Review by Atom
It was 1985 when the bright primary colors on the box caught my eye at our local Holiday Mart. Lionbot! It looked like the lion Voltron but it said Lionbot and it cost 99.99, far more than I could ever afford in the fifth grade.
Holiday Mart was the local grocery store/department store combo in Hawaii back then and my family would do there grocery shopping while I wandered the toy section. This was my ritual every week for eight years but never was there a toy that I lusted after week after week like this one.
My Father told me that if I got a C in math for the end of the year he would buy it for me. That was a long 4 months. I hated math but I applied myself and got a D+ (Math has never been a strong one for me even in grade school) but I was rewarded for my effort with my Lionbot.
Voltron was extraordinarily popular and at this point I had not seen the Matchbox editions of the toy yet and little did I realize that Lionbot was not the original Japanese version but a bootleg of the Japanese Go Lion. Nor did I care even after I saw the official 'œbranded'? Voltron by Matchbox. For full release history of the Go Lion please read JoshB's review for the Trendmasters re-release here.
The package is a copy of the original Bandai Go Lion with the Kanji replaced with English.
Other than the upper legs having a silver sticker applied instead of painted silver like the original Go Lion this was a great toy. Unlike the official Matchbox release this one came with all of the original accessories. It had the Sword and Shield but also included the missile launchers and mouth blades used in the cartoon series. To top it all off the launchers worked!!!!
I will say the newer Toynami Masterpiece Edition Voltron rocks with its show accurate dimensions and beautiful fit and finish but my original Lionbot will always hold a special place in my heart and on my toy shelf.
If you look around eBay you will see this set is constantly available for the $75.00 to $100.00 price range as it is still being bootlegged in China to this day.
Comments2 comments posted
This had been a long time since I've read articles about the history of Voltron toys fron defunct fan websites. If my memory is correct, one of the articles mentioned many years ago, one of the Chogokin Lion Voltron toys contained elements of 'lead', & got recalled back to China immediately, but I'm not exactly sure if this Lionbot toy is the one that contains lead.
The original Mattel was the one subject to the Recall. It may stand to reason that the Popy had lead as well, but maybe was not subject to the same safety laws.
Bootlegs in the 80s - who knows if they were safety tested at all?