Voltron 1 Deluxe Warrior Set
|Toy Design||Katsushi Murakami|
Review by JoshB
This has to be one of my all time favorite toys. The Deluxe Voltron 1 Warrior set. I’ve been obsessed by this character since I was a little kid.
When I was about to turn 12, I asked my parents for a voltron. I probably should have been specific and said the “LION” voltron, but I didn’t. My birthday came and I got the deluxe Vehicle Voltron. I was so let down. I really wanted the Lion Voltron. But when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. I got into the Vehicle Voltron eventually. Its interesting combination and huge size established the precedent of what I like about toys today.
The story of this toy is a bit complicated...
The original Character comes from the 1982 Japanese Animated series Armored Fleet Dairugger XV (機甲艦隊 ダイラガーXV - Kikō Kantai Dairagā XV). Produced by Toei, the series ran for 52 episodes and ran until 1983. The premise of the show was that Dairugger XV was a space exploration team. The individual Dairugger ships could combine their 15 vehicles into 3 individual teams, or combine into one larger robot.
The show was popular enough for Popy to make a few toys for it. Along with the standard and DX chogokin toys, Popy planned a larger, diecast, combining version, to be in the same line as the SG-01 Chokinzoku ("Super Metal") Tetsujun 28. The toy was designed by Katsushi Murakami (who also designed the SG-01) but the expense of the SG-01 caused the line to be cancelled. Popy decided to move forward with the toy, but in plastic instead of metal. This toy was called the Deluxe Kikougattai KikouKantai Dairugger XV. For a more in-depth look at why the SG-01 was the last of its kind, check out this great translation of an article from the Chogokin Chronicle by Matt Alt.
The original Popy versions were sold as a boxed set, or as three sets of 5.
In 1983, an American company called World Events Productions was looking for Japanese shows to import and translate for American audiences. Golion, Albegas and Dairugger XV were chosen. (Another show, Daltanious, was considered, but never got aired.) These shows would become known as Voltron, although Voltron II was never aired.
Matchbox got the rights to produce toys for Voltron, and decided to use the Japanese toys as a base for their American products. Where the DX Golion toy had to be heavily modified to meet US safety standards, the large Dairugger did not. In fact, all that was changed between the US and Japanese versions were the omission of a sword, stickers, and three small antennae. The very first versions of the Deluxe Voltron Warrior robot still has all the Japanese copyright info on the backs of the vehicles (Later versions do not).
The Deluxe Voltron Warrior also had two different kinds of packaging. The first version had an opening cover that revealed a die-cut window, while later versions just had a solid box.
UK version 1 box
US version 2 box
Leftover vehicles were also sold individually bagged in discount houses.
The Deluxe Voltron Warrior set is comprised of 15 Individual vehicles that can combine three teams, or the full deluxe robot.
Air Team (クウラガー Kurugger)
- Command Jet Explorer (ラガー1 - Rugger 1)
- Strato Weapons Module (ラガー2 - Rugger 2)
- Advanced Recon Helicopter (ラガー3 - Rugger 3)
- Advanced Recon Helicopter (ラガー4 - Rugger 4)
- Fighter Plane (ラガー5 - Rugger 5)
Sea Team (カイラガー Kairugger)
- Communications Module (ラガー6 - Rugger 6)
- Space Prober (ラガー7 - Rugger 7)
- Space Prober (ラガー8 - Rugger 8)
- Multi Wheeled Explorer (ラガー9 - Rugger 9)
- Multi Wheeled Explorer (ラガー10 - Rugger 10)
Land Team (リックラガー Rickrugger)
- Armored Equipment Carrier (ラガー11- Rugger 11)
- Rotating Personnel Carrier (ラガー12 - Rugger 12)
- Jet Radar Station (ラガー13 - Rugger 13)
- All Terrain Space Vehicle (ラガー14 - Rugger 14)
- All Terrain Space Vehicle (ラガー15 - Rugger 15)
All of the vehicles are plastic. There is no metal in this toy, unless you count axles, springs and screws. The tires on the vehicles are rubber, and on the smaller vehicles are often dried out and cracked, if not gone altogether.
|Command Jet Explorer is a small jet that becomes the head of Voltron. The doors on the top open up to reveal the face. There are four rubber wheels on the bottom, two of which have a friction motor. This piece is commonly found with missing tires and broken fins.|
|The Strato Weapons Module becomes the upper chest of Voltron. It looks simple but it serves many functions. The wheeled base can rotate 90 degrees to allow it to roll when combined with the rest of the Air Team. As a stand alone vehicle, it features two silver blocks that fold out, apparently some kind of weapon. It looks as if missiles should go in these blocks, but no version ever had firing missiles. One of the red bands also rises up, just for aesthetics. The red button in the center acts as a release button for the head and middle torso pieces when combined.|
|The Advanced Recon Helicopters feature rotating silver blades and rubber tires. The blades are commonly broken off at the center, and the small rubber tires are often cracked or missing. These units do not have friction motors|
|The Fighter Plane features 2 small white clips that fold out to attach to the chest of Voltron. This ship has rear friction wheels as well. The red ship is commonly found with portions of the wing broken off|
|The Communications Module forms the mid-torso of Voltron, and also forms the middle of the Sea Team. It has no action features other than rubber wheels. In the Japanese version of the toy, the Communications Module (or Rugger-6) has a tall chrome antenna. This was flattened to a chrome panel and permanently attached in the US version. It is made of the fragile blue Popy plastic, and is often broken at the connection points.|
|The Space Probers form the upper legs of Voltron, and are also the tips of the Sea Team. One features a Red front, the other Blue. These feature wheels on the bottom as well.|
|The Multi Wheeled Explorers form the lower legs of Voltron, as well as the rear sections of the Sea Team. They both feature a white cube section that slides out to accommodate the tabs from the Communications Module. These vehicles feature friction motors in the rear as well. The Japanese release included a chrome tower on each vehicle. These have been omitted for the US release, but the holes for the towers are still visible. These vehicles tend to take the most beatings, and are often in the worst shape. First, the wheels are often broken off, and secondly, the tabs that connect this unit to the upper legs often snap off, or lose their ability to grab to the parts. There is a lot of weight on these joints, so it is not surprising.|
|The Armored Equipment Carrier forms the lower torso of the Voltron Robot. The center part pushes in and reveals two tabs on the other side that the legs connect to. To retract those tabs, you need to open the silver door on the top and move the yellow switch. This switch is nearly impossible to move without some kind of instrument.|
|The Rotating Personnel Carrier (red) and Jet Radar Station (blue) become the hands of Voltron. Each features a firing fist, and friction rear wheels. The rubber tires are often cracked of missing altogether. The fists are often missing due to the fragile tab that locks them into place. It’s a good idea to remove these fists for long-term storage.|
|The All Terrain Space Vehicles become the feet of Voltron. Each vehicle features friction wheels and small, chrome supporting wheels to keep Voltron from falling over in robot mode. These are probably the most durable vehicles in the set.|
Voltron is not a sturdy toy. The plastic can be brittle, and the connection points wear out easily. The fists break, the tires dry up. The toy just doesn’t age well. It just wasn’t able to stand the punishment a young child was going to put it through. Finding a unused mint one is a rare find, and although parts are plentiful on ebay, piecing one together from loose bits is next to impossible.
There have been many bootleg versions of this toy out there, some produced as recently as 2004. There was a version sold at Toys R Us that was very high quality, and even included a sword (something the US release did not). It’s worth getting just to have the sword. You could also get fists from this toy as well.
Despite all its flaws, I really love this toy. Part of it is sentimental, but part of it is that it is so damn aesthetically pleasing. It’s a big chunky robot toy that shoots fists and transforms.
On a personal note, It was this toy that began me on my path of rooting for the underdog so to speak. NOBODY liked Vehicle Voltron, including me. He was always second best. But I really identified with it and that concept at a young age. Since then I have always been drawn to the things that are unpopular or uncool. It’s part of my nature that I can trace back to this toy.
Random Notes about Voltron 1
- On the US version of the box, the three teams are the Land, Sea and Air teams. On the UK box, the teams are called Turbo Terrain Fighter, Aqua Fighter and Strato Fighter. Adding to the confusion, the three box sets refer to them as Space Warrior, Land Warrior and Air Warrior.
- Also, the UK box uses the English spelling of “Armoured”
- The US version is called Voltron 1 Deluxe Warrior Set, where the UK version is called Vehicle Team Voltron.
- The US box incorrectly states that the toy is made of “Durable Metal Die Cast Parts”. There is no Die Cast metal on the toy.
- The photos of the toys on the back of the box are all of the Japanese Versions of the toys.
- The quote on the front of the US box says “Includes All Parts To Make the Towering and Terrifying Voltron 1 With Heroic Human Face for Hours of Endless Play!”
- The illustration on the box has the fists on the wrong sides
|Posted 25 August, 2006 - 13:57 by JoshB|