Red Lion (with Lance)
Review by Atom
I want to set some expectations here up front. Mattel’s Voltron Classics line is not in any way aimed at high-end gokin collectors. If you were expecting (or wanting) a redo of the classic Bandai Voltron or the more modern Masterpiece Edition by Toynami, you can just hit the back button now.
My childhood started with 3 3/4" scale action figures and vehicles. First it was Star Wars, and then it transitioned into G.I. Joe. It wouldn’t be until the releases of Robotech and Voltron to the airwaves that I got into the diecast metal offerings out of Japan. In a sense I moved on to better and more complex offerings as an adult collector, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for action figure-based vehicles and the idea of being able to swap in my Star Wars, G.I. Joe, and Outer Space Men into a large 23” inch tall Voltron got me excited.
When Voltron was all the craze, I had the Lion-Bot (bootleg) version of the original Bandai release. It featured firing missiles, accessories, and lots of diecast content. I was very satisfied with that as “my Voltron.” Then Panache Place came out with their large, action figure release and while I liked the idea of this, even I could tell back then in the 80’s that it was asstasticly ugly and never gave it or the line a second thought.
Flash forward to 2012. Mattel is now sitting on the Voltron license and immediately jumped on making their own version of this classic robot. Of course, getting him isn’t a straightforward process. You can’t just walk into a store and buy these off the shelf. No, you have to get them though Mattel’s collector site, MattyCollector.com. There where three options for Voltron fans to get this set.
1) You had to have already been aware that in August of 2011 Mattel was offering this set in 2012 to their “club”, and drop $15 on an “exclusive” figure only available to those club members. This did two things. It committed you to the whole line (5 lions and 5 figures) and guaranteed you a set when it was all said and done, and you got a figure that wouldn’t be available for sale on the site.
2) You mark your calendar and watch for the sale dates of these Lions and hope you can score one before they sell out, and sell out they did. Red-Lion with Lance was gone in less than 8 hours.
3) You sit out all of the Matty Collector nonsense and hope you can grab them from a reseller who will jack up the price on what is already an expensive toy.
We opted for #1 for a variety of reasons, but primarily to cover the whole “Matty Collector”
experience for you, our readers, and see in an unbiased fashion what happens. The first in the series got in my hands last month, and I have to say the process has not been smooth.
Red Lion with Lance did not ship on the Monday before the sale date as we had been told by Matty Collector. It shipped the night before/morning of release with no word from the powers that be why things where delayed or what was going on with shipments. When mine did ship, I found out the hard way that they do not actually use USPS for size=640]und shipping, they use a third party shipper which adds two or three days to transit. Neither is a huge issue, but not a glorious start either.
With box in hand I check over the Red Lion and figure in the package to double check some issues that were already being reported by other collectors who had them in hand.
Issues reported have been...
1) Springs leaking from the leg joints out of the box.
2) Missing yellow eye inserts.
3) VERY crooked sticker placement in the lion’s cockpit.
4) Missing alternate helmeted head for Lance figure.
5) Missing collect and connect Blazing Sword handle.
6) Missing figure stand/ lion key.
Luckily my Red Lion appeared to have none of the issues being reported and both looked fine in their packages. It would be hours later that I would discover what surprise the “Matty Collector Fairy” had left for me on my own personal set.
The Red Lion package looks cool with its large window style and red lava backdrop. Note that Voltron’s legs are on backwards in the press image on the back of the box.
The only accessory in the box with the Lion is the mouth blade. The Lance figure and all the other bits and bobs are packed in a separate package.
The lion itself is big and solid. The materials feel good, and I like the proportions of the sculpt.
The impression I got after fiddling with it for a bit is that this is the toy they would have made back in the 80's had Mattel had the Voltron license back then. The toy just feels like an 80's piece and I have had a lot of fun with it over the past few weeks.
In person, the cartoon inspired look works for the sculpt but it does take some getting used too. A lot of details that are not in the show but are on the classic toys are ingrained in many a collectors' minds, so I get that it looks bland or "off" for some. Truth be told, I have gone back and re-watched Go-Lion/Voltron and what Mattel has delivered in this sculpt and design looks better than what's on screen 95% of the time. If you don't believe me, go back and re-watch some. You'll see what I mean.
Not having chrome legs, legs that fold up differently, and missing toy only details like the numbers on the lions doesn't bother me. I know it's not for everyone, but it has really size=640]wn on me.
Speaking of legs, let's talk about the red lion's..
Other than the pouncing pose you see here, you can do the neutral straight legs or a flying pose, but that is really about it.
The auto transformation feature of the toy does inhibit the poseability of the legs on the lion. The front legs feature a full ratchet joint on the "shoulder", but the "knee" is designed to lock in straight. You can move the leg forward, but the built-in spring mechanism prevents it from holding a pose.
On the rear legs the "hips" feature ratchets on the back half of the range of motion, but the front half is spring loaded. The "knees" lock straight and only move backwards, but again spring back into place. It limits what you can do with it display-wise.
The tail does fold in, but doesn't feature any other form of articulation.
The included mouth blade is molded in hard plastic and includes two small indents to help lock it into place between the jaws of the lion.
Sadly Mattel saw fit to stamp the "Made In China" text on the part of the blade that faces out on top.
Remember I mentioned when the "Matty Collector Fairy" left me a surprise?
The parts circled are what's left of this goop/residue that was all over the right side of the lion. I don't know what it was, but it wiped off with some water.
Then I noticed that there is some paint missing on the corners of the elbow joint. Apparently they used the molded red plastic for the elbow joint and just painted over it in the grayish/white the legs are in (which are molded in the color).
The seam on the top of this joint is also poorly fitted and doesn't line up, leaving a very noticeable gap.
The packaging for Lance is fairly cheap and lacks any real presentation or style. It's just a cardboard box with a window on front with fairly lackluster graphics.
Inside is a clear vacuum formed tray which holds Lance, his spare helmeted head, the figure stand/key and the first piece of the collect and connect sword.
Upon initial inspection, Lance looked pretty good. The paint applications were clean with no noticeable over/underspray.
I expected the figure to look good and be able to stand and sit in the cockpit, and initially Lance did all that. Range of motion in the elbows and knees would be acceptable if I had gotten a properly assembled figure. You see, mine has two right thighs so I can't actually bend his left leg back at all. The kneecap blocks the motion.
Not to mention that it has started to exhibit some strange staining/discoloration which has proceeded to become much more noticeable over time.
The figure can of course can sit inside the lion and pilot it. It's the whole gimmick of the thing.
You can use the key shaped figure stand to "unlock" the cockpit. I am happy to report that you can just leave the stand on the shelf as you are able to press the lock and release the door without it.
The cockpit accommodates Lance perfectly. Almost too perfectly. Let's get some other figures to pilot this guy...
So the action figure based Red Lion doesn't accommodate most of my "in-scale" figures. I'm hoping that the "bigger" lions will have slightly larger accommodations for the pilots. It could also have been just my sampling, but this was a bit of a disappointing discovery.
The cockpit itself features a fairly spartan interior with stickers to add the details. Mine were applied straight and add to the 80's toy vibe.
The red lion forms Voltron's right arm and this toy is designed to combine with the other four lions to form a 23' tall version of the Defender of the Universe.
Transformation is very straightforward. Lift the rear hatch and fold in the tail. Snap the legs into place as seen in the picture, and then flip out the shoulder peg.
The arm features nice tight ratchet joins in the shoulder peg and wrist, and the tension in them is perfect! Not too tight and not too loose. The mouth also features a ratcheted joint. It seems this Voltron will hold his sword high and hold the pose.
The elbow also features a very tight ratcheted friction joint at the elbow bend, with the ridges on the part that moves and a tab on the inside wall of the rear body of the red lion. Know what happens when you paint over a joint that takes friction? Paint rubs off...
After moving the elbow back and forth a few times you end up with very noticeable paint scrapping. There is also no rotation in the bicep, so any hopes of getting that blazing sword in both hands are out the window.
As for the auto transformation feature, it's not that bad. The legs lock in fine and stay put without them springing out accidentally like some feared. Pressing the buttons on the bottom and back of the lion makes the legs spring out to sort of form a standing pose. I still have to move the rear legs back into their neutral position to stand him back up.
As for the collect and connect sword...
The handle fits in the hand perfectly and features a peg to lock it into the hand. What isn't nice is how Mattel changed the terms of the subscription. Originally when they first listed the Club Lion Force subscription they said the sword would light up. Somewhere in all of their extending the deadline they changed it to say "Ultra Blazing Sword." Apparently they felt no one would notice? I don't know when they changed it, but they did.
After five and a half weeks and four emails with a Customer Service department that is clearly located in a foreign land far, far away, I have been offered an exchange for the defective figure. They want everything back, however, and word is their Customer service is notorious for just refunding you and not actually replacing the item or sending you an item that is in worse shape than the returned item. So at this point I'm leaning towards jsut keeping it as everything else is fine.
When this is all said and done we are paying well over $400 for the completed set. These pieces are easily twice the price they should be and that makes them a "premium" collectible. Sadly, what I have gotten so far from Matty Collector has been anything but "Premium."
I am recommending fans stay away from the line if you're not getting them directly from Mattel already. While I love the Lion toy itself and I am still very interested in playing with the assembled Voltron, I can't help but feel I am playing Russian Roulette with their sub-standard quality control and customer serivce.
Comments9 comments posted
First and most important: DON'T return it.
Matty.com plays games with you big time. You will ONLY get a refund, and NOT a new lion set. They play games with their backstock big time. They probably have thousands of these in stock for defective items/returns, but only issue full returns for those who are either very nasty, big time writers/PR folks, or complete fails (legs fall off, head is cracked, etc.) I have several times returned other Matty.com items and only received credit, being told "they are completely sold out"- then, 3-4 days later, they go back onsale on the site.
The only thing to do is to try to buy it again and THEN return the broken one for credit.
Thanks for reviewing this man. I was SO excited to see this subscription when announced and was excited to join up. Then I saw the price vs. QC, the low cockpit detailing, the lack of chrome on the legs, the Infinite Heroes-type figures (I love that line but the QC was horrible especially on the later figures) and the shipping price hike with the separate figure/lion boxes (really, you couldn't put it all in the same box? It's not like these are being sold separately in any way, it's obviously to justify a shipping price hike on the website.) - had to pass.
Now I am very happy I skipped.
Glad I skipped this one now. Maybe when everyone dumps theirs for super cheap in a few years I'll be able to get one and it won't sting as bad. Because it does look cool. I complain a lot about price and quality, but I don't nit-pick the details, like "this isn't accurate" or "his blue was slightly blue-er." I only complain when the price grossly outweighs the quality. It's ok if it's a "toy" but this is clearly marketed and priced for collectors not kids. The slop and problems everyone is having is just an insult. And to think THIS is why we can't get a gokin Dairugger here in the US??? this is one case where it's just a slap in the face. Again.
I plunked my money down and subscribed to Matty's Club Lion Force to get this guy and I agree with you about it being a mixed bag. My problem is the back leg isn't properly tightened down, so instead of laying flush against the body it presses out just enough that the thing springs open at the slightest touch. So when I have my full Voltron, Red Lion is always gonna be shooting that leg out and kicking Voltron in the face.
I'm a big fan of the MOTUC line Mattel does, and while that line has some flaws, I wish the Voltron stuff would be more in line with MOTUC. What I mean is the no gimmicks approach the MOTUC line takes. The auto transform feature is really pointless and tacked on. All it does is pop the legs out for lion mode. Plus, when Mattel hyped the feature, it was a "one touch transformation" and I disagree. Yeah the legs shoot out, but not into any position to stand. The feet and legs still have to be put into place for a standing position. I personally would have preferred that the legs be completely removable in order to get a cleaner show accurate look, like the Blazing Sword Voltron Mattel did.
In the end, I'm wondering if the people at Mattel couldn't decide whether they were making an adult collectible or a straight up toy and it shows in the overall execution. I don't plan on displaying the lions individually though, and having a big doofy Voltron is something I look forward to.
@The Big R
100% agree with you on the packaging. Not that I'm a tie-dyed hippie or anything, but I generally try to be green. Matty sends the big white overbox, the lion in his box with lots of empty wasted space, and the Lance figure in another waste of space box. Everything should have gone into 1 package like you said.
This review makes me so sad. I am glad you reviewed it. I guess I will just look to pick up an old school Voltron. For the price I would be happier with the old LionBot bootleg.
I was a little interested in this, but the price is outrageous, and after trying some of their other products I'm tired of Mattel's shit. This thing looks like a $30 toy at best, but the final price is going to be $400? That's just insane to me.
Yeah, the third party shipping service is pretty dang slow. They DO have UPS on there, but you've got to remember to change it to UPS when ordering or you get the crap service all the way through your sub. Made that mistake with my current MotUC sub. I know I'm getting my figures and it is a little cheaper....but it's still a minor annoyance.
Anyway, sad to hear that Matty seems to be doing the same job in terms of customer service no matter the toyline. Many people complain about quality control with MotUC, but I've honestly not had many problems and I love the figures. The thing that worries me is the customer service, and I am afraid of the day that I do get a bum figure that i'll have to return ('cause every toyline is gona have bum figures). I just don't know if I'd be able to get it resolved. Some folks have horror stories, others have simple and quick transactions. You just never know.
On topic, however: I would have loved to get this, but the MotUC sub pretty much dictates that I won't be getting any other subs due to cost. I still like the looks of it and how it works, but the painted elbow joint just BAFFLES me. I mean...how long has Mattel been in the business? Who the heck DOES that? I can't even...I don't know. I can't think of a single toy in my collection with painted ratcheting joints. It's just so against common sense that I can't wrap my brain around it.
I was so happy last year when i did my sub for Voltron and for the price i was paying per-lion i was expecting something on par with the Star Wars vehicles if not then better... The lion feel fine in the hand but i would take a Snowspeeder or Tie Fighter over this anyday. I get the feeling that at an early stage they wanted to get this in to a major high street retailer but there wasn't any interest from them. If He was $30-40 in toysrus then its a no brainer
It's not that the Lion is bad but he just look's like he's lacking in so many areas. Maybe Reprolables will do a set of stickers once all five Lions are out. He's very plan and that doesn't help.
Tho i know one thing next year Matty has to pull something amazing out of its behind for me to sub to them again... The first thing they need to learn is the meaning of the words Premium and collectible.
I was very eager to look for a friend based in the US who can get this for me last year, but since no one is sure if they're staying up to 2012 or not, I had no other choice but to wait for online sellers. I mean, who would pass on something like this? A gigantic Voltron? That's ridiculous!
But it's a blessing in disguise that I did not throw away my $400 (i can get a lot with that amount here in my country! lol) after reading this review. Thanks a lot! Sigh.. I guess I'll have to wait for another Voltron.
Well....amazing, there are still people in the world who love Go-Lion...lol
I know, for maniacs in the world, Go-Lion was(has been?) a masterpiece of anime.
I was in the very "real time" generation for Go-Lion, but I've totally forgot about Go-Lion.
(Japanese kids around that times appreciated the new design..animal-motif...but they forgot it very soon.)
Tomino, the Gundam author, often used to say "Unlike design works in the US movies, design works on robot-anime in Japan are always boxlike. I always want to break the bad habit!".
Syd Mead also said the same kind of thing.
After many years has passed, such a typical design work "Go-Loin" is still alive...among maniacs outside of Japan, surprisingly.