Review by Sanjeev
Okay, so this is a little odd: news of Toynami dropping a simple, articulated vinyl figure of seminal robot hero, Voltron III (Go-Lion in his native Japan), dropped quite some time ago--before San Diego Comic-Con 2009, in fact. Lots of folks waited patiently for it to come out...and then it was announced that a metallic paint variant would be released as an exclusive at SDCC.
Sure, that's totally cool. But...where was the normal one!? As it turned out, the Comic-Con exclusive came out first at--you guessed it!--Comic-Con, and the regular version...apparently just dropped a few days ago!
So...this is the San Diego Comic-Con 2009 exclusive metallic version of Toynami's Robot Vinyl Collection 01 Voltron III. Quite the mouthful, no? Hopefully, we'll see more characters done in this series (a Voltron I/Dairugger XV would be killer!), and we'll just update the review for clarity.
So let's get down to business. How's the toy?
I'd say, "not bad".
No, not a resoundingly enthusiastic endorsement, but as VF5SS is fond of saying these days..."it'll do".
It's a very simple toy, and as such, I think it's pretty easy to break down how to judge it. The way I see it, there are three things to look at: 1) what it is, 2) what other toys of this character exist, and 3) how much it'll set ya back.
What is it? Well, it's a 9-inch, fairly "realistic"-looking, semi-articulated figure of Voltron III. It's completely painted Chinese vinyl, so it's certainly adequate. It's a far cry from the lustrous, hard, glossy sheen of genuine Japanese vinyl...but in the final analysis, who cares? It's a solid, cheap Voltron toy.
The vinyl feels pretty thin and lightweight (except for the wings, ears, and other extremities, which are solid vinyl and perfectly straight!). The paint gets a little tacky on hot and humid days. Oh well. Like I said, it's more than adequate. The articulation is interesting. The figure is already clearly posed, slightly...but they added bicep, wrist, and knee swivels to the prerequisite neck and shoulder joints.
Why? I'm not exactly sure. They don't add much posability...at all. It's actually a rather awkward toy. I mean, he looks like he sorta could be/should be dynamic, but he totally isn't...at all. Most vintage vinyl robot toys were purposefully given blocky proportions with very limited right-angle joints. AND WE WERE HAPPY WITH THEM, DAMNIT!! *Ahem*
What I'm trying to say is that vintage-style blocky proportions just look and feel right with limited articulation. It's like holding a Jumbo Machinder--you don't suddenly expect it to be as posable as a Revoltech. It's awesome just the way it is with its 2 or 3 points of articulation. This toy, on the other hand, has "realistic" (cartoon-accurate) proportions and styling, so you almost *expect* it to breakdance on your desk. Nope.
The sculpt, as I mentioned, does a great job of conveying the look from the show. There were a couple shortcuts I didn't appreciate, however. First off, the "hands" (the mouths of the red and green lions) are totally filled in. Booo! I know it woulda been tough to pull these parts from the molds if the hands had been hollowed out, but they really should've thought of a better solution...and then given us an ABS plastic Blazing Sword, damnit!
My other sculpt gripe is the lack of lion legs (whew). I know this figure is not meant to depict the transforming toy, but c'mon...it looks really plain without the visual cues that it can transform/combine. The arms look really naked to me. Most folks considering buying this toy are probably gonna be pretty familiar with the design. As such, I'm guessing they'll expect to see the chrome folded-up lion legs on the front of the arms and sides of the legs.
Lastly, the paintjob. Not bad. I gotta say, though...THIS is "metallic"??? I had to work pretty hard to get that sorta wet look in some of these close-ups. In normal light, he looks...normal. I can't imagine there being much difference between this and the actual normal version just released. Still, it's pretty cool. The barely-detectable glittery flake used in the paint makes the sculpt pop a little better.
Okay, we've talked about what this toy is. Now, let's look at what Voltron III merchandise is already out there. Well, there are two deluxe combining diecast toys: the recent Toynami toy and the vintage Popy DX and its umpteen variants and bootlegs. There are combining plastic toys, as well, by Toynami and other companies during the 80's (Panosh Place...**shudder**). Popy released an ST chogokin and a Jumbo Machinder (later reissued by LJN in the States). And there's probably another eleventy-billion other Voltron III/Go-Lion toys out there...
Do ya really need another???
Well, that depends. Here's the deal: to my knowledge, there's only ONE Popy mini vinyl of Go-Lion. And that's it for vinyl toys of this guy! No standard-scale vinyls, no missile-fires, no nothing! So, if you're a vinyl head and you just need a modern-style sofubi Voltron III, this may be the toy for you!
Hey, think positive, will ya!?
Lastly, price. I'm actually not sure what this guy retailed for at Comic-Con (shogundan, you wanna chime in?). I wasn't there. I do know, however, that the normal color version goes for $36USD. In the final analysis, that's not a bad deal at all. A modern character ST vinyl manufactured in Japan would easily run 2-3 times that, no problem. Onell Design's Armodoc is a Chinese vinyl figure that's shorter, but stouter than this guy...and runs you around $25USD...but Onell doesn't have to pay royalties on the name.
All in all, this figure is undoubtedly a *terrific* value despite my gripes above. That said, however, those gripes will really be the deciding factor in whether or not you want one of these on your shelf!
|Posted 11 September, 2009 - 17:07 by Sanjeev|