Jeff - Aki Manabu - Command Jet Explorer - Head
Ginger - Patti Ellington - Fighter Plane - Chest Plane
Rocky - Kay Shinobu - Strato Weapons Module - Chest
Chip - Mutsu Yasuo - Advanced reconnaisance helicopter - Left Arm
Wolo - Shota Kuroitsu - Advanced Roconnaisance Helicopter - Right Arm
The Aqua Fighter: Sea Team
Leader Krik - Milanda Kiitsu - Communications Module - Middle
Lisa - Kaga Haruka - Space Prober - Rught Upper Leg
Shannon - Izumo Tasumo - Multi Wheeled Explorer - Right Lower Leg
Zandee - Barosu Karateya - Space Prober - Left Upper Leg
Tangor - Salta Katz - Multi Wheeled Explorer - Left Lower Leg
The Turbo Terrain Fighter: Land Team
Leader Cliff - Walter Jack - Armored Equipment Carrier - Waist
Marvin - Izu Tasuku - All Terrain Space Vehicle - Right Foot
Hutch - Nagato Kazuto - All Terrain Space Vehicle - Left Foot
Cinda - Moya Kirigasu - Rotating Personnel Carrier - Right Hand
Modok - Mack Chakka - Jet Radar Station - Left Hand
Like myself, most American audiences had lost interest with the animated series, and the Albegas Gladiator of the Middle Universe, or Voltron 2, would never be realized.
This time, the Albegas Gladiator is created by three high school tech students who create award winning robots in a school competition. Somewhere in the middle of space, the evil Deinja civilization adds Earth as part of its space domination program. In school, Hotaru’s father Professor Mizuki modifies the robots for battle and helps the three students create Albegas.
Albegas is a super robot that consists of the three robots and may compose six modes which exist in six dimensions.
The robots include:
Alpha piloted by Daisakau Enjoji
Beta piloted by Jin Tetsuya
Gamma piloted by Hotaru Mizuki
With GOD being their most powerful mode existing in the dimension Denjin, each assembly order can make up to six robots including:
GOD in dimension Denjin: Alpha-Beta-Gamm
UNDERWATER in dimension Marine - Gamma-Alpha-Beta
SKY in dimension Sky - Beta-Alpha-Gamma
UNDERGROUND in dimension Magma - Beta-Gamma-Alpha
RESCUE in dimension Rescue - Gamma-Beta-Alpha
SPACE in dimension Space - Alpha-Gamma-Beta
Year later I look back on the good old days and realized I really only loved the Lion Force. I miss the original die cast toys of the era and noticed that there is a release of Toynami Defender of the Universe Metallic 25th Anniversary Gift Set Lion Force
. There are many complaints claiming that this is a plastic toy with metallic paint that does not connect all that well and is not worth playing with. But the overall intention of this releease is that it is a collectible commemorative piece celebrating the original and undeniably cool - Voltron: Defender of the Universe!