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Figures and Speech: VOLTRON LEGENDARY DEFENDER by Playmates

Figures and Speech: VOLTRON LEGENDARY DEFENDER by Playmates

Welcome to Figures and Speech, Nerdist’s regular column by, for, and about grown-ups who still play with their toys but might want to know more before they buy. From product reviews to informed editorials, these are most definitely the articles that’ll make you want to strike a pose.

Welcome back, Voltron. The toy shelves have missed you.

The first time I ever played with Voltron, it was the Panosh Place figures made in the ’80s, and those were cool. Five lion vehicles that could actually fit Star Wars-sized figures inside, and combine to form a much larger robot, with vac-metal parts? Heckuva combo, that. I never knew the property well enough to collect the figures myself, but my cousin did, and I made sure he busted it out every time I visited. Mattel tried to revive this same toy concept a few years back via online subscription to create a 23-inch giant robot from vehicles with figure pilots, but it never seemed to really catch on, perhaps because it was a lot of cost for new tooling for a nostalgia property.

It no longer has to depend on flashbacks.

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Now that Voltron is back as a Netflix show, Playmates has toys to match, so if you want to revisit those joys of building Voltron from combined lions, you can. If you’d rather just have him has one big poseable robot, you can have that too. Don’t expect Star Wars-sized figures to go inside this time, though, as these Voltrons are more to scale, and the pilot is represented on a tiny mini-speeder that fits inside the belly of each lion.

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As you can see there are also no vac-metallized parts, as that’s both costly and interferes with articulation, of which the individual lion figures boast 20+ points. Let’s take a look at them–the lions, not the articulation points– individually.

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At $29.99, the black lion is the most expensive, as it features a light-up V on its chest, and sounds. They seem to play in random order, so I’m not sure I heard all of them.

“Voltron is the only thing that can stop Zarkon.”

“Let’s assemble Voltron and get rid of these Galra.”

“Form…Voltron! [sounds]”

[Roar]

“We need to increase firepower!”

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[Sword “ching!”]

“Systems compromised!”

[energy sound]

“Now…We will destroy you!”

“Now, we go on the offensive.”

“Let’s light this thing up. Fire lasers! [laser sound]”

“We will save the universe!”

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In lion form it’s quite poseable, with fully articulated wings, neck, and legs with four joints each. His back hips are a bit limited for the benefit of the larger robot, and can’t move fully forward, but they can hinge outward. And as with every lion in this series, the belly opens for the pilot’s speeder.

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The other Legendary Lions that combine with it are $17.99 each.

Articulation on the red and green lions is similar. Apart from the bits that move purely to effect the transformation, they have four joints on each leg, a mid-torso side-to-side joint that’s also a cut joint on the hind end, cut neck joints, and powerfully spring-loaded jaws. Also, they can stand up, sort of.

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All of the lions come with larger weapons that plug into their backs. I think I got a bum red lion, though, because the missile in it doesn’t properly fire – it extends maybe an inch when you press the button.

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The green lion’s works a lot better. Both come with parts to form Voltron’s sword, and green comes with the shield that can be swapped out for its missile launcher. There’s some paint slop on the sword, but only if you look closely.

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The yellow and blue lions have less articulation, because they need to form the legs and support the whole toy. They don’t have mid-torso joints, their heads go up and down, and their front legs only have three points of articulation. But they also have robotic “manes” that move forward to cover the head in robot mode.

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The yellow lion comes with the best plug-in weapon of the bunch: a disc launcher that sends its translucent blue energy frisbees clear across the length of my apartment. Blue has a similar missile launcher to the red, but it actually works.

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Assembly of Voltron is straightforward – the black lion’s upper legs fold up, and lower legs fold out, its mouth opens to reveal the robot head, and the arm and feet lions plug in easily (though they may not come out so easily, especially the arms. Pulling really hard may be necessary.)

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He is a little back-heavy – you may want to lean him forward a bit, or just always pose him with arms outstretched wielding the sword.

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The key gimmick, and it’s a fancy one, is that once all the lions are plugged in, new sounds are activated. The existing commands from the black lion play, but they often get a reply, and it can be at random. Like:

“We need to increase firepower!” “We got ya, buddy!”

“Let’s light this thing up. Fire lasers! [laser sound]” “Firing lasers now!” Response 2:”Fire magma beam!”

“Now, we go on the offensive.” “It’s on!”

“Time to armor up!”

“Lance, Hunk, give me full reverse thrusters!” Response 1: “Roger!” “Engaging lower thrusters!” Response 2:”Don’t worry, Shiro, I got this!” Response 3: “Fastest feet in the galaxy!”

“Pidge, form shield.” “Roger that!”

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“Let’s do it! Keith, form sword!” “Yes sir!” Response 2: “Forming blazing sword!”

“[energy sound] Time to heat things up!”

“Hold it right there!”

“We need to increase firepower!” “Eat this, Zarkon!”

[Clanging sound]

[Lasers] “You brought the sonic boom on him!”

“Not backing down!”

[Sword “ching!”]

“Let’s see if I can freeze these guys!”

“Let’s cut the Galra down to size!”

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The combined Voltron stands about 16 inches, but if you don;t necessarily want one that splits into lions, there’s a 14-inch “Ultimate Voltron” for $39.99. His lights are even brighter, and in his head too.

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They are some of the brightest LEDs I’ve ever seen in a toy.

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Ultimate Voltron’s articulation is as follows: wings on the back fold out and have combination cut-and-hinge attachments to the back. Head moves up and down and side to side. Ball-jointed shoulders. Mid-bicep cuts. Elbows. Right wrist cut joint. Right hand spring loaded to hold the sword, left hand opens to fire a missile. Ball hips. Cut mid-thighs. Knees. Hinge and rocker ankles. Mid foot. The joints are mostly tight and clicky, and the figure is not that heavy, so you can get some fairly incredible poses.

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No trick photography there. He held that position till I moved him.

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Here’s the breakdown of his sounds:

“Form Voltron!”

“Lance, Hunk, give me full reverse thrusters!”

“Let’s cut the Galra down to size!”

[sword clang]

“We are Voltron!”

[laser charge]

“Systems compromised!”

“Let’s light this thing up! Fire lasers!”

[laser sounds]

“Let’s do it! Keith, form sword!”

“Hold it right there!”

“Now…we will destroy you!”

[sword swish]

“I’ll make ’em back off!”

“Guys, hang on!”

“Let’s see if I can freeze these guys!”

“Now we go on the offensive!”

“You dropped a sonic boom on him!”

“Pidge, form shield!” (this played by itself once, and then another time with Pidge responding “Roger that!” so there seems to be some randomness here too, though that was the only command I heard with a response).

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While I personally still miss being able to put figures inside, the electronic element is sophisticated and takes up needed space–kids, who tend to love repetition, will probably take a long time with these to try to hear every possible combination.

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Which of the Voltrons would you go for? Or are you more of a fan of the smaller $9.99 line for kids? Let me know in comments below, or Tweet me @LYTrules.

Images: Julia and Luke Thompson for Nerdist

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