Review by JoshB
It’s been a while since I had a chance to review a high-end gokin. Life changes plus lots of travel means I haven’t been able to devote a lot of time to the site, never mind reviews. Things are starting to calm down now though, so I should be able to bring you more diecast goodness. However, I found some joy in the simpler toys, things made for mass-market, so expect a health mix of both for the time being. Thanks for sticking in with us.
Today we are looking at the Voltron Dark Lion Force from Icarus Toys. This is an unusual release because of its sorted past, and unconventional release. Mad Toys came out with an unlicensed diecast Voltron in 2014 called King of Beast. It was great, but being unlicensed, it was quickly disowned and hopes for a legal release were dashed.
In 2016 Icarus Toys and BU Toys showed a re-tooled King of Beast with Voltron-accurate paint and sculpt. With licensing in place, Voltron was good to go. But in an odd move, it’s first release was a “Dark” version limited to 1000 pieces. This hit in October 2017. The toy features all the new sculpt improvements but without the color scheme. The toy is officially licensed by Classic Media and World Events Productions, so it’s legitimacy is not in question? So why the “Dark” version first? Who knows…
The Voltron Dark Lion Force comes in a large box, with full color art on the top and sides. There is nothing on the back.
Inside you get two trays. The top tray is styrofoam with a plastic lid and die-cut insert. The bottom tray is just clear plastic to hold all the accessories. No instructions or paperwork are included. Each component is sealed in a plastic baggie.
I’m going to first look at each lion individually, and I’ll note differences between the King of Beast where I find them. For a more detailed look, please check out the video.
Let’s start with the Yellow Lion, or Lion #4. Calling it Blue Lion is tough, because none of the colors are here. The lion has a die-cast body and head, with fully articulated limbs. The body is an entirely new sculpt as the KOB version used the same mold for both legs. Now we get two unique, accurate sculpts. Each leg has a clicky hip joint and articulation at the knees, paws and toes.
The head can move up and down, tilt side-to-side, and now it can rotate, a feature the KOB lacked.
The jaw can click open or closed.
Two weapons are included for use with this lion. Included is a tri-bladed weapon, and a handled knife. With the color version, these would be color-coded, but for this release, they are the same color. They do have some paint detail though, albeit monochrome.
The #5 Lion (Blue) has all of the same articulation as #4 (Yellow). The body has basically the same sculpt as the KOB version, but the head has the improved articulation. There are some minor functional differences, but they essentially look the same.
The #3 Green Lion is sleek and functional, and features a firing head. The body now has a #3 sculpted into the top. Each arm lion comes with two heads. One of the heads had poor paint application, but since I had an extra it is not a big deal to me. This version improves the lion heads so they can now rotate!
Both the #3 and #2 lions have identical weapons. Each have a tri-bladed weapon and a curved sword that can be held in the mouth.
Like #3, the Red Lion (#2) now has the number molded into the body, and also receives the improved rotating head.
The Black Lion (#1) is the big guy who anchors the whole thing together. He’s a heavy diecast beast with loads of articulation and weaponry. In addition, he’s got the most changes from the KOB version.
In lion mode, you can pose him pretty well with the articulated legs and head. He can’t do a crouch pose, but otherwise it’s great. The legs are basically the same as the KOB version, but the waist, chest, shoulders and head all have modifications to them.
For weaponry, the Black Lion features a large double-bladed knife that gets held in the mouth and an assortment of shoulder-mounted weaponry.
You can attach either the spinning spiked disks or the laser cannons to the shoulders. For the KOB release, the laser cannons were electronic with a light up feature. For this version, the electronics are gone but the button and lens remain.
Combining Voltron is intuitive and stress-free. If you’ve combined any Voltron over the last 30 years you can do this. While the combination mechanism did not change from KOB, the separation procedure changed a little. In the past, you had to depress a button on the body of the legs to remove the lions. In this case, those buttons have been removed. You now just need to depress on the tabs near the connection point to release the legs.
The combined Voltron is massive and gorgeous. The Black color scheme really works here, and is not without precedent in the world of Voltron. Japanese toys in general have a proud history of black-version repaints, and I’m glad to see the tradition continue.
It is here you can see the full effect of the changes to the body of Voltron. The section where the ears connect to the head is smaller. The teeth are sharper. The whole chest, and shoulders have been remolded to be more accurate. The waist has a more accurate belt. The wings are now accurate And so on.. There’s probably a lot of changes that I have missed but they really did a good job in transitioning from the unlicensed KOB to the licensed Voltron.
A variant faceplate is included. The faceplates are held in with a strong magnet.
Articulation remains stellar. The hips are very tight and clicky, and it holds a pose fantastically. Range of motion in the knees and ankles are limited by the design but overall they are great. The rotating feet heads help with more dynamic poses.
Voltron comes with three different swords and a shield. The shield now has the WEP copyright stamped inside.
The default sword is Voltron’s signature Blazing Sword. It’s sharp and nicely detailed, and Voltron has no problem wielding it. The swivel heads aid in more dynamic poses.
A Blazing Sword is not truly blazing unless it is on fire, so Icarus toys have included a sword with flame effect and it looks amazing. It’s a little heavy but Voltron holds it with ease.
The third sword I believe is unique to this release, as “Dark” Voltron’s sword. It is inspired by the classic Blazing Sword, but it’s got a look all of its own.
A clear energy bolt is included, which I believe replicates the “Form Blazing Sword” effect.
As I mentioned before, both fists can fire with strong spring-loaded action!
I am very impressed with this release. It’s a significant improvement over King of Beast, in terms of quality and visual appeal. I hope these changes continue through the upcoming release of the regular United Gokin Voltron. At only 1000 pieces, it may be hard to find one, but it is worth tracking down.
Review sample provided by Icarus Toys
|Posted 19 October, 2017 - 19:32 by JoshB|