Playmates Lionizes ‘Voltron: Legendary Defender’ With New Diecast Figures [Review]
After thriving in the ’80s as one of the great animated adventures of the era, Voltron basically disappeared from the public consciousness. Longtime fans always tried to keep the dream of smaller robots that turned into one bigger robot alive, but subsequent animated attempts at Voltron shows came and went without much fanfare. That’s partly why 2016’s Voltron: Legendary Defender was such a big deal. Not only did Netflix sign up for nearly 80 episodes, but it brought the super robot back into the pop culture conversation by aligning with licensing partners for new toys, clothes, and all kinds of other collectibles.
To tie into the third season’s recent release, Playmates launched a new wave of Voltron: Legendary Defender toys, including a set of diecast figures that could combine to form the massive mech. Though the set isn’t entirely cast in metal, the figures are a fair representation of the real robotic lions that combine to make a Voltron perfect for defending your desk.
All five of the individual lions have some strong design based on the current incarnation on Netflix. Legendary Defender didn’t stray too much from the core concept of the lion vehicles as they were originally, though they have been streamlined a bit for the modern show. The black lion is still the core of the team and Voltron, and as such is a little bigger than the rest of the toys. They all come in at just around 4” long, with the black lion having a bit more width to make up for being the chest and head of the Altean defender.
Out of the box, each lion has some fairly good articulation in the legs. The heads don’t really move very much, and only the green and red lions (the arms of Voltron) have any midsection articulation at all. There aren’t a lot of different poses you'll be able to get these toys into, but you really don’t need to get them in any outrageous positions either. They stand well on all four legs, though the diecast torsos make it a bit of a challenge to get them up on their hind legs.
Transforming the lions into the various parts that make up Voltron is easy, and each toy actually comes with individual directions on how to manipulate it correctly. Those aren’t even all that necessary though given how simple the movements are to get the lions to look like legs and arms. Each of the diecast midsections on the green and red lions opens up, and you and slide the legs in there to keep them from sticking out in Voltron form. The rear legs on all the lions fold tightly into the armor on the thigh, hiding them from sight. All the tails push back into the body, or at least they're supposed to. Our blue lion’s tail was stuck in outward position, and wouldn't budge no matter how many different things we tried to get it moving.
Considering the figures are more plastic than metal, nothing ever felt too fragile or on the verge of breaking. The articulation in all the legs is easy to spot, but you can still accidentally over-extend them if you aren’t careful. Once they’re all folded up though, you’ll hardly notice them once you connect all the different lions to form the 8” tall Voltron. Each arm snaps into the black lion with no fuss, and the black lion’s legs connect into the blue and yellow lions a bit like he’s putting on big, robotic shoes. All the parts work together seamlessly to give you a very screen-accurate Voltron toy with minimum investment.
The only real downside to this figure is how lumbering all its movements are in Voltron form. There’s not a great deal of flexibility in the arms when everything is connected, leaving you with a handful of Frankenstein poses to work with. The legs have a lot more agility, but in order to keep Voltron balance, you can’t get too wild with how he’s standing. Even standing straight and tall is a bit of a challenge without finagling with the arms and legs to provide the proper balance.
Additionally, the red wings of the black lion aren't as articulated on the final figures as they appear on the back of the box. There’s an extra hinge on the wings on the box art that would make it possible for the red attachments to flip out to be horizontally aligned with Voltron’s shoulders. Without that hinge, the wings stick out of the back like fins, leaving the figure taking up more depth on a shelf than he would have otherwise. It’s not a true detriment to the overall figure, but not getting the toy as advertised on the back of the box is disappointing.
There are plenty of different ways to enjoy Voltron toys now that Playmates and Netflix have teamed up, but these diecast figures give a bit more of a premium feel to this series than some of the cheaper options. Even at $14.99 a piece, these lions aren’t expensive on their own, but if you want the whole set to make Voltron, you're looking at a $75 investment. This is a combined figure that would certainly be worth it if all the parts you got worked as they should. Just be aware of some of the potential flaws before investing too heavily in this set.
The Voltron: Legendary Defender diecast figures are available now for $14.99 each. These figures were provided by Playmates for review.