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 ground 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 grown 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.
|Posted 6 April, 2012 - 04:40 by Atom|