From days of
reaches of the
COMES A LEGEND!
The Legend of Voltron, Defender of the Universe!
Voltron, Defender of the Universe was an animated television serial created by World Events Television and was an adaptation of several Japanese anime television series from Toei Animation. It was licensed for American television through DreamWorks Animation/Comcast.
There were two forms of Classic Voltron that aired from 1984-1985:
Vehicle Team Voltron, adapted from the unrelated series Armored Fleet Dairugger XV. This is also referred to as "Voltron of the Near Universe" and "Voltron I." Here, the story centers around three vehicle teams: Land, Sea, and Air. Each of these teams consisted of five vehicles, so Vehicle Team Voltron was assembled from 15 vehicles, each with its own pilot. The series consisted of 52 episodes, which may be found here.
Lion Force Voltron, adapted from the series Beast King GoLion. This is also referred to as "Voltron of the Far Universe" and "Voltron III." When people think of or refer to "Voltron," this is often the adaptation they are referring to. This mighty robot was formed by five robot lions, each with its own pilot. The franchise ran for two years and we have to make a distinction between Voltron (America) and GoLion (Japan). GoLion, which consisted of 52 episodes, aired in Japan from 1981-1982, while Voltron, which consisted of 72 episodes, aired in America from 1984-1985. The first 52 episodes of Voltron were adapted from the original GoLion anime and fill season 1. These episodes have the original GoLion Japanese format, the GoLion English format, and the Voltron format. The distinction between the latter two is the the GoLion English version had the violence and sexual overtones as the Japanese version -- it was simply dubbed for an English-speaking audience. A side-by-side episode guide for the three versions may be found here.
However, the last 20 episodes of Voltron (not GoLion) were produced by World Events Productions (WEP) and represent the second season. Fans of Voltron often see that the same footage is used over and over in the WEP episodes. This is due to the violence and graphic depictions in GoLion. So, WEP cut the usable footage from GoLion to piece together the last 20 episodes. These episodes lacked a story arc and a lot of the plots and dialogue were made up as the series progressed because they no longer had the original GoLion anime as a guide. A complete list of the Voltron-only episodes may be found here.
Confusing, isn't it? Simply put, there are multiple versions of the Lion Force Voltron:
1. GoLion Original Japanese Version (52 Episodes)
2. GoLion English-dubbed Version, not edited for content (52 Episodes)
3. Voltron, Defender of the Universe (Lion Force Voltron), based on GoLion but edited for content (52 Episodes, Season 1).
4. Voltron, Defender of the Universe (Lion Force Voltron), produced by World Events Productions (20 Episodes, Season 2).
Most Americans are familiar with 3 and 4 from this list.
Why the unusual numbering of these series? Well, we have to consider the lesser-known member of the Voltron family:
Gladiator Voltron was to come after the Vehicle Team Voltron ended, but it never made it to air. It was taken from the Japanese anime show about super robots called Lightspeed Electroid Albegas (Kosoku Denjin Albegas). Because it was supposed to follow the Vehicle Team Voltron series, it is also referred to as "Voltron II" and "Voltron of the Middle Universe." Gladiator Voltron was formed by three robots -- Black Alpha, Blue Beta, and Red Gamma. Collectibles for this story-arc are very rare.
Since Kosoku Denjin Albegas was never fully adapted and brought into the official Voltron Universe, there is no canon backstory behind these characters as being Space Explorers or being part of the Galaxy Alliance.
Together, the Voltron, Defender of the Universe series (I and III) were top-rated animated shows for two years. Later, the franchise would give rise to comic books, a video game, soundtracks, merchandise, three follow-up series, and a television movie -- in 1986, a crossover television special was made, called Voltron: Fleet of Doom. Produced by Toei Animation, it featured both the GoLion and Dairugger XV Voltron robots with new animation.
Just like Speed Racer, the transition of Japanese Anime to the American market was awkward, with the dialogue coming very fast to match the timing and plots. Even the names and voice actors were changed. As an example, here are the actual names of the GoLion Voltron Force as well as the voice actors that brought them to life in America:
Keith (Akira Kogane)
Voiced by: Neil Ross
Black Lion Pilot
Princess Allura (Fala)
Voiced by: B. J. Ward
Blue Lion Pilot (after Episode 6)
Lance (Isamu Kurogane)
Voiced by: Michael
Red Lion Pilot
Hunk (Tsuyoshi Seidou)
Voiced by: Lennie
Yellow Lion Pilot
Pidge (Hiroshi Suzuishi)
Voiced by: Neil Ross
Green Lion Pilot
Twin brother of Chip
Lance (Takashi Shirogane)
Voiced by: Michael Bell
Original Blue Lion Pilot (through Episode 6)
The villains in the Voltron universe were equally as iconic and unique. The notable ones in the GoLion franchise are:
Voiced by: Jack Angel
Ruler of Planet Doom
Prince Lotor (Prince Sincline)
Voiced by: Lennie Weinrib
Son of Zarkon and next in line to rule Planet Doom
Witch Haggar (Yoba Honerva)
Voiced by: B. J. Ward
Royal Advisor and ally to the Court of Planet Doom
At Starlight Nights, we appreciate all of the Voltron series and how the American release of Lion Force Voltron and Vehicle Team Voltron helped continue to pave the way for the introduction of the art of anime and manga to Western audiences. Our curatorial interests at this time favors the Lion Force Voltron. But we do have collectibles from all three story-arcs and are always diligent, so come back often -- we are always searching in dusty attics for new discoveries!
Check out our collection below.
Lion Force Voltron
Voltron of the Far Universe
Matchbox Lion Force Voltron Set
In the mid-1980s, the demand for Voltron toys and collectibles became immense. The growing success of Cons and the release of Toy Catalogs helped fuel the fans' desire to have something tangible that would represent their fandom. Matchbox was one of the first to break into this market. In 1985 and 1986 they offered the Deluxe Lion Set that could, albeit awkwardly, join together to form Voltron. To be functional, it was disproportionate in size (especially at the joints) and did not have a lot of articulation. At the time, it was advertised as "Voltron III - The Deluxe Lion Set," with the 1986 release including accessories.
Curator Tom remembers acquiring his 1985 Voltron III: "For months I would go to Toys-R-Us on Wednesday, as they received their new shipments Tuesday nights. I knew exactly what aisle to look in, as the Vehicle Force Voltron, or Voltron I, had been released much earlier. Finally, one day, it was there! I grabbed one and ran to the corner of the store to have some privacy. When I was alone, I had to do the math in my head to make sure that the cash I had in my wallet from saving my allowance and doing odd-jobs was enough to cover the set and the tax. I'll never forget that it was $59.99, and that was in 1985! I barely had enough. But I got the set and still have it today."
The Matchbox 1985 Toy Fair Catalog showing the description of the Voltron III - Deluxe Lion Set
The 1985 matchbox lions
The 1985 matchbox lions -- Assembled
You will also see on the page advertising The Voltron III - Deluxe Lion Set (700200) the Voltron III Miniature Lion Space Robot (700001) that does not separate into five component lions. We are also proud to have this item in our collection as well.
The matchbox 1985 Voltron III Miniature Lion Space Robot
toynami voltron defender of the universe metallic finish 25th anniversary set (Lion force voltron)
This was a limited edition set of lions that could come together to form Voltron. Unlike the traditional Toynami Voltron set, which was all plastic, the 25th Anniversary set was metal and came in commemorative packaging. It was never sold in stores, but could only be found at the 2008 San Diego Comic Con.
There are subtle differences between the 1985/86 Matchbox Voltron Deluxe Lion Set and the 2008 Toynami Anniversary Set, especially with the Toynami set having improved articulation. In addition, the Toynami set included a sword and shield, while the Matchbox 1985 set did not.
We at Starlight Nights are proud to have this set in our collection, including the commemorative box.
Toynami Lions Assembled
Playmates Classic lion force voltron (1984), Legendary Series with Netflix Streaming Packaging (released in 2017)
Combine to form 16-inch Voltron
Lions are complete and in original packaging
Netflix Streaming Packaging
Black Lion, Front
Red Lon, Front
Green Lion, Front
Blue Lion, Front
Yellow Lion, Front
Black Lion, back
Red Lion, Back
Green Lion, Back
Blue Lion, Back
Yellow Lion, Back
Matty collector toy line:
lion voltron force
In 2012, Mattel started the Voltron Lion Force set for its Matty Collection Subscription Program. When the five lions are assembled, Voltron stands an impressive 23 inches high. Included with this collection were the pilots: Keith, Lance, Hunk, and Pidge. As part of the subscription exclusive, both Sven and Princess Allura were included with the Blue Lion. Also included were the weapons that each lion could yield in its mouth, two blazing swords, and a shield. Interestingly, to avoid problems with the internal springs, the Red and Green Lions were made slightly proportionately larger than the other three lions, so the assembled figure is top-heavy and will lean forward if not supported.
Panosh Place Series of Voltron Toys
Panosh Place was an American toy company that took over the manufacture of Voltron: Defender of the Universe merchandising after World Events Production discontinued its relationship with Matchbox in 1984 (Matchbox was the American distributor for the Japanese Bandai toy company). To combat issues caused by Bandai using lead-based paint in their metal Voltron items, Panosh Place made a larger combining Voltron made of plastic. Unlike the Matchbox combining Voltron, Panosh Place included many accessories with their Voltron toys.
Panosh Place Castle of Lions
Panosh Place Zarkon zapper
Panosh Place skull tank
Panosh Place Doom Blaster
Coffin of darkness
(complete -- 1984)
Coffin of doom
(complete -- 1984)
action figure 1984
action figure 1984
haggar the witch
action figure 1984
action figure 1984
action figure 1984
robeasts scorpius (left) and Mutilor (right)
action figures 1984
Other lion forcce voltron Collectibles
Motorized Battling Black Lion
LJN Toys ltd., 1984. fully Functional
Special Collection Display
Autograph of B. J. Ward, obtained in person at the 2017 Florida Supercon with movable Voltron pin attached to frame
Mattel Princess Allura Action Figure, NIB, obtained in addition to the above Matty collection.
Dynamic Dynotherm Trivia: B. J. Ward
B. J. Ward is an American voice actress with 178 roles over 120 titles. In the classic Lion Force Voltron, Ward was not only the voice of Princess Allura, but also of Witch Haggar and the Castle Nanny (indeed, all female characters except for Queen Marla). She was also the voice of the Vehicle Force Voltron Pilots Ginger, Lisa, and Cinda. Some other famous roles include Velma Dinkley from Scooby Doo, Betty Rubble from The Flintstones, Princess Anna from The Little Mermaid, Honey from Tiny Toon Adventures, Wonder Woman from Super Powers Team (1985), and Janya from the The All New Superfriends Hour (1977)!
She also did voice work in Batman: The Animated Series, GoBots, and Duck Tales. What an exciting career! Her full professional bio can be found here.
More Magnificent Megathruster Trivia: Ward is married to Gordon Hunt and is the stepmother of actress Helen Hunt! (Twister is one of Curator Desiree's favorite movies.)
Signed by B. J. Ward, Michael Bell, and Neil Ross,
vehicle team Voltron
Voltron of the near universe
sould of chogokin GX-88 dairugger xv
voltron I (Voltron Vehicle Force)
by Ban dai
fortress maximus vehicle team voltron (team assembled), 8-inch PVC. 2018
Voltron of the middle universe
Oh, yeah, we did!
Curator Tom of Starlight Nights searched many dusty attics while Curator Desiree searched many antique malls and flea markets. We looked at online auctions and spoke with other collectors. While there were Matchbox Gladiator Voltrons available -- individually, broken, tarnished, or to be used as parts -- to be found, there were very few in mint condition and even fewer that had the original boxes. It seemed hopeless, but patience is a big part of collecting.
Finally, one email let to another, which led to phone calls, which ultimately led to the acquisition of a 1985 Matchbox Gladiator Voltron set (700100, 700110, and 700120, not the Deluxe Set, 700220)! It is displayed under very special conditions and is white-glove handled. The figures themselves are A-grade, while the boxes are, together, B-grade.
The Blue Gladiator has never been opened and still has the original restraints.
The Red Gladiator was opened at some time, presumably for photo verification, as it was not removed from the Styrofoam and was placed back in the box.
The box for the Black Gladiator is missing the front plastic sheet. Sine the figure is still secured in the packing and in A-grade condition, there has been a lot of speculation as to how that could have happened. The cardboard is not torn on the inside of the box, meaning the plastic was not forcibly removed. After having the set inspected by both appraisers and other collectors, the consensus is that insufficient glue was used in the factory so long ago and that at some point -- perhaps with the vibration and/or heat of transportation -- the plastic sheet simply worked itself lose and was discarded in shipping.
Curator Tom is sometimes disappointed in himself. "All the focus I had when I was a teenager to obtain the Lion Force Voltron set, it never occurred to me at the time to obtain all three sets. The advantage -- and heartache -- of hindsight."
A set in this condition is very rare, and we are proud to have it. As with all collectibles, we take great care to ensure that a set like this, particularly with 35-year old cardboard and packing, is properly displayed and handled.
The Matchbox 1985 Toy Fair Catalog showing the description of the Voltron II - gladiator Set
other classic Voltron collectibles
Voltron Challenge Coin
Voltron: Defender of the Universe
THe Complete Original Series
Of course, the best way to enjoy Voltron is to watch it in its classic form. Released through Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, this set contains the complete Lion Force Voltron series (72 episodes) and Vehicle Force Voltron series (52 episodes). It also includes the cross-over television movie Voltron: Fleet of Doom, in which King Zarkon joins Viceroy Throk of the Drule Supreme Council in an attempt to destroy the Galaxy Alliance.
Please pass the popcorn. nom nom nom
set of four Voltron adventure books
PlayValue Books, 1985
Voltron: Legendary Defender
One of the follow-up series to the Classic Voltron line came out on Netflix in 2016 and had a run of 76 episodes over a three-year run. Voltron: Legendary Defender was produced by DreamWorks Animated Television and World Events Productions and was animated by Korean studio Mir. It is a reboot of the Voltron: Defender of the Universe series, based on the Japanese Beast King GoLion. However, there were subtle changes to the plot line. In this new story universe an energy called "quintessence" powers machines and magic -- and 328-foot tall robots! The character dynamics and relationships were also changed. In the classic series, the Lion Pilots were an established team of Space Explorers of the Galaxy Alliance; now, they are referred to as "Paladins" and must learn to work together as a team to form and control Voltron against the Galra Empire.
Voltron: Legendary Defender differs from its classic predecessor in one other, visually-stimulating way. The classic Voltron: Defender of the Universe was based on established hand-drawn anime traditions. The 2016 Voltron: Legendary Defender uses traditional anime for the characters and backgrounds, but CGI for Voltron and battle sequences. This was met with mixed reviews, as traditionalists thought the addition of CGI was a dishonor to the original series and tradition of anime. However, newer fans welcomed more modern development techniques, as the battle sequences were now much smoother and more detailed.
Below are the collectibles that Starlight Nights has collected from the Voltron: Legendary Defender franchise.
DreamWorks Voltron: Legendary Defender
16-inch Collector set by playmates
Toys R Us Exclusive, 2017
promotional image, individual lions
promotional image, voltron assembled
promotional image, comparison
1985 Matchbox Collectors set (left) and 2017 Playmates collectors set (right)
DreamWorks Voltron: Legendary Defender
14-inch figure by playmates, 2017