Friday, January 13, 2017

Voltron: Legendary Defender

First off, let us ignore that whole, year-and-a-half hiatus.  It's time to form Voltron!

A lot has happened since my last post, and if current news events are any measure, it's best that we stick to to talking about robots.

Last year, Netflix launched an exclusive original series titled, Voltron: Legendary Defender.  This was the latest effort to reboot this character, and Netflix have found critical acclaim in doing so.  I'll leave out any commentary on the show, other than to say that you should most definitely check it out, even if your leanings aren't usually toward the giant robot fare (It's free!).

With the new show comes of course, a new toy line. The crowning jewel of which is the combining Ultimate Voltron Robot (by Playmates).  I said I wouldn't go all in and complete this set (see Transformers: Combiner Wars), but after I purchased the Blue Lion, I was hooked. For narration's sake, I'll take you in order of acquisition.

The Legendary Blue Lion  

What can be said that isn't apparent in the pictures.  This cat is beautiful.  I love the stylization with the jutted out lower jaw, and the topical blue paws. Although classic versions of this and the other lions usually featured chrome legs, the gray and silver mix gives a much more screen-accurate appearance. The Blue Lion was always my favorite. It had the most interesting back-story with regard to it's pilots, and I always found it the most quintessential. With this one in-hand, I had to go back for a second dip.

The Legendary Red Lion

This lion has a great mug.  In the show, the pilot is warned that the Red Lion is very temperamental.  The sculptor nailed this with the sort of glazed-over look that my dog used to get right before tearing around the yard. The Red and Green lions feature a very slick transformation to arm mode by opening up the chest and folding the front legs in, making for a very shapely arm.

The Legendary Black Lion

Having tried an arm and a leg, I had to go big for number three.  The Black Lion is great.  As with most Voltron sets, he is beefier than the rest, given his torso role in the combined form.  Yet, I feel as though this lion finds a middle ground between hulking lion and skinny torso better than Black Lions past have been able.  The figure is just as, if not more posable than the arms and legs, and features  wings; Big, glorious wings, that give him a deserving, regal nature.

Additionally, all of the lights and sounds are housed inside the black lion.  You get the voice of Shiro (the Black Lion pilot) saying phrases like "Now we go on the offensive!" of "Let's light this thing up!" As you attach each limb for combined mode, the other pilots voices check in: "Blue Lion, ready for action!" Such a fun toy.

At this point however, my Voltron only had a leg and an arm.  As it pleaded with me: "Hunk, we're missing the Yellow Lion!" and "Pidge.  Fire up the Green Lion. We're coming in hot!" There was in fact, no going back.

The Legendary Yellow Lion

Even though I was more excited about the Green Lion, I was getting tired of having to hold this mammoth up, so Yellow came next. I love how beefy the yellow cat is.  He has a great big noggin that you can easily imagine smashing into a Galra spaceship.

I find that the two leg lions are the most expressive of the bunch.  They can both pull off a sitting kitty pose, and have up/down and slight side-to-side head articulation. 

Sitting purr-etty!
Each limb includes a back mounted projectile weapon of some sort.  Not really my thing, but certainly an added play value. Each figure also has a miniature speeder that is presumably the craft the pilots take to their given lion. The Red and Green lions come packed with oddly separated pieces to form Voltron's sword. I'm not sure the point of splitting it up, other than giving you another reason to buy both (but really, why would you only have a one-armed Voltron?!)

At this point, I had all of my kids involved in the assembly, and they all wanted to know- When are you going to get the Green Lion?!

The Legendary Green Lion

The Green Lion is great.  He captures that tubular look of the classic green cat, with yet another great looking face sculpt. With him, realized just how much each one of these lions are their own character; Something clearly not lost on the show creators (Dreamworks) or Playmates.  The Green Lion also comes with Voltron's shield. There isn't much to it, but in the combined mode, it really shines.  Speaking of which..

Ultimate Voltron: Legendary Defender

Finishing with the Green Lion was a great way to cap off my Voltron.  I enjoyed turning on the lights and sounds and connecting each lion in turn.  Once they were all on, Voltron has many more phrases unlocked.

So, this guy is huge. Roughly 18" tall. He is imposing, with an excellent face sculpt that harkens back to Voltrons past, while offering a newer, sleek aesthetic.

There has been a lot said about his posability, particular his ability to hold a pose.  I've watched several YouTubers struggle with keeping him upright, but really, the leg lions' front paws provide a great means of facilitating just about any pose you could ask.  Coupling delightfully firm and clicky ratchet joints with soft plastic claws, allows one to get quite a bit of traction that makes up for any amount of top-heaviness.

 If Voltron does have limitations, it's in his upper half.  The most egregious is a lack of head articulation.  Having Voltron's head in a single forward facing position is somewhat disappointing, and does make him less dynamic in the posability department.  Voltron also lacks a waist swivel as well, but this is somewhat excusable given that this is where the electronics are housed.  Voltron makes up for this by having good forward, backward and outward hip movement.  The arms have outward shoulder, elbow and wrist swivel motion. The wings can also be moved into a variety of interesting positions.

Overall, this figure is fantastic.  Combining him isn't just a process, but a moment, just like it was in every classic episode, and is now for a whole new generation.  

Also, he passes the seven-year-old Dab test:

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