Giant Commander Voltron
Review by NekroDave
Voltron ruled the airways for me and my friends when I was about 10 years old. It was far and away our favorite show at the time and I had nearly all of the toys. But one that I never even heard of until I started collecting as an adult was this motorized version of the Popy Golion Jumbo Machinder that LJN released in 1984. Most people that I talk to now all remember it, but somehow it completely escaped me back then. Like most of the other vintage Jumbos released in the US, it takes the original Popy version (released 3 years previous in 1981) and modified it for the US market. And like the others, it was made worse than the original.
But that doesn't mean to suggest that this toy is not worth having. In fact, this one is probably closest to it's model than any other US jumbo. The sculpt of the toy is nearly identical to the Popy version. The only differences seems to be that the copyright stamp was changed and the missile launching mechanism and missile holders were removed (they used to be on the hips). But this is a real shame since the original gimmick was really cool. On the Popy version, when you pushed the levers on the red and green hands to open the lion mouth, it would press a button on the bottom of the hand and launch a missile out of the mouth! A great idea that I'm sure kids here would have loved, but I suppose it was removed for safetly concerns. But LJN did something to make up for it. They included a "blazing sword" that Volron could hold in either hand. This is something that the Popy version did NOT have!
Not only did you it have the sword included, but this version also came with a motorized base that you could attach Voltron to and move him around the floor. You could place Voltron on top of the base and use 4 included screws to make the connection. The screws would have to go up through the holes in the bottom of the base and then screw into the holes in the bottom of Voltron's feet. Insert two C batteries into the "remote" control, flip the switch and Voltron would roll back and forth. Most collectors think this is pretty lame, but hey, maybe kids got a kick out of it back then. And really, any extra gimmick you get can't be bad, can it?. If you don't like it, you don't have to use it. Strangely, this is not the only jumbo to use a motorized base. The first version Famosa Great Mazinger also had one, though it's served a different purpose.
There is a downside to the base though, actually. I assume it is probably the reason why the weights were removed for this release. Usually the Popy jumbos have the feet weighted down giving them a very solid feel. This toy, while the quality of the plastic is fine, feels almost like a bootleg because it is so light.
One other thing that I don't like about this toy is the amount of stickers that need to be applied. I count over FIFTY stickers that had to be put on this thing. When I got mine, the adhesives on the back had all dried up, too, so I had to respray each one and then apply them. It seemed to take forever to get them all on. But the toy does look great when they are all in place.
Voltron has 9 points of articulation. The head turns, the arms raise and lower, the wings are adjustable and the red and green lion's mouth open. Also, the elbows are on a ball joint. The only problem there is that the levers of the lion's mouths can hinder the arms movement as they often bump into the waist.
One quick note about the wings. They are a very similar mold to the wings on the Popy Robot Factory God Sigma Jumbo. And the Giant Commander Voltron has two different versions of wing connections. One is like the God Sigma jumbo and they fit over a rounded peg on the back. The other version has a plastic covering that pushes through the wings and into the back. This version does not appear to come off like the first.
Voltron comes in a large box (25.5" tall by 14.75" long and 6.5" deep) with a cellophane window in the top half that allows you to see the robot inside.
I recently came across a very cool related item, a giant 5 foot tall standee used to promote the show and the toy at Spencers. One collector remembers only seeing this toy at that store. Since I never saw it at all when I was little, I have no idea if it was sold only there or in regular stores as well. If anyone has any info about that, please leave a comment.
The motorized Giant Commander Voltron is a pretty cool toy, one that I feel doesn't get the respect it deserves. If it only shot something, I'd say it's better than all the Shogun Warriors. It's certainly the nicest looking, in my opinion. Furthermore, it's a cheap grab for a vintage Jumbo. I can see not getting one if you aren't into jumbos. But if you've even got a passing interest, there's really no good reason not to have this one.
LJN was not the only company to copy the Popy Golion Jumbo. In Korea, there was a bootleg version that was called "Super Phantom X Robot". (Click the image for more information about that toy.)
Voltron combination sequence (I never noticed the "War Of The Worlds" sound effect!)
|Posted 25 May, 2007 - 21:35 by NekroDave|