Review by Optimal III
In 2016, Bandai released the Soul of Chogokin Lion Force Voltron (AKA GoLion). As a huge Voltron fan, I found it to be an amazing toy, though not perfect. To me, the head & faces are a little small. The lock for the left shoulder is hard to engage. The arms seem a little shrimpy compared to the legs. And while big, it's not huge. I remember thinking before it was made that Voltron would be perfect as a DX SOC from the jump. Other people have their thoughts, but I think we all figured what Bandai gave us was the best Lion Force Voltron we'd ever get.
In 2021, Blitzway said "Hold our beer". They've been around for a few years and make premium toys & statues. Never paid them much attention, but they got it when they announced they were doing a Voltron. Lots of buzz happened really fast, especially when they said theirs would be over 15-inches, extra poseable, extra detailed, and full of metal...for $700. That last part led to lots of weeping, coughing, and choking for some. I was game. So, here we go.
I normally don't show off pics of shipping boxes, but this is a whopper for a single item.
The actual mailer isn't much smaller, stating a weight of over 7 lbs! Corners inside the box are another sign of something serious in play.
The actual box is an impressive 21 x 16 x 9. Glossy & firm on all sides, everything printed in silver with a raised texture. Voltron is THE Super Robot to me, so this lavishness feels appropriate.
The other sides have the usual stuff like logos & product shots. The back stands out with actual credits.Opening the box reveals the inner carton, concealed with paper items & wrapped in velcro straps. They're the safe way to lift the carton out of the box, before you set it down and & undo them.The foam of the carton is the softer kind that doesn't easily break, and has some art to it. Up top is the usual plastic lid with cardboard cutout labeling everything. And as usual, the lions come out of the box already transformed. The figures, Blazing Sword, and Spinning Laser Blade are also up here.On the bottom, you'll find the tray with all the other accessories.The manual does a good job of explaining everything in several languages, including English (primary audience you figure) and Korean (Blitzway is a South Korean company). Definitely worth looking at so as not to damage this wallet-buster.
To that same end, there are three tools included, and they're all effective. I'll mention them as needed.
Starting with the smallest & least impressive thing here, you get figurines of the Voltron Force. At a little over an inch tall (under in Pidge's case), these aren't bad. I think it'd have been cooler if they'd been posed like you see in the end credits when they're standing on the lion's heads. A Sven would have been nice too. Maybe a set of them when they first get their uniforms. But they're fine. Scaled to the lions, which is nice. Easy to bend out of shape, so be careful.
Next, you get a nice sized display stand, all black with a shiny emblem to match Voltron and the Castle of Lions. It's a solid plastic that safely supports all the weight. You get colored pillars, one for each lion. The white one does double-duty for the Black Lion and Voltron. And each can be attached to point up or forward. They slot in tightly, so no worries of any falling over.
The plate in the middle is a lid, covering the storage bay for every lion weapon, the Electro Saber, and whichever Voltron face you aren't using. It's actually held in place magnetically, so again, no flimsiness or fidgery to worry about. It's a strong seal too, so you use the tool that looks like a flathead screwdriver to pry it open from the front.
Blitzway said their Voltron would have details out the wazoo. The figurines for scale are part of that. But they did one better.
Each lion has a hatch up top in the middle, concealing another figurine, concealed itself by what's normally there. With the Yellow & Blue Lions, you use the flathead tool to pry the hatches open. Permanently in there, these pilots look really well painted. No visible slop like the standing figurines. And the hatches snap back shut. Zero flop here.
Not something I've longed for, but a really neat feature. I applaud Blitzway for finding a great way to do this, a much better way than what we got with the Mattel Classics, that doesn't hinder anything.
Another feature Blitzway threw in is light-up eyes for all the lions & Voltron. This was actually a negative for me at first. Based on promotional pics, it looked like the lion heads were permanently attached, which meant no Lion Head Attack. Thankfully, LED lights are a thing now. So, I'm back to feeling positive.
Batteries are included too, already installed in three of the five lions. For Yellow & Blue, there's a switch in the back of their heads. If you have thin fingers or pull the head, you can flip it. But it's easiest to use the flathead tool.
Ditto if you want to take the battery out, which Blitzway recommends if you aren't going to use them frequently, to avoid corrosion.
You can see the lights with lights on, but they really pop in darkness or low lighting.
In general, Blitzway ignored the classic toy (except for the numbers) and focused on trying to capture the animated look. Yellow Lion is as bulky as it can be while still making a good foreleg. Its body is three sections with two hinge joints between them. The back one is a hard joint you'll need both hands for to engage. I was afraid of breaking something till I did it. Just that strong, which is good. The front one tilts in every direction, since it becomes an ankle. The tail hinges in the middle and swings at the base. The head tilts in every direction at the neck, which raises and lowers as a strong ratchet.
The tail is different and the ratchets are way stronger, but all that other stuff is akin to the SOC. Where Blitzway really improves is how far the legs come out from the body. They also jointed the feet, paws so that they not only rotate up and down, but also tilt and spin horizontally. All this adds up to more posing options & personality, more subtlety.
Of course, all the weapons are here. The mouth missile is a molded piece tabbed in. Doesn't move, but even all silver, it literally & figuratively shines.
And you get the mouth blade. It just holds it with its mouth closed.
Flying over the Toynami v2.
Yellow Lion's only issue is the left shoulder weapon doesn't hold still. It just rotates loosely. Clear nail polish may fix it, but I haven't tried yet. I think this afflicts everyone too, because you see it in the pictures on the box and in the manual.
Blue Lion has its own sculpt, but shares the mechanics of Yellow Lion, so it has all the same qualities and features. No issues at all.
Flying over the Lego.
With Green Lion & Red Lion, the hatch is tabbed shut. You use the flathead tool to push it back. Leave it partially open, and it will slide back & forth. Push it all the way open (you'll hear a click), and it'll stay completely open.
As usual, Green Lion & Red Lion are the smallest toys. But Blitzway did a great job of buffing out the bodies front and back, so that they look substantial. They are the smallest lions, yes. But they don't look tiny compared to the others. Goes to the animation, where they all looked the same size until they were combined.
Since they're arms, their bodies are two pieces connected by a hinge joint with 90-degree bend one way (inside) and a bit less the other way (outside), the back half able to swivel. The outer part of the front half can be raised up, which adds to the sense of size & bulk. And that hinge is double-jointed, so you've that much more flexibility. Their heads rotate and tilt up & down when extended outward.
Green Lion & Red Lion's batteries have to be installed. They need to be inserted into small plastic sheaths, and then inserted into the back of their heads. This is where the tool that looks like tweezers or clamps comes into play. The bottom has a port you can place the battery in, to then insert into the head. The grabbing end is what you use for pushing the batteries in all the way or taking them out. I've found the easiest way to turn them off is to just pull the battery out till you see the eyes go dim, rather than taking it out all the way. And when you want to turn them on, just hold the clamp shut and gently push back in till the eyes are lit up.
Red Lion & Green Lion have mouth cannons that rest in the bottom jaw and can be tilted up till they're centered.
Hovering over the Playmates Classic.
Green Lion has no issues, but I did something I shouldn't have while messing with it one day. When moving a whole leg, don't pull on the foot to do it. I did that with Green Lion's back left leg, and pulled the foot off. It pegged back on fine and stays in place, but sometimes it'll fall off if I bump it while in the air.
I also recommend when pulling the legs away from the body on any lion to do it from the top of the leg instead of pulling on the lower leg. The legs are a mix of die-cast and plastic. Pulling from the bottom too hard can cause the plastic to start separating if the leg is pinned against the body. The manual has pictures showing the correct way, which helps.
Red Lion pairs with Green Lion the same way Blue Lion & Yellow Lion pair. No issues here. Although Lance's figurine is the most flimsy, which seems to be another universal thing.
Hovering over the Toynami v2.
As usual with toys, Black Lion is the biggest. And having now compared all the different Voltrons I have, I have new appreciation for the Toynami MP. It's the only one with even proportions for all the legs. Blitzway, like Bandai, opted for tree-trunk hind legs. This is better for Voltron, but it means Black Lion can't easily sit like the other lions.
Even so, it has great range of motion, aided by the rotating paws and shoulder joints that really pull out. It can almost do a cat split with all the legs splayed out to the side. And I didn't catch it here, but the back legs have collapsing parts above the knees in the rear. They push in as the knees bend, so a solid appearance is maintained, rather than the cavities of the SOC. It also rotates at the waist, and has a forward ab crunch.
Black Lion has a mouth missile too, but it's actually molded in.
For its lights, there's a switch at the bottom of the neck. The batteries (3) are in the back of the neck, covered by a panel. You can open it by hand, but the flathead tool will pry them out.
Don't think I've ever seen the spot in between the eyes lit, but it looks cool.
Black Lion has a hatch you lift with the flathead too, like Blue & Yellow.
Black Lion's cannons look kind of small, but they work.
Hovering over Toynami v2.
I didn't notice till I started to put them back, that there's molding for all the weapons. Makes it easy, and everything plugs in snugly except for the saber halves.
The stand will hold any combination of the lions. It's supremely stable, and the weight of the lions only helps. Though how they connect to their pillars varies.
Blue & Yellow have covers over the doors for their ports. You flip the covers up and insert the pillars till you hear a click. To release, you hold down the buttons on their undersides and pull.
Red & Green have connectors hidden in their backs. You lift the back panels up and pull them out with the wrench tool (non-flat side up), then plug them into the pillars. Not the tightest connection, but you'd have to knock them forward or tilt the stand forward to make them fall off. So, they're safe.
Black Lion is the simplest, tightly pegging onto its pillar. Which is great, because it's the same way Voltron uses it.
They changed the arrangement of the flying formation, but I'm guessing it's to accommodate & better show the differences in size.
Besides the size, price, and articulation, there's one other thing that immediately stood out about Blitzway's Voltron when it was revealed. They figured out how to cover almost all the lion legs. Only the front legs of Blue & Yellow remain exposed. And looking at it, that's fine. With external covers, the ankles & legs would be hindered. Making them removable would be "partsforming", not a perfect transformation.
For where there are panels, they all work the same way. Using the flathead tool, you want to pull the legs out from the body as far as possible. Then untab the panels and get them unfolded till they're all the way out, rotating the legs as needed for clearance. Then press the legs back in all the way, and tab the panels into the legs. They're all very secure. If you don't want to bother or prefer the toy look, you can leave them tabbed into the bodies. Doesn't affect anything, just an option for the look.
Also, Red & Green use the same connectors for the pillars and to become arms. On stiff ratchets, they plug in nice & tight. The tails fold up and go into the back cavity. One other unique feature is how the sides of the chest are locked. They tab into the chest from behind. Completely solid, and if you want to disengage so you can get the arms to cross over extra far, it's easy and doesn't break up the look from the front.
Swapping faces is another job for the flathead tool, since they're tabbed in. I prefer the magnet system the SOC uses, but this works, and I'm happy his looks big enough to fit.
Words don't do this Voltron justice. As amazing as he looks, he feels just as wonderful to the touch. Heavy enough (the metal is spread out internally, in addition to being parts of the lion legs) that he's impressive, but not so heavy that you're tired of holding him or moving him around after a few seconds. He's that sweet spot in the middle.
There is no floppiness at all. Everything stays as you leave it. The hips drop and are so stiff, you may need both hands to pull them down. The only limits, in terms of the classic poses, are due to bulkiness. The arms are so big, and not quite long enough, that to get the clang, you'll have to untab the sides of the chest. With the legs, you can get some high kicks by leaning back (he can stand on one leg), but the hips are so big, and the crotch plate is so broad, you can't really get the legs up high when upright.
Minor quibbles aside, Voltron looks wonderful from any angle.
Put together, you now have the ratchets of the arm sockets, which really adds to the range of the arms. The head gets a lot of tilt, more when facing forward than the sides.
Back tilt would be nice, but the ab crunch works whether you compress the chest at the waist (instructions are to do this when forming Voltron) or not.
Everything altogether, Voltron is fun to play with. It's fun to see what you can get him to do.
For Voltron-specific weapons, you have the Electro Saber. Which can be in one or two pieces.
You have the "shield" AKA Spinning Laser Blade, which is really pointy. Careful when handling.
It can swivel at where it connects to its grip, and tabs into either Lion head/hand.
You can still use all the lights, and you can do the Lion Head Attack. I don't have any stands good for holding things like this, but I'm sure there are plenty out there.
You actually have two ways of storing the "shield". I prefer the attachment for Green Lion's stand. It tabs in and provides another tab slot for the grip.
Ditto for the Blazing Sword. There's a holding attachment for Red Lion's stand that tabs in.
Alternatively, you can flip out two brackets from the big stand. The sword rests fine in the slots, but the "shield" is supposed to peg into either hole, which doesn't work well.
The Blazing Sword also tabs into either hand. With some effort, you can get it into both.
Now to compare. He towers over the Toynami MP, best illustrating the difference between the animation and the classic toy design.
At 15-inches or so, he's only a little smaller than the LEGO.
Obviously, he dwarfs the smaller figures. But they hold their own. Just shows the difference between what you get for $50+ versus $700+.
The SOC is the closest in overall quality. I wonder now what would have happened if Bandai had gone the DX SOC route.
If "large" and "combines" are on your checklist, Playmates is the cheapest option as of this review.
Something else to consider is how this Voltron fits in with the rest of your robots, if you care about matching or similar sizes. Because Blitzway's Voltron is bigger than most of what's in my collection, as super robots go.
Blitzway has come closer to making a perfect Voltron than anyone else. But for the price, I have to mention what issues I've observed. As of now, Voltron's eyes don't light up that brightly. But Black Lion's do. Is it a bad light or wiring? Did I jack something up when moving the head around? No idea.
More annoying & harder to ignore, the Blazing Sword is a little too heavy for either hand/head to hold at certain angles, and/or the connection isn't tight enough. Which means whichever hand/head holding it occasionally rotates till the sword is drooping. At that point, it'll untab itself from the mouth. I fixed both in each hand/head with clear nail polish, so it's fine now.
Otherwise, and overall though? Chef's kiss. This is easily the toy I was most excited for in 2021, and thanks to COVID, 2022. Because it took 9 months to finally arrive. A big part of that is that I'm a big Voltron fan. But it's also impressive in all the ways I've mentioned. Fancy enough to be cool, big & heavy enough to be impressive, and truly fun to handle.
Is it better than the SOC? I say yes. Is it worth $700, twice the price? That's a personal question.
I guess I'll break it down like this. If you can afford it and want the best Voltron toy money can buy, this is it. If you can't or are content with whichever Voltron you have, that's fine too. The happy-medium I guess is that I've seen sales for less than $500. So, if price is an obstacle, save and keep your eyes open. Sooner or later, retail supply will be gone, and when that happens, good luck.
Me, I don't regret pulling the trigger. And Blitzway made a fan for life. They've got more robots coming under CARBOTIX, and I'm game.
|Posted 23 March, 2023 - 10:31 by Optimal III|