Voltron II Deluxe Gladiator Set
|Character Design||Koichi Ohata|
Review by JoshB
Voltron II or Gladiator was meant to be the second TV series to go along with Voltron I (Dairugger XV) and Voltron III (Golion). For some reason, the show never aired, but Matchbox licensed the toys and put them out anyway.
In Japan, Voltron II is known as Kosoku Denjin Albegas. It is often translated as Arbegas, Abegas, Albegus and Arbegus.
In 1983, Popy released the DX Chogokin Kosoku Denjin Albegas Denjinbox. It featured three individual chogokin robots that could be transformed into 6 “official” modes. The robots were Alpha Robo (Black), Beta Robo (Blue) and Gamma Robo (Red).
Each figure featured a sword and firing fists. The six modes are:
- Denjin Dimension (Alpha > Beta > Gamma)
- Space Dimension (Alpha > Gamma > Beta)
- Magma Dimension (Beta > Gamma > Alpha)
- Sky Dimension (Beta > Alpha > Gamma)
- Marine Dimension (Gamma > Alpha > Beta)
- Guard Dimension (Gamma > Beta > Alpha)
The Albegas Denjinbox actually comes in two versions – The first version box is horizontal and has the green, grid-like background artwork and the Popy logo. The second version is vertical a rainbow strip at the top and the Bandai logo. Popy was absorbed into Bandai during this toy’s production run. The toy originally retailed for 4,500 yen.
In 1984, when World Events Productions licensed Albegas as Voltron II, Matchbox imported the Denjinbox set for release in America. To conform to safety standards, Matchbox removed the swords and the firing fists from the release. They also split the box set up into individual robots.
At the time, the Gladiator Robot was a pretty ingenious thing. Each robot came apart and could recombine in endless combinations. Because we never saw the show, we really had no idea what was the “right” combination. I always thought the red robot was supposed to go on top as a kid.
Each robot is constructed basically the same. The legs attach at the waist via a fragile connection point. The bottom of the legs are solid metal, with a hinged foot and knee. Doors on the side open and act as a lock to hold the legs in place when they are compressed. The arms are jointed at the elbow, but have a small bump in them that prevents them from bending backwards. A yellow button on the shoulders releases the arms so that they can swing backwards for the combination. The shoulders slide out from the metal chest area and a grey hinge allows you to compress the torso into the chest, and then the shoulders push back in to lock it all in place.
As a kid, I remember getting one of the three Gladiator robots – I think it was the blue one, but my memory is hazy. I remember the toy practically disintegrating after a short period of play. As cool as the concept was, these toys were really fragile. The connection joints where the legs attach to the body are pretty flimsy on their own, but add in Popy’s trademark fragile blue plastic, and you have a recipe for disaster. To this day, finding an unbroken set is a rarity. Other common problems were fists breaking off (they were just glued in), and slouching. Over time the middle plastic on the robots cannot support the heavy weight of the metal chest, and the robots “slouch”.
I have always had a soft spot for this toy, largely because as a kid I never had all three robots, and was never able to see the 3 robot combination. As an adult collector, I love the looks of this toy, and its endless play value. It really is a shame that it is so fragile.
The art on the Matchbox package shows the Gladiator with his hands out, but the Albegas robot always had only one set of hands visible at a time.
|Posted 12 May, 2006 - 07:04 by JoshB|