Voltron

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For other uses, see Voltron (disambiguation).
Voltron: Defender of the Universe
Genre adventure, science fiction, super robot
Created by World Events Productions
Toei Animation
Based on
Starring
Narrated by Peter Cullen
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 124, plus one-hour Fleet of Doom special (List of episodes)
Distributor Sony Pictures Television
Broadcast
Original channel First-run syndication
Original run September 10, 1984 – November 18, 1985
External links
Website

Voltron: Defender of the Universe is an animated television series that features a team of space explorers that pilot a giant super robot known as "Voltron". Initially produced as a joint venture between World Events Productions and Toei Animation, the original television series aired in syndication from September 10, 1984 to November 18, 1985. The first season of Voltron, featuring the "Lion Force Voltron", was adapted from the Japanese anime television series Beast King GoLion. The second season, featuring the "Vehicle Voltron", was adapted from the unrelated anime series Armored Fleet Dairugger XV.

Voltron was extremely popular during its original run,[1] and spawned a follow-up series, several comic books, and a 1-hour special.

Development[edit]

The original series was created by Peter Keefe and John Teichmann in 1984 using material that they had licensed from the Japanese animated series Beast King GoLion and Armored Fleet Dairugger XV. The producers had no means of translating the Japanese series into English, thus they surmised the plots, created all-new dialogue, edited out the more violent scenes and remixed the audio into stereo format. The series was an immediate hit in the United States, topping the syndication market for children's programs in the mid-1980s.[1]

The Japanese Mirai Robo Daltanious series was originally planned to be adapted by World Events Productions as part of Voltron. When requesting master tapes from Toei Animation for translation purposes, the World Events Productions producers requested "[the] ones with the lion." Mistakenly, Toei then proceeded to ship World Events copies of Beast King GoLion, another "combining-robot" cartoon featuring lion-shaped fighters. Because the World Events producers greatly preferred GoLion to Daltanious, the GoLion episodes were adapted instead, going on to become the most popular portion of the original Voltron run. A third version/series of Voltron based on yet another Japanese series, Lightspeed Electroid Albegas, was also in progress, but dropped when World Event Productions joined with Toei to make new GoLion-based shows, due to that series' popularity over the Dairugger run.

Voltron variations[edit]

Lion Force Voltron (Voltron of the Far Universe)[edit]

The first season was edited primarily from Beast King GoLion (Hyakujû-ô Goraion), and featured a team of five young pilots commanding five robot lions which could be combined to form Voltron. In this undefined future era, the Voltron Force was in charge of protecting the planet Arus (ruled by Princess Allura) from the evil King Zarkon (from planet Doom), his son Lotor, and the witch Haggar, who would create huge Robeasts to terrorize the people of Arus.[2] Despite being the first of the two robots to appear on American television, the "GoLion" version of Voltron was regarded as "Voltron III" within the storyline because, within the original planned "three-Voltron" continuity, Arus was the furthest setting from Earth's side of the universe ("Voltron I" being intended for the Near Universe, and "Voltron II" for the Middle Universe).[3]

Vehicle Voltron (Voltron of the Near Universe)[edit]

The second season was edited primarily from Armored Fleet Dairugger XV (Kikô Kantai Dairugger XV), with the storyline considerably changed. In this iteration of Voltron, the Galaxy Alliance's home planets have become overcrowded, and a fleet of explorers has been sent to search for new planets to colonize. Along the way, they attract the attention of the evil Drule Empire, long engaged in an ongoing war against the Alliance, and the Drules proceed to interfere in the mission of the explorers and the colonists. Since the Voltron of Planet Arus is too far away to help the explorers, a totally new Voltron is constructed to battle the Drule threat.[4]

This Voltron team consists of fifteen members, divided into three teams of five, known respectively as the Land, Sea, and Air Teams.[5] Each team is specialized in gathering data or fighting in their area of expertise. Each team can combine their vehicles into a bigger machine, with each combined vehicle differing among the three teams. These fighters are:

  • The Aqua Fighter (Sea Team)
  • The Turbo Terrain Fighter (Land Team)
  • The Strato Fighter (Air Team)

When necessary, all fifteen vehicles combine to form the mighty Voltron.[6] This Voltron in the toyline was referred to as Voltron I as it was set closest to Earth.[7]

Gladiator Voltron (Voltron of the Middle Universe)[edit]

The proposed "Voltron II" episodes (so called because they took place in the "Middle Universe") were to have been based on Lightspeed Electroid Albegas (Kosoku Denjin Albegas).[citation needed] Although Albegas toys were marketed in the United States under the "Voltron II" name, the series never actually aired there. Due to the extreme popularity of the Lion Voltron and lack of popularity of the Vehicle Voltron series, World Events Productions eventually elected against another alternate Voltron, and plans to adapt Albegas were aborted.[citation needed]

However, Matchbox did produce and market toy versions of the three robots (Black Alpha, Red Gamma, Blue Beta) under the Voltron name.[8]

Subsequent projects[edit]

  • Voltron: Fleet of Doom television special (1986). In 1986, World Events hired Toei Animation to produce a one-off crossover television special, which mixed in GoLion and Dairugger XV footage with new animation. The special was made for the international market and has not been released in Japan.
  • Voltron: The Third Dimension animated series (1998). After some initial interest,[citation needed] a computer-generated series was released in 1998, set five years after the end of the original Lion Voltron series. The series was met with a mixed response, due to various changes, such as the revamped looks of the Lion Voltron, King Zarkon, and Prince Lotor. The series served as a sequel to the Lion Voltron series; among the tools used to bridge the gap between the two series was an official starmap as designed by Shannon Muir and finalized in partnership with World Events Productions.[citation needed] After Voltron: The Third Dimension, World Events Productions went back to the drawing board to develop a more traditionally animated series, in an attempt to recapture the spirit of the original.[9]
  • Voltron: Defender of the Universe Live-Action Movie. In July 2005, producer Mark Gordon (Grey's Anatomy, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) announced plans to create a live-action film adaptation of the Voltron franchise in collaboration with producers Pharrell Williams, Mark Costa, and Frank Oelman. Pharrell Williams was also reported to compose the musical score the film.[10] The project's development was funded by Jim Young's Animus Films.[11] In December 2006, screenwriter Enzo Marra was announced to have completed a script for Gordon.[12] In August 2007, the production entity New Regency entered negotiations with Mark Gordon Co. to adapt Voltron. Interest in the property heightened after the box office success of Transformers, another film involving robots.[citation needed] Marks's script was described as "a post-apocalyptic tale set in New York City... [in which] five ragtag survivors of an alien attack band together and end up piloting the five lion-shaped robots that combine and form the massive sword-wielding Voltron that helps battle Earth's invaders."[11] " On August 18, 2008, Relativity Media entered negotiations with New Regency to finance and produce the film, though on a more moderate budget, utilizing cost-saving CGI techniques such as those used in 300. Max Makowski is set to direct. As of the end of August 2008, the title had been set for Voltron: Defender of the Universe.[13] However, Ted Koplar, through his World Events Production Company, was fighting a legal battle with Toei Company Ltd. over the movie rights as of November of that year.[14] On September 16, 2010, concept art for the movie was released.[2] On March 8, 2011, it was announced that Relativity Media and World Events had entered a bidding war on who would make the film. Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer are currently writing the script.[15] On July 21, 2011, Atlas Entertainment & Relativity Media announced they will bring Voltron: Defender of the Universe to the big screen.[16] Relativity Media will distribute.
  • Voltron Force animated series (2011). This is a new animated series that premiered on Nicktoons in June 2011. The series follows the exploits of a group of three young cadets brought together by the original members of the Voltron Force to defend the galaxy against a resurrected Lotor, now ruling planet Drule after a military coup d'état. Voltron Force is a World Events Production in conjunction with Kick Start Productions and Classic Media.[17]

Episodes[edit]

Characters[edit]

DVD releases[edit]

In Australia, DVDs of all episodes of Voltron were released by Madman Entertainment as the 20th Anniversary Edition, Lion Force Voltron Collection. The original series was released in five volumes between August 2004 and July 2005, under the name "Voltron: Defender of the Universe". Each box is in the color and style of one of the lions with a metallic glossy inner DVD-case. Another three volumes of "Vehicle Force Voltron" were released between August and December 2005. Additionally a "Best of" 2-DVD set was released in November 2006 featuring five episodes from each series.[18] Finally, a 24-disc boxset subtitled The Lion and Vehicle Force Complete Collection was released on June 24, 2009.[19] Madman Entertainment has since relinquished the rights to the Voltron series and has since been re-released by Beyond Home Entertainment. Previous licensees of Voltron in Australia have been CBS/Fox Video and Manga Entertainment.

Prior to the release of the boxed sets, a promotional DVD was released for Voltron. It is packed in a threefold glossy cardboard folder. The folder features full-color artwork and text about the then-upcoming release of Voltron on DVD. The disk has an image of Voltron, and is labeled for promotional use only.[citation needed] It features the first episode ("Space Explorers Captured"), and several promos for other series.

In Region 1, Voltron was released on DVD in its original broadcast form and remastered by New York–based distributor Media Blasters in five volumes between September 2006 and December 2007. The volumes contain approximately fifteen episodes each, along with special features such as interviews with producer and director Franklin Cofod, and various others involved in the original and current productions. The first volume of Vehicle Force Voltron was released as "Volume 6" on December 23, 2008, with Volume 7 following in March 2009 and Volume 8 in July of 2009.[citation needed]

The Fleet of Doom special was released on DVD early in 2007, as an online Voltron.com exclusive. Fleet of Doom was a special crossover film where the Vehicle and Lion Voltrons joined forces to defeat the "Fleet of Doom" (Doom and Drule Empires). The special was originally released in 1986, but was never released in Japan. Media Blasters released Fleet of Doom on July 28, 2009 as a full retail release.[20] A Blu-ray version was planned, delayed many times and is now officially canceled.

The first volume of the original series was released in the UK in 2007 by Manga Entertainment.

According to TVShowsOnDVD.com, Voltron: The Third Dimension was to be released on DVD at some point, but no release date has been announced currently.[citation needed]

Media Blasters also released the two Japanese shows that made up VoltronBeast King GoLion and Armored Fleet Dairugger XV — each in their original, unedited Japanese form, with English subtitles.[citation needed] Volume 1 of GoLion was released on May 27, 2008,[21] Volume 2 on August 12, 2008, and Volume 3 on November 25, 2008. GoLion was re-released as a complete chronology set with all 52 episodes on April 13, 2010. The first Dairugger XV DVD collection was released on February 23, 2010, the second Dairugger XV collection was released on May 25, 2010.[22] The third and final collection was originally scheduled to be released in September 2010, but was repeatedly delayed and finally released on January 4, 2011.

As of mid-2011, Classic Media (DreamWorks Classics) now owns the rights to Voltron on DVD.

Digital releases[edit]

Minisodes of the first twenty episodes of the first season can be streamed for free online on Crackle.[23] As of July 2011 all Lion Force episodes have been released on Hulu. Netflix also has both Lion Force and Vehicle Force available for instant streaming.

Release Australia
(Region 4)
North America
(Region 1)
Lion Force Voltron Collection 1 September 22, 2004 Black Lion September 26, 2006 Blue Lion
Lion Force Voltron Collection 2 November 19, 2004 Red Lion December 19, 2006 Yellow Lion
Lion Force Voltron Collection 3 February 23, 2005 Green Lion May 8, 2007 Green Lion
Lion Force Voltron Collection 4 April 13, 2005 Blue Lion September 25, 2007 Red Lion
Lion Force Voltron Collection 5 July 20, 2005 Yellow Lion December 11, 2007 Black Lion
Vehicle Force Voltron Collection 1 August 31, 2005 Air Team December 23, 2008 Air Team
Vehicle Force Voltron Collection 2 October 19, 2005 Land Team March 24, 2009[24] Land Team
Vehicle Force Voltron Collection 3 December 7, 2005 Sea Team July 21, 2009[25] Sea Team
Fleet of Doom July 28, 2009 Team-Up

Comic books[edit]

Main article: Voltron (comics)

1980s[edit]

In 1985, Modern Comics, an imprint of Charlton Comics, produced a three-issue mini-series based on the Lion Voltron television show.[26]

2000s[edit]

Voltron comics creators Brian Smith and Jacob Chabot signing Voltron posters at the Viz Media booth at the 2011 New York Comic Con.

In 2002, comic book publisher Devil's Due announced that it had acquired the rights to publish Voltron comic books.[27][28] Devil's Due, through Image Comics, published a five issue mini-series (preceded by a #0 issue from Dreamwave) which featured the Lion Voltron incarnation of the character and rebooted the property. This was then followed by an ongoing series self-published by Devil's Due, which was placed on hiatus in 2005 after the eleventh issue, due to poor sales.[citation needed]

Devil's Due announced in January 2008 that the five-issue mini-series, the eleven issues of the ongoing series, and the #0 issue would be collected into a Voltron Omnibus trade paperback that would also include the unpublished twelfth issue of the ongoing series that would wrap up all the storylines.[29][30]

In July 2008, a new five issue mini-series was released by Devil's Due, which picked up where the ongoing series left off. This series further explored the origins of Lion Voltron's creation, from 12,000 years in the past to the present day.[31] The mini-series showed Voltron existing as a single construct created by sorcerers and scientists, resembling a knight. During its battle with the first Drule Empire, Voltron was tricked by Haggar into landing on a black comet with the gravitational attraction of a singularity. Voltron was then attacked by Haggar, and blown into five pieces. However, the intervention of a sorcerer resulted in the five pieces becoming the five lions as they descended onto Arus.[citation needed]

The original five issue mini-series was adapted as the 2007 motion comic Voltron: Defenders of the Universe - Revelations.[32] Its sequel, Voltron: Defenders of the Universe - Paradise Lost, adapted the first story arc of the ongoing series, introducing the V-15 and its pilots. The Devil's Due run is now collected digitally exclusively through Devil's Due Digital.

In 2011, Dynamite Entertainment announced plans to publish Voltron comics,[33] while Viz Media's young readers imprint, Viz Kids, announced plans to publish a series of graphic novels called Voltron Force, on which Bian Smith would serve as head writer, and Jacob Chabot and Dario Brizuela would serve as lead artists.[33][34][35]

Toys[edit]

Matchbox[edit]

Matchbox imported the Lion Force Voltron,[36] Gladiator Voltron[37] and Vehicle Force Voltron[38] diecast toys from Popy of Japan in 1984. The company also released 6-inch figures of the Voltron robots that were more affordable, but lacked the detail level of their larger counterparts and could not separate into their component forms.[39]

Panosh Place[edit]

At the peak of the series' popularity, Panosh Place released new Voltron toys, including action figures of the characters and a larger Voltron toy that could fit them.[40]

Trendmasters[edit]

To coincide with the 1998 broadcast of Voltron: The Third Dimension, the now-defunct Trendmasters reissued the Matchbox diecast Lion Force Voltron, with a few changes to the mold and a total of 17 weapons in comparison to the original's sword and shield.[41] Trendmasters also released the newer Stealth Voltron variant, as well as character action figures and the robots Voltrex and Dracotron.[40]

Toynami[edit]

Shortly after the demise of Trendmasters, Toynami acquired the Voltron license and released their Masterpiece Voltron toy in 2005. Boasting more detail and articulation than the previous toys, the Masterpiece Voltron sold for US$139 to US$149.99 at the time of its release. In 2007, Toynami sold an all-plastic version of the Masterpiece Voltron for up to one-third of the first release's price (ranging from US$49 to US$60). For the 25th anniversary of the cartoon franchise in 2009, the plastic Masterpiece Voltron was reissued in a metallic repaint.[42]

Mattel[edit]

Starting in late-2011, Mattel will release toys for the new Voltron Force series, while its online collectors' site MattyCollector.com will sell brand new toys for the classic series[43] - including a 23-inch Voltron that fits 4-inch pilot figures in each lion.[44]

Other merchandise[edit]

Privateer Press released a Voltron: Defender of the Universe expansion set for their Monsterpocalypse battle miniatures game series in 2010.[45]

Video games[edit]

In December 2009, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment announced the first ever Voltron video game would be released on mobile phones in the US, including the iPhone. The game would have 30 levels and 6 acts, isometric gameplay and gamers will command robot lions to traverse the galaxy and take on King Zarkon’s evil droid armies.[46]

In 2011, "Voltron: Defender of the Universe", produced by THQ and Behaviour Interactive, was developed for home console play. A 1-5 player co-op game, it was released on November 29, 2011 for the PlayStation Network and November 30, 2011 for the Xbox Live Arcade.[47] The First Trailer has been announced on IGN.com and tentatively priced at $10. Players will be able fight as the individual lions in an overhead shooter style gameplay to then form Voltron to take on Robeasts in a fighter style combat.

Changes from the Japanese version[edit]

Though airing in syndication, which offered other anime shows such as Robotech greater freedom to deal with subject matter such as death that were off-limits in most network children's programming, WEP's adaptation of Voltron was heavily edited to conform to the more strict standards of American television, as well as the standard name change of characters and concepts in GoLion and Dairugger.

Plot changes[edit]

GoLion[edit]

  • Both shows begin with the five pilots sent by the Galaxy Alliance, whose space-exploration mission takes them to a planet devastated by war. In Voltron, the pilots arrive on Arus, and are captured and taken to Planet Doom. They then escape and return to Arus, and become the pilots of the robot lions and Voltron. In GoLion, the initial scenes are actually of Earth; the pilots have returned from their mission (in the then-futuristic year of 1999) to find that the entire population of Earth has been killed in a nuclear war. They are then captured and taken to Planet Galra, where the plot proceeds similarly.[48] In the Voltron version, some footage of the pilots' arrival on Arus was taken from Armored Fleet Dairugger XV.
  • Zarkon's soldiers were referred to as robots as opposed to alien soldiers. Also, crews of space ships that were destroyed were often either said to have been evacuated prior or referred to as robot-ships in order to lessen the impact of their deaths; these same conditions apply to Drule soldiers and Alliance fighters.[49]
  • It was the "goddess of the universe" that split up GoLion due to his arrogance. In the Voltron version of events, it was a disguised Haggar who separated Voltron when it turned out that she could not destroy him altogether. This also reflects a changed premise between the two series; GoLion was supposedly a sentient robot of unknown origin before being split up, whereas Voltron was created by King Alfor and his scientists to be a piloted machine.[48]
  • Scenes of torture and atrocities inflicted by the alien conquerors on their slaves (such as a "contest" where alien soldiers would be rewarded according to how many prisoners they would have managed to decapitate in a given time) and some shots of corpses were removed.[50]
  • In GoLion, Fala (Allura) had older siblings, but were killed by Daibazaal (Zarkon). In the Voltron episode "The Missing Key," Allura mentions being an only child.
  • In Voltron, the space mice chewed through the tomb and stole the key as a good luck charm. In GoLion, there was a crack in King Raimon's tomb through which water came in and washed the key out to where the space mice found it so they could subsequently give it to the GoLion Force.
  • In Voltron, Sven was severely injured by Haggar and dialogue indicates that he was sent to the planet Ebb to recover. In GoLion, Takashi Shirogane was killed by Honerva and buried outside the castle. Later in GoLion, Shirogane's twin brother Ryou was introduced as a prisoner of Galra; in Voltron, this is Sven himself, having been recaptured by Doom's forces following an invasion of Ebb.[49]
  • In one episode, the Princess befriends a bear-like creature which is subsequently captured and converted into a Beast Fighter/Robeast. In GoLion, GoLion kills the Beast Fighter, while in Voltron, Voltron releases the creature from its Robeast state, rendering it in a deep sleep.
  • In GoLion, Hys (Nanny) is fatally shot in the heart while protecting Raible (Coran). This scene was completely removed from Voltron, and later episodes used stock footage from earlier in the series to insert the character into scenes that took place after her original death.[49]
  • Neither Voltron '​s "second season" (the Queen Merla arc) nor the Fleet of Doom movie existed in the original Japanese run. Both were created by Toei at the request of World Events Productions.[49] The Japanese GoLion series ended with the destruction of the giant Daibazaal (Zarkon) Beast Fighter, which killed him.
  • In Voltron '​s episode 20, the heroes visit Pidge's homeworld. In Voltron, this is the fictional planet Balto; in GoLion, the planet is actually a war-ravaged Earth, with the pilots landing in the ruins of Japan (Mt. Fuji is conspicuous in these scenes). Both versions of the episode climax in the destruction of the planet.[49]
  • In the original GoLion series, Sincline (Lotor) is biracial. His mother was of the planet Altea (Arus), which explains his relatively human appearance compared to his father, Daibazaal (Zarkon). Also, Honerva (Haggar) is revealed to be secretly Daibazaal's mother. Sincline's obsession with Fala (Allura) is due to her resemblance to his mother (murdered by Daibazaal when she asked for a pardon for the other prisoners) and is generally an Oedipus complex. In Voltron, none of these are mentioned or suggested at all, and Lotor's obsession with Allura is written as a simple infatuation.
  • Daibazaal (Zarkon), Honerva (Haggar), and Sincline (Lotor) all die at the end of the GoLion series, while they survive the Voltron series. Ryou also dies, but in Voltron — where Ryou was no longer a separate character from Shirogane (Sven) — he survived as well.
  • Sincline (Lotor) is portrayed in the GoLion series as being cruel, brutal and insane, killing his officers, and ultimately killing Honerva (Haggar) at the end of the series. In Voltron, Lotor continues to be friendly with Haggar and wants to conquer Arus to have Princess Allura.
  • Most deaths of characters are cut or changed to where they have survived in some way.

Dairugger XV[edit]

  • The Voltron series starts with the Drules and the Galaxy Garrison having tense relations, with the Drules attacking the Explorer, on the grounds it violated their space. In Dairugger, both powers were unaware of each other at the start of the series, and there was no overcrowding within the Terran League; the Rugger Guard is merely an exploratory vessel, and Galveston is secretly searching for a new world to replace their dying home planet.
  • Terran League (Galaxy Garrison) and Galveston (Drule) officers are often introduced and killed in the same episode. In Voltron, the deaths are cut and dialogue usually indicates escape, though the characters are not seen in future episodes.
  • Dairugger and GoLion were intended as completely separate series, related only by studio and production staff. Any reference in Voltron that suggests the two series take place concurrently in the same universe, such as Yasuo (Chip) and GoLion '​s Hiroshi (Pidge) being brothers or the notion that Emperor Daibazaal (King Zarkon) is allied with Galveston (the Drules), is purely a fabrication of World Events Productions and did not exist in the original versions.
  • In Dairugger, it is implied that Aki (Jeff) and Haruka (Lisa) have a close, possibly romantic relationship or that he also has some sort of relationship with Patty (Ginger). For unknown reasons, this plot element was almost entirely removed in Voltron, though some vague impressions of it remain in the animation.
  • In Voltron, Dorma is depicted as Hazar's sister. Their Dairugger counterparts are not related by family; Sirk (Dorma) is merely Teles' (Hazar's) adjutant.
  • Emperor Corsair (Zeppo) is killed in Dairugger XV. Also, Teles (Hazar) dies a martyr's death, and his body is destroyed along with the Galveston (Drule) homeworld. In Voltron, Hazar makes peace with the alliance and is taken with his friends (old and new) to a new planet after Drule is destroyed.
  • Dick Asimov (Newley) is ranked Admiral in Dairugger XV and Shinji Ise (Hawkins) is ranked as Captain. Asimov commands the Rugger Guard, with Ise being specifically the CO of the Rugger Team. In Voltron, their ranks are changed to Captain and Commander respectively, with Hawkins outranking Newley as captain of the Explorer, and the dialogue was rewritten accordingly. However, some references in the animation hint at their original ranks.

Animation staff[edit]

  • Original story: Saburo Yatsude
  • Chief Director: Katsuhiko Taguchi
  • Character Designer & Chief Animation Director: Kazuo Nakamura
  • Episode Directors: Kazufumi Nomura, Kazuyuki Okaseko, Hiroshi Sasagawa, Katsuhiko Taguchi, Katsuhito Akiyama
  • Scenarists: Ryo Nakahara, Masaaki Sakurai, Susumu Takahisa
  • Music: Masahisa Takeichi (incidental), Asei Kobayashi (opening/closing themes)
  • Theme song performance (GoLion): Ichirou Mizuki (OP- Tatakae! Goraion, ED- Gonin de Hitotsu)
  • Production: Toei Animation Co., Ltd. / Toei Advertising Co. Ltd (credited as "Toei Agency")

References[edit]

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  40. ^ a b Virtual Toy Chest - Voltron
  41. ^ Voltron III (Trendmasters Version) Review
  42. ^ Masterpiece Lion Voltron III Review
  43. ^ Shockblast Media - Mattel Unveils Video of Subscription Voltron Toys in Action, and They Are Full of Fail
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