Back in 1984 the Japanese super robots came to the United States. Beast King GoLion was adapted into Voltron: Defender of the Universe. It lasted for 2 seasons and 72 episodes. The US was enamored with robot lions that combined to make a giant robot to protect the universe. There were other iterations of the show, and other attempts to breath life into the series once again. Then in 2016 NetFlix teamed up with Dreamworks to bring us Voltron: Legendary Defender. This was an update of the original show with the same base characters and an updated, but recognizable version of Voltron. NetFlix teamed up with Playmates to bring us an awesome collection of lions that could combine in conjunction with some really good articulation for the lions as well as for the fully formed Voltron. We even got lights and sounds.
Flash ahead to the end of 2017, and the fans love the show. NetFlix and Playmates surprised us with a second round of lions. This time around the line is called Voltron ’84. Netflix brought back 12 episodes of the original show with the current cast talking about an episode that are memorable and important to them and the creation of the new show. It is fun to look back at the old episodes and see the hand drawn work of 1981 (remember it was released in Japan years before it came to the US).
The red lion comes with Voltron’s sword. He also comes with a jaw blade, a laser cannon, and a missile launcher. As you will see, the four smaller lions come with a jaw blade, a secondary weapon, and then a bigger spring-loaded firing weapon.
It is fun to look at the two side by side. Since they come with Voltron’s sword, it is an interesting look at the past and modern times. The original sword was so flashy and ornate with so many extra shapes thrown on. The modern one looks more sleek as a chopping energy sword.
The 84 version is a lot more boxy, and has a stiffer overall appearance. They actually have similar points of articulation, but the modern lion has a lot more range than the 84 version.
I really enjoyed looking at the two side by side and seeing how changes were made to make them sleeker and rounder, but keep the overall feel.
One of the most striking differences is in the face of the modern lion compared to the 84 lion. The 84 lions all have such wide faces and giant ears. Well, Red and Green lions anyway. The others have different designs around the sides of the heads to simulate ears with a robot twist.
And of course, they form body parts. The first thing you will notice right away is how well the legs are hidden in the modern arms as opposed to the 84 lions that have them folded up on the outside of the body. Simplicity of visual design versus simplicity of transformation.
The Yellow Lion is my favorite of the 5 in Legendary Defender. When I was growing up, I only had one Lion. Yup, the Yellow Lion. I am sure that has something to do with it, but I love the overall bulk of the lion. It is more robust than the others, and tends to use it’s mass as a weapon. The 84 Yellow Lion is pretty neat too. It has fins on it’s back like a fighter jet, and it is the only lion to have a weapon directly on it’s body.
Side by side, the Legendary Yellow Lion is a lot more robust than the 84 Yellow Lion. The extra weapon was turned into an extra shield for the Legendary Lion.
The colors on the lions are so important. Of course there is a main color on all of the lions. The Legendary Lions have the addition of black to help break up the solid color. When you look at the Yellow lion, it had a lot of red mixed in. The Legendary Lion has a touch of red, but not too much.
Transformation of the two are very similar. Both use their forelegs to help support Voltron in the back. Their hind legs fold up, with Legendary Lion’s legs folding behind engines. Legendary’s tail slides in the body, while 84’s tail folds down the back. And the shield again to help protect the head and the Paladin when Voltron needs to kick something.
Blue comes in with a mouth full of blade, a beam emitter on one joint, and a missile launcher on the other. There is a line of yellow that runs down the back of the lion and all the way to the tip of the tail. For the Legendary line, they stayed consistent with the tails. All are silver with a blue tip for one of their weapons.
As a juxtaposition, in the design of the Legendary Lion, they omitted all of the yellow, save for the eyes. They put the yellow on Legendary Green’s butt.
They did leave a bit of the red on the Legendary Lion, though they moved it up. In an effort to help equal out with the bulky Yellow Lion, Blue Lion’s red area is a shield for it’s head.
And when they are transformed, they look very similar. I don’t think there is a lot they could have done with the legs to change the overall look. The front legs come in really handy when posing Voltron (either version).
Green Lion is the other arm of Voltron. Red Lion came with a sword, Green Lion comes with a shield. And all of the other stuff.
Where the Legendary Green Lion wears the shield all of the time, the 84 Green Lion cannot carry that shield. This time around the two are much closer in color. The 84 version only had one rectangle of green, and that was omitted, since you can’t see that part anyway.
And in case anyone was wondering, yes, the Legendary Lions can borrow the 84 Lion’s Jaw Blades. They do not tab into place like they do with the 84 Lions, but they have spring loaded jaws, so I don’t think they needed to peg into the 84 versions either.
Once again, the arms of the Legendary Voltron are a lot cleaner. Hiding pieces. I am sure it took a LOT of design work to pull it off, but boy does it look nice.
And then there is the Black Lion. The leader of the team, and the most super boxiest looking lion of all. This Lion’s articulation is less than the other lions, but that is to be expected from this guy. He comes with lights and sounds. Over 60 phrases. Like with the Legendary Lion, this one is the only one that can keep it’s mouth open. And the face of Voltron hides nicely on the roof of the mouth.
Comparing the two face to face, the first glaring difference is in the wings. Legendary Voltron’s wings are HUGE! 84’s wings are flat and folded into place. One interesting thing is the comparison of the back legs. There are minor changes, but the main design is the same. There is a REALLY important reason for that.
And the transformation beings. The Black Lions form the torso and head of Voltron. They went for a more simplistic look for the Legendary Voltron’s torso. Gone is the giant crest and gold star belt buckle.
Transformed into Voltron:
These are tall figures. Lights and sounds in the chest. Articulation for days. You cannot go wrong with these robots. Side by side they look great. There are some design cues I love about the Legendary Voltron, like the silver collar around the head. It gives the look of more power.
When it is time to go, it is time to open the wings. Um, a little embarrassing for 84. His wings are pretty small. Not bad, just different.
The posability of these two is remarkable. They are virtually identical. There are some subtle differences between the two with the bulks of the lions.
From the side you can see how important the front legs of the Yellow and Blue Lions are for support. You can move those legs all over the place to get the right pose. The 84 Voltron actually has a bit of a better stance than Legendary. The Legendary Voltron is a bit back heavy. See, bigger is not always better. But in space, who cares?
The burning question I was thinking when I saw these were coming out was: “Can you switch out the lions on either team?” Why yes you can. That was the importance of the back legs of the two Black Lions being nearly identical. They are needed to hold the pieces in place.
As I was finishing up, and playing around with switching lions, I noticed that I had mistransformed Voltron 84. I had the shoulders rotated so the red buttons were facing up. They should have been turned so the red line goes across the entire chest of Voltron. Oops. Fixed and ready for action.